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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 14 Hansard (10 December) . . Page.. 4163 ..

MS TUCKER: That is not what you said? I thought you were saying that the independence of the council could be threatened by the fact that it was supported by the authority.

Mrs Dunne: Yes, but not because it holds a particular government position.

MS TUCKER: No, but you felt that its independence could be compromised. I think that is a reasonable point to make and I did not hear Mr Corbell respond to that. The point I want to make is that, while I am leaving these functions with the authority at this point, I would be interested in keeping an eye on them. Mr Corbell has said that the calibre of the people appointed will ensure that a good job is done and so on, that the council will not override the authority, and that the authority will have to ask for and consider the council's advice.

There have been problems with other consultative mechanisms that have been set up by previous governments and which are supported by government people who have a particular agenda. That is fine as it is their job, but there have been complaints from the community that those government people have not necessarily supported the community in the way it wanted. I understand the arguments of the minister in favour of having this provision, but I also acknowledge the points that Mrs Dunne has made. We should keep an eye on this. I am sure people in the community will let us know if they are concerned about it.

MR CORBELL (Minister for Education, Youth and Family Services, Minister for Planning and Minister for Industrial Relations) (8.37): Mr Speaker, I want to respond, through you, to the comments Ms Tucker has made. I appreciate her position and I thank her for her support. However, I think the key issue here is the amendment suggesting that the fact that the secretariat support to the Planning and Land Council is provided by the Planning and Land Authority staff potentially threatens the independence of the Planning and Land Council. If that is the case, the same could be said for any government officer supporting the activity of the Planning and Land Council. I think it is stretching a bit too far to make that assertion.

If the concern is that the government is going to use its influence, through secretariat support to the council, to deny information to the council and so on, then it does not matter where it happens. It does not matter whether it comes out of the Planning and Land Authority or out of a mainstream department: at the end of the day, these officers are ultimately public servants.

I think the more reasonable point should be made that the Planning and Land Council will be reliant on information from the Planning and Land Authority in giving its advice. If the advice is about, say, a development application, particularly a major development application, on which it has a statutory responsibility to comment, it will have to get that information from the Planning and Land Authority, because that is where the information will have been lodged in the first place. The information will come from that authority.

The authority will have to take into account the advice of the council before it makes decisions on such an application. At the end of the day, the authority will be the decision maker on a development application. However, it must have regard to the council's

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