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Mr Speaker, I make these comments to show that this Government will be doing something. We will not be blaming the Assembly for our shortcomings. We will get the job done in as apolitical manner as we can, to make sure that all in the community of Canberra have a say in the planning process. They might not all agree with the decisions that this Government makes, but at least this Government will not be criticised for not consulting with the community - and we will get things done.
MR KAINE (11.14): Mr Speaker, it seems that some people in the Assembly never see any good in anything. I must say that I found the Minister's comprehensive statement on planning for the Territory refreshing. It was a positive statement of what this Government intends to do over the next three years in this important area. Planning is one of the three issues that have been on the top of the agenda politically in the ACT since self-government, the other two being the budget and health.
I found the statement comprehensive and, as I said, I found it positive. It addressed a broad range of issues which face the Government, have faced previous governments and are of interest to the community. They range from the role of Canberra in the region to the very local issues of suburban shopping centres and local area planning. We went to the election six months ago - it seems longer, but it is only six months - and we presented to the electorate a very comprehensive planning policy called “Planning: A Question of Balance”. It was a very comprehensive document that ranged across all of the things that the Minister spoke of, and indeed more. We made a wide range of commitments to this community as to what we would do to correct the planning mess that we inherited from the previous Government. I will come to Mr Wood's defence against that statement in a minute.
There is no question that by the time of the election this year this community was very concerned, putting it mildly, about the way the law and the plan relating to planning in this Territory were being administered. We gave a very significant statement that said that we would address planning in a wide-ranging and comprehensive way. The Government has already begun to do that. In the six months since the election the Government has already implemented many of the things that it said it would do. We have abolished the Department of the Environment, Land and Planning, as we said we would do. We have also separated the leasing and planning functions formerly carried on in that department. That is one of the things that we said we would do right up front. That has already been done. Leasing is now part of the Environment and Land Bureau in the Department of Urban Services, and the ACT Planning Authority is, as we said it would be, an independent unit but under the umbrella of the Attorney-General's Department.
It is also quite obvious to the community that the Minister has acted quickly and decisively to get LAPACs into place. It is all very well for Ms Horodny to complain. The LAPACs have not started yet, but she is already criticising. What does she want? She wants community consultation; she wants community participation in planning decisions that affect people. The Minister has set up the local area planning advisory committees, as he said he would. Yet already they have been criticised on the grounds that somehow they are not representative; that they cannot express a view to the Minister