Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .

Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 10 Hansard (13 October) . . Page.. 3031 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

In the case of the new Woden cinemas and the lease variation at Homeworld in Tuggeranong the Minister, Mr Smyth, openly said that the call-in powers were exercised to stop appeal processes that had already been initiated by objectors. In the case of the expansion of the Manuka cinemas, the Minister actually overruled the commissioner's initial decision to reject the application. It would be hard to regard these development applications as major proposals of territory-wide significance.

I am very concerned about the Government's use of these call-in powers. The Government cannot have it both ways. It cannot have an independent planning commissioner and an established appeals mechanism through the AAT and ultimately the Supreme Court to deal with contentious development and then override this process when it suits the Government. It is not up to the Minister to decide whether a planning appeal is valid. That is the job of the tribunal and the court. A developer's preference to fast-track their proposal for their own benefit is not sufficient reason for the Government to override legitimate community concerns about the impacts of such developments on the surrounding physical, social and economic environment.

Mr Corbell has voiced similar concerns about these call-in powers and has introduced his own private members Bill. Let me say that I have also been concerned about this issue for some time and independently initiated the drafting of this Bill last May after the call-in powers were used to approve the expansion of the Manuka cinema complex. However, my Bill goes further than Mr Corbell's Bill. He says that he wants the Minister to provide criteria for the circumstances in which the Minister could exercise the call-in powers. However, the criteria he has suggested are still very broad and can basically be used to justify almost anything. It worries me that the Minister has said in the media that he will probably support Mr Corbell's Bill, because basically it will not change how the Minister currently acts. Perhaps Mr Corbell wants to keep these call-in powers for when he is Minister for planning.

I am also concerned that, regardless of what the criteria are, the critical point remains that once the Minister makes a decision to use his or her call-in powers the decision currently cannot be revoked by the Assembly. That is not addressed by Mr Corbell's Bill. The only way that that could be addressed is by having every decision to use call-in powers disallowable, which could create just as much uncertainty and delay as the appeal process. I think a better and simpler approach is just to remove these call-in powers from the Land Act and let the commissioner do the job he was appointed for and the appeal process run its own course.

Moving to the second part of my Bill, a part of the amendments to the Land Act that were implemented by this Government in mid-1997 was the transfer of provisions for public notification and third party appeal rights from the Territory Plan to the Land Act regulations. In the process there were significant reductions in the appeal rights available to objectors. In relation to single dwellings, third party appeals used to be allowed where the development application did not meet the performance measures in the residential design and siting guidelines in the Territory Plan. However, this provision was removed from the new regulations, thus creating a situation where there are now no third party appeal rights for single dwellings apart from houses in heritage areas.

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .