Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 10 Hansard (25 November) . . Page.. 2833 ..
MS TUCKER (continuing):
The Government justifies this restriction on third-party appeals because it thinks that appeals just hold up development and that people in one part of town somehow have no right to be lodging appeals about developments in another part of town. I think these arguments are very weak. Firstly, I doubt that any people put in appeals about developments on the other side of town or even on developments next door just for the fun of it. The AAT can reject vexatious or frivolous appeals very quickly. Secondly, I do not agree with the line that any development is okay if it is generating economic activity, and therefore it should not be held up by appeals. There is a range of environmental and social impacts of development that cannot be quantified in economic indicators but are real nonetheless. Developers do not have to bear the long-term costs of their developments. They just build them and then sell them off. But the residents of Canberra will have to live with these developments for their lifetime.
I therefore think it is quite legitimate for any resident to be able to raise the concerns through the AAT about developments that are going to adversely impact on them, either directly or indirectly. I believe that appeals against development on public interest grounds - not just personal interest, but public interest grounds - are an important part of our democratic process that should not be arbitrarily restricted. My Bill basically reverts the third-party appeal provisions to what existed before 1977, which the ALP introduced when it was in government. I have deleted the requirement that persons must be substantially and adversely affected by the decision to be able to appeal.
My Bill also omits the provision in the Act which prevents third-party appeals on development applications which have been subject to an environmental impact assessment. There is an assumption here that all the issues have been canvassed in the environmental assessment, so there is no need for appeals. However, this ignores the fact that the public have not had the opportunity of formally questioning the adequacy of the final environmental assessment on which the decision to proceed with the development has been based.
Mr Speaker, in conclusion, this Bill provides the Assembly with the opportunity of opening up the development approval process to increased public accountability, which will, I believe, lead to better quality development in our national capital. I commend this Bill to the Assembly.
Debate (on motion by Mr Smyth) adjourned.
(AMENDMENT) BILL (NO. 2) 1998
MR QUINLAN (10.41): Mr Speaker, I present the Territory Owned Corporations (Amendment) Bill (No. 2) 1998, together with its explanatory memorandum.
Title read by Clerk.
MR QUINLAN: I move:
That this Bill be agreed to in principle.