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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 8 Hansard (27 June) . . Page.. 2323 ..

MS McRAE (continuing):

I think that the Government's response to Stein should be supported in principle; I think the administrative changes should be put in rapidly so that they can be properly tested; I think the issues of betterment, the renewal of leases, the remission policy and the impact of that against the strategic plan should be analysed very thoroughly; and then, when we get to the strategic plan, we will be able to test out each of those policies against it and Canberra will have a much better idea of just what the Government does have in mind for the future of Canberra.

Bureaucratic structures are not the main issues in regard to planning and lease administration in the ACT. What is needed is certainty and clarity for all concerned. The types of changes that the Government has made to its file management, to FOI, to the whole management and bureaucratic structures in relation to land lease management go a long way to doing that. Labor will now be doing all that it can to make it happen and to work productively so that this city can be developed, redeveloped and maintained in a way that we all agree on and have such pride in.

MS HORODNY (4.07): The Stein report into the ACT leasehold system represents a significant milestone in planning and management of ACT land since the ACT achieved self-government in 1989. Ever since the abolition of the NCDC, the ACT has struggled to find an effective and accountable planning system that balances the push for development with broader social and environmental interests. After self-government there was, first, the Interim Planning Authority and then the ACT Planning Authority. Both were supposedly independent but, in practice, they were divisions within the much bigger Department of the Environment, Land and Planning. The department was subject to a common perception that the land development function of the department dominated everything else, which led to many questionable planning and development decisions. This department was subsequently abolished, and most of the functions were incorporated into the Department of Urban Services. The planning function was split, with a strategic planning unit in the Chief Minister's Department, and the rest of the Planning Authority sitting uncomfortably in the Attorney-General's Department.

The Stein inquiry was looked upon by all sides as a way to sort out how ACT land should be administered. To a very great extent, it has delivered on this promise in its broad-ranging recommendations on the management of the leasehold system and the structure of the planning administration. To its credit, the Government has accepted most of the recommendations of Stein but, unfortunately, it rejected some of the key recommendations. I believe that the areas of dispute can be boiled down to three major areas - the administrative structures for planning and land management, the handling of commercial leases and the handling of redevelopment proposals, and betterment. The Planning and Environment Committee has reviewed the Government's recommendations and, for the most part, agreed with the Government's response. Unfortunately, however, the committee was not able to resolve the different views on the key areas of dispute and ended up splitting down the middle when it came to putting forward its own recommendations.

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