Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 13 Hansard (21 November) . . Page.. 3959 ..
MR SMYTH (continuing):
The legislation also permits the agency to review its own decisions, on the application of someone who has filed a DA. The curious thing about this will be that under the legislation we have used the word "must", and where the word "must" has been used, according to the Legislation Act, the function must be exercised. If it is not, it is reviewed. If it is reviewed, then you would think that somebody would be doing that outside the agency itself. But we seem to be creating a self-fulfilling prophecy where the agency will be doing its own reviews of its own decisions. I would have thought that that was not something that we would find to be acceptable in the normal course of events.
I think it is important that people know where decisions are being made, how they are being made and in what cases they might be able to appeal them. I am not sure people will have confidence in a system that reviews itself. I mean, that is why we set up the Commissioner for Land and Planning-so that the decision was taken outside the agency, so that somebody who was independent actually got to make the review-and I think it is important that that should continue.
The legislation also creates the position of chief planning executive, and I guess it is presumed that in practice that position will operate in much the same way as the Commissioner for Land and Planning. The legislation makes it clear that the chief executive is the authority, and all relevant powers are vested in the authority, and therefore in the chief planning executive. However, the authority can delegate its powers to public servants that are employed by it.
I guess you could draw from that that existing PALM staff will be transferred to the authority. Given the great similarity between the functions currently exercised by PALM and those proposed to be exercised by the authority, it will be interesting to see whether there will be in practice a great deal of difference in how lease administration decisions are made once the new system commences.
That is part of the point we are trying to make here: is this any different; is there greater clarity; is there the independence that Mr Corbell, the minister, goes on about? I think the answer to all of that is no, there is not. These bills do not amount to a new system that will give what is being offered. For those reasons, I think Mrs Dunne's amendment should be agreed to.
MR CORBELL (Minister for Education, Youth and Family Services, Minister for Planning and Minister for Industrial Relations) (5.32): Mr Speaker, I do not think any other members wish to speak, so I will close the debate.
I would like first of all to thank those members who have indicated their support for this very important piece of legislation. To Ms Dundas and Ms Tucker, thank you for your preparedness to support what the government believes is a very significant reform in the architecture in relation to the administration of planning law and land management in the ACT.
This has been a very significant process for the government, one which is born of a desire to, first of all, establish a robust, independent planning agency that is able to deliver to government, the Assembly and the broader community the expert advice it needs so that we, as a community, and as an Assembly, can determine the best way forward for the future development and growth of our city.