Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 9 Hansard (18 November) . . Page.. 2633 ..
MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):
trial in the ACT, when I understand that open standing provisions have been in place in other jurisdictions in the past and have very frequently resulted in much wider interest and involvement by parties in particular applications or proceedings than one would expect using the substantial and adversely affected test, which is being replaced by these provisions.
It is often the experience that other groups and individuals and commercial interests have become involved in places elsewhere to prevent particular applications from proceeding. We hardly need to conduct a trial, I would have thought, to realise that such involvement may well become the case in the ACT. In fact, there is absolutely no logical reason to suggest that it would not become the case in the ACT. Mr Speaker, what we do by passing this legislation is allow anybody, anywhere in the Territory, basically for any reason that comes to their mind at the time, to hold up applications for development, for particular decisions to be made under either the Land (Planning and Environment) Act or the Heritage Objects Act, and to significantly disrupt the process of decision-making on that basis. Mr Speaker, that concerns me rather considerably.
I believe that there are a number of occasions when individuals - particularly, I might say, and I will be somewhat specific here, individuals who have appointed themselves as guardians of some sacred planning principles in this Territory which apparently have been sacrificed, in their view, by successive governments, both Labor and Liberal - feel the need to come forward and intervene or involve themselves in a number of proceedings when their only standing is that they have considered themselves to be the appropriate guardians of these particular principles.
Mr Speaker, one particular person springs to mind, who was a candidate at the recent election and who very publicly indicated her view that the planning principles on which Burley Griffin designed the city of Canberra were being crassly and venally undermined by the commercially oriented governments of the Territory of both sides of the house. She stood on a platform of saying, "I will personally wind back this terrible intrusion into the integrity of the planning system and defend the rights of the citizens of Canberra". The fate of that particular candidate, I think, is well known to everybody in this place. She proved spectacularly that her views about the planning system were apparently not shared by a very considerable majority of the population of the ACT, particularly in areas such as South Canberra, mainly concentrating around the Manuka area.
Mr Speaker, the evidence of recent years is fairly clear that there is not support for a view that every person appointing themselves - anointing themselves, even - as a planning expert, as a person entitled to crusade into the courts of the Territory in defence of some particular planning principle that they feel is being adulterated by the careless and venal planning processes of the Territory, should be given standing. I think that we ought not to accede to legislation which will have the effect in some significant cases in the future, without any doubt at all, of holding up those developments and those changes in the planning status of particular parcels of the ACT merely because we take some abstract view about the desirability of allowing anybody who wants to to defend the planning principles of the Territory. Mr Speaker, in other matters before Territory courts we require a person who comes before the court to have some standing; that is, some nexus with what is being considered by the court.