Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 13 Hansard (21 November) . . Page.. 3957 ..
MS DUNDAS (continuing):
I move on to the planning council. While I do not oppose its formation, it does not appear to integrate well into the planning system proposed. As was mentioned in the committee report on this bill, it is purely an expert body with no scope for community representation. How the community should interact with the council is left unstated. It also seems a little odd to set up an expert body to oversee the planning authority, which presumably is itself an expert body. The presence of the council, and the absence of any analogous community representative body, lends weight to the idea that this government believes planning is a professional pursuit only and is not interested in promoting discussion by community members with their friends, colleagues, families and neighbours.
I have similar problems with the land agency. The ACT Democrats are supportive of public land development, but we believe that it should not be seen as a cash cow to plug holes in future budgets. Conversely, with profit not expected until 2007, we need to be sure of what we are committing to. This bill has structured the land agency as a purely economic entity with the result that the land agency will simply replace private profit-seeking developers with a public one. The attraction of a public developer is the fact that it does not need to focus purely on the financial bottom line and instead can also look at the social and environmental impacts of development. I believe that our public developer should be structured to have social and environmental goals as well as financial goals, as do other territory-owned corporations, such as Actew. Again, I have prepared amendments to address this issue.
So, while the Democrats applaud this government's efforts to improve Canberra's planning system, we believe that it has not fully examined how these organisations will fit into the government's broader community and environmental responsibilities. There is plenty of room for improvement in this bill to provide better planning outcomes for the Canberra community, and I look forward to further discussions with the minister and other members of this Assembly to hopefully bring this about. But, as I have stated, the ACT Democrats support this bill in principle, and hence will be opposing Mrs Dunne's amendment and supporting the move to bring about a new planning and land regime here in the ACT.
MR STEFANIAK (5.24): Mr Speaker, I am speaking to the actual bill. I think there are large numbers of problems in this particular piece of legislation. I am delighted that we are not finalising it today. I can recall only too well when the 1991 legislation was dealt with. I see at least one of the officers present was there then. I can remember him running around in an absolute frenzy and quite frantic about some of the very ad hoc amendments that were being done then on the spot, on the run, as it were. I think at that stage the bill was rushed through and something like 50 amendments were made on the particular night. It was quite chaotic, and I don't think we ever quite got over that. So I think the first step is at least a bit more common sense now in just going through the in-principle stage and then dealing with the detail later.
I have a couple of points and Mr Smyth, who is a more recent planning minister, will obviously be talking on this too. I am concerned about the government's projected figures. I am concerned about how it thinks it can actually make money out of this rather than lose it. I am concerned about overturning a system that has worked reasonably well and that is not dissimilar from what occurs interstate. I am concerned about some of the money that was lost in the past when the government had responsibility, and I can recall