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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 7 Hansard (23 August) . . Page.. 2053..

Standing order 76—suspension

MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Attorney-General, Minister for Police and Emergency Services) (10.46): With the Assembly's indulgence, I move:

That standing order 76 be suspended for the remainder of the sitting.

Standing order 76 prohibits new business being introduced after 11 pm. Two associated bills with this legislation need to be passed. Given that we will progress past 11 pm, we need to suspend the standing order.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Planning and Development Bill 2006

Detail stage

Remainder of bill.

Debate resumed.

MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Attorney-General, Minister for Police and Emergency Services) (10.47): I will speak briefly on this item—obviously in support of the government proposal—and to refute some of the arguments made by Dr Foskey. First of all, of course, a human rights compatibility statement has been issued for this bill, so it has been assessed by the human rights office as a piece of legislation that meets all the necessary tests and requirements of the Human Rights Act. It is important to place that on the record. To deal with the more substantive issues, open standing is a provision which casts the net as wide as possible to capture people's ability to seek independent review of decisions relating to planning and development. However, the necessary balance has to be struck between the opportunity for those who are most directly affected by a development proposal and those who disagree with the policy intent of the planning policy that is in place.

My concern with arguments for broad open standing in all circumstances—I do not disagree that open standing should be available in certain circumstances but I disagree that it should as a matter of principle be available in all circumstances—is that it provides an opportunity for policy debates which have been legitimately revisited, discussed by the public in earlier fora, have almost inevitably been dealt with by elected representatives, and have then been the subject of ongoing dispute through the mechanisms of review around individual development applications. That is one of the dilemmas with open standing. It permits those who are aggrieved with the decision, say, of this body—an elected representative body determining policy about what can and cannot occur on land—to seek to frustrate that legitimate decision through a review process.

The distinction needs to be drawn between instances where citizens are directly impacted by a development proposal and should have the right to seek a review of a decision in relation to that proposal—which our legislation provides for—and the broader issue of simply allowing citizens to revisit, through an individual development proposal, the policy matter that has already been settled by the elected representatives. That is not to say there are not avenues open to citizens to continue to dispute the policy matter. That is why we have a democratic system of government.

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