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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 14 Hansard (10 December) . . Page.. 4164 ..

MR CORBELL (continuing):

advice and the council's advice will be publicly available, so there are safeguards and there is transparency in the arrangement.

I fail to see how purely straight secretariat or administrative support can undermine the capacity of the council to act independently, whether it is from the authority or not. At the end of the day, it is part of the machinery of government. If government was serious about exerting its influence in that way, which I believe would be quite improper, it would not matter where the relevant officers came from, the government could potentially exert that influence. I do not believe it is the case.

I believe that the council will operate professionally. If the council itself believed it was being stymied, there would be the opportunity for the chair of the council to go to the relevant minister and say, "I am not getting the information that my council needs. I want you to fix it."The council has the capacity to do that. It is a circumstance that is highly unlikely to occur, and that is why the government supports the arrangements as they are outlined in the bill.

I take Ms Tucker's comments on board: we clearly have to monitor the operation of the new council. However, I am confident that the arrangements are transparent and that the necessary mechanisms exist to prevent the sort of occurrences that Ms Tucker and, obviously, Mrs Dunne are concerned about.

MS TUCKER (8.41): I can speak twice on amendments, can't I? I just wanted to address one thing Mr Corbell said. It can be more subtle than potentially stymieing the work of a body. It can actually involve work practices in providing the council with information and so on, which we have certainly experienced in LAPACs, where there was a substantial overload. There can almost be an advocacy role in the support function of secretariat to any group, council or whatever.

While I accept that the secretariat support would most likely be from government, although there are other ways of dealing with it, the concern is that, if it is all handled by the authority-and I can see the potential advantage in having everything within the authority's functions-that approach could also be disadvantageous, if it is not actually carried through in good faith. As I said, there can be problems with the practices of the secretariat and of the authority itself, with time frames and so on. A lot of people learned that by bitter experience in the LAPACs. I accept Mr Corbell's reassurances but, as I said, we will all keep an eye on the situation.

Amendment negatived.

MR CORBELL (Minister for Education, Youth and Family Services, Minister for Planning and Minister for Industrial Relations) (8.42): Mr Speaker, I move amendment No 4 circulated in my name [see schedule 6 at page 4192].

This is a new amendment that adds new clauses 8 (1) (o) and 8 (1) (p), providing that the functions of the Planning and Land Authority include requirements to ensure that there is effective community consultation and participation in planning decisions, and to promote public education and understanding of the planning process by providing information and documentation.

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