Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 4 Hansard (10 April) . . Page.. 893 ..
MR SMYTH (11.38): Mr Speaker, I rise to address a few points. I will start with some of the things that Mr Hargreaves stated. Mr Hargreaves seems to be saying that you cannot have this sort of debate unless you have had lengthy discussion beforehand. That presupposes that nothing will happen in the community that needs urgent attention. The case of the Swans is something that now needs urgent attention. We are hearing from the Labor Party, through Mr Hargreaves, that nothing will happen unless you have been through such a long and arduous process and that, before we get to the use of the Assembly to defend the rights of the people of Canberra, the government has to have time to consider the matter. Government is about managing things that happen in the community today, and sometimes governments do not have much time to do so.
For instance, Mr Quinlan will attest to the issues arising out of the insurance problems round the country now. Under Mr Hargreaves' theory, we should not raise them in this place until there has been a huge amount of community consultation and time for the government to consider the issues. I think that is wrong in that it denies the fundamental role of government.
It also seems to me that Mr Hargreaves was saying that we in the Assembly almost have no right to direct the government to do something because it is new to office, that it has to have time to settle in and do this, that and the other. That is not how it is done, either. The law is there. As Ms Dundas has so eloquently pointed out, this is the start of a process, and it is the start of a process in the law that allows the Assembly to do so. I have not seen any time limits in the act that says that you cannot direct the government to do something for the first year of its being in office. That shows up the folly of Mr Corbell's neighbourhood planning policy. It shows that he did not think about how he would implement it. It seems to me that Mr Corbell and the government are saying that nothing can happen in these suburbs until they finish doing so. That is unacceptable to the community, because things will occur that need urgent attention. Good ideas or logical ideas could arise that the majority of the community would agree to on the spot; but, if a neighbourhood plan has not been done, the government is not going to do anything about them.
Life has to go on. Business goes on, the needs of the community go on, and I think it is important to have a mechanism and, if necessary, to use that mechanism to ensure that good outcomes are achieved. It would seem to me from the statements already made that the majority of the members of this place actually believe that the procedure initiated by Ms Tucker, as so accurately pointed out by Ms Dundas, is the start of a process, a very open and very public process, that may allow for such an outcome. Why are we afraid of initiating this process? Initiating it will not guarantee that the Swans will get what they are seeking, but it will give them the opportunity to seek it. That is something of which we all should be in favour.
There are some broader issues here about how planning is going on in the ACT. There are some high expectations out there, which is good, but that does bring into question the ability of this Planning Minister to deliver anything concrete or coherent that will actually take the community forward. Yesterday we heard about collaboration, about working with the community. Here we have representations from the Democrats, the Greens, the Liberal Party, the Narrabundah community association, and a small business.