Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 10 Hansard (14 October) . . Page.. 3172 ..
MR KAINE (continuing):
so. I would like some evidence put forward to support the proposition that this development is not ecologically sustainable but developments beyond Gungahlin are. I do not buy that.
The Labor Party and Ms Tucker say that there will be some problem with public access to the golf course. How? Even this development will have a street running through it. If anybody wants to go for their morning stroll as they have done for years - and that is the argument - they are not going to be restricted in access. They are not going to be refused access. How does this little development cause a refusal or denial of public access to the land? It simply does not. It is most unpersuasive for somebody to suggest that it does. I do not see how it is going to inhibit access in any way.
In talking about the similarity between this project and some others at Holt and Yowani, Ms Tucker said, "Bad precedents cannot be accepted". Who says they were bad precedents to start with? I have seen no evidence to suggest that what was done at Holt or any of the other major golf courses has turned out to be a bad product. There is an emphasis that would imply that these are bad; therefore, this one is bad. I dispute that. You simply cannot set aside precedent - not in the law, not anywhere. Our lives are very often dictated by precedent. It does have a bearing on most things we do, and it certainly has a bearing on this subject.
The necessary aim of everything that we in this place have done over the last 10 years in connection with planning has been consistency. That has been the catch word. We have to have consistency and certainty. The community has to know what they can expect. If precedent does not determine what you are going to do next time, then what does it do? If development of properties on golf courses or taking over disused church property and turning it into commercial enterprises or taking over old schools and turning them into commercial premises is not a precedent that indicates to the community what we are going to do in the future, unless the law is changed, then what is the basis of action?
We cannot make different decisions on a case-by-case basis as seems convenient to certain people at the time. That is no way for a government or for a community to do its business. The wider community - I use the word "wider" advisedly - can reasonably expect that standard rules of procedure will apply and that there will be certainty and consistency in the way government deals with matters of this kind, and I think there has been. I think the Government and the administration have dealt with this proposal consistent with everything else that has been done over the last several years.
I have heard no argument saying, "What we have done for the last five or six years was okay, but today we have to change that". There has been no argument to substantiate that proposition at all, and I would not buy it without the matter being debated in this place. That means you have to change the law. We have a law, we have a set of operating rules and procedures under that law, and we have precedents, things that have been approved under the law before. If you are going to change any of that, you have to go back and change the legislation and you have to change the planning provisions.
If we are going to act on whim - if that is to be the decision criterion in future, whatever is expedient today - then some of us need to be a bit careful about other projects that we consider to be pet projects. I include, for example, the future of Football Park in that.