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I do not think that we are getting the best result from planning. There are thousands of people in this community who would agree with me. I think the new arrangements are not working to the advantage of this community; I am not even sure that they are working in the national interest either. I suggest to the Minister that there has to be a better way. I am asking the Minister and the Government to begin negotiations with the Commonwealth at the appropriate level - Minister to Minister - to see whether or not some alternative arrangements could be devised. There may be any number of options which would be better than what we have now. We may not end up with a central planning authority, but that would be a matter that would need to be carefully considered.
I ask the Assembly to support this motion. I ask the Minister, if the motion is passed, to take the matter seriously and to enter into serious negotiations with his Commonwealth counterpart to see whether we can come up with some planning arrangements that suit our needs better than the present ones do.
MR WOOD (10.57): Mr Speaker, the Opposition supports this motion. Indeed, we have long supported the view that one planning authority for Canberra would be sufficient and desirable.
Mr Kaine: Why did you not do something about it, Bill? You were the Minister.
MR WOOD: You ask me that question in six months' time, in two years' time or in five years' time, Mr Kaine. I would be very interested to see where this proposal goes. At the same time, the Opposition certainly acknowledges the need for a national interest in the national capital. This is our capital, the capital of 300,000 Canberrans. It is also the capital for all Australians. Therefore, there is a recognition of a national interest in Canberra that this city has to reflect the national character. There has to be some national input into what happens. There is more than the interests of the ACT citizens to be served in planning Canberra.
While I would want one planning authority, I would think there are some other mechanisms that might be needed to reflect that national interest. While not being absolutely definitive, the Commonwealth Parliament’s joint committee, which has long had an oversight of activity in Canberra, or had comment on activity in Canberra, would be an appropriate body to do that. I would feel comfortable if that joint committee had the capacity to comment on what happens in the ACT at that national level, reflecting the national interest; but not, of course, to comment on the detail of what happens within our suburbs and on what is purely a local Canberran interest.
At the time of self-government, I was concerned at the land grab that took place. When you see the National Capital Plan you see the extent of the land for which the right of control is reserved to the National Capital Planning Authority. Strange things happened. They took control of all the hills, the ridges and the buffer zones, as they call them. What do they do with those hills? That same Commonwealth Government allowed towers to be built on them. We are now trying to retrieve that situation. Although they took control, I do not think the best interests of the ACT were served by the Commonwealth.