The troubled Land Development Agency will be replaced by two new land agencies in July after the legislation was passed in a lengthy debate in the ACT parliament on Thursday.
Labor and the Greens rejected new transparency measures pushed by the Liberals, including an attempt by Liberal Leader Alistair Coe to enshrine the current rules for buying land into legislation.
The rules require all purchases of up to $5 million to be approved by the board and advised to the minister. Between $5 million and $20 million, purchases must include a business case and be approved by the chief minister and treasurer.
While these rules already apply to the Land Development Agency, the agency's board made a decision in 2015 to "interpret" them as only applying to certain transactions, a decision criticised by Auditor-General Maxine Cooper. A series of land purchases did not go to the board for approval - including controversial payments to local developers for Glebe Park land, and to the owners of the boat and bike hire businesses at West Basin.
Mr Coe attempted to have the rules enshrined in the legislation for the new agencies, but was defeated by Labor and the Greens, who said the specific values should not be in legislation because they would change.
Mr Coe blasted their stance as "an absolute cop out" and a "get out of jail free pass" for the new agencies.
The Greens had had thier wool pulled over their eyes, he said leaving in place the same process that had betrayed the trust of Canberrans.
"Rather than tightening the leash, [the Greens' Caroline] Le Couteur is lengthening the leash, giving the LDA more scope," he said.
The Greens were successful in adding new requirements for the agencies to meet affordable and public housing targets, deliver environmentally sustainable development and meet greenhouse gas targets (the Liberals voted against the greenhouse gas addition).
Ms Le Couteur was successful in replacing a requirement for the agencies to operate commercially with a requirement for them to operate "effectively, in a way that delivers value for money".
The Liberals tried to add a requirement for the new agencies to report to the ACT parliament four times a year on the land they had bought, including providing the valuations and the amount paid. Labor and the Greens defeated the attempt, but the Greens suggested that the information should be given to the minister four times a year instead. Labor agreed to that.
Labor and the Greens also defeated Liberal Leader Alistair Coe's attempt to force the new agencies to publish the agendas and minutes of board meetings. Mr Coe said there was a "real secrecy" surrounding activities of the Land Development Agency.
But Chief Minister Andrew Barr said the move would place an unreasonable burden on the board and raise significant commercial issues. Transparency was already served through a statement of expectations from the minister, a statement of intent from the board and the annual report. Ms Le Couteur said the Greens opposed the move on the same grounds.
Mr Coe also failed to force the agencies to get three valuations for land sales and sell land by auction or tender. Mr Barr said three valuations were not always required, disclosing the valuations would conflict with the agencies' commercial operation, and the move would prohibit direct sales.
Mr Coe pushed to have conflict of interest disclosures by board members published. But Mr Barr said conflicts of interest were dealt with in separate legislation and public disclosure was an unreasonable intrusion into the private affairs of board members and not necessary.
The legislation sets up two new organisations - a Suburban Land Agency in charge of building new suburbs, and a City Renewal Authority in charge of development in the Northbourne corridor and the city, along with any other "special precincts" declared by the government.
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