Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 1 Hansard (11 February) . . Page.. 179..
MR SMYTH (continuing):
ACTPLA for three months before the community was told in the week after Christmas that there was to be some sort of development, such as, "Here's a little bit of information about it but we're going ahead with it anyway?"
If you look at the trail, the trail of sneakiness, you will find that the plans were finished in March, they were discussed in budget cabinet-they have to be, otherwise decisions are being made on the run-and they were then the subject of a press release. The press release announced, "We're going to do a refurbishment". It was even downplayed. It is to be a major redevelopment, but the press release talked about a much-needed refurbishment.
We have this conflict in the press release. We know that the plans were out there mid-year and we know that they were submitted to ACTPLA on 30 September, but when did the residents find out? The first week of January. Is that honest, open accountability? Is that community engagement? Is that getting out there and talking with people?
Mr Speaker, we then get to the bureaucratic shuffle. Residents have no confidence in the process. I can assure you that residents have no confidence in the minister and his ability to control this process because they have been shunted from pillar to post. They get to talk to the architect, then they have to go to somewhere else. They go to Health and when Health does not want to answer questions they get to go to somewhere else. They go to ACTPLA and when ACTPLA will not answer questions they have to go to somewhere else. Why can't somebody tell the residents exactly what is going on? The answer is because the government does not want residents to know. It is a sneaky process. It is not open, it is not honest, it is not accountable, it is not my idea of community engagement.
Then we get to the use of the call-in power. It is really quite interesting when you read Mr Corbell's press release of 7 February to see the words "the new planning process". Why do we need a new planning process? Why didn't this go through the normal planning process? The press release says:
The new planning process for the proposed Karralika redevelopment could not be fairer, Planning Minister Simon Corbell said today.
It should have read, "Could not be fairer for me. You can play but you can't win because I'm going to use the call-in power."If you read the press release you find that he will use his ministerial call-in power to determine the application. That is not fair. I do not know what his sense of fairness is. I do not know if he has a dictionary and whether he has actually looked up the word "fair". "Fair"means that people participate equally. You cannot participate when at the end of the process your rights will be truncated because you have a minister who is sneaky. The timing of the press releases themselves-
MR SPEAKER: I am not going to allow that anymore. You have referred to the departmental processes as sneaky, but I am not going to have ministers described in this place as sneaky. I call on you to withdraw that and not use the term in respect of members.
MR SMYTH: Mr Speaker, I take your direction and withdraw the comment. But it does go on. You have to look at this attitude that "I can do anything I want because I'm the minister. I will have my way". It does go on and on.