Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 14 Hansard (12 December) . . Page.. 4481 ..
MR CORBELL (continuing):
seriously we treat it and the sorts of requirements we believe need to be in place to make sure that any future Minister for Planning, and indeed the current Minister for Planning, will have to act responsibly in determining any application themselves.
MRS DUNNE (9.02): Mr Speaker, the Liberal opposition will not be supporting the Democrats' amendment. Ms Dundas has referred to the exercise of the call-in power as political interference in the planning process. This is where I am afraid the Liberals have to differ with the Democrats. As the minister said, it is not political interference; it is the exercise of political power. Whether you like it or not, this piece of legislation has been put together so that in the end there is political oversight, by this place and by the minister, and it is most appropriate on occasions that political power is exercised in this way.
This is really a matter of "The buck stops here". This is a power that ensures the orderly development of the territory, when things can go very wrong. As we have seen in the two instances when this minister has exercised his call-in power this year, it has been done for all the right reasons. I am pleased to see that the minister has found that the exercise of the call-in powers is not nearly as painful for him now as it was when he was in opposition, because this opposition realises that from time to time there needs to be the call-in power. I was happy to call for the exercise of the call-in power on these occasions, and I was happy to support the minister when he did the right thing and exercised the just and reasonable political power that is in this legislation.
Yes, it is controversial, but it is about breaking logjams, and we saw in the instances earlier this year that we were confronted with logjams. If the KFDA project had not been called in, it would have sent a clear message that the 800-odd development applications that we will be seeing in the next 10 years in the KFDA area could be up for vexatious litigation every time someone wanted to do something. Somebody who had a problem with it, no matter how small, no matter how insignificant, would hold it up in the courts for months and years at a time. This is inappropriate, and I think that the minister sent a very clear and sound message. It was about breaking the logjam, as was the case with the other development, which really ended up in that situation because of vexatious objections.
It is an opportunity to break those logjams. Yes, it is controversial, and I have to say that in the past it is politicians more than anyone else who have made it controversial. I hope that this opposition can work with this government to ensure that the exercise of call-in powers, when done sensibly, will not be controversial.
MR CORBELL (Minister for Education, Youth and Family Services, Minister for Planning and Minister for Industrial Relations) (9.05): Mr Speaker, I move amendment No 3 circulated in my name [see schedule 4 at page 4509].
This amendment ensures that, when the minister decides to exercise the call-in power, comments received from the Planning and Land Authority and the Planning and Land Council on the development application must be provided.