Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 6 Hansard (2 September) . . Page.. 1847 ..
MR STANHOPE (Leader of the Opposition) (9.06): I will make just a very brief contribution to the debate. Much of what I wished to say has been said. I wish to reiterate some of the points I made about the relationship between PALM and the Office of Asset Management in the debate in relation to the Chief Minister's portfolio. I think it is important that it be restated. This builds on the comments which my colleague Mr Corbell has made about the need for us to ensure that the integrity of our planning processes is not diminished in any way by the rearrangement or the reallocation of responsibilities for land development and land management in the ACT.
There is an inexplicable link between the management and development of land and planning. The two go hand in hand. One of the issues of significant concern to the Opposition over the last few months is the abrogation of responsibility or the transfer of responsibility from PALM to the Office of Asset Management for the development of land. It is obvious to us that the level of concentration on planning matters has been diminished as a result.
The example we have used - I trust that nobody thinks we are overlabouring the point - is Hall/Kinlyside. It is a great example of what goes wrong, or what potentially goes wrong, when the planning function is sublimated to the development urge or push. A reading of the papers in relation to that case provides a classic illustration of what happened when PALM was sidelined, when the planners were not listened to, and when the advice and influence of those who understand the planning process were simply ignored.
I regret that I do not have it here with me at the moment, but I think it would be very instructive to members of the Assembly if I read into the Hansard the initial response of Mr Gary Prattley to the proposal to go ahead with the preliminary agreement on Hall/Kinlyside. Mr Prattley's assessment of the proposal is a remarkable document. The scathing criticisms of Mr Prattley, as former head of PALM, of the proposal really are a revelation, made available only to most of us as a matter of hindsight.
There is a whole range of continuing issues. I will not try your patience for too long, Minister, but, as a further illustration of the need for us to keep uppermost in our minds the need to ensure the integrity of PALM and to maintain it as a professional and expert group with significant power and responsibility, I would refer to the Government's reaction or response to the Hall/Kinlyside disaster once the story broke on 3 May.
There is a wonderful document on the files from Annabelle Pegrum, in the Office of Asset Management, to Mr Lincoln Hawkins, the head of PALM, in which Annabelle Pegrum directs Mr Hawkins what PALM is to say to the world about the preliminary agreement. It really is illustrative of the relationship between the land management arm and the planning arm that we have an officer in the Office of Asset Management not advising, not suggesting, not consulting, but directing Mr Hawkins what he is and is not to say about the development. I think that correspondence in itself is incredibly revealing. It indicates the extent to which the Office of Asset Management has taken over the function, sets the directions and is responsible for the message in relation to planning. It leaves me with a very serious concern about the autonomy and the independence of PALM and the land planning function. I think I have made the point there, but it is a matter of significant concern.