Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 1 Hansard (28 February) . . Page.. 119..
MR CORBELL (continuing):
The intent of this bill is as it has always been. It is to prevent a commercial competitor from using the powers under the planning legislation to seek review of a decision to frustrate or hinder a commercial rival. That is what the intent of this legislation is and I think the opposition and the government are agreed that it is inappropriate for the planning law to be used to frustrate a commercial rival simply to gain a commercial advantage. Let's face it, Mr Speaker: that is what is happening at the moment and that is what the case that was brought in the Supreme Court that has led to this legislation is all about.
It is about seeking to put a stop on development that is from a commercial rival. I will comment briefly on the circumstances surrounding the Austexx development at Mitchell. Currently, that development is stopped because any merits review in the AAT puts an immediate stop on the development approval. The proponent cannot proceed with the development approval whilst the matter is in the AAT.
That means costs and delay for that proponent. In this case, the cost is significant. But the government is not eliminating or removing the capacity for people to seek review on matters of law, about whether or not the law has been appropriately applied. Those matters are still open to review, through the Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act in the Supreme Court. The difference is that there is no automatic stop on a development approval. If you go to the Supreme Court and you seek review, you have to seek an injunction to stop the development approval from being able to be actioned. And you have to put up some security if your application is found to have been frivolous or not worthy and there are damages to be paid to the other party. That is an appropriate course of action.
In the AAT you only have to pay maybe $100 to lodge an application, but you can stop the development indefinitely and there are no damages if your action is unsuccessful. Little wonder developers find that an attractive course of action. Little wonder developers use the AAT to try to obstruct a commercial rival. Mr Speaker, all we are saying is that that avenue should not be open to developers. That is the intent of this legislation. If they have concerns about the application of the law, they still have remedy available to them in the Supreme Court, and the proponent has the ability to seek damages should the action against them be unsuccessful. That, I think, is an appropriate discipline on all parties. I commend the bill to the Assembly.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill agreed to in principle.
Bill as a whole.
MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Attorney-General, Minister for Police and Emergency Services and Minister for Planning) (6.30): I move government amendment No 1 circulated in my name [see schedule 1 at page 125].