Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 12 Hansard (14 November) . . Page.. 3626 ..
MRS DUNNE (continuing):
I conclude by thanking the staff of the committee office who assisted us, particularly Derek Abbott, who worked under enormous pressure to turn out this report with a whole lot of competing pressures on his time. I would particularly like to thank those members of the community who participated by making original submissions, additional submissions, turning up at hearings, and making themselves available to return. Also, in that mode, I would like to thank the staff of Planning and Land Management for their assistance in this regard.
I commend the report to the Assembly.
MS GALLAGHER (11.53): I will be brief in speaking to this report. I share Mrs Dunne's comments in regard to the tabling of this unanimous report and commend my committee colleagues for navigating the way through a difficult inquiry to come up with what, hopefully, will be seen as a useful report.
As stated by Mrs Dunne, the Planning and Land Bill was tabled in the Assembly on 26 June and referred to the Planning and Environment Committee on 22 August. The consequential bill was presented to the Assembly on 26 September and referred to the committee the same day. The AAT amendments and an outline of draft regulations were provided to the committee on 1 October, with the committee being required to report on 12 November.
The committee held two public hearings-on 27 September and 8 October. At those hearings, the committee saw every organisation that had indicated an interest in appearing. We also had the minister and his officers appear. Task force officers also appeared on another occasion-on 5 November-with only a couple of days notice. I would like to thank them for their willingness to appear at such short notice and assist the committee with its deliberations.
We had 10 weeks to consider the Planning and Land Bill, once referred, six weeks to consider the consequential bill and five weeks to consider the exposure draft of the AAT amendments and an outline of the draft regulations. Whilst the report makes much comment about the hurried timeframe, I am not entirely convinced that the work of the committee was compromised by that. The committee saw all the people who wished to appear. We accepted submissions well past the 30 September deadline. In fact, one submission was received on 8 November, some 51/2 weeks after submissions closed and four days before the committee's scheduled reporting date. The comments from this submission were listened to and were included in the final report.
The committee questioned the minister and sought additional comments from witnesses. Whilst I agree that not having the consequential amendments bill available to the community via the website before 8 October certainly did affect some of the witnesses' ability to comment on the content of the package, after the information was received-I believe that the committee sent it out-we received three submissions and spoke to one witness in that regard.
Overall, I was surprised by the low number of submissions received and witnesses wishing to appear. Considering this legislation involved such significant reform to the planning framework and laws in the territory, I had expected more interest. Whilst I would never be so brave as to say that this lack of community interest in the inquiry