Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 11 Hansard (25 September) . . Page.. 3262 ..
MR CORBELL (continuing):
government believes Ms Tucker's clause 4 should not be supported. The important question to be answered is whether the effect will be detrimental and significant.
The proposed amendment will remove any qualification on the test of the effect that an amendment to an approval would have. It would be sufficient, if Ms Tucker's amendment were to be supported, for a person merely to argue that they would be affected in some negative way, even though the effects would be extremely insignificant. That might amount to establishing only that the person is aware of the change and is generally concerned about it.
The government is proposing that the Planning and Land Authority will have the power to reconsider development decisions. This will allow approvals to be amended on application by the proponent, whether or not those approvals are minor. Of course, appropriate notice would be required and the decisions would still be subject to the relevant range of reviews through the appeals process. It is hoped that such a process, which has proven successful in other systems, will reduce the number of disputed decisions and appeals to the appeal body.
Clause 4 of the bill is opposed because it is important to allow time for related improvements to the system to be developed before a change as significant as the one Ms Tucker is proposing is made. Clause 4 of the bill as it stands would make the existing system effectively unusable. The only option for making minor changes would be to make a new application or appeal to the AAT. That would make the system more complex and expensive.
The concerns that Ms Tucker seeks to address could be met by the issuing of a practice direction to PALM officers requiring them to have regard to all possible impacts on neighbours of proposed minor amendments to development approvals. This direction might also address some other matters of concern to PALM.
Mr Speaker, I think that I have outlined clearly the reasons behind the government's decision to oppose clause 4. We will be supporting the remainder of the bill.
MS TUCKER (6.01): I just want to make the point again that this clause is fundamental to what we are trying to achieve through this bill. It is the very question of what is or is not a minor amendment that has been of concern to people in the community. If you are reducing the number of changes which can be classified as minor, okay, but if something was not classified as minor and you were reducing the number of changes that could be classified as minor, it would have to trigger a new process in the development application, which was exactly the point of this proposal. What were being defined as minor amendments were not minor amendments in terms of the impact they were having on neighbours. If it involves a small window being moved, obviously that cannot be shown to be having an increase in detriment, so I think that that is not a realistic example.
The other section of this bill, which is really the only other part of it, is about bringing about transparency, which is hardly Stalinist, to allow neighbours to know what is going on. I am very disappointed that you have not supported that, because that was the point of the bill.