The ISCCC calls it as it is. Last month we congratulated the ACT Government on a couple of initiatives that showed Ministers had been listening to community concerns about some important planning issues.

This month, we roundly condemn the Chief Minister’s announcement that the Lease Variation Charge (LVC) is likely again to be watered down, ostensibly to encourage economic activity in today’s difficult economic times.

The LVC is an important feature of Canberra’s leasehold system. It aims to ensure the community benefits from changes in lease purposes, rather than providing leaseholders windfall gains that benefit few.

The value of the LVC has already been whittled away. In our own backyard we saw the charge waived with respect to the Brumbies development in Griffith. Again, if individual organisations are to benefit from a community asset, there should be a clear, defensible and transparent process which force Governments to explain and defend proposed uses of these scarce funds.

There are many ways to bolster the ACT economy. Rather than being waived, the ISCCC believes that the LVC should be paid into the ACT Treasury and that decisions are then made about the best way to spend that money in the interests of the Canberra community. Reductions in property taxes, more roads, or something else might be better ways to use these funds.

The ISCCC is extremely angry that this review appears to be proceeding without any apparent community consultation. The property and building industries have every right to put their view, but so do the rest of us.

The ISCCC is hosting next weekend’s meeting of Canberra’s Combined Community Councils and this issue will be high on the agenda. We call upon the Government to consult the community properlyon this very important issue which will have long-lasting implications for ACT finances and planning.

Gary Kent, Chair

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