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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2009 Week 7 Hansard (17 June) . . Page.. 2449..


Question so resolved in the affirmative.

Sitting suspended from 12.26 to 2 pm.

Questions without notice

Planning—proposed hospital car park

MR SESELJA: My question is to the Minister for Planning in relation to the call in of the proposed hospital car park. Minister, in a public statement on 29 May, you said:

... applications must not be held up by politically motivated or frivolous objections, and for this reason I have decided to consider the applications myself.

Minister, it has been revealed that what you claim to be a frivolous and politically motivated objection was in fact a single letter from a resident in Kambah who has said that he had no intention of appealing against an approved DA. How can you possibly justify a $40 million project being called in on the basis of one letter from one resident who has never appealed a single DA in his life?

MR BARR: From the outset I indicated that, following receipt of the request from the Minister for Health to consider the matter of a call in in relation to this project, I would assess it in accordance with the Planning and Development Act, which sets out some very clear criteria under which the Minister for Planning can call in a development application. That piece of legislation is one that was supported unanimously in this place only about 18 months ago, I understand.

As members would be aware, it takes only one individual to lodge an appeal against a decision of the planning authority for there to be then an elongated process to make a final determination. The frivolous and political nature of the objection that was lodged by the individual is frivolous given its content and was political because it was sent to the Canberra Times first and then forwarded to the planning authority later.

In my view, I will assess a politically motivated objection to a development application to be one that is forwarded to the media before it is forwarded to the Planning and Land Authority. No other objector felt the need to advise the Canberra Times and other media outlets of their objection to the development application.

Mr Speaker, I remind those opposite that the Planning and Development Act has specific criteria in relation to call ins. The criteria in section 159 relate to projects that have substantial public benefit. If those opposite do not believe that this development has substantial public benefit, let them say so.

We know that in their heart of hearts the Liberal Party are opposed to investment in public health. We know they are opposed to investment in public health. But I repeat that, following a request from the Minister for Health to consider a call in under section 159 of the legislation, I called in the material, made my assessment and notified in accordance with the legislation that I would be making the decision on the development application. I have subsequently made that decision.


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