Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 12 Hansard (14 November) . . Page.. 3629..
MS DUNDAS (continuing):
I do commend this report to the Assembly. It is a very considered report and, as has been mentioned, we worked incredibly hard to do the best that we could with the information provided because we seriously recognise the importance of this legislation to the community, to the Assembly and to planning in the ACT. I hope that it will help inform the debate we will have over the government's proposed framework.
Debate (on motion by Mr Corbell ) adjourned to the next sitting.
Administrative Appeals Tribunal Amendment Bill 2002
Mr Stanhope, pursuant to notice, presented the bill and its explanatory memorandum.
Title read by Clerk.
MR STANHOPE (Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for Health, Minister for Community Affairs and Minister for Women) (12.04): I move:
That this bill be agreed to in principle.
Mr Speaker the Administrative Appeals Tribunal Amendment Bill 2002 is the third part of the government's planning reform package for the ACT. It follows on from the Planning and Land Bill 2002 and the Planning and Land (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2002.
As part of its election platform, Labor made a commitment to improving land planning and management in the ACT. It indicated that it was not comfortable with the manner in which planning appeals were decided in the ACT. This resulted from community concerns that the hearing of planning appeals was too cumbersome and costly for ordinary people exercising their rights to challenge administrative decisions of government and the Commissioner for Land and Planning.
Rather than rushing in and changing the present appeals system without further thought, the government established a planning and land development task force to provide advice on the current planning appeals process and identify areas where the hearing of planning appeals might be improved. The task force consulted widely with the planning and building professions and with community groups. The results of the consultation indicate that, although there is a general need to reform the planning appeals process, there is cross-sector agreement that this appeals tribunal is the most appropriate forum to deal with planning appeals. The government thanks the task force for its excellent work.
Although deciding that the hearing of planning appeals will remain in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, the government remains committed to assisting the tribunal to streamline its procedures. The government will provide assistance in two ways. The first is to ensure that the tribunal has improved resources to enable it to adequately deal with planning appeals. Additional tribunal members will be appointed, with expertise in the planning, building and heritage industries. This will allow three members, two with expertise in the subject matter, to sit on most planning appeals. The improvement in resources will also see qualified mediators engaged by the tribunal to assist the parties to resolve any differences they may have without the need for a formal hearing.