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The strategic plans provide an exciting first step towards tackling planning issues on a broader regional basis. We have always been about supporting processes which recognise the interrelationship between the environment, development, social issues and quality of life. While I am concerned that some of the basic assumptions for the draft plans, such as the projections for population growth, appear almost to be taken as a fait accompli, I believe that the draft strategy is a good starting point.

It is also pleasing that the Government will work actively to develop a strategic plan for Canberra. A strategic plan would provide a vision of what we want for the ACT in the future. The current Territory Plan does not provide a vision for Canberra. It provides a detailed land use map. The strategic plan must include consideration of all the things which the draft ACT and subregion planning strategy has considered, and it must be developed through a process of extensive community consultation. Community consultation is not something that should be undertaken lightly. We already have far too much consultation which is used to shut people up and leads to unfulfilled expectations, lack of feedback, and disillusionment with government.

The introduction of local area planning advisory committees presents a great opportunity for a good ongoing healthy and constructive process. I should note that the Greens have welcomed this initiative despite the shortcomings that we, along with many others in the community, have pointed out. We believe that such a process, although flawed in many aspects in its present form, offers a real opportunity. Kerrie has had several meetings with Mr Humphries offering input into the process. I hope that he will take on board the suggestions, which were made seriously, including the suggestion that he seek input from the Community Development Network. Kerrie and I had the pleasure of being present at the first meetings of the LAPACs. It was encouraging to see the level of participation by the community in those meetings. However, I was concerned that it appeared that those communities which already have strong residents associations were well represented, whereas others were less so.

It appears to me that the LAPACs are a good idea. However, they have been rushed through with little thought. The purpose of the initial meetings was to elect members of the LAPACs. People were asked to nominate for a committee without any clear idea of the workload, what resources they would have at their disposal, how they would be expected to work with their community - in short, without any clear idea of what they were supposed to do. This uncertainty would most certainly have caused some reluctance by some people to nominate to become members. The size of the meeting and the way it was conducted may also have been intimidating for quite a number of potential candidates.

The Government expects the LAPACs to represent the community as a whole fairly. In one magic stroke those articulate, sufficiently self-confident and assertive individuals who decided to stand for election at the meetings are to represent a fair and balanced cross-section of the community. I have no reason to believe that those elected will not make every effort to be open and objective, but what resources will they have available to enable them to communicate with their communities? On the night of the meeting, the Planning Authority said that they probably will cover expenses for advertising meetings once a month as well as some administrative support. Hopefully, the advertisement will include place and time of meeting as well as the agenda.

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