Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 12 Hansard (20 November) . . Page.. 4433 ..
MRS DUNNE (continuing):
The trouble is that the whole system is being micromanaged. With this micromanagement approach, you end up in a position where you can no longer see the wood for the trees. Consequently, this is why Mr Hollway's grand vision for the non-urban areas points to a problem that we have to correct, otherwise we will make no progress, which is the culture in the planning system. It is interesting that the Chief Minister has retained responsibility for the implementation of the non-urban planning study, because it seems he simply has no confidence in the current planning system. As Mr Hollway notes, it is no accident that all the ACT wineries are over the border in New South Wales.
Really, what we have in the ACT planning is a control freak culture. I do not know whether the planners are frustrated would-be developers, but they seem to be hostile to ideas that are not theirs. I take, for example, the proposals for a master plan for west Fyshwick to which the planners have shown an intense antipathy from the time that it was originally proposed on the grounds that it would offer more affordable accommodation than that currently being developed. On the other hand, the developers who are actually putting their own money at risk seem to feel, strangely enough, that their ideas should be included in the vision of what they are to build.
The insistence of this government on getting back into the business of property development flies in the face of most governments' approaches to business. In virtually every country in the developed world, there is a move away from state control of things such as land development. In November last year, I described the government's approach as simply old-fashioned state planning on the grand scale, with five-year plans and the like. Twelve months on, what has happened? It has become even worse than I suggested. We have the sorry saga of Harrison stage 1: the first attempt to sell a block of land fell over because of the financial status of the would-be purchaser and, on the second attempt, 11 weeks after the auction and three weeks after the sale should have been settled, the minister came up with six separate excuses for not having sold it.
There are lots of things that have to be done. We have to review the land act and this should be done by people outside the system. It needs to be fixed up and it needs to be fixed up in a hurry. We really do need to streamline planning. There should not be approvals when a master plan already exists and we have to ensure that the PA and DA process is not as onerous as it currently is. We need to do something about third-party appeals. We need to consider deemed approval and do something about vexatious appeals that hold up the process.
I congratulate the minister on his move forward in the area of conciliation and arbitration, but current examples show that more has to be done. A current example is that the developer got to the stage of going to the AAT. Then someone who was appealing against the process was forced to sit down and look at the plans. We discovered then that it was the first time he had ever looked at the plans; he then thought there was nothing wrong with them and withdrew his appeal.
Mr Speaker, it gives me no joy to be a planning Cassandra and to have all my prophesies about what would go wrong with ACTPLA confirmed, but it is important for the future of the ACT. I would rather be wrong. The people of the ACT are beginning to realise the