Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 10 Hansard (Thursday, 7 October 2021) . . Page.. 2951 ..
MR CAIN (Ginninderra) (6.21): Planning is a high priority issue in Canberra, whether pre, intra or post COVID. I am sure we would all agree with that statement. Some of the feedback that I have received on the planning process includes the DA process becoming increasingly nominal. By this I mean that there is rising community sentiment that their feedback is not sought broadly or forensically reviewed. Even less common is community feedback being addressed or even engaged with.
The Greens, in one of their 2020 election commitments, agreed with this sentiment. They said:
… the government too often approaches local issues with an “I know best” attitude …
Let us not forget that this government is a Labor-Greens coalition government. There should be a higher level of trust between the community and the minister for planning.
My most recent example of this level of dissatisfaction is the botched DA community consultation process that was the experience of the Hawker community regarding the William Hovell Drive duplication, a development that the community support. What they want, and what they have told me is lacking, is to know that their local knowledge, local needs and community feeling are considered in the redevelopment.
Here are some examples of the negligent community consultation process of which I have been made aware. The community to be consulted initially identified, but did not include, some residents in earshot of the proposed duplication. That is with respect to elevated noise levels. Locals living right next door to the proposed site were saying that they did not know a duplication was even going to happen. The consultation process had to be extended twice, indicating a concession that the original consultation period was inadequate.
Initially, DA signage was inappropriately placed on the side of the highway—not very satisfactory for readers on their 80 kilometres per hour commute down an arterial road. The now appropriately placed signs were vandalised by graffiti during the consultation process. As at this afternoon, I am still awaiting a response from Minister Gentleman assuring me that the graffiti will be removed. Finally, even with an assurance to me by the Minister for Planning and Land Management that a community consultation period would be allowed via COVID-safe channels, a constituent tried and failed to provide feedback through the Access Canberra website due to technical issues with the website.
Ironically, extended consultation and digital alternatives are initiatives that the government took credit for in Minister Gentleman’s ministerial statement delivered this morning. While the ministerial statement makes the government process look shiny and proactive, the truth is lacklustre. The reality is that some of my constituents have found the process distressing, overwhelming and deeply unfriendly.