Legislative Assembly for the ACT: Week 5 Hansard (13 May) . . Page.. 1856..
MRS DUNNE (continuing):
and thus ensure accountability through the Legislative Assembly. The Legislative Assembly would have ultimate control over the process.
The bill as introduced also contains in a schedule a regulation declaring the Gungahlin Drive extension project to be a project of territorial significance. Part 2 of the bill deals with what is a project of territorial significance and how the appeal system changes as a result of the declaration of a project to be of territorial significance. It defines what is a project of territorial significance and outlines the conditions in which the act applies-that is simply that if, in the opinion of the Chief Minister, a project is in accordance with a major policy of the territory government, may have substantial effect on the development of the territory or would provide substantial benefit to the territory, he may make a regulation, along with the executive, declaring the project to be of territorial significance. The regulation is made in accordance with the Legislation Act and, as I have said before, is disallowable.
Projects so declared are exempt from third party appeal. Clause 8 (1) of the bill prevents the operation of section 276 of the Land Act, which relates to the review of decisions, objectors and third party appeals to projects so declared. Clause 8 (2) (a) means that only the applicant can appeal against a conditional approval under section 245 of the Land Act or seek reconsideration of decisions under section 246A of the Land Act. Clause 8 (2) (b) prevents a third party appeal against approvals that are associated with the approval under the Land Act for projects so declared. This means that any approval or licence granted to allow the project to proceed is not subject to third party appeal. In saying this, I need to reinforce that what the opposition proposes in this bill is a clear, open and transparent process where the Assembly basically agrees with the decision of a chief minister that all approvals are current approvals, all approvals have to be done according to the laws of the territory but that those approvals are not subject to appeal.
In response to the decision handed down in the Supreme Court by Justice Higgins, the bill makes it clear that, where part 6 of the Land Act does not apply, land is exempt from the provisions of this legislation. Part 3 creates the power to make regulations in accordance with the Legislation Act and the schedule attached to the bill creates the Gungahlin Drive extension as a project of territorial significance. The bill also contains a transitional provision in relation to the GDE regulation and establishes that the declaration applies to approvals both before and after the commencement of this bill.
This is a simple, straightforward bill that directly addresses the dilemmas sometimes faced by government in progressing important projects for the good of the community when they sometimes face concerted minority opposition. In very selected circumstances this bill proposes to remove third party appeal rights. It does not in any way propose to curtail the approval process.
I need to contrast our approach with the approach of the government over Gungahlin Drive. We have seen in debate last week, and we will see later tonight, the government agonising over the Nature Conservation Act, trying to get it right. It is proposing to make radical changes to the act so that it can get out of its problems over Gungahlin Drive. When the problems with Gungahlin Drive first arose, I said-I was being fairly straightforward and have been criticised by my colleagues for being so straightforward-"Why don't you consider enabling legislation?"A whole lot of officials around the table said, "We can't do that. It would be terrible."A couple of staffers and advisers said, "Oh