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Joint Standing Committee on the National Capital and External Territories
01/12/2016
National Capital Authority

BROUGHTON, Ms Natalie, Acting Executive Director, National Capital Estate, National Capital Authority

SMITH, Mr Andrew, Chief Planner, National Capital Authority

SNOW, Mr Malcolm, Chief Executive, National Capital Authority

Committee met at 10:11

CHAIR ( Mr Hastie ): Welcome to this public hearing. As noted in my opening remarks last week, that was the first time the committee had used social media to get input from the community on topics to be discussed. We had a good response, with questions for the NCA being proposed on a number of matters of importance to the residents of the ACT. As I noted last week, there was significant overlap in the questions, so we went for a thematic approach. Before proceeding I would again like to acknowledge the individuals and groups that have taken the time to ask questions and contribute their points of view.

I now call upon representatives of the National Capital Authority to give evidence. Although the committee does not require you to give evidence under oath, you should understand that these hearings are formal proceedings of the Commonwealth parliament and warrant the same respect as proceedings of the respective houses. The giving of false or misleading evidence is a serious matter and may be regarded as a contempt of parliament.

Before we commence questions, do you have an opening statement?

Mr Snow : No.

CHAIR: Are there questions from the committee? Gai, would you like to lead off?

Ms BRODTMANN: I will foreshadow, given the time, that I will be putting questions on notice about the diplomatic estate, paid parking, the update on the amenity issue around the parliamentary triangle, the Anzac Park West and East situation, and also the Lobby restaurant. I have some follow-up on Bruce Hall and West Basin as well.

Turning to issues we discussed last week, you spoke about the fact that you were reviewing the controls in the inner north and inner south for the NCA areas. I have had some discussions with a number of people over the last week and I am seeking clarification around which areas in the inner north and inner south you are looking at that fall within the NCA's area.

Mr Snow : Certainly. I will ask Mr Smith to respond.

Mr Smith : Our focus is really on the residential precinct between National Circuit and State Circle. It is a relatively small pocket of residential land—a single, quite small area. We have planning provisions in place that had been there for about a decade or a bit more, which facilitate redevelopment of those existing large blocks. It has been working reasonably well for some years but in recent times there has been some community disquiet about the scale, quality and character of some of the newer developments, and the density. In response to that we are looking at some of the proposals that are coming forward. We are investigating whether those current planning controls are appropriate, given the sort of development that is now coming forward—it is perhaps a little bit too much and too much of a loss of open space coming through.

Mr Snow : The board, in considering this matter recently, has elevated the priority of this matter to priority 1. Management has been asked by the authority board to bring forward their analysis and recommendations in early 2017.

Ms BRODTMANN: Any specific date in early 2017?

Mr Smith : The work is current. We anticipate reporting to the board at its first meeting, which is at a date yet to be set. That is probably some time in mid-February.

Ms BRODTMANN: You are talking specifically about National Circuit and State Circle. But your footprint goes beyond that, doesn't it, in terms of the inner south and inner north?

Mr Smith : It does—

Ms BRODTMANN: I am thinking about reviewing controls within your broader footprint rather than just that specific area. Can you outline where your footprint goes in terms of that inner south and inner north area?

Mr Smith : That particular area has been the focus of it because it is an unusual parcel of the designated area, simply because they are residential blocks. In terms of our remit through the inner south, it is probably three-quarters of the suburb of Barton—the area bounded by National Circuit, running right through to Melbourne Avenue and then towards Parliament House. And then in the suburb of Yarralumla we have planning control for all the sites that have been leased to embassies. So it is a site by site basis in that instance.

Mr Snow : We would be pleased to provide a plan to your office that clearly identifies the designated areas, if that would assist.

Ms BRODTMANN: That would be terrific, because I am trying to get a sense of the old Blandfordia area, what parts of Forrest you cover and what parts of old Deakin you cover. We know about the diplomatic enclave. I am keen to get a sense of your footprint and whether that control review should be broadened to not just the National Circuit and State Circle but also to the broader footprint you have.

Mr Smith : We do not extend to the Blandfordia heritage precinct. We are across the road from the Blandfordia heritage precinct.

Ms BRODTMANN: If we can just get a sense, because I need to work out how we are going to pursue this issue.

CHAIR: We did not have the opportunity to have a private hearing before we went into these public hearings. My question goes to the Capital Metro light rail. You can assume, at least with me and potentially a few others, that we are not fully across it, so if you could talk in general terms about the plans for it and your involvement with the NCA, and where those plans are currently at.

Mr Snow : In relation to stage 1, which the ACT government is now proceeding with—in fact it is under construction as you can see clearly on Northbourne Avenue—it is in fact on Northbourne Avenue, from the commencement of the Federal Highway into civic. Under the National Capital Plan, Northbourne Avenue is designated as a main approach and therefore we have full planning responsibility for approving the works, the infrastructure works, associated with the construction of stage 1. Equally, the ACT government has announced its intention to proceed with stage 2 and we will be shortly commencing design investigations. That route proceeds over the lake, across a Commonwealth owned asset, called Commonwealth Bridge, down Commonwealth Avenue towards Parliament House. This is the general route that has been proposed, but somewhere around one of the circles, possibly, and then down Adelaide Avenue. Again, that section of route virtually down to Deakin is all under the planning responsibility and development approval responsibility of the NCA. So you can imagine that, certainly for stage 1, Andrew and I, particularly, have been directly involved now for almost 2 years, during the pre-design phase and the planning phase. We will be working to continue working very closely with the ACT government in now examining the implications of the stage 2 route. Stage 2 will impact upon a number of Commonwealth assets, including roads under our care and responsibility, Commonwealth Avenue Bridge in particular.

CHAIR: Is the community quite engaged with the reality yet? Are you getting feedback on the plans for stage 2?

Mr Snow: No, not at this stage. All that has been out to consultation by the ACT government is gauging community views about route priorities. There are a number of proposals ultimately for the light rail network in metropolitan Canberra, including light rail to Russell and beyond the airport and proposals to service other parts of the city, including a light rail route out to Belconnen. The ACT government's priorities at this stage are that the second stage will be to Woden. That is their publicly stated preference at this stage. I would add that in anticipation of the design discussions and planning issues that we will be wanting to go out to the community with, we have prepared a draft master plan that puts forward proposals for re-imagining and re-thinking the way, Commonwealth Avenue and Kings Avenue will work as living streets. At the moment they tend to look like arterial roads. We think there are opportunities to make them much more attractive for pedestrians and cyclists and indeed for the public spaces along it, not unlike what you see in other national capitals, such as Ottawa and Washington, where you have streets that are full of people and also have cars. But we are firmly of the view that in anticipation of light rail we have a clear, strategic opportunity to shape the way that corridor works as public space. So we will be going out for consultation early in the New Year, in advance of any plans the ACT government puts forward about the future of, particularly, Commonwealth Avenue.

Senator McCARTHY: Mr Snow, we have quite a few plans underway here at Parliament House for security upgrades. To what extent would NCA have been involved with that, if it has had any involvement?

Mr Snow: There have been very preliminary discussions with the Department of Parliamentary Services around those proposals. Historically, where similar proposals were discussed and subsequently implemented, the NCA, given its planning responsibilities, was required to consider those proposals, once they had been approved by parliament. More recently, we understand due to a recent security review that other proposals are currently being considered. Once parliament has consider those proposals the NCA would be asked, in terms of its planning role, to consider the merits of those proposals.

Senator McCARTHY: So you wait to see if it is actually been approved?

Mr Snow: Effectively, the applicant is parliament, because Parliament House sits on land that is controlled in quite a different statutory sense. Mr Smith can elaborate if you like. But, certainly, we do have the opportunity, and have in the past been given the clear responsibility to consider the merits of those proposals.

Senator RHIANNON: In regard to parliamentary upgrades, when you are giving your assessment do you also look at the heritage value of the building and the heritage issues? Is that the feedback you are giving?

Mr Snow: Absolutely. We do heritage considerations in the environs of Parliament House. Of importance are the moral rights issues relating to the original design intent. Mr Smith, who would be guiding that process, I am sure can elaborate on the sorts of matters that we are obliged to consider in forming a view as to the merits of the application.

Mr Smith : Yes, certainly. Though Parliament House itself is not heritage listed, it certainly has strong heritage values and we do ensure that they are considered in any development proposal that is undertaken on the grounds of Parliament House that we are asked to approve—equally, with moral rights, where one of the designers of the building is still alive and one of the other moral rights holders is consulted regularly.

Senator RHIANNON: So maybe just to take an example, when they put the big fence around the ministerial wing, is that something you gave feedback on? Were you then weighing up the heritage integrity of the building against security concerns? Is that the sort of—

Mr Smith : Certainly, that is one of the things, and we did give approval to that. One of the heritage principles, of course, is whether something is reversible. Something might have to happen for a certain circumstance, but, if that circumstance were to change, it is about whether the building could be returned to its original condition. If you look at the fencing proposals, it is pretty easy to see how that can be achieved. Heritage in this instance is not used to stop change but to ensure that, as I say, as circumstance permits, the original intent can be achieved.

Senator RHIANNON: Moving on to some heritage issues with regard to Lake Burley Griffin: considering that amendment 86 of the National Capital Plan means that all of the area within the National Capital's designated area is now eligible for Commonwealth Heritage List assessment, what are the plans for heritage listing of Lake Burley Griffin and its lake shore landscape? I was also interested in the development of the management plan and the master plan for the lake and the lake shore landscape?

Mr Smith : In terms of the heritage listing for the lake and its foreshores, the lake and some of its foreshores are assets owned by the National Capital Authority. Some years ago, we did a heritage assessment of those assets, and they were found to have Commonwealth heritage value. We subsequently made a nomination to the Department of Environment and Energy, as it is today, for their consideration. We understand that it was placed on their work list. The actual progress of that and when they make the listing is a matter for that department. I understand they are looking at some other heritage strategies to deal with the—

Senator RHIANNON: So it is not finalised yet?

Mr Smith : It is not finalised yet, but the values have been found. What that means, regardless of the listing, is: because the values exist, we must manage those assets and the surrounding area in accordance with those values. So the listing formalises it, but the values are there and we manage in accordance with the policies around that.

Senator RHIANNON: When you answered the question, I think you said some of the foreshore had been identified. Do you mean not all of the foreshore?

Mr Smith : Commonwealth agencies can only assess heritage values on assets they own, and we do not own all the land around the lake. It is about a fifty-fifty split. However, what it does mean to what I think is the intent of your question is that we have to think about the impact of proposals on adjacent sites—that is, West Basin or other sections—on Commonwealth heritage values anyway, because obviously something that can happen beside a heritage building can adversely impact on its values. So, during a development assessment or a planning assessment process, those heritage values are considered.

Mr Snow : In relation to the second part of your question, in relation to the overall master plan for the lake and specifically the City to the Lake project, certainly that plan or a master plan has been provided to us for initial assessment, and there is no request yet for planning approval or consideration. Stage 1 of that concept plan, which the ACT government has decided to proceed with and is in fact now under construction, is the creation of a new public park where currently there is an asphalt car park immediately to the north of Commonwealth Bridge. That component is proceeding, and we have approved that. In relation to the overall master plan, there are still aspects of that plan we are not entirely comfortable with. We have convened and formed a design review panel of eminent designers around Australia to review the LDA's master plan, and we have provided comments back to the LDA about that plan. That process of consultation with the LDA, around the merits of that master plan—and, indeed, its compliance with our own development guidelines, which we have published—is an ongoing exercise. At this stage, there is no approved landscape master plan. In relation to the management of the site, that again is subject to the resolution of the physical design proposals for that part of the lake.

Senator RHIANNON: Will those plans at this stage be released publicly?

Mr Snow : If a plan is prepared by the LDA which we have had input to, they would, in the normal way, given it is designated land, apply to the National Capital Authority for planning approval of that plan or of any proposals associated with that plan. Rather than see incremental approvals being given, our strong preference is to see an overarching master plan which allows, if you like, the principles associated with that development to be the subject of, again, community consultation and, if those are endorsed and we believe those are the correct principles, then that becomes the guiding principles for subsequent development stages.

Senator RHIANNON: Just going back to some issues with the heritage value—and the answer might require explaining what heritage value means—I was interested: is it in keeping with the heritage value of Lake Burley Griffin and the lakeshore landscape for the lake's parklands to be appropriated for private apartment and business development?

Mr Snow : There are significant amounts of public land which are currently used for public space purposes around Lake Burley Griffin—well over 40 square kilometres. We are talking about a component of lakeside land which is approximately 10 hectares. So 0.25 per cent of public lakefront land is the subject of the City to the Lake proposal. Amendment 86 to the National Capital Plan specifically allows the City to the Lake proposal to proceed. It resolves a number of issues that constrained that particular concept from proceeding. As I have said previously, amendment 86 was the subject of very extensive community consultation, and the authority considered all the submissions related to the merits of the amendments that were made to facilitate the City to the Lake project. A number of those submissions were in support of the changes being proposed, and a number were against.

CHAIR: If we could move to paid parking, that is a question that has popped up. Could you give the committee a sense of how much parking has increased over the last decade and what that looks like in terms of revenue? Has there been any impact on residential areas, given people want to avoid paying for parking?

Mr Snow : I will ask Ms Broughton to respond to that question.

Ms Broughton : Since the pay parking scheme was introduced, in 2014, pay parking revenue last year, for the full year that it operated, was $19 million. There is a cost of about $2 million per year for the NCA to administer the scheme. We have not had concerns raised about parking in residential areas. Within the Parliamentary Triangle, there has been reduced occupancy from prior to pay parking, and we have had a number of departments, such as Finance, moving out of the area. And West Block is currently vacant, so there are plenty of spaces available. We have not had any complaints raised about impacts on residential areas.

Mr Snow : Prior to the introduction of the scheme, we worked closely with the ACT government in anticipating encroachment outside the scheme area, and that is why, prior to the scheme commencing, ACT government put in place new parking restrictions through many of those residential areas. The question of enforcement by ACT government of those parking restrictions is the issue.

CHAIR: Can you give us a sense of how that revenue is spent, or does that just go into general revenue?

Mr Snow : I wish our agency could have even a fraction of the income. We administer the scheme on behalf of the Department of Finance. The funds electronically literally just wash through our bank accounts overnight and go straight to consolidated revenue. We are funded separately and receive separate appropriation to administer scheme, and we regularly provide reports to Finance about how that is occurring. Obviously, if occupancy is dropping or fluctuating we certainly keep Finance well informed about those changes to usage patterns.

Ms BRODTMANN: I too wish that the money came back to the ACT, given that it is mainly the ACT that is paying for the parking.

Just following up on the inner south/inner north issue: you mentioned very briefly the board's concerns about the controls that are in place around National Circuit and State Circle. Can you just amplify that a bit. What are the details? What is it that the board raised about what they wanted addressed?

Mr Smith : That part of Canberra has blocks of land that are very large. They can be 2½ thousand or 3,000 square metres. Our planning provisions there give a plot ratio of 0.4, which is nearly half the site. We are seeing older houses, built in the fifties or sixties, being demolished and proposals for three, four or sometimes six houses going on what was a single-dwelling parcel of land. With that level of development, all the green space on the sites disappears and the mature treescape goes, and that is not the sort of outcome that we are seeking to achieve. Certainly there can be some increase in density, but it was not intended to be a sea of townhouses and concrete driveways.

The community does not like those sorts of outcomes either. Those sorts of outcomes are not what we are seeking and we are looking to see how those concerns of the community can be addressed.

Mr Snow : This is not a new problem in urban Australia. The push to urban consolidation for infill is across all capital cities. What the board has asked management to do is look at current best practice in relation to streetscape and heritage protection in these sorts of areas. Whether it is Toorak, Camberwell or Rose Bay, these councils are already dealing with the same issue, so Canberra is not special or unique in that regard. But there are good practices and good techniques that we feel could be replicable and applied to the circumstances and issues we are trying to address.

Ms BRODTMANN: Just going back to the security issue and the proposed changes around Parliament House: does the parliament actually approve these changes and then they come to you? Can you let us know when it is that you are involved in this process.

Mr Smith : Certainly. I will go back to the legislative framework. There are two relevant pieces of legislation. There is the planning and land management act, which essentially we work to. That establishes the National Capital Plan, and in the plan are designated areas. Parliament House is a designated area and we give planning approval to anything in a designated area; hence our involvement.

There is a separate piece of legislation, called the Parliament Act, which requires that the parliament give approval to activities that happen here in Parliament House and in the parliamentary zone itself. The Parliament Act enables either the Presiding Officers or our minister—it needs to go through our minister—to table the works. What is happening in this instance is that the Presiding Officers have elected to table the works. The NCA does not grant works approval until such time as the parliament has approved it, because we would be presuming the outcome of a parliamentary process, and I do not think it is appropriate for a government agency to be doing that. So we will wait for the consideration of the parliament prior to a consideration by ourselves.

Ms BRODTMANN: And then you consider it. Do you have any veto power once you consider it? Are you able to raise concerns about what has been proposed?

Mr Smith : Under the planning and land management act, the Department of Parliamentary Services still require our endorsement, our support prior to them enacting—

Mr Snow : The short answer is that if we do not like it we do not approve it.

Mr Smith : We are the final stop.

Mr COULTON: That happened this morning. The Speaker introduced the motion to change the security arrangements around Parliament House and it was passed this morning, so that process has been activated to go as per the plan. The moral rights holders are consulted but they do not have a veto power either, do they?

Mr Smith : No. Veto is not provided under the moral rights act. There is an obligation to consult in good faith, and that obligation rests with the Department of Parliamentary Services. I am aware of the intention to tabling, so it sounds like it is to go to the Senate.

Mr COULTON: That happened in the House this morning. I am sure it is to happen in the Senate today.

Mr Smith : It is in the Senate, is it? On the assumption that the Senate agrees with the motion—

Senator McCARTHY: Who knows what might happen in the Senate.

Mr Smith : Once those matters are attended to, the Department of Parliamentary Services will submit a works approval application to us.

Ms BRODTMANN: But, anyway, you have final approval on that proposal.

Mr Smith : As I say, we will not approve prior to parliament considering it.

Ms BRODTMANN: No, but should it go through—

Mr Snow : If it passes through the parliament—and let's assume it goes through the Senate—parliament submits an application, like any other landlord or applicant would, and we consider it in the normal way.

Mr COULTON: So that is where we are now.

Mr Snow : Yes.

Ms BRODTMANN: The process is underway. I have one final question. As you know, we have had discussions about the significant community concerns about the proposed development on the corner of Canberra Avenue and State Circle, particularly from the Jewish centre and Forrest primary. I want to get a sense about where that is at at the moment and the NCA's views on that development.

Mr Snow : Certainly. Mr Smith can add some more detail, but what has happened is that, in the light of the concerns raised by the centre and following a meeting with their representatives, we undertook to then approach the LDA, who initiated the proposal to redevelop that corner site. They have indicated that they are open to the suggestion we have put to them, which would go some way—perhaps not all the way, but certainly a long way—towards assuaging the concerns raised by the centre in relation to overlooking and in relation to possible security concerns. That would be dealt with by the LDA through conditions that would be applied to the offer of sale that ultimately would occur for that site. So we would have, I think, a level of control, ensuring that, in assessing the merits of any development proposal that comes forward, those conditions are met.

Mr Smith : I might jump in there. Should the sale proceed and a development occur, it will be subject to full public consultation, so we are able to work with stakeholders, whoever they might be, to ensure that the outcome, as best it can, meets their needs.

Ms BRODTMANN: Just for the benefit of my colleagues, because I understand this is all a very in-Canberra conversation, do you just want to outline what was proposed by the LDA and what your response to it was in terms of what you went back to them with? It is that piece of land just over the road from Parliament House. Just down near St Andrew's, the church on the corner, there is an empty block—it is that piece of land just there.

Mr Smith : I might say what is actually in the plans rather than what was initially proposed, because that is grounds for some of where we are today. For a length of State Circle, some three-storey buildings are permitted for apartment and residential use. On State Circle a continuation of the existing arrangements that exist in that section of the city is proposed. No building development is proposed to the corner of State Circle and Canberra Avenue—that remains open space—but on Canberra Avenue the proposal is for a building that could possibly be five or six storeys high and could be for office, apartment, hotel or even diplomatic use. It would actually incorporate diplomatic as a land use there so that if a foreign government chose to buy the site at auction they could convert it into an embassy and residential compound. There is a range of land uses there, and all of those land uses would be available to a future purchaser. We understand that the sale is to be undertaken this financial year.

Senator McCARTHY: I have a curious question. Who is responsible for the verges on the main roads where all this long grass is growing?

Mr Snow : It depends on which road, because the bulk of the roads in Canberra are actually under the care and control of—

Senator McCARTHY: It is a real fire hazard.

Mr Snow : For example, on the road from the airport, from Morshead Drive all the way along Parkes Way, I have noted that due to all the heavy rain we have quite a bit of grass along our road. That is why our contractor, as we speak, is weeding and removing lots of weeds. But, depending on which road you are referring to, certainly under our—

Senator McCARTHY: Who else would have it, if it is not you?

Mr Smith : The ACT government.

Mr Snow : The ACT government.

Mr Smith : They have the bulk of the roads.

Mr Snow : I can assure you that we watch very closely—

Senator McCARTHY: It is not good.

Mr Snow : and that through Natalie's division we mow grass. We only have a limited budget for landscape maintenance, but we discharge that responsibility very, very carefully and make sure that, particularly on routes that are likely to be prominent and well travelled, we maintain our landscape to a very, very high standard.

Mr COULTON: Along the same lines, I have a rural question. I ride a bike around the lake on a regular basis. Rabbits are feral animals, and, if you are a private landholder, there are actually regulations that mean you have to control them. There are a large number of rabbits on the lake foreshore, particularly on the bit parallel to Morshead Drive. I understand that control in a populated area is a little bit more difficult than on a rural property, but is there a policy on controlling feral animals on government land?

Mr Snow : Yes, there is. The land you refer to, Grevillea Park, is under the care of the ACT government. There was a baiting program recently conducted there. We have observed a pretty serious rabbit population there. The ACT government, however, with our encouragement, has undertaken that baiting program, the outcome of which we will see. Effectively, the ACT government is very aware of that problem and, with our support and encouragement, is implementing baiting programs.

Senator RHIANNON: Mr Snow, I noted your answer about the small percentage of public foreshore land that can be privately developed. I just want to deal with the West Basin area. Is it in keeping with the heritage values of Lake Burley Griffin's West Basin? As I would see it, it is one of the most significant parts of the foreshore, as it is part of that land around Commonwealth Avenue Bridge that links the city with the parliamentary precinct. If the land is sold off there, I would have thought that we should not be thinking about it in terms of the percentage overall but that we need to be looking at the heritage values of that land and the significance it has, as it is part of the gateway into the parliament and the gateway back to the city. I have always thought of that as pretty significant, so I am interested in how you are assessing that area there.

Mr Snow : I think that what is very important is that it is both about the heritage values and about the important public space values. There is no doubt that people already use that part of the lake. It is very important, in our view, that public space usage continues in whatever form City to the Lake takes. That is why, in relation to City to the Lake, we have produced development guidelines which clearly require a minimum of a 55-metre public open space around the lake. There has been commentary and, quite frankly, misrepresentation that somehow we are going to get buildings right down to the waterfront. That is not correct. The guidelines specifically require the lakefront, which is the most valuable public space we have, to be fully protected and development adjoining that public open space to be at an appropriate human scale, no more than four stories.

Senator RHIANNON: I understand that you are actually filling in part of the lake to extend that public space. If there was not any filling in of the lake, how much public space would there be?

Mr Snow : I think that we as a planning authority would still apply the same principle, which is that we would not be supportive of buildings across the entire area. As I said, that site already has significant public space values. Any development proposal that we consider must still incorporate a significant proportion of public space.

Senator RHIANNON: How far, just in distance, is it? Let us start with the lake. How far out from the lake, not in total area but in distance from the foreshore to where the new edge of the water will be, is that? Is it two metres or five metres once you have done the infill?

Mr Smith : It varies depending on what part of the arm you are talking about. We could give you some dimensions, but I would rather be accurate than—

Senator RHIANNON: Okay. The point of the question—

CHAIR: I was just going to say—

Senator RHIANNON: Can I explain the point of the question.

CHAIR: You can explain the point of the question.

Senator RHIANNON: Thank you very much, Chair. The point of the question is: are you filling in the lake to justify the private development, because this is obviously a controversial point?

CHAIR: How about you specify the areas that you are interested in, on notice, and they can answer accordingly? That way we will not be talking past each other. It is a bit like ships in the night at the moment.

Senator RHIANNON: No, I do not think it is ships in the night, because it is just to understand. It is very significant to have private development on such a significant part of the public land. I understand that the whole concept of Lake Burley Griffin is that it was about the foreshore landscape and it is there for public use so that, when you look across the lake, you are looking at public land. You are looking at the entrance rather than looking at private property. So all these issues would seem to be relevant, so I am trying to understand your thinking on this.

Mr Snow : The City to the Lake development can now proceed under the current planning provisions of the national capital. There is all of the consultation that goes back to 2002 about the merits. The planning merits of this proposal have been discussed and debated since 2002. That is why—again, through amendment 86—we offered the community, yet again, another opportunity to comment on that proposal. The planning controls now in place permit the City to the Lake development to proceed. It is not a hypothetical; it can proceed. What is now important, as I said, is that we achieve a quality development. Any suggestion that the entire area is going to be privatised and covered by buildings is a misrepresentation. A substantial part of the City to the Lake project will be retained for public space purposes, including the critical lake frontage area.

CHAIR: Great.

Ms BRODTMANN: I want to ask you about progress on additions to Parliament House and also increasing parking capacity. Have you been involved in any of those conversations, and what have they been about?

Mr Snow : Not on the former matter. We are aware of accommodation issues that the house is trying to deal with.

Ms BRODTMANN: Yes.

Mr Snow : But we have not had any formal approach in relation to expansion areas. In relation to car parking, again, we are aware of the chronic problems associated with parking, particularly during peak times, when there is high public usage combined with when the House and the Senate are sitting, and we are in discussions with DPS about what options we have to help address that problem in both the short and the long term.

Ms BRODTMANN: What options have been floated?

Mr Snow : Certainly, in the close vicinity of Parliament House, there are existing public car parks where the utilisation or occupancy levels are very low. So there is capacity within existing public car parks that are part of the parking scheme for that demand to be met.

Ms BRODTMANN: Which ones are you thinking about here?

Mr Snow : West Block car park.

Ms BRODTMANN: Any others?

Mr Snow : Based on the occupancy rates we are getting around the Parliamentary Triangle generally, there is still adequate supply of parking. It is a question of whether people are prepared to walk slightly more distance to get to them.

Ms BRODTMANN: And pay.

Mr Snow : And pay.

Ms BRODTMANN: Thank you.

CHAIR: Thank you for attending and to the NCA for giving evidence to the committee at today's hearing. If the committee has any further questions for you, they will be provided to you in writing through the secretariat.

Resolved that these proceedings be published.

Committee adjourned at 10:54