Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2000 Week 7 Hansard (27 June) . . Page.. 2089..
I believe that this subsection has been inserted because of another provision in the act, subsection 276(5), which says that an objector cannot appeal against an application where an environmental impact assessment of the application has already dealt with the issues raised in the objection.
The new subsection 243(2) has obviously been included to make this section more consistent with section 276. However, my private members bill, the Land (Planning and Environment) (Amendment) Bill (No 2) 1998, amended section 276. In my bill I omitted subsection 276(5) to remove this particular restriction on third-party appeals. This restriction on appeals was based on the assumption that all the issues raised by objectors would be dealt with in the environmental impact assessment process so there was no need for appeals. However, this view misunderstands the role of the environmental impact assessment.
An EIA is done as a tool to assist in making decisions. It is not a decision-making process of itself. The fact that an EIA is done on a development application does not mean that the final decision takes into account all the issues raised by the EIA. Sometimes the issues raised in an EIA can conflict with each other. For example, housing development in a particular location may reduce traffic generation and thus pollution relative to other locations that may be sited in an area of remnant bushland. In these cases, it is up to the decision-maker to determine which issues are more important than others when they rule on the development application.
If appeals are not allowed in these circumstances, then the public has no opportunity of formally questioning both the adequacy of the environmental impact assessment and the adequacy of the decision-maker's response to the assessment in the making of their decision on the development application. This part of my private members bill was passed, so there is now no need for the government's amendment here. All objectors against development applications for which appeal rights exist should be sent notification of the decision, regardless of whether or not an environmental impact assessment has been undertaken. I hope that I receive support for at least this, because it would be very inconsistent if this was not the case.
MR SMYTH (Minister for Urban Services) (10.06): Government will be opposing this amendment. We believe that under part 4 it has been substantially dealt with in previous decision-making processes, and we believe that this subsection should stand.
MR CORBELL (10.07): Mr Speaker, the Labor Party will be supporting this amendment, simply because it is consistent with amendments already made by the Assembly as proposed by Ms Tucker. The minister should indicate that he is prepared to revisit this. I realise that he has had late notice in considering it, but I think it is important that he indicate to the Assembly that he is prepared to revisit it, simply because if this amendment of Ms Tucker's is not passed we will have inconsistencies in the land act, which is what this bill is trying to address.
MR SMYTH (Minister for Urban Services) (10.07): Initially, I thought it was an additional amendment that I had not seen. The advice from the department is that it would not be inconsistent if the amendment is not passed. I am happy to revisit the matter if inconsistencies appear. The advice I had from the department when we looked at this was that it does not create inconsistency. Should it appear that it does, we will of course revisit it.
That the amendment (Ms Tucker's ) be agreed to.