Page 810 - Week 03 - Tuesday, 28 March 2023

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The review has been nothing but dismissive of the community’s concerns, time and time again, all while easing the way for the Chief Minister’s agenda of so-called “gentle urbanism”. What we are seeing expressed with some of the planning decisions is neither gentle nor respectful of urbanism.

The planning review has been done largely by the Chief Planner, reporting to the planning minister. It should be noted that the Chief Planner currently runs the planning system. It is like he is marking his own homework, Madam Speaker—something that I am sure every schoolchild would love to do!

The planning minister and the Chief Planner have concluded, in three published proposed reforms, that the planning system needed serious shaping up in all areas except for governance, which was out of scope. I was speaking with a community leader just last week, and it was never really very clear what was wrong with the current system, except that it was poorly resourced. Governance involves the system and processes by which accountability is driven. Surely, governance should always be within scope for a major review of planning.

In my view, 15 of the 49 recommendations from the recent planning committee inquiry into the Planning Bill concerned governance; yet the minister and the Chief Planner seem to have been doing such a great job that governance was not an area of concern. The planning committee clearly disagrees. Marking one’s own homework, giving oneself a positive score, is not really the best approach to reviewing a planning system. Surely, an independent reviewer was required from the outset.

The person running the system has reviewed the system and recommended that they be given more power. That is not how good governance should work. All of this flies in the face of overwhelming sentiment from interest groups, industry and the community that governance is a significant issue with our planning system.

Unfortunately, in my opinion, there has been a wasted opportunity in this planning review, when such a crucial development has not been invited as a point of comment and submission. The conflict of interest, and the lack of independence behind this review, is typical of a government that holds the wishes of Canberrans in low regard.

I want Australians to be proud that Canberra, this bush capital, is the capital of this wonderful country. I want Canberrans to be even prouder that they live here. But the way that this planning reform has been undertaken undermines their confidence in this city and in the planning vision that drives it.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

The Assembly adjourned at 6.30 pm.


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