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Changes to community concessional leases will affect our community groups for the worse

Previously, community-zoned land in Canberra was available to organisations at a concessional rate. Multicultural organisations, volunteer associations, faith communities and others could request one of these parcels of land on which to build a meeting hall, place of worship, or other community facility.

The Barr Government has completely altered this arrangement. Community groups can no longer request land for a purpose of their choosing. Instead, the government will assign purposes to parcels based on its own priorities. It will then invite community groups to compete for access to land based on their ability to match the government’s priorities. A central element in this plan is severely limiting the supply of community concessional land.

Successful tenders will have government-imposed conditions, including not just what a facility must be used for but when it will be required to operate. Leaseholders must demonstrate annually that they meet these conditions fully or lose their lease.

These changes demonstrate the Barr Government’s deep distrust of everyday Canberrans and their decision-making – a point I raised in the Assembly today. Moreover, intentionally creating a scarcity of community land when our population is growing ignores the roles that volunteer and community organisations play in the lives of many residents. The government admitted that it had engaged in no community consultation before making these changes.

In contrast, I and the Canberra Liberals believe that community groups should be supported in obtaining land on which they can build facilities. We trust community members to determine for themselves what their needs are, and we believe it is immoral to create a situation where an artificial scarcity of available land will force organisations to compete against each other for this government’s favour. I will have more to say on this matter in future.

Click on the arrow button to read my speech.


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