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Thursday, 18 September 2003
Page: 20506

Mr KELVIN THOMSON (2:24 PM) —My question is to the Minister Assisting the Minister for Defence. I refer to the government's plan to lease defence department land at Point Nepean to commercial developers for a period of up to 50 years. Is the minister aware of comments by the Treasurer on ABC radio on Monday, 25 August, when he said:

...the Lord Mayor's camp just further down the Portsea area ... is our preference for the site.

Isn't it the case that only one tenderer, ES Link, can meet the Treasurer's preferred outcome? Minister, hasn't the Treasurer compromised the defence department's tender process by indicating the government's preferred outcome?

Mrs VALE (Minister for Veterans' Affairs and Minister Assisting the Minister for Defence) —I thank the honourable member for his question. On 25 August 2003 the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Defence announced that the government had decided to close the Defence expression of interest for the process of recognition of the site's unique environmental and heritage values, instead of offering a strictly controlled lease for the 90-hectare portion of the site. I am unaware of the Treasurer's comments, but I am happy to inform the honourable member that on 25 August this year the government announced the Commonwealth's decision to open up and return the Defence land owned at Point Nepean to the people of Australia.

The 90-hectare portion of Defence land at Portsea that includes a number of heritage buildings will be offered for lease for 40 years plus a 10-year option. Under the lease, the 90-hectare site will remain in Commonwealth government ownership, which will ensure maximum preservation of the heritage values—including, I might add, Aboriginal heritage—and protection of the environment. Land uses will be restricted to education, recreation, community and tourism. The 12 key aspects of the draft community master plan will be achieved through public ownership of the site, the exclusion of residential development, restoration of public access—

Mr Crean —What about the Treasurer compromising the tender?

The SPEAKER —The Leader of the Opposition!

Mrs VALE —conservation of significant habitats and the management of heritage buildings. A call for tenders for the lease will occur early this month—

Mr Crean —The Treasurer has already compromised it.

Mrs VALE —and all information will be publicly available on the Defence web site.

The SPEAKER —I had already drawn the Leader of the Opposition's attention to the obligations he has under standing order 55. His persistent interjection on the minister is not acceptable. Has the minister concluded her answer?

Mrs Vale —Yes, Mr Speaker.

Mr Kelvin Thomson —Mr Speaker, pursuant to standing order 321, I ask that the minister table the document from which she was quoting.

The SPEAKER —Was the minister quoting from a document?

Mrs Vale —Yes, Mr Speaker.

The SPEAKER —Was the document confidential?

Mrs Vale —Yes, Mr Speaker.