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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 7 Hansard (1 July) . . Page.. 3170..


Gungahlin Drive Extension Authorisation Amendment Bill 2004

Debate resumed from 29 June 2004, on motion by Mr Wood:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MS DUNDAS (4.43): The ACT Democrats oppose the Gungahlin Drive Extension Authorisation Amendment Bill. When the bill was introduced in this Assembly, the ACT Democrats opposed it because it took away the rights of Canberrans and it interfered with the proper relationship between the executive and the judiciary in the territory. This bill undermines the ACT planning system and the Democrats are opposed to that. This bill is not the proper way to change the territory plan. A process is already in place to change the territory plan-one that requires scientific study, community consultation and scrutiny by an Assembly committee.

Canberra is one of the best-planned cities. Planning is an essential part of our heritage and our history. The people of Canberra care about planning, how their city will take shape and how open spaces and nature reserves will be protected. The interest and participation in planning in Canberra supersedes that in any other part of this country. The foundation of our planning system is the territory plan. That document sets out how we control development in our city, how we protect our environment and how we wish to see our city grow and prosper. It is intentionally difficult to tamper with, sometimes requiring discussion and research to ensure that we do not make the wrong decision when we try to amend it.

The territory plan has never been able to be changed on the whim of a minister in order to fast-track development. It is unfortunate that today we have before us a proposed law to change that longstanding principle. If this bill is successful today it will suddenly mean that a change to the territory plan can be achieved at the discretion of a minister with no consultation, no assessment and no scrutiny. That appalling precedent shows the contempt that this government has for the planning process in the ACT. This government came to power on a wave of discontent following the Liberals' cavalier attitude to planning yet we now see it interfering in planning laws to an extent that was never dreamt of by the Liberals.

Let it be clear that the inclusion of parts of Caswell Drive, Belconnen Way and Bindubi Street within Canberra Nature Park was not some anomaly or mistake; it was a deliberate decision by drafters of the territory plan to protect the nature reserve. Roads bounded by the nature reserve on both sides were intentionally included in the nature reserve as part of the territory plan so that the conservator of flora and fauna would have the jurisdiction to oversee any work or development in those areas and he or she could assess the need to protect the environmental value of the reserve. If this motion is successful today it will be taking away that important piece of protection.

We also recognise that it is quite possible that this unprincipled move will be entirely unnecessary. The ACT government will put its argument to the court this week and the court might choose to remove the injunction. The information I have been given is that the government believes the construction of the road is entirely consistent with the territory plan. If that is the case this proposed law is unnecessary and the court will


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