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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 1 Hansard (8 December) . . Page.. 4034 ..

MR CORBELL (continuing):

Instead, it should be a requirement upon the Minister for planning of the day to give clear, justifiable reasons in accordance with criteria for the exercise of this power.

I do not want to be in a situation where we have a Minister for planning who refuses to give reasons for the exercise of the power and does not publicly state that they have even exercised the power. That is one of the main reasons for my presentation of this Bill. Whilst we acknowledge that the Minister has publicly notified his use of the power in an open way, this may not always be the case. That is one reason why we need this Bill.

The second reason is a more complex one. The Minister has said that he has used his call-in powers in ways which are consistent with the criteria outlined in this Bill and shortly to be incorporated into the Act. I take some issue with that. I do not accept that the Minister has exercised his call-in powers in a way which could be seen to be consistent with these criteria. I would say that the Minister has given a very broad justification for the exercise of his ministerial call-in powers.

I put the Government and the Minister on notice that, following the passage of this legislation, the Labor Opposition and I, as Labor's spokesperson on planning, will be watching very carefully any future exercise of the power and scrutinising very closely the Minister's publicly tabled justifications for it. If the Minister continues to use the call-in power in the way he has used it to date, he may run into some trouble - not all the time, but he may. It is important that the Government be aware of the Opposition's intention in that regard.

The Minister has tabled an amendment to my Bill. As Mr Moore indicated earlier, it provides for legal appeal under the provisions of the AD(JR) Act but within a set timeframe. An appeal must be lodged within 28 days. The Labor Opposition has no objection to this amendment, but we do echo Mr Moore's comments when we say we will be watching very closely to make sure that this does not become the norm in relation to ministerial call-in powers. We will wait and see. I must admit that on the face of it I do not expect that to be the case, but we will be watching closely.

In conclusion, the use of a ministerial call-in power under the current system is an appropriate mechanism. As I indicated earlier in the debate, it may not be an appropriate mechanism if you have a truly independent statutory planning authority. We do not have that at the moment. Perhaps we will in the future. Under the current system the exercise of this power is appropriate as long as it is done in an open, transparent and publicly accountable way. This Bill entrenches those requirements. I thank the Assembly for its support.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill agreed to in principle.

Detail Stage

Bill, by leave, taken as a whole.

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