Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 9 Hansard (18 November) . . Page.. 2639 ..
MR CORBELL (continuing):
In relation to developers attempting to use the provision to delay a development of an opponent, we would hope and we would expect that, as with all other laws, the laws are used sensibly and in their right context. That is why my leader, Mr Stanhope, has indicated, quite sensibly, that we will be looking closely to see that that occurs. If it does not occur, then clearly we have an open mind on the subject and welcome approaches from individuals and various sectors on whether they believe that it is being used inappropriately.
But let me say this, Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker: What is underlying our support for this Bill is the principle of allowing an individual, an organisation or a company to appeal a decision of a government authority when they believe that it is wrong at law. In the planning context, planning is a fundamental democratic process. If people cannot control the physical confines in which they live, then we really are failing them. So, if a citizen, an organisation or a company believes that a decision is wrong at law, in the interpretation of the Land Act, then they should have the opportunity to appeal it. It is a straightforward right. It is a democratic right.
Mr Humphries: Even though they live on the other side of the town, they should have a chance to appeal it?
MR CORBELL: Mr Humphries interjects, "What if they live on the other side of town?". Mr Humphries obviously did not hear my earlier comments. I do not believe and the Labor Party does not believe that, simply because you live in one part of the city, you do not have an interest in another part. That sort of disenfranchising of individuals, that sort of disenfranchising of citizens within a common community - we are all Canberrans - is, I believe, undermining people's faith in the planning process. At the end of the day, we live in a community; and our community is not just the suburb we live in, it is not even the town centre we live in, it is the city we live in. For that reason, people have a right to participate in decisions that affect what their city looks like, how their city is developed, how their city emerges over time.
It is a sensible amendment. We will certainly watch it closely to ensure that it is not abused. But the principle of allowing people this right is an important one. For that reason, as Mr Stanhope has indicated, Labor will be supporting this Bill.
MR RUGENDYKE (4.16): Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker, at this point I am satisfied, I think, that the present appeal avenues against government planning decisions are adequate. I am satisfied that parties who could be adversely affected by a development have access to the full right of appeal. I share the concerns that opening up the process to allow any person to take proceedings to the Supreme Court could create a logjam, not only in the court system but also within the building industry. It is simply a delaying tactic. It appears to me to be sensible to retain the existing system rather than to enforce changes that are likely to encourage unnecessary delays. I believe that the onus should remain on parties who are directly affected to instigate appeals.