Page 3395 - Week 11 - Tuesday, 20 September 2005

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Assembly should have some scrutiny over what is or is not declared built-up area for the purposes of the act. I commend the change that would bring some accountability into this legislation by making it a disallowable instrument.

DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (5.13): This is the first of a number of amendments on the same theme. I will be supporting Mrs Dunne’s amendments on this line and moving some of my own to ensure that the criteria are, at the very least, disallowable instruments giving the Assembly and the community that we represent some real scrutiny of the mechanisms which will, in large, shape our approach to tree protection in the ACT.

We must remember that much of the real, fine-grained work of this legislation will be done by staff interpreting criteria set by the minister. I made mention in the earlier stage of wanting to see the minister conduct some kind of consultation on the criteria for declarations, directions and registrations. At the very least, I would want to see the draft criteria already available circulated widely and for the minister to invite comments and responses to them. I would also have preferred these instruments to be made as regulations for the ACT. Clearly that is not what we are dealing with here.

MR STANHOPE (Ginninderra—Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for the Environment and Minister for Arts, Heritage and Indigenous Affairs, and Acting Minister for Education and Training) (5.14): As has been explained, Mrs Dunne proposes to change all of the nine instruments in the bill to disallowable instruments. The government has given this proposal due consideration and considers it is appropriate that an instrument should be disallowable if altering the instrument has the potential to significantly affect the policy direction, as intended under the legislation. It is appropriate to apply certainly a higher level of governance provided by the scrutiny of the Assembly to decisions or declarations that have the potential to significantly alter the policy outcomes or effect of the legislation, and we accept that. As such, on further reflection, the government will support amendments 9, 11 and 13 proposed by the opposition.

The intent of the bill is to provide protection for trees in the urban area. Therefore it is highly improbable that an instrument defining the built-up area would be made other than as the legislation intended. Those are straightforward administrative decisions that will be based on factors such as the territory plan and the status of greenfield developments. In that regard we see no need to support those particular amendments. I know the Greens have made a proposal in relation to amendments 9, 11 and 13 similar to that being made by the opposition in relation to all nine instruments. The government will support the amendments in relation to those three. It does not believe the case is made in relation to the other six. We do accept the case that has been argued in respect of those three particular instances that the Assembly can provide a higher level of scrutiny. We will accept that argument in this instance.

In summary, we do not support this particular amendment. We will support the amendments essentially in the form proposed by the Greens, which are, of course, incorporated in the body of this overall amendment of the opposition.

Amendment negatived.

Clause 7 agreed to.

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