Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 14 Hansard (10 December) . . Page.. 4167 ..
MR CORBELL (continuing):
This clause simply says that, in having regard to the exercise of its functions, the authority does not simply have to take account of sustainable development, but any other important policy issues that are raised in the statement of planning intent. That gives the authority the capacity to take on board issues such as, say, affordable housing. I think the current government would want to make its policy on such matters clear to the new authority if and when it is established.
MRS DUNNE (8.51): The opposition will be opposing this amendment. As the bill currently stands, it requires that the authority exercise its functions in a way that has regard to sustainable development. This is something that the opposition is prepared to support. However, for a long time the opposition has had a problem with the concept of the statement of planning intent. This has been a matter of some contention between the opposition and the minister since the outset of this debate, as we have seen.
Under the bill, the minister will be able to give the authority a statement that sets out the main principles that are to govern planning and land development in the ACT, as described in clause 13. The point was made quite cogently by one of the crossbench members at the round table meeting that there is very little difference between the statement of planning intent and the directions power that the minister already has under the land act, which is reinforced in this bill.
Neither the explanatory memorandum, the presentation speech nor any of the comments made subsequently by the minister clarify what is proposed by the statement of planning intent. It is still a vague wish list. During the round table meeting, I sought an undertaking from the minister that he would provide a better definition of the statement of planning intent: that has not been forthcoming.
In the absence of further explanation, it is difficult to distil the role of the statement of planning intent when the Territory Plan sets out planning principles and policies, as it currently does, particularly in the strategic principles set out in appendix A2 of the plan. As I have already said, the planning minister can give written directions both on the general policy the authority must follow and on the revision of the Territory Plan. It is the view of the opposition, as it is also of many of the organisations that made submissions to the planning and environment committee, that at best the statement of planning intent is superfluous, and at worst it is an instrument that could be used to the great detriment of people in the ACT.
That would not occur if the minister acted in good faith but, at some stage, you may find in power a minister who does not act in good faith in this matter. It has the potential to be a dangerous implement. In this regard, the opposition opposes this clause and proposes to oppose all mention of the statement of planning intent wherever it occurs throughout this bill.
MS DUNDAS (8.54): The Democrats do not oppose the statement of planning intent. As Mrs Dunne has already mentioned, as did a number of others who made submissions to the committee inquiry, we did have concerns with the potential use of the statement of planning intent.