Page 2578 - Week 08 - Thursday, 30 June 2005

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a community we are now having the debate about the future form and future outcomes that we want to see for the city centre.

I want to reject the assertion that the government’s focus on the city is to the detriment of town centres. Indeed, you only have to look at the level of development activity occurring in the Gungahlin, Belconnen and Woden town centres in particular to see that that assertion, which I think was made by Dr Foskey, is just blatantly not true. Go and look at the new residential development and the new commercial development that are either under way or proposed in those town centres. What that shows is that a strong Civic centre leads to strong town centres and vice versa. My view is that Civic is and has always been recognised as the first among equals. It is the city’s premier cultural, commercial and administrative centre. But this does not diminish the important roles that our town centres play and you only have to look at the level of investment in those town centres to see that development is not solely concentrated in Civic.

The planning budget continues the government’s reforms of the planning system. Mr Seselja said I have been responsible for the planning system for four years and that I must take some responsibility for the state it is in. The planning system that we have now in terms of development assessment and so on has been unchanged really since the land act was passed in the early 1990s after over 100 amendments had been dealt with on the floor of the Assembly. The land act we have now is a legacy of minority government—there is no doubt about that—and in particular it is a legacy of the undue power and influence of the independents and minor parties in this place.

What we now have is an opportunity to establish a contemporary land act, a land act more in keeping with broad community expectations. That is the government’s objective. The government went to the last election promising a reform of development assessment and we are delivering. We have set out the reform agenda. In our first term, and prior to our first term, the government’s commitment was to reform the government’s arrangements—the planning authority, a chief planner, a land development agency. We delivered that, too. So we have a strong record of delivering what we promise and we will continue in that vein.

Proposed expenditure agreed to.

Proposed expenditure—Part 1.15—ACT Forests, $193,000 (net cost of outputs), totalling $193,000.

MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (5.24): I could not convince Mr Seselja that he should talk about ACT Forests. ACT Forests is an organisation that has been under enormous pressure, especially since 2001. The enormous pressure that it has experienced since successive bushfires in two seasons has highlighted the frailty of the system. ACT Forests was inherited from the commonwealth at self-government and it was seriously underfunded and in many ways in a depleted state.

Forests have had a fairly inglorious history in many ways and successive governments since self-government have attempted to make ACT Forests a viable organisation, with limited success. The work of the previous government probably was just beginning to bear fruit before the 2001 fires. It is ironic that the first time that ACT Forests had ever turned a profit, I think, was after the 2001 fires and, if you read the books, the positive

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