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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 8 Hansard (8 August) . . Page.. 2623 ..

MR CORBELL (continuing):

decision overturned? That is just as likely a scenario in the proposal that Ms Tucker has put forward.

The use of the call-in power should be made in exceptional circumstances. The Labor Party believes that it needs to be used for projects of significance, and it needs to be used in circumstances outside of the ordinary. This minister cannot claim to have exercised the power in that way. Can the minister seriously justify the call-in of the redevelopment of the Latham shops to be in the same category as the call-in of a project worth hundreds of millions of dollars?

The minister's application and use of the power has been inconsistent and inappropriate. Labor would retain the call-in power. We have made that clear already in our policy announcements. But what we have also made clear is that we would use it only in exceptional circumstances. The Labor Party introduced amendments to the land act which meant that, for the first time, the minister exercising the call-in power had to table in the Assembly an explanation of the use of that power. It was the Labor Party that introduced provisions under which a call in could be exercised. We believe that is an appropriate level of accountability on the use of the power. We believe the current minister's abuse of the power has been made clear through the requirement for him to continually table the justification for his use of that power.

Mr Speaker, the problem with the call-in power is not the power itself-it is the abuse of that power, and the Labor Party will be holding the minister accountable for that abuse. But we will not be supporting moves to make this power disallowable and, therefore, effectively redundant.

MS TUCKER (6.07), in reply: I hear what Mr Corbell says-that Mr Smyth has done such an appalling job as planning minister; that he has over-used call-in powers; and that Labor would not abuse the use of call-in powers in that way. In a nutshell, that seems to be Labor's argument. It may well be the case that Mr Corbell would make very careful use of such powers. But this is not about Simon Corbell-this is about planning.

The Labor Party does not have a fantastic record in planning. I think it would be very sensible to put in a level of accountability which at this point does not exist. I think it would be very useful to involve the Assembly if the minister of the day decides to use his or her power in this way. Mr Smyth is always keen to talk about certainty for developers. The problem is that there should be certainty for the community, who have to live with these developments for a long time.

Mr Corbell said that it could take up to three months for a decision by the minister to be ratified by the Assembly. We are stuck with developments for possibly more than 50 years. It is worth waiting three months if a development is controversial. As I said, it is the community who will be living with it, not the developer.

Mr Smyth also said call ins happen only in controversial development proposal applications. Yes, exactly, Mr Speaker. That is the point-they are controversial. There is concern in the community about the proposal. Mr Smyth used his call-in powers for a particular proposal in respect of which there were over 100 objections in train. That was a significant reaction by the community. But Mr Smyth took the decision to override the normal processes and appeal rights of the citizens of Canberra because he knew best.

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