Page 675 - Week 02 - Thursday, 6 March 2008

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government to make sure this works. It is well and good to have the right legislation; it is well and good to have the territory plan in place in broadly a way that will make it more efficient and help it to work.

The DAFF model being adopted, I think, is a good thing but it will now be incumbent upon this government to ensure that, in practice, things improve, that we do see faster approvals, that we do see less spurious appeals which slow things down, that we do see better outcomes. In the end, this will be for nought if we do not see the key issues of housing affordability tackled, if we do not see the ability to have infill in our key urban areas done in a sustainable way which does not damage our environment but which gives housing choice to Canberrans.

We look at this in this context. I believe that the amendment bill is a reasonable one. I believe that the main bill is not as good as it could be but is a step in the right direction. So we will wait and see; we will wait and see how the territory plan goes; and we will wait and see how this new legislation plays out in practice. We certainly reserve the right to come back and to be moving amendments in the future where there are problems identified. But, in short, the opposition will be supporting the amendment bill, as we have supported the entire process of planning system reform.

DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (6.24): I do not at all quibble that this is a great occasion. I know that there has been a massive amount of work been done within ACTPLA and I know that it was based on real concerns. I am saying that to set a context for what comes out as being quite critical. One stands up in this place and does not mention all the good things; one does not get time; it is not politics. Therefore, I want to make that very clear.

My office was given a briefing on the amendment bill a couple of weeks ago. I was very pleased to see at that time that officers had sat down and actually drawn up a response to issues that I had raised. I put in a submission on the planning and development regulation. I just want to say, for everyone’s information, that this disallowable instrument is now on the web; it was placed there on 4 March. Consequently I will be having a good look at this to see whether my concerns about it have been satisfied.

I wanted to say in regard to the policy neutral process et cetera that most of the issues that I raised were considered to be irrelevant or not to be dealt with in these regulations. I assume that was because they were not policy neutral. It is just one of those terms that sort of creep in and have a great convenience. Therefore, it is one of the reasons I am very sceptical about it as a term.

This bill has been tabled for a time and is before us in the context of the affordable housing issue. As the minister’s presentation speech contained a sizeable section outlining the government’s responses to affordable housing, I am going to give that some attention in this debate. I do welcome those provisions that are aimed at providing more affordable housing. Multiple incremental measures like these are necessary to alleviate the high and the rising cost of housing when measured as a percentage of household income.

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