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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 14 Hansard (10 December) . . Page.. 4161 ..

MRS DUNNE (8.28): Mr Speaker, I move amendment No 4 circulated in my name [see schedule 7 at page 4199].

Mr Speaker, my amendment No 4 removes clause 8 (1) (n), which is to provide administrative support and facilities for the council. Throughout this process of introducing the Planning and Land Bill, the government has waxed lyrical about transparency and an arm's-length approach. The concern that was expressed on a number of occasions, through the inquiry of the planning and environment committee into this matter, was that the transparency that the minister is so fond of speaking about was not always available.

Although this is a small matter, it is a matter of transparency. It is fine for the minister to say that this is a seamless approach, it is the one organisation, it deals with everything, it is neat and it is tidy. However, in this case, it is not neat and tidy, because the Planning and Land Council has a job to do which will sometimes involve it being critical of the organisation that it is overseeing, the Planning and Land Authority. It would be better for the independence of the council if the secretariat services were provided by a body other than the Planning and Land Authority.

This is a matter of transparency and of the independence of the council, and the minister has gone to some pains to make it clear that this is an independent council. Let's demonstrate that it is independent by providing it with a secretariat service which is independent of the body that it is overseeing.

MR CORBELL (Minister for Education, Youth and Family Services, Minister for Planning and Minister for Industrial Relations) (8.30): Mr Speaker, the government will not support this amendment from Mrs Dunne. Mrs Dunne is wrong in saying that the Planning and Land Council oversees the Planning and Land Authority. It does not. It is not a governing board, and it does not have responsibility for the operations or the activities of the Planning and Land Authority.

Its role is to provide advice on specified matters as outlined either in the act or in subsequent regulations. Its role is to provide expert advice on matters related to large, contentious or other classes of development application, to advise on the issues that may warrant the minister of the day exercising the call-in power, and to advise on variations to the Territory Plan and other potential master planning activity. Its role is advisory. It provides expert advice on key planning issues. It does not oversee the Planning and Land Authority.

What Mrs Dunne's last three amendments-and this one as well-attempt to do is establish the argument that there should be a separate department of planning outside of the Planning and Land Authority by saying, "We will try to excise these activities and essentially make the argument for a separate planning department."

The government is not convinced at all of the need for a separate planning department. Indeed, the standing committee report that Mrs Dunne refers to did not, in of itself, recommend the establishment of a separate planning department. It suggested that the government consider this matter further, but it did not recommend that there should be a separate department. That may be a fine line, nevertheless it was not a substantive recommendation of the committee.

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