Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 9 Hansard (18 November) . . Page.. 2637 ..
MR CORBELL (4.05): Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker, this Bill before the Assembly this afternoon is a Bill which the Labor Party has decided has merit and is appropriate for us to support. Before going into some of the detail that Mr Humphries particularly raised in his speech and also some of the more technical issues of the Bill, I would like to address in general the principle behind the Labor Party's position on this Bill; that is, that people in Canberra deserve to have faith and confidence in the integrity of our planning system and they deserve to have the opportunity to participate in the planning process.
Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker, quite clearly, there is a crisis of confidence in planning in Canberra. That crisis of confidence stems partly from the issue of whether or not people feel that they are engaged in the process, whether or not they feel that they are participating and have a right to participate in the process. We take the view quite firmly that it is appropriate to restore the provisions for standing that were removed two years ago, because what has occurred is that we have seen a disenfranchising of citizens of this city in the planning process.
I think that it is an unreasonable argument, and the Labor Party believes that it is an unreasonable argument, that just because you live in one part of the city you do not have an interest in another. We are all citizens in the same community. I know that this is a principle that is difficult for the Liberal Party to understand; but we are all citizens in the same community. We all have an interest in the good development and progress of our city. One of the opportunities we have for enforcing the appropriate planning processes in our city is through open standing. For that reason, Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker, we believe that it is important to restore this provision into the Land Act.
Mr Humphries has made much play of the fact that the Labor Party has changed its mind on this issue. I would like to refer Mr Humphries to some comments made by a former Labor member in this place, Ms McRae, on 9 December last year - just under a year ago. In the debate in relation to amendments to the Land Act proposed by Ms Horodny at that stage, which included, among others, restoration of open standing for administrative decisions judicial review, Ms McRae said:
I repeat that in opposing most of this Bill we are not opposing the idea of what is driving it, nor opposing the idea that the rights of people to appeal against decisions, to complain about decisions, to be involved in land decisions are not perfect at the moment. We are saying that, in fact, they should be reviewed. But this Bill does not offer the right mechanism.
Ms McRae made very clear in the last months of the last Assembly that the Labor Party was interested in looking at this issue more closely. Ms McRae went on to say that it was an issue that should be addressed in more detail by the Fourth Assembly. Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker, that is where we are. This is the Fourth Assembly. We have looked again at the position, prompted by Ms Tucker when she put forward her amendments, and we believe that it is appropriate to change our minds on the issue and to support it.