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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 11 Hansard (8 December) . . Page.. 3287 ..

MR CORBELL (continuing):

What does that say about the Minister for planning in the current Government of the Territory? Is he across everything else now? Can we be absolutely sure that he is across all those other issues, that he is not going to forget something else, that he has not got around to something else and is going to have to introduce another Bill to get himself out of a spot of bother?

Mr Deputy Speaker, this says a lot about planning in Canberra at the moment, and it says a hell of a lot about the current Minister. The current Minister, clearly, is not across his brief. He is not across his brief in any way. Had he been, he would perhaps have been approaching other members of the Assembly six months ago and saying, "I think we might have a bit of a problem here. My predecessor has left me in the lurch and I have to get myself out of it. This is what I think we need to do". But he did not even do that. Instead, he simply shoots the Bill in, in the second-last sitting week of the year, and says, "This is the way to get myself out of this problem". It is just not good enough.

I return to my amendments. What we are saying to the Government is this: You have made a big mistake in your handling of this issue. You have demonstrated a level of incompetence which I think is very worrying in the administration of planning this Territory. But we believe that this investigation into betterment needs to be done. We said it in 1996 and we are saying it again now. But we are not prepared to give you the time where you might start dragging your heels again, because your record is not good. You have got form on this. You have got form on not delivering a good result when we give you sunset clauses.

What we are saying is this: We will give you a sunset clause. We will give you enough time to do it properly and to consult properly, but no more. That is why I am proposing the date 31 August. Professor Nicholls has said that he needs 20 weeks. That brings us to 4 June 1999. We then have a month for the Government to prepare its response to that report, which is a reasonable period of time, a month, potentially, for the Assembly to consider the issue, and a month for community consultation.

Indeed, the Assembly and the community consultation process can potentially overlap. In fact, they fit quite well together, if the Urban Services Committee is investigating the matter.

Clearly, that is a reasonable period for the Government to have the study completed and presented to it and for the Assembly, the community and the Government to respond to it. At the end of that time there will be an opportunity to deal with the sunset clause and the issue of betterment from then on. That is an appropriate course of action, Mr Deputy Speaker. That is a responsible course of action because it lays down very clearly on the table for the Government an understanding that this Assembly will be lenient but no more than that. This Assembly will not allow the Government to drag its heels anymore on the issue. This Assembly will say, "Get the study done and let us deal with the issue". That is what we are asking the Government to do. I urge members to support the amendments, giving the Government eight months. It is a sensible period of time and one that I hope members are prepared to support.

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