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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 1 Hansard (14 February) . . Page.. 183 ..

MR CORBELL (continuing):

Nowhere in there does it say that the minister may give the authority written direction to change the Territory Plan. The word "change" is never used.

If we were to follow Mr Smyth's definition of how this all works, every time he asks the planning authority to prepare a variation to the Territory Plan, he does so in the language of review. That is a nonsense and we all know it to be a nonsense, because we know that the executive frequently gives the planning authority directions to review the plan and to effect a change to the plan.

Every time a draft variation is presented in this place it is to change the plan, but it has been done, presumably, under the section about directing the planning authority to review the plan or a part of the plan. Nowhere in the land act does it say that the executive or the minister has a power to direct the authority to change the plan. It says that the minister and executive have the power to review the plan. Clearly, in its day-to-day operations, "review" means "change". Clearly it means that, otherwise we would not continually get Territory Plan variations which propose to change the plan.

Mr Speaker, that is the power that I used when I moved my motion last year. But conveniently the minister has decided that on this occasion he will interpret the whole practice of directing the planning authority differently. Why will he do that, Mr Speaker? The reason he will do that is that he simply does not agree. He thinks that he can ignore the will of this place.

It is time for him to think again, because at the end of the day the people of Canberra have elected us to make decisions about a whole series of things, including one of the appropriate development controls in parts of our city. The majority of members said very clearly last June, insofar as it relates to the heritage area of Old Red Hill, that they do not think that we should have dual occupancy. It does not matter at the end of the day whether it is a matter of experts at 30 paces or not. The will of the people is paramount. We hold that truth to be self-evident. Mr Speaker, when the majority of the members of this place say what they want to be done, surely that is what should occur.

The whole structure of the land act does create tension between the legislature and the executive insofar as it does not allow this place to direct the planning authority; it only allows this place to recommend that the minister direct the authority. But let us understand the underlying sense of that. The underlying sense of that is that if the majority of members believe that it should be done and the minister says that he will not do it and is unable to convince the majority of members that his decision in retrospect is right, then he is subject to the sanction of this place. That is the dynamic built into the land act. You can all see it when you read these sections. I put the minister on notice that I will seek to sanction him if he ignores the will of the Assembly again on this matter.

Mr Moore made some comments in relation to review of the Territory Plan and how the plan can be changed. Mr Moore has given me some good ideas about making sure that we never have this problem again. I think that it is about time we moved some amendments to the Territory Plan. Instead of allowing the executive or the minister to give the planning authority directions to review the plan or any specified part of the plan, we should simply change the word "review" to "change". In that way Mr Smyth could not play his word games any more.

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