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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 10 Hansard (17 October) . . Page.. 3109..

MR SESELJA (continuing):

incorporated in the body of the report, but one that I felt it necessary to make some additional comments on was the issue around third party appeals.

With the changes there is a general improvement in the way third party appeals are covered in this bill. But one of the essential problems, or loopholes, is that standing is given for third party appeals on the basis of a group's objects or articles of association. The concern there is that there is a real loophole where front groups could be set up specifically to appeal big developments-or, of course, with such broad terms of reference that they could essentially appeal anything. You can imagine the "better planning group"or the "no more development in Canberra group"being established.

That has potential from the point of view not just of those who are genuinely committed to better planning in the ACT but also of commercial rivals-in particular, large developers. They would have the resources to put together groups like that. The legislation as it stands allows a significant loophole in that regard. That is why I have made additional comments in relation to that area. I draw that to the attention of the government.

Another issue which was raised with us and is reflected in recommendation 40 is the issue of use as development. The law society appeared before us, represented by Mr Alfonso Del Rio, a very well-respected property lawyer in the ACT. I will quote some of what he said to us as a committee. He said, "The society's position is that it is unable to support the bill if the concept of use as development remains."He noted: "This is the first time that statement has ever been made. It is not made without due consideration and regard."

Essentially, Mr Del Rio was arguing that the changes in planning system reform in relation to leasehold actually undermined leasehold as it has been understood in the territory-the idea of certainty that goes with the purchase of a lease. Our leasehold system has been based on the fact that when you purchase a lease you have a certain bundle of rights. You do not get freehold in the way you get it in New South Wales, but you get some certainty. The law society raised serious concerns to the extent that they said they could not support the bill if these provisions were not amended.

That should be brought to the attention of the government. I know the government is aware of it, but the committee felt strongly enough to put it in the report as something the government really needs to get right. If we are going to fundamentally change the leasehold system, I do not think that was the intention of this bill. We would want to have a broader debate about how we want to do that.

Recommendation 42 relates to clause 259 of the bill-another one raised by both the property council and the law society. Once again I will quote what the Mr Del Rio from the law society had to say in relation to this provision. He said:

The effect of this provision is that it is illegal in the ACT for a couple who wish to buy a block of land and build a house on it to consolidate their credit card debt and their car debt, for example, into the loan. That is clearly a consistent practice. I would suggest to you that nearly every home owner in the ACT who has bought a block of land and built a house has breached this provision.

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