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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 12 Hansard (Tuesday, 26 October 2010) . . Page.. 5068 ..

I was tempted to put forward further improvements from the other aspects of my original bill to improve standing and appeal rights, but I believe that the Assembly has already had this debate. If I had faith that my amendments would be fully considered, I would put them forward again, but given that I know the government prefers to put ideas forward itself, I will instead request that ACTPLA examines these proposed amendments fully and brings forward further improvements. They are all issues which I have had extensive representations on from members of the public and, in particular, community councils. They are not my own ideas. They are the ideas of affected members of the public, and I will not rule out bringing forward amendments myself in future if we do not see any action.

Mr Barr and ACTPLA will already be aware of some of these issues as the Environmental Defender’s Office sent all parties the same letter outlining them. One key issue is that the full range of improvements to the major public notification process have not been transcribed to the public notice to adjoining premises or to registered interest holders. This means that whereby with major public notification, if a notice was simply not published it must be renotified, this is not the case for the other types of notification, but it should be.

Another issue is the lack of legal recourse if the renotification requirements in this bill are not complied with. That is, if a DA was incorrect and not renotified, and someone who would have been eligible to object was therefore unable to, they have no recourse or any way of appealing the lack of input options. This issue was dealt with in my original bill, and the Greens maintain that the community deserves better standing rights.

Another problem which will still exist after this bill is passed is that renotification is only required if ACTPLA is aware of the defect before the public consultation ends. This obviously is flawed. It is really unclear how ACTPLA would in fact become aware of the flaw before the end of the notification period.

Although it must be noted that the onus is also on developers, large or small, to ensure that ACTPLA is correctly notifying the development, if a developer realises that the development has not been properly notified then they should contact ACTPLA and have it notified properly so that it can be properly rectified. No other jurisdiction’s legislation allows their notification process to so blatantly discount the public’s right to know about DAs in this way. Given how short the consultation periods are, between 10 and 15 days, a set period could be set whereby a renotification could still be allowed after the original consultation closing date.

Another simple improvement on top of what is being proposed today, which would make the DA process far easier for the public, would be to require colour pictures of the proposals to accompany the DA documents and for a picture of the proposed development to be inserted as part of the notification sign. It can be very difficult for the general public to interpret development plans. I think that in many cases a picture would make the proposal a lot more understandable and hence, in some instances, less daunting. One last suggestion is to improve the signage around DAs so that people can better see the DA signs and that they can be seen from all publicly accessible locations that the proposed development is visible from.

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