- Parliamentary Business
- Senators & Members
- News & Events
- About Parliament
- Visit Parliament
Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Table Of ContentsView/Save XML
Previous Fragment Next Fragment
- Start of Business
QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE
(Ferguson, Martin, MP, Kemp, Dr David, MP)
(Pyne, Chris, MP, Costello, Peter, MP)
(Crosio, Janice, MP, Kemp, Dr David, MP)
(Marek, Paul, MP, Howard, John, MP)
(Ferguson, Martin, MP, Howard, John, MP)
(Baldwin, Bob, MP, Wooldridge, Dr Michael, MP)
(Beazley, Kim, MP, Howard, John, MP)
(Draper, Trish, MP, Costello, Peter, MP)
Goods and Sales Tax
(Evans, Gareth, MP, Howard, John, MP)
(Slipper, Peter, MP, Reith, Peter, MP)
Redundancy and Termination Entitlements
(Andren, Peter, MP, Reith, Peter, MP)
(Evans, Richard, MP, Kemp, Dr David, MP)
(Hollis, Colin, MP, Reith, Peter, MP)
Skase, Mr C.
(Wakelin, Barry, MP, Williams, Daryl, MP)
(O'Connor, Gavan, MP, Fischer, Tim, MP)
(Lloyd, Jim, MP, Wooldridge, Dr Michael, MP)
(Crean, Simon, MP, Howard, John, MP)
(Gash, Joanna, MP, Truss, Warren, MP)
(Macklin, Jenny, MP, Smith, Warwick, MP)
(Hardgrave, Gary, MP, Reith, Peter, MP)
- Small Business
- QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE: ADDITIONAL RESPONSES
- QUESTIONS TO MR SPEAKER
- PERSONAL EXPLANATIONS
- QUESTIONS TO MR SPEAKER
- MATTERS OF PUBLIC IMPORTANCE
- PARLIAMENTARY SERVICE BILL 1997 [No. 2]
- MATTERS REFERRED TO MAIN COMMITTEE
- AUSTRALIAN CAPITAL TERRITORY (PLANNING AND LAND MANAGEMENT) AMENDMENT BILL 1997
- LAW OFFICERS AMENDMENT BILL 1997
- PRIMARY INDUSTRIES AND ENERGY LEGISLATION AMENDMENT BILL (No. 3) 1997
QUESTIONS ON NOTICE
(Thomson, Kelvin, MP, Costello, Peter, MP)
Social Security Payments
(Thomson, Kelvin, MP, Fischer, Tim, MP)
(Jones, Barry, MP, Downer, Alexander, MP)
Sirway Asia Pacific Contract
(Bevis, Arch, MP, McLachlan, Ian, MP)
Department of Industry, Science and Tourism: Consultants
(McClelland, Robert, MP, Moore, John, MP)
- Japanese Economy
Tuesday, 10 March 1998
Mr LIEBERMAN (4:57 PM) —It was an interesting and fascinating discourse by the member for Canberra (Mr McMullan) as he outlined his not-too-passionate opposition to the principle of giving people longer term leaseholds in the ACT. The Australian Capital Territory (Planning and Land Management) Amendment Bill 1997 is a fulfilment and a delivery of the federal coalition policy put before the Australian people in 1996. It delivers a promise that we made and, in that sense, I thank the Minister for Regional Development, Territories and Local Government (Mr Somlyay), who is at the table, for bringing it into the House so that the coalition can deliver yet another coalition promise to the Australian people.
It is legislation which has been requested by the Chief Minister of the ACT and is supported by very many people in the ACT—and, I acknowledge, as the member for Canberra has said, is also opposed by certain people in the ACT. There has been some criticism in the media of the proposal as well, and I acknowledge that, too.
When I was asked to speak on this bill, there was a sense of deja vu in a way because, as a former state minister for planning and local government, I have had a long-term interest in the system of land management and planning. Also, as a lawyer, I have an interest in the claims by academics and others that the land tenure system can be one of the dynamics in respect of effective land use planning.
I would argue—and I think there is overwhelming evidence of this—that effective land use planning law achieves the objectives of a modern contemporary society very satisfactorily. Equally, I would argue that it is no longer a valid point of view—although I concede it was held by many eminent people and perhaps by some still to this day—that the only way you could have an effective land management planning system would be to control the titles to the land through a leasehold system rather than through a freehold system.
With great respect to those who hold that view, I would suggest that in a contemporary or modern society that is not the case. It is certainly no longer the case and, quite frankly, there is no reason why a legislative assembly in the ACT or in a state or even a parliament cannot make effective planning laws and achieve a good planning outcome whether the land is freehold or leasehold.
I notice that the argument put forward by the member for Canberra was that no case has been made out to support an extension of the available land leasehold system in the ACT. He also went beyond what I thought was a fairly moderate opposition to this bill by claiming that the extension of the right of the term of the lease from 99 years to a maximum of 999 years would, in some way, undermine the leasehold system. I would ask these questions: what are the outcomes of having a 99-year leasehold system of land in the ACT compared with having a lease tenure of 150 years or 125 years or 200 years, up to a maximum of 999 years? What are the outcomes and objectives of the people who would argue that the leasehold system cannot under any circumstances move beyond 99 years? What are the dangers that they see if it is 100 years, or 105 years for that matter, compared with the obvious implication of having a 99-year lease? I think really there is a bit of wind in the argument; there is not a lot of substance.
There is another point I would like to make, again with respect to the member for Canberra. I know his love of the ACT is a genuine one and his commitment to the community is a genuine one, but he argued that we have done well enough in the ACT by having the leasehold system of 99 years. I think by inference he is saying, `Why try to fix it if it is not broken? We have done all right with a 99-year lease.' He says for that reason that you should not think about changing the tenure of the lease to a longer term. But that is not an argument at all. That is a fear or a phobia or a nightmare that some people might have when they go to bed at night when the lights are turned off—`My God, we have 99-year leases in the ACT and someone might change them to more than 99 years, and we are at risk because of that.' He did not make out a case to tell us what the risk was. He just said that the land tenure or leasehold system would be undermined, and I think destroyed.
The other point I would make is that he said, `We have got on okay with 99 years; therefore, we should not have any more than 99 years available to us as a leasehold term.' I am proud of the fact that the ACT has developed as the national capital, even though I do not live here permanently. But one fact of life has to be recognised—and I think that was recognised by the ACT Chief Minister when the request was made to the Commonwealth government to deliver its coalition federal policy to extend the term of the lease—and that is that choice that other economies and urban communities in this country offer freehold tenures and that the ACT does not and cannot do that. It can offer at the moment only a maximum term of 99 years for a lease.
If the member for Canberra is arguing that we are getting on all right and we should not change it, the point that I would like to put to him is: what about all the people who are thinking of setting up their homes, their businesses, their universities and whatever other activity they are contemplating in Australia in the future? In deciding where they are going to locate or relocate, they will obviously evaluate, amongst other things, things like the land tenure system, the choices that are available and the associated things with that.
Of course it is true that the horizons for people in the ACT going into the next millennium should not be limited by some previous idea that 99 years was the maximum when this community clearly aspires to have some growth and new investment. It does want new growth and investment. It wants jobs for its young people. Why not? It is like any other community in the nation. Why should this community be held back by not being able to compete with the very competitive growing cities and towns and regions in this great country? They say to future investors and future residents, `Come and live with us. Come and work with us. Come and invest with us. We have a safe tenure system. We have a freehold system.' For goodness sake, why would you worry about a lease when you can have freehold title! I think even the member for Canberra knows in his heart and would acknowledge that, if you have freehold title, you do feel better. He might think it is illusory, but that has been acknowledged. It has even been acknowledged by the people who wrote the reports.
I do not want to see people in the ACT held back. I want to be able to observe the ACT compete for economic growth and development and new investment without inhibitions and without being restricted by some artificial decision that you cannot have leasehold for longer than 99 years. There is no logic in saying that ought to be continued. The ACT Chief Minister's request to have the right to take it up to 999 years is a reasonable one because she obviously wants to see her vision for the ACT fulfilled and enhanced. She wants people here to have the opportunity to be able to compete with other urban communities and economic initiatives in other states which are trying to attract investment.
With great respect to the member for Canberra, the fact that he is too close to the subject may have restricted his vision. Maybe he is just defending all of the four reports—one of which he said he was heavily involved in. In his own heart and mind, maybe he is unwittingly holding the ACT back by arguing this way, by arguing that you should not have an elected assembly in the ACT, by the people for the people with the right to make policy decisions which will enable it to grant leases up to 999 years. That is something he perhaps ought to weigh up in his mind as a representative of the people of the ACT.
The other point I would make is I find it very hard to follow ACT politics, I must confess, and keep up with all the Commonwealth politics and all of the other things that we have to do, but I try to do that. I could not let the fact escape me that in the most recent election in this great nation of ours—that is, the ACT election—the Chief Minister has been re-elected. The member for Canberra could not deny that Kate Carnell has been very open and forthcoming about her vision for the ACT and her aspiration that the right to extend leases should be vested in the ACT assembly with enabling Commonwealth power. The people voted recently and it seems to me, from all the papers that I have read, that under this rather unusual voting system in the ACT Kate Carnell has won. She will be the Chief Minister. So isn't there a signal from the people in that regard?
I also like to kick a tyre and take a straw vote. The best way to decide whether a policy is right or wrong is to go and ask the people. In the last couple of days since the minister was kind enough to ask me to join him in this debate, I have been asking ordinary people in the ACT what they think about the possibility of extending the leases to 999 years. Sometimes they have been a bit surprised that I have asked them. I have asked them whilst walking in the street—I like to go for a walk every day and I nod to people and talk to a couple—sitting in cafes and things like that. I have asked the staff who live here and love this community.
I have not found anyone who has expressed any disquiet to me at all. I admit that I have not taken a scientific survey. I have not spoken to thousands or hundreds of people; I have spoken to perhaps 15 or 20 people. But it was a cross-section. I must tonight ask a taxi driver what he or she thinks. That usually is a pretty good way of finding out what people think. Taxi drivers will often give you a fairly good straw vote of what the position is.
I think the bottom line of this legislation—and this is why I commend the minister for his initiative—is that it will give more choice and scope for the ACT economy and for the citizens of the ACT. It will enable them to compete more with the ever increasing competition from other communities in Australia to attract investment. It will certainly enhance the prospects of young people to get employment because, without new investment and people being attracted here, you know in your heart if you live in the ACT—and the member for Canberra knows in his heart—you will not be able to compete in the very competitive markets that we have in our nation and globally unless you have modern systems of management of your land that compete and give security of title and tenure systems that are very attractive.
It is no good just saying, `Ninety-nine years is all right. No-one has told me they are unhappy with it. We have had investment and we have got on all right.' That is not good enough. You have to push the frontiers out. You should not just take second best. The ACT Chief Minister has been here a long time and she asked for this power to be given to the ACT through enactments, through administrations, through an elected assembly, and I think she is very wise in doing that.
I would like to congratulate Kate Carnell on her achievements. She inherited a very difficult economic circumstance in the ACT. Her predecessor, a Labor Party Chief Minister, ran this ACT into enormous debt. She has tackled some very difficult issues. I have observed those and she has been rewarded by the ACT people with another term. It was very close, razor's edge, but nevertheless she has got another term. I am very pleased that this parliament has been given the opportunity to give to her in the first few days of her new term legislation, which I hope will pass speedily through this place and the Senate, that will give her the ammunition to get the ACT into the next millennium and to meet all the challenges that present themselves to us. It is good legislation. I wish it a speedy and very happy passage through the Senate as well as here.