Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 10 Hansard (6 December) . . Page.. 2687 ..
MR KAINE (continuing):
To take the second part of my motion first, in entering discussions with the Commonwealth now with a view to bringing about a single planning authority again, we need to be careful that we do not re-create the NCDC. We need to be careful that we do not create an all-powerful planning authority that again acts with impunity and perhaps not always in terms of what this community wants. There is a danger that we could re-create such an organisation. In setting up an organisation of this kind, we need to maintain a balance between the Federal interest, or the Commonwealth interest, and the local interest and we need to set up some oversighting arrangements to ensure that this new planning authority is subject to direction when it is obvious that such direction is required.
The final responsibility, then, for any actions the community considers to be wrong lies where it properly should lie - at the political level, both locally and federally. That is another area where I think we need to be cautious. There is no question that, if it becomes a matter of politics, the weight of politics at the Commonwealth level would far outweigh the weight of politics at this level. We need to proceed with caution in setting up this new organisation and to make sure that, while the interests of the Commonwealth must indeed be preserved, because it is after all the national capital and the seat of government, the interests of the 300,000 and increasing local people are well preserved.
There are two separate things that in this motion I ask the Minister to undertake. The first is to address the problems that the dual nature of Canberra's planning has generated. Some of those are not going to go away simply because we create a single planning authority. The consequences and the effects of the dual planning system, which has been in place for about seven years, permeate the system and are not necessarily going to go away simply because a new planning authority is constructed. There are things that are required, I believe, other than simply setting up a new planning authority. Part of the solution is inherent in the development of the strategic plan the two governments have agreed to undertake jointly. Some of those issues can be dealt with through the medium of the strategic plan yet to be developed, but there are things that need to be addressed outside the question of whether or not we have a single planning authority.
The question of planning has been a political hot potato probably ever since the Territory was established. Nothing has changed and it will not change in the future. This new authority that, hopefully, we are moving to create will continue to make controversial decisions and people will continue to be disturbed about the way the city develops; although, as I said earlier, by and large, when you look at Canberra as it is today you would be hard pressed to say that the planners, with all their shortcomings, have not produced a great city. They have. The dissenting opinions we get from time to time, while they are real to the people who bring them forward, are relatively minor in the whole scheme of things.
People talk about process a lot these days. If we could only get the process right, those people who are going to be directly affected by planning decisions could have an input to those decisions. I think that is what people are asking for. Some of us thought we had the solution with the new legislation and the new Territory Plan that was introduced only three years ago. We obviously did not have the answers, because there is still