Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 11 Hansard (14 December) . . Page.. 3078 ..
MR HUMPHRIES (Attorney-General and Minister for the Environment, Land and Planning) (4.49): Madam Deputy Speaker - - -
Mr Moore: Do you close the debate?
MADAM DEPUTY SPEAKER: No; Mrs Carnell does.
MR HUMPHRIES: I do not; nor do I seek to speak without a time limit. I am very happy to speak within my allotted time. In fact, it is a blessing, I have to say. I do not intend to be particularly specific because, as Mr Wood observed, the ball is now very much in my court and the court of the Government. This report is, in a sense, the latest and biggest of a series of major pieces of information placed on the Government's plate which it will need every minute of the next two months, over Christmas and new year, to digest and understand.
There is the Mant/Collins report on the structure of the planning process; there is the report of the red tape task force which has recently been produced and tabled by Mr De Domenico; there is the earlier report of the Planning, Development and Infrastructure Committee of the Assembly itself, recommending a number of changes to the way in which the planning legislation should operate; and now there is this major and very significant report, a report prepared at considerable cost, as noted, which comes under the guise of being, as Mr Moore referred to, just short of a royal commission, and which makes a very significant number of recommendations as to the nature of the planning system. The Government would be foolish to rush in on any of the recommendations made in any of these reports. All I have to say today is in general terms.
We have seen in this place on this issue attack and counterattack on the question of the planning system. Of course, attack and counterattack have been the characteristics of planning in the last five years or so in the ACT. They have been the cause of more community division and of more community unhappiness with government policy and direction, as the community perceives it, than almost any other area of government; some might say as much as all other areas put together, but that perhaps goes slightly too far.
As the Minister who assumed this portfolio in March this year, relatively untainted by much involvement in planning issues or much knowledge of planning matters before I became Minister, it was my intention that at the earliest possible stage I should do one particular thing. That was not to conduct my own exhumation of all the rotting carcasses of previous decisions and previous administrations; rather, it was to attempt to determine, on the experience of the past, how we should build a stronger and more acceptable planning system into the future. I certainly saw and still see the Planning Committee report, the Stein report, the Mant/Collins report and other reports as the basis on which to do that.