Legislative Assembly for the ACT: Week 5 Hansard (13 May) . . Page.. 1857..
MRS DUNNE (continuing):
no, Mrs Dunne, we couldn't possibly do that. That would be the end of civilisation as we know it."I am glad to see that the government has come to its senses. While we went off to commission this piece of legislation, the government agonised and, I gather, has come up with its own enabling legislation. I have made a number of overtures to the government to brief me on its progress and have been open with the government and given it two advance copies of this bill, but that courtesy has not been reciprocated. It would have helped if we could perhaps have negotiated our way through this-
Mr Wood: We are still working on ours.
MRS DUNNE: Gee, that is an admission! I am glad the government has recognised the fact that some projects are subject to vexatious and frivolous objection and that they should be protected from what I have previously termed "legal guerrilla warfare". This proposal is broader than just the GDE. It provides for the future. It provides that other projects of significance that will have an impact on territorial employment, economy and infrastructure will go ahead. Without binding anyone to this, I would consider that projects such as a jail, major transport infrastructure, a significant employment project and perhaps even the dam would be the sorts of things that could be so declared under this legislation. We are not talking about a bicycle path, a caryard or a nightclub.
We did contemplate a whole lot of measures like building in specific definitions in dollar amounts or the numbers of jobs but we thought that that was too prescriptive. The two advantages I believe that our approach has over that of the government are scope and accountability. This bill addresses not only the narrow planning requirements but also the possibility of challenges under other legislation such as we have seen with the Nature Conservation Act and heritage legislation and a whole range of environmental legislation.
I would like to place on record my thanks to not only the drafters who did a splendid job in a very short time but also members of the community with whom I consulted, who made some suggestions for improvement. I also place on the record that there were some suggestions from the community that we could not accept-for instance, to completely rest the power of making the designation with the Chief Minister and not with the Assembly. The party rejected those suggestions. There have been a number of occasions, including today, when we have had to take it upon ourselves to remind the executive that they are answerable to the Assembly. I do not want to move the ACT further in the direction of executive dictatorship, either for this government or any government in the future.
In summary, this legislation is prompted by two imperatives: firstly, to promote Liberal policy and Liberal belief that some projects are sufficiently important that third party appeals are not necessary and unwarranted and get in the way of the progress of the territory and, secondly, to address the crisis caused by this government over the approvals for Gungahlin Drive extension. I commend the Projects of Territorial Significance Bill 2004 to the Assembly.
Debate (on motion by Mr Corbell ) adjourned to the next sitting.
Sitting suspended from 6.26 to 8 pm.