Page 4855 - Week 15 - Wednesday, 14 December 2005

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primus inter pares, the first among equals, of the town centres. They talk about it but they never do it. What has happened today with Mr Seselja’s bill is that the opposition has thrown the challenge: be as good as your words, make your walk as strong as your talk. But this man cannot walk the walk. He can talk about it all the time. When he was the opposition’s spokesman on planning, we heard all the things that he was going to do to improve the planning system in the ACT—and his first term as Minister for Planning was one of abject failure.

He introduced the new ACT Planning and Land Authority and all its accoutrements, which was going to be the new way forward. At the time the bill was passed, I asked the vital question: in six months after this bill passes, or 12 months, what will have changed? As we know, very little has changed. There is still the slow and cumbersome process of land approvals. To the constant shame of this territory, applications for direct grants of land by direct sale take four years to get through. And we have the constant failings of this minister, who first and foremost wanted to put his own stamp on his new Planning and Land Authority. He changed the name, but he did not resource it or do anything about changing the culture. So what has happened is that things are pretty much the same as they were before he got his hands on it, and that was a situation that needed significant improvement.

The dead hand of government is everywhere in the planning system in the ACT, and that is reinforced by the dead hand of the Minister for Planning. It is about stifling; it is not about innovation. It is about the opposite of innovation; it is sucking the life out of the innovative people in the ACT. It was a thumbing of the nose at people in the community who were not part of the planning inner circle but who had the audacity to say, “We’ve got a vision for Canberra. Let’s put it on the table and talk about it.”

I do not think that there was a person in Canberra who said, “Gee, Terry Snow. That’s a great plan: let’s go out and implement it tomorrow.” But there are lots of people in Canberra who said, “There is food for thought. Let’s start the process.” That is not endorsing everything that is there; there are good things and there are bad things about it. It is not for either the opposition or the government to say what should or should not be there. It is for the community to say what should or should not be there.

Mr Seselja’s model provides the mechanism for the community. This minister, this man lacking in vision, has basically said today, “We will shelve all this for five years or more. We won’t do anything. We will have this sort of vague idea of a land bank one day in the future. We’re going to shelve it and nothing will happen.” In that five years, if we adopt Mr Seselja’s model today, we could be having an open, consultative and broad approach to master planning for the whole of the area, which would be designated by the minister. It could be as wide or as narrow as the minister chooses to make it. It can be all incorporated and done in consultation with the wider planning for the Civic region and the north Canberra region.

But this minister, with his lack of vision, is going to vote down this bill today because he does not have the ticker to put his plans out to the public, consult with the public and come up with a publicly accepted master plan for that area out there, which is so important to Civic, so important to Canberra, so important to the economy of Canberra, so important to the future development of Canberra. He does not have the ticker to do it. He does not have the courage to take the people of Canberra into his confidence and

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