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Simon’s OK on Epicentre

By johnboy - 13 December 2006 3

Late yesterday Simon Corbell announced that the auditor had found his dealings with the whole Fyshwick Epicentre mess to be squeaky clean.

An independent valuation commissioned by the ACT Auditor General has found the ACT taxpayer received a return ‘well above’ the market value of the EpiCentre site in Fyshwick, vindicating the Government’s land sale processes, Planning Minister Simon Corbell said today.

This morning’s Canberra Times follows suit albeit with a particularly unkind picture of Simon.

The CT also notes that some gripes remain:

“Mr Seselja said the biggest ambiguity, about whether a 3000sqm restriction applied to retailing on the site as a whole, or individual shops, still remained…

The Shopping Centre Council of Australia’s executive director Milton Cockburn said it was strange that the Auditor-General could make significant criticisms about the way the auction was conducted, yet conclude the process was not flawed.

What’s Your opinion?


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3 Responses to
Simon’s OK on Epicentre
publius 6:06 am 16 Dec 06

The political reality is Corbell was cleared by Tu Pham’s report. Whether people like it or not, the Auditor-General did not make any findings about inappropriate actions by Minister Corbell. Sure there were problems between the key agencies and a lack of clarity with respect to the process. But on the key points, as Corbell has pointed out, the Auditor-General gave the process a tick. The Canberra Liberals, via their Shadow Minister (Seselja), thought they had Corbell on toast. But it blew up in the Libs face a bit this week. Seselja faced a censure motion himself this week. The next issue in this saga is the attitude of the NCA in terms of the Territory Plan. That could put Corbell under renewed pressure.

Chris S 8:38 am 14 Dec 06

I’m surprised that there has been so little feedback on this issue – perhaps we’re no longer interested in Corbell/ACTPLA, as we know what turkeys thay are.

This affair reflects a governance failure, that of planning governance. Rather than there being fully transparent, accountable and open involvement by the planning authorities (including the Minister), the interests of ACT citizens and the goal of proper and desirable planning outcomes have been sacrificed.

I recently prepared a submission on the Planning System Reform, where I referred to the need for strong planning governance, which I believe is poorly understood by the Minister and his planning authorities. A “Review of Stakeholder Engagement in ACT Planning” conducted by the National Institute for Governance in 2004 concluded that:

“Our general findings (detailed in Chapter 7) are that community consultation processes in relation to planning in the ACT are:

• characterised by strengths worth retaining and building on, including a general commitment to better planning outcomes among the stakeholders and officials, a clear and detailed Statement of Planning Intent by the Minister, and a city-state scale that allows reform and change

• but are also characterised by low levels of trust and confidence among stakeholders

• not always conducted in a transparent and accountable way

• not always carried out in such a way as to get the best match amongst purpose, technique, timing, target group, and resources

• subject to problems in communications and the effective dissemination of information

• not able to attract the involvement of a representative cross-section of the community

• conducted through multiple layers of consultation, which are not seen as productive

• subject to differing views as to who has a right to carry out development on their own property and in what circumstances, and on who has a right to be consulted about proposed developments and in what circumstances

• compromised by a lack of certainty about planning decisions for industry or the community

• conducted in such a way as to not take into adequate account the social, economic, and environmental impacts of planning decisions.’

The NIG made a number of recommendations, which the Minister summarily dismissed. It’s interesting that if the NIG recommendations, which related to community consultation but are able to be extrapolated into the overall planning framework, had been followed, the Austexx Affair would probably have never happened.

This whole thing has been a significant communications failure. It is worth re-reading the Artcraft report, “ACTPLA Communications Survey” released in 2004. This report was prepared soon after PALM morphed into ACTPLA, and provided a roadmap ahead to enable ACTPLA to move away from the communications problems of its predecessor. I and many other members of the community participated in this review, and we were genuinely supportive of ACTPLA’s desire to be far more open and accountable in its communications, with a reduction in the “spin” that PALM was well known for. Unfortunately, we have continued to be subjected to selective presentation of “facts”, selective corporate memory, and so much spin that every statement issued by ACTPLA needs to be closely examined to see where the truth really lies. ACTPLA suffers from a lack of “truthiness” when it comes to its communications.

It’s interesting that during the Artcraft study, members of the community made reference to the problems associated with development at the airport.

Pandy 11:00 pm 13 Dec 06

Simon was so cheerful today he did not have take his happy pills.

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