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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 1 Hansard (16 February) . . Page.. 247..


Land (Planning and Environment) Act 1991-exercise of call-in powers

DR FOSKEY (Molonglo): I seek leave to make a statement in relation to the papers tabled by the Minister for Planning regarding the call-in of the prison project and the former Acton hotel site.

Leave granted.

DR FOSKEY: I thank the minister for his thoughtfulness, both in regard to his fellow minister Ms Gallagher and in safeguarding my right to speak here. I am quite sure that Mr Corbell anticipated that I would have something to say. I felt he gave a very full description and summary of his use of the call-in powers to date.

The Greens, as the minister knows, have opposed the Minister for Planning's ability-and that is not just Mr Corbell; it is any minister for planning-to use his call-in powers on planning projects. Though Mr Corbell did in most cases justify his uses of them, it is not always as transparent. There are concerns, quite understandable community concerns, when projects are called in before they have been through the full processes. I am quite sure there are other ways to deal with it. I am concerned about the impact of planning reform on the minister's power over planning decisions.

First of all, I want to make it absolutely clear that the ACT Greens support the development of an ACT prison and that we acknowledge the substantial benefits to the ACT community and the potential inmates that will flow from an ACT human rights compliant prison. We do not believe that it is good for prisoners or for their families and, ultimately, for our community that prisoners are taken out of the territory for their period of internment. Whatever we think about prisons, sentencing and the way that sentencing contributes to rehabilitation, the arguments come in on the side of having an ACT prison.

It is also important for the rehabilitation of inmates that they have that contact with their family, their friends and their community. It is of course important to children that they can continue their relationships with their parents if they are in prison. We are concerned about the way in which approval has been given to the final design of the prison. While I have no intention of requesting that this specific call-in be revoked, this is an opportunity for me to alert the Assembly to issues related to the use of the call-in powers over this particular project. There are a couple of issues.

We know that many-perhaps not all, though you would never know from the publicity-of the Jerrabomberra residents oppose the location of the prison and that they give traffic and safety concerns. We might not agree with them, but we believe they have the right to speak out and to use the existing processes to express their concerns. Apparently there were 76 written submissions and six comments. Most of those were from people who live adjacent to the site and were concerned about the location. I guess that alerts us to the fact that special consideration needs to be made in the design and security of the prison so that those people's concerns prove to be unjustified. The minister's use of call-in powers does not assist in solving these problems, and it is quite possible that many of the concerned community residents feel it is like a slap in the face.


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