Page 2572 - Week 08 - Thursday, 30 June 2005

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budget estimates process I recommended that the government take all steps necessary to ensure that BASIX and the proposed new standards for commercial buildings are introduced as soon as possible.

I am also concerned that we are moving away from a city with multi-town centres, which provide amenity to more people. Civic business people appear to have more punching weight. I decry the lack of community representation on the Civic taskforce and fear that this bodes poorly for the liveability of our city, which needs diversity and amenity to attract people. No doubt the whole idea behind the refocus on Civic is to get more people shopping and spending money.

Another point that I would like to make concerns what the minister has had to say about questions I have asked about the role of planning in increasing the supply of affordable housing. It is clear to me that the departments of housing and planning need to work together to address this issue. On this point I am not satisfied that the Land Development Agency was walking the walk as well as talking the talk.

There is a lot that could be said about the ACT planning system, and I will leave most of that to other forums, but I express my hope that the money allocated towards the planning reform project, which is currently under way, does address some of the systemic problems inherent in our current planning process. In so doing, however, it is important that we build in standards for energy and water efficiency.

I am concerned that the changes proposed in the planning reform project may actually take us further away from protecting vulnerable parts of the environment. That is because the reforms look very much like those recently introduced in New South Wales, which are demonstrably bad for the environment and provide the minister with too much discretion, as I believe the ACT version does. The record shows that this generally means benefits to the developer rather than the community. At least in New South Wales we have seen good critiques of the reforms. I await a detailed and objective response to the ACT Planning and Land Authority reforms, and I will certainly be contributing to that.

MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Minister for Health and Minister for Planning) (4.59): I thank members for their contribution to this debate. There are a few issues worth responding to in the context of comments that have been raised and highlighted during the debate. I will deal with public transport first. It is interesting to note that—I may have missed it—I have not heard the shadow minister for transport talk about public transport yet but hopefully he will do so during the debate.

Mr Seselja made some comments worth responding to. He criticised the government’s commitment to invest in real-time information. The opposition’s argument is that it is not a good investment to investing six-odd million dollars in real-time information to simply, in their view, increase the perception of the reliability of public transport. Nothing could be further from the truth because what the opposition fails to understand is that increasing perceptions of reliability also increases patronage, and that is what the investment is about. If people feel more confident that the bus is going to show up on time, if people feel that they know how far away it is, whether it is late, whether it is on time, whether it is early, then it makes it much easier to plan your journey.

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