A fiery debate erupted in the ACT parliament after Labor and the Greens moved to prevent a potentially divisive vote on a motion that revealed a fracture within the coalition partnership.
Greens member for Yerrabi Andrew Braddock put forward a motion on Tuesday calling on the ACT government to halt future land sales in the Gungahlin town centre until a planning review is completed.
The Canberra Liberals supported the Greens motion, which Labor had signalled was at odds with the parliamentary agreement, but a vote on the motion was deferred, after all Labor and Greens members supported an adjournment.
Opposition whip Jeremy Hanson was scathing of the deferral and told the Assembly there was no reason to adjourn the vote.
"The Labor party and the Greens don't want to vote because they know the vote would be pretty embarrassing," Mr Hanson said.
Planning Minister Mick Gentleman called for debate to be adjourned, citing a possible conflict of interest with members who are on the Assembly's planning committee.
The planning committee is set to examine the proposed variation to the territory plan related to development in the Gungahlin town centre.
Greens committee member Jo Clay said the committee was advised of a possible conflict of interest, which the committee had not had a chance to properly examine.
But Liberals committee member Mark Parton argued that members of the committee could abstain from the vote.
Mr Braddock's motion called for the sales to be halted until the proposed variation was incorporated into the territory plan.
Opposition Leader Elizabeth Lee said Labor and the Greens had abused parliamentary procedure to block a vote.
"There is no reason that this matter should be adjourned with Labor and the Greens instead using numbers in the chamber to vote to protect their own political interests. They are making a mockery of our parliament and they should be ashamed of themselves," Ms Lee said.
Earlier in the day, Mr Braddock, who sponsored a petition last week calling for an auction of Gungahlin land to be halted, said the government could stand to make more money from the blocks if the planning system was improved.
"The land will eventually be sold in some form or another. If anything, if we get the mix right, it'll become more valuable, because those who wish to live close to green spaces or community spaces, or employment, would be prepared to pay more for their particular housing choice," Mr Braddock said.
The petition, put forward by the Gungahlin Community Council, called for the auction of four blocks in the Gungahlin town centre on Wednesday to be stopped.
Mr Braddock's motion did not call for those auctions to be stopped but it does ask that no further sales are made until variations are made to the territory plan.
The Greens move has caused fractures in its coalition with Labor, after Housing Minister Yvette Berry confirmed the auction would go ahead on Wednesday.
Ms Berry indicated to the Assembly that the motion was not consistent with the Labor-Greens power-sharing agreement, which has committed to building more public, community and affordable housing.
"It's important to refer to the parliamentary agreement of this Labor-Greens government and its commitment to more housing," Ms Berry said.
"We all need to remember that the parliamentary agreement says we will increase the housing supply to meet increased demand, we'll build 400 new public housing dwellings, we'll build 600 more affordable rentals.
"And finally, especially relevant is motion, we will build at least 70% of new housing within Canberra's existing footprint."
The four Gungahlin blocks could see up to 454 units built and of those at least 76 must be affordable and eight must be public housing.
Greens leader Shane Rattenbury last week confirmed all Greens members supported Mr Braddock's move and that it was not at odds with the parliamentary agreement.
Mr Rattenbury said the party was committed to creating a city that supported community needs, green space and urban heritage.
"It is evident that there are significant planning challenges in the Gungahlin town centre. The community has repeatedly asked for increased green space, community facilities and commercial opportunities to build a more viable place to live," Mr Rattenbury said.
The Suburban Land Agency met with representatives from the Gungahlin Community Council last week to discuss the petition.
An ACT government spokeswoman said the sales conditions of the blocks were amended to make sure development proposals on the sites are referred to the National Capital Design Review Panel.
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