Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 14 Hansard (10 December) . . Page.. 4165 ..
MR CORBELL (continuing):
This amendment is proposed by the government following discussions between the government and other members. This was initially proposed by Ms Dundas and I am pleased that the government is able to support this proposal. I think this is a good suggestion that provides for one of the functions of the authority to be promoting effective community consultation and participation, and providing public information on planning issues and objectives. These are valuable additions to the functions of the authority. They state up-front the expectations this Assembly will have of the new authority in regard to the issues covered in the amendment.
MRS DUNNE (8.44): The Canberra Liberals will be supporting this amendment because, as the minister has said, it takes on some very good suggestions from the ACT Democrats about community consultation and providing education about the planning process, which as we all know is often needed in this town.
I wish to take this opportunity to pay testimony to the minister's willingness to embrace many of the recommendations and amendments put forward by the opposition and the crossbenches through the very useful round table meetings that were conducted last week and the week before. Those members and parties who attended came to an understanding of the motivations for amendments. In many cases, the minister and his team were able to take on amendments that were being suggested by the crossbenches. It was useful for all of us who attended. This amendment is an example of one of those excellent suggestions which were taken on board.
MS DUNDAS (8.45): As has already been said, the Democrats worked to develop this amendment and I thank the minister for adopting it as one of the government's amendments. The amendment was developed in response to the lack of attention paid to the role of the authority in liaising with the community. As I have said previously and repeatedly, the original bill seemed to have been developed from the perspective that planning was the sole provenance of professionals, to be done behind closed doors. The ACT Democrats do not agree with this position at all.
A planning system should not have input only from professional planners. Planning is also about trying to turn the needs and desires of the people of Canberra into a vision for the future of this city. Planning should not take just a top-down approach, where governments or bureaucracies tell people what is good for them. Instead, it should be a collaboration between government and residents to tap into grassroots ideas and develop them through a fair and balanced planning process. A good planning system involves public participation in decision-making, leading to outcomes that the people of Canberra will not only have confidence in, but that they feel they have contributed to and own.
The amendment goes some way towards recognising the role of this new authority in engaging the community in the planning process. The amendment also recognises the role of the new authority as not just a regulator, but also an educator.
I have noted that a number of problems about which residents come to me result from poor access to planning information and a misunderstanding of the planning process in Canberra. The role of planners goes beyond simply providing professional advice. It should and does include ensuring that residents have easy access to information and