Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 9 Hansard (21 September) . . Page.. 3018..
MR MULCAHY (continuing):
been prepared by the public accounts committee during the period I have had the privilege to serve as chair. I would certainly hope that members of the Assembly will give careful regard to the content of this document.
I conclude by thanking my committee colleagues, Dr Deb Foskey and Ms Karin MacDonald, those who assisted the committee with its deliberations, and the committee office, with particular mention of Ms Andrea Cullen, the committee's secretary. I commend the report to the Assembly. My committee colleagues may also wish to provide some comment.
DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (11.17): I would like to speak briefly to this report. I think that all members of the Assembly are aware of how important planning is in the development of our city and also in the politics of our city. Therefore, I welcomed involvement in this review of the Auditor-General's report on the development application and approval process.
Although the Auditor-General only looked at a quite narrow slice of the role of ACTPLA, the development application and approval process is probably the main point at which the public has anything to do with the authority and therefore has always been the area about which people are likely to complain because that is, of course, where the interface occurs. So it was good to explore the issues involved both with officers of ACTPLA and the minister and with community organisations and to see that particular opinions of people tended to fall, fairly predictably, within particular roles in relation to where one stands in the building and development process.
I think that the main problem with the inquiry is that we are just on the cusp of a new planning reform legislation system, which allowed ACTPLA officers and the minister to say that it will all be dealt with under the new planning reform legislation, which was quite a neat way out, but I think, having had a look at the legislation, a lot of the issues will still come up. I think it does look as though ACTPLA has improved the pathway for applications through the approval process, and that is good. It sounds as though there needed to be quite a bit of investment there and that has taken place.
It is fairly clear that ACTPLA, like a lot of the planning authorities, has problems finding people who have the expertise to work in planning and who want to work in Canberra. Canberra used to be a place where planners were very keen to work. There was a time when Canberra was seen globally, not just nationally, as being at the cutting edge of planning. Those were the days when the NCDC, now the NCA, had a lot more money to put into planning and it really was a matter of pride that we were at the cutting edge of city design.
Unfortunately for Canberra, that was at a time when the car was king and thus we have inherited a city that is based on what is called the machine model whereby roads, shopping centres, town centres and so on are all regarded as interlinking parts of a planning hierarchy. Our planning authority now has the rather difficult task, having been left with, let's face it, a very valuable legacy of excellent roads and excellent open spaces, of somehow having to turn our city into one which is low on greenhouse gas emissions and which allows people to avoid using their cars. We are fortunate that we have elements of the answers to that in our neighbourhood planning, our community