Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 9 Hansard (18 November) . . Page.. 2632 ..
MR STANHOPE (continuing):
I think the history of the debate will show that the Labor Party has been very cautious in the past in its approach to this particular issue. We have made the decision now, however, that it is worth expanding the standing and the right to actually appeal to the Supreme Court against decisions under the Land (Planning and Environment) Act. We are prepared to trial the proposal. We are prepared to actually allow a broadening of standing to people who believe that they are affected or who are aggrieved. I have had discussions with concerned organisations from the community and people involved in the building and development industry in Canberra. The Labor Party has given an undertaking to those people that, if we believe on any reasonable assessment that genuine efforts at development are being subjected to frivolous, time delaying and broadly unwarranted applications for review that do tie up development unduly, then we will look very seriously at that. On the basis of that experience, we will look to removing this right if we believe that it is not being used appropriately. I make that undertaking publicly.
We are aware of those parts of the argument that are concerned about the potential frivolous use. On balance, we do not believe that that will be an experience. We are minded to accept the sorts of arguments actually advanced by Stein in his report, to the extent that he supported open standing provisions. Stein's basic position on these was that an open, democratic, accountable and transparent process should not fear open standing provisions but actually should welcome such provisions as an aid to appropriate administration of important pieces of legislation such as the Land (Planning and Environment) Act.
They are the basic considerations that the Labor Party has had. At this stage, we are prepared to accept the argument that open standing is appropriate. We have made a judgment that it will not be abused or used frivolously. We are prepared to support the legislation on that basis; but we have taken seriously the concerns of those members of the community about the need for development to be advanced without undue restriction. We are prepared to monitor closely the practical application, implementation and use of this provision. So the Labor Party will be supporting the Bill, Mr Speaker.
MR HUMPHRIES (Attorney-General, Minister for Justice and Community Safety and Minister Assisting the Treasurer) (3.50): Mr Speaker, this matter, of course, has been dealt with previously by the Legislative Assembly. The issues have been very extensively debated in the past in the Assembly. During the Third Assembly I was pleased, as the then planning Minister, to receive support from the then, and now, Labor Party Opposition to oppose provisions coming forward from the crossbenches for the widening of standing rights in the Supreme Court on appeals against planning decisions, or even non-decisions. Omissions, I think, were also included in the earlier debate, if not in the present debate.
Mr Speaker, it is disappointing, therefore, to see that the Labor Party has changed its position on this fairly significant provision and has decided that it will now, as it puts it, conduct a trial and see what happens if wider standing is provided for. Mr Speaker, I am surprised that members would feel it necessary to conduct a separate