Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 9 Hansard (18 November) . . Page.. 2631 ..
MR MOORE (continuing):
who oppose; I am talking about the area that concerns me most, and that is where other developers seek to delay a particular development because it gives them some kind of commercial advantage. I must say that that is the area where the amendment put up by Ms Tucker is probably at its weakest. However, Mr Speaker, our experience in the past is that - - -
Mr Berry: You should declare your conflict on this.
MR MOORE: Mr Berry interjects that I should declare my conflict on this. Mr Berry, as we have explained to you on a number of occasions, when issues like this come before Cabinet, I step aside from Cabinet.
Mr Berry: No; I am talking about the Canberra Times appeal - the Times Square one.
MR MOORE: I see; we are talking about the Canberra Times appeal. That was quite some years ago, when I was part of an appeals mechanism that did allow appeal on these sorts of things. You might remember that a Labor government, of which you were a member, introduced a whole new lease on the Canberra Times site after an appeal had been through the Supreme Court and, according to my recollection, the Federal Court. A new lease was issued, which was contrary to the spirit, as I see it, of the court's decision; but it was still a legal action. It did go to the point that ordinary citizens could use an appeal mechanism similar to the one that this legislation would allow.
Mr Speaker, there is always a fear that these things will be misused. Our experience is that they are used very sensibly. The main reason for that is that it takes a heck of a lot of work and a heck of a lot of trouble to take an appeal to this kind of level. It is not something that people do lightly. You only have to start trying to deal with the courts to realise just how difficult it is. Perhaps that is something that we should address. It is certainly something that Mr Wood, as Minister, attempted to address in setting up the Planning Appeals Board. I rue the day that it disappeared. Nevertheless, Mr Speaker, it seems to me that what we have here is a very sensible piece of legislation. It is a piece of legislation that I have supported before. I will continue to support it because I believe that ordinary citizens should have wide access to appeal rights.
MR STANHOPE (Leader of the Opposition) (3.46): Mr Speaker, the Labor Party has given very serious consideration to this particular Bill. We have had discussions with a number of interested organisations and individuals within the community. The Labor Party will be supporting the Bill. I take the points that Mr Moore has made and agree very broadly with the things that he has said. We also are very conscious of concerns that this sort of provision does have a capacity to be used frivolously, that it does have a capacity to tie up legitimate development if misused. The Labor Party is prepared, however, to accept that general and broad experience is that a general right of appeal against a planning decision, with open standing or broad standing, is something that has not generally been misused and is not generally open to frivolous abuse. We do have those concerns.