Page 564 - Week 02 - Thursday, 17 February 2005

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I would like to make a bit of a point about what the previous committee had to say on the A10 policy. I note that the previous committee was made up of a member of the Labor Party, a Democrat and a member of the Liberal Party. The committee noted at the time—

Mr Hargreaves: And an independent.

MR SESELJA: Sorry, my apologies. The committee unanimously noted that the A10 policy was too broad in its application, that it lacked a strategic framework and that it lacked longevity. What do we get now? We get DV246 saying, “They were right and we were wrong. We are going to scale it back. It was encroaching on the neighbourhood in a way that the community found unacceptable, so we are now going to scale it back.” The committee said that the policy lacked a strategic framework and it lacked longevity. It certainly lacked longevity.

Mrs Dunne: I like the longevity bit.

MR SESELJA: Yes, it lacked longevity. It has not lasted very long. We certainly do welcome this change in policy. We welcome the fact that the government has realised the folly of its broad application of the A10 policy, the blanket application of the A10 policy 200 metres from small centres and 300 metres from group and town centres. We would like to see a more strategic framework, as the previous committee noted.

I would also note the change in committee policy. It seems that previously members of the government felt free in committee to analyse government policy and critique it. Mr Hargreaves is an example. He joined in that unanimous report. Unfortunately, it seems at the moment that government members of the committee just want to toe the party line. I would certainly call for more analysis of government policy by committees and I look forward to contributing to that.

I would like to make a couple more comments on the report. I am concerned about lecturing the community. On the one hand, it is being said that the committee is supporting DV246 after community consultation. The community said that it did not like the way the boundaries were drawn for A10 areas in Downer, so the committee supported their being scaled back. But then the committee said:

Perhaps when the ACT Planning and Land Authority has implemented the proposed new design guidelines for Residential Core Areas, Canberra residents will be more inclined to accept the necessity of more sustainable urban environments, including substantial residential intensification in inner Canberra.

I put it to the Assembly that Canberrans are prepared to accept that, but it needs to be done in a proper, thorough and considered way. That is what they have now said to the government. Thankfully, the government has responded. May there be many more such backflips on A10, the ill-conceived, ill-thought-through policy, which the previous committee, government members included, unanimously condemned as being inappropriate. I continue to make the point that I can only hope that in the coming few years the committee process will still analyse government policy, that it will still critique it, that it will look at it in a thorough and considered way, and that it will not toe the party line, that it will not just accept Simon Corbell’s directives.

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