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A covert and questionable technical amendment has enabled the Barr government to proceed with public housing development in suburban locations where it would otherwise have been prohibited by the Territory Plan, Shadow Minister for Planning and Infrastructure Nicole Lawder said today.

Documents recently released under Freedom of Information show the ACT government previously could not build public housing on land zoned for community facilities because the Territory Plan did not permit community land for residential use.

The Public Housing Renewal Taskforce knew it would require a Territory Plan Variation in order to permit the government to use Community Facility Zoned land for residential purposes.

Aware that its public housing plans were in breach of the Territory Plan as early as April 2015, the government quietly put through a technical amendment, using a Notifiable Instrument, in December 2015. The amendment changed the wording, and subsequently the meaning of the Development Code from “supportive housing” (defined as housing for persons with special housing needs for reasons of age or disability) to include “social housing”, thereby enabling the government to argue that they can use Community Facility Zoned land for public housing.

This fundamentally changes the meaning of CFZ land.

“A technical amendment is not permitted to change the meaning of the development code, but in this case it clearly does,” Ms Lawder said.

“Minister Mick Gentleman needs to explain how this amendment holds up under scrutiny. The government knew its development proposal was in breach of the Territory Plan and so it quietly made an illegitimate amendment to skirt around the issue.

“Residents in Chapman, Holder, Wright, Mawson and Monash are anguished over current proposals, not to mention the manner in which the government has largely ignored their concerns through its lack of genuine consultation.

“What this means is that parks and other community facility zoned land all around Canberra may soon be switched over to public housing, given the government’s questionable amendment.

“The government owes residents a sound explanation on how this amendment stacks up,” Ms Lawder concluded.

Leader of the Opposition Alistair Coe has announced the Canberra Liberals will push for key government integrity measures as part of his official reply to the ACT Budget.

"This week's Budget was a bad one for families and local businesses, which will be forced to absorb increasing costs as a result," Mr Coe said.

"For the first time, revenue will exceed $6 billion. The government is producing a fiscal deficit of $485 million, while the interest bill will be $194 million. Clearly the government is taking more, and giving less back.

"Furthermore, there was nothing in this Budget to address integrity issues in local government. In addition to discussion regarding, health, education, business and urban services, in my speech today, I announced six separate integrity measures, in addition to an ICAC, that we will move to implement:

  • A Public Works Committee – to safeguard the ACT against recurring problems with infrastructure projects.
  • Giving more options to whistleblowers – making it easier for public servants tocall out actual or suspected wrongdoing.
  • Tracking agency audits – allowing Assembly Committees to receive twice yearly progress reports on audit activities of ACT government agencies.
  • Improving the unsolicited proposals process – to give more clarity in legislation with regards to timelines and IP protection.
  • Broadening the invoice register – by halving the notifiable invoice threshold to $12,500.
  • Reporting land acquisitions – to ensure all land acquisitions are reported to the Assembly Public Accounts Committee, addressing certain criteria.

"It's time we took these next steps to ensure integrity across ACT government agencies. These are worthwhile measures, to prevent the sorts of scenarios we've seen under this Labor government," Mr Coe concluded.

1 May 2017

CAnberra

Today the Canberra Liberals have launched www.haveyoursay.net.au, a new website which aims to enhance communication and consultation options for Canberrans with the Canberra Liberals, Leader of the Opposition Alistair Coe said today.

“This exciting new initiative will enable Canberrans to interact online about local issues that are important to them, and will allow the Canberra Liberals to consult even more broadly on issues to aid in positions and policy development ahead of the 2020 ACT Election,” Mr Coe said.

“The website, www.haveyoursay.net.au will provide another way for Canberrans, particularly those who are time poor, to interact with us and have their say about various issues in the ACT community.

“The new website will allow Canberrans to suggest issues that the Canberra Liberals should consult or follow up on, have their say on issues that the Canberra Liberals are already pursuing and allow people to raise concerns with the Canberra Liberals confidentially.

“The Canberra Liberals already have a strong positive record on community consultation, but we want to make it even stronger with www.haveyoursay.net.au

“If only Andrew Barr and the ACT Labor/Green government had consulted on issues like public housing, residents across several suburbs wouldn’t be dealing with the mess they’re currently in.

“The Canberra Liberals are interested in empowering the community, not destroying opinions of those who are impacted,” Mr Coe concluded.

 

The money hungry ACT government is slugging households more and more in today’s Budget, while future generations will be forced to pay for the incompetence of Andrew Barr as Treasurer.

The bottom line is, this Budget will make it more difficult to live, work and raise a family in Canberra, Leader of the Opposition and Shadow Treasurer Alistair Coe said today.

“While Andrew Barr has his own spin, the real numbers in this Budget paint a worrying picture. The ACT’s net debt will reach nearly $3.5 billion next year Revenue for the first time will exceed $6 billion.

Stamp duty, which the government promised to abolish, will bring in $300 million this year while interest payments total $194 million this year,” Mr Coe said.*

“The ACT government is gouging record revenue from Canberrans but it’s clear to everyone across town that we’re getting less and less in return. The quality of local services is declining while costs continue to rise.

“Andrew Barr’s rates increases are driving people across the border.

“We’re being gouged across the board.

In this Budget, the take from: 

  • Residential rates is up 12% 
  • Commercial rates is up 5% 
  • Land tax is up 18% 
  • Motor vehicle registration is up 6% 
  • Parking fines up a whopping 38%

“The cost of living is too high and it seems the government is profiting from the demise of those Canberrans that will need to go into survival mode as a result of this budget,” Mr Coe concluded.

*Figures are taken from BP3 pgs 223 & 377-381

Standing Committee on Planning and Urban Renewal

Caroline Le Couteur MLA (Chair), Suzanne Orr MLA (Deputy Chair)

Nicole Lawder MLA, Tara Cheyne MLA, James Milligan MLA

 

Today, 30 March 2017, the Chair of the Standing Committee on Planning and Urban Renewal, Caroline Le Couteur MLA, advised the Legislative Assembly of the Committee’s decision to initiate two new inquiries.

In one inquiry, the Committee will inquire into Housing in the ACT, in particular ‘into the interaction of population growth, housing affordability, housing diversity and design, consumer behaviour, and suburban and environmental impact of residential development in the present …  Assembly’.

The Committee, in this inquiry, will consider a number of issues, including:

  • existing housing diversity;
  • demand for different housing types;
  • effects of suburban infill, housing in centres, land release and greenfield development;
  • the effectiveness of existing regulation and zoning;
  • best practice in this area in other jurisdictions; and
  • any other relevant matter.
  • current rules and practices;
  • community views on placement and construction;
  • whether there should be designated areas for billboards;
  • regulation of billboard advertising to limit environmental or aesthetic impact; and
  • any other relevant matter.

 

Through the course of this inquiry the Committee will take into consideration a broad range of views, in depth, and it intends to report to the Assembly by the last sitting day of 2018.

In its other inquiry, the Committee will inquire into billboards for outdoor advertising in the ACT. This will include consideration of:

This inquiry is narrower in scope and the Committee intends to report to the Assembly by the last sitting day of October 2017.

Both inquiries are open for submissions.

Media inquiries: Committee Secretariat: 6205 0137 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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