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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 10 Hansard (13 October) . . Page.. 3029 ..

MR CORBELL (continuing):

Further, Mr Speaker, we should not rely on the Minister's goodwill to justify his reasons via a media statement. Indeed, there should be a formal statutory requirement for him to notify this place of his use of this power granted to him by the Assembly and the reasons for the use of the power. If I can draw an example as to why the Labor Party has decided to introduce this Bill this morning: The most recent use of the call-in power was in relation to the BRL Hardy development at Mitchell. The Minister informed the community of the use of the call-in power to approve the development application for BRL Hardy in a media release which was actually about improvements to parking and access at EPIC. In fact, in the Minister's media release there was no outlining of why he had actually decided to approve the BRL Hardy development.

The Minister did outline that he had decided to proceed because parking issues had been resolved and the Government was responding to a range of issues identified by the Urban Services Committee in its report on the matter, but in that media statement he provided no direct reason why he was using the call-in power to approve the BRL Hardy development. That is not a satisfactory use of or justification for the power. We want to introduce these amendments so that there will be rigour to the application of the decision-making power used by the Minister when exercising his rights under section 229A of the Act by making sure that there are clear definitions for the circumstances under which the Minister may utilise the power.

Mr Speaker, it is important to note that these provisions are equivalent to provisions governing the use of the call-in power in other jurisdictions. For example, in Victoria the Minister has power under section 97B of the Planning and Environment Act 1987 to exercise the call-in power if the application raises a major policy issue. Mr Speaker, this Assembly is not blazing a trail in a new area of legislation in this regard; rather, through these amendments, we are bringing our jurisdiction up to speed with other jurisdictions in relation to the use of the call-in power.

This amending Bill introduces scrutiny and transparency into the use of the call-in power. The reasons for utilising the power will be clear and unambiguous and they will bring our legislation into line with that of other jurisdictions in Australia. Indeed, I should finish by noting that almost all other jurisdictions in Australia, from our search of the relevant Acts, do have a call-in power and all of them, with the exception of the Northern Territory, which has no formal planning legislation as such compared to other jurisdictions, have this power and criteria for the use of it. We believe that it will bring transparency and accountability to the use of the power.

Whilst it is fair to say that on most occasions the Minister has provided clear reasons for his exercising of the power, this Assembly and the Canberra community should not be reliant on the goodwill of any Minister for planning to get the proper justification for the use of the call-in power. I commend the Bill to the Assembly.

Debate (on motion by Mr Smyth ) adjourned.

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