Page 674 - Week 02 - Thursday, 6 March 2008
The compliance issues within the bill are important also, and I would like to touch on them for a moment. Land banking in the ACT is currently still possible to the extent that, despite the laws requiring development of raw land within a time frame, there have been instances where this has not been the case.
The exemption from the time lines as stated in the amendment bill does not articulate a test for financial hardship which would allow the exemption to be approved. I have raised the issue of this subjectivity with the minister’s representatives previously and I am not convinced that the issue has been dealt with. There are very clear mechanisms that have already been established in law that will allow for either ACTPLA or a nominated department or agency to deal with this issue. I would hope the minister would take this suggestion on board and initiate some action to address the issue. I would welcome a further amendment to the act at a later stage if the minister was able to take further advice on the legalities involved to provide the Assembly with an alternative way forward.
The minister’s tabling speech referenced changes to bring the plan in line to reflect the legal supremacy of the national capital plan. The opposition has voiced its concerns with the gutting of the National Capital Authority. I do not believe that we have seen the true impact of these cuts and, despite the attempts by the ACT government to produce a faster and more effective planning system, this could be seriously hampered by the ability of the NCA to service the ACT within a planning context; that is, with the cutbacks to the NCA, the legislative requirements have not changed—and perhaps they will after the federal government review—but the concern would be that, at a national capital plan level, things will be delayed more than they otherwise would be due to the cutbacks.
As I said earlier, we have chosen not to amend the bill. I have raised the concerns I have. I think the reason we have not moved amendments to the estate plan issue is that we need to have a broader debate about how this will operate in practice. I am hopeful that the government will put in place mechanisms so that we do not get the kinds of perverse outcomes that I have identified.
As I stated at the outset, we support this process because we believe that it is important that our planning system is improved and made more efficient. The constant feedback I have had from industry over the period since I was preselected and then elected to this place has shown real concerns about efficiency in our planning system, real concerns about overlap. This piece of legislation really is a small part of tidying up more than anything in relation to the more substantive change which came in the Planning and Development Bill.
We broadly supported that bill, but I would reiterate our concerns with the concept of use development. That is something that has still the potential, I think, to cause uncertainty in relation to land use rights, and that remains our concern. I have raised other concerns, which I have moved amendments to in the last debate. This bill will, hopefully, tidy things up a bit.
As I have outlined, some of the compliant stuff I think is positive but, now that the government has got broadly the legislation that it wanted, it will be up to the