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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 14 Hansard (12 December) . . Page.. 4891 ..

MS HORODNY (continuing):

National Authority, are to be made available for public inspection for a period of 21 days following the expiration of the period referred to in paragraph (b), at specified places;'.".

The key part of this amendment is paragraph (a). The rest of the amendment is the same as what is in the Bill. Paragraph (a) amends the period for public comment on draft plan variations from three weeks to six weeks. The existing three-week public consultation period has been complained about by many people in the community because it is just not long enough for individuals and community groups to get sufficiently organised to respond adequately to plan variations. For example, LAPACs and many other community groups meet only once a month, so it is quite possible that a draft plan variation could be issued and the comment period finished in between monthly meetings.

It is unfair for the Government to expect the community to respond in a comprehensive way within three weeks to plan variations which the planners have been preparing for many months. Some people might say that this amendment will create too much delay for developers, but why should we always be pandering to the developers? Once a building is constructed, it could be around for the next 100 years, so we as a community should be certain that this type of development is what we really want. A six-week public comment period is very insignificant against this timescale.

MR HUMPHRIES (Attorney-General and Minister for the Environment, Land and Planning) (9.54): Mr Speaker, I do not support this amendment. In most cases the periods of notice that this amendment provides for are in fact used. The periods for public comment are in fact used by PALM. They generally capture a few more people than would be the case with a shorter period. I am not sure that a great many more people would be caught by that extended period. There is no evidence that you get an increase commensurate with the extension of the period.

Mr Whitecross: Ms Horodny reckons she has a queue of people outside her door complaining about the three-week period.

MR HUMPHRIES: Obviously. Lots of people read the papers only once every four weeks and miss it if it is not there.

Ms McRae: They recycle it.

MR HUMPHRIES: Before they recycle it, indeed. Generally, these periods are complied with, but sometimes there are amendments which are very minor. In those circumstances the shorter 21-day period is employed, rather than the 42-day period. I know that Ms Horodny believes that there is no such thing as a minor amendment; that anything, no matter how minor, must be of enormous importance to the community and it is possible for people to miss out on some important change to their Territory Plan, or whatever it might be, if a longer period of public comment is not open to them. I reject those sorts of suggestions.

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