Page 681 - Week 02 - Thursday, 6 March 2008

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the Planning and Development Legislation Amendment Bill. Before I make some very quick comments on the bill I do need to table a revised explanatory statement. This revised explanatory statement reflects issues raised in scrutiny of bills committee report No 51, including a justification for a new strict liability offence which the committee indicated is normally required. I will come back to that matter in a moment. I present a revised explanatory statement to the bill.

To summarise, the bill seeks to do three principal things. Firstly, it introduces more realistic and practical ways for inspectors to gain entry to private premises for compliance purposes. Secondly, it introduces a number of amendments to streamline public notification processes, inserts new transitional arrangements and corrects or clarifies some provisions. Finally, it seeks to provide the legislative underpinning for one of the most ambitious affordable housing initiatives in any jurisdiction, as announced by the Chief Minister last year.

Mr Seselja raised a couple of issues—Mrs Dunne highlighted them as well—in his contribution. I think it is worth reiterating the planning sequence. A structure plan is developed in the first instance. That requires notification. That then flows into a concept plan. That, again, requires a full variation to the territory plan. Then an estate development plan is put forward. That must be consistent with the concept plan. An estate development plan is a development application that in itself requires public notification and assessment in the impact track, and any changes to the EDP as a result of publication notification need to be consistent with the pre-existing concept plan.

I will respond very quickly to the scrutiny of bills committee report that was tabled this week. It did raise several issues which have been considered. Given the short period of time since receiving the report, I will respond to those issues today.

New section 272D affirms ACTPLA’s power to decide an application for payout of land rent notwithstanding the prescribed time period for making this decision has expired. This scrutiny report questioned whether the discretion of ACTPLA to make a decision at this late stage was not limited by a requirement that it be exercised on reasonable grounds, as is the case in the new section 298B (3).

After examining this matter, it has been decided that an amendment in line with the scrutiny of bills report is not warranted. This is because section 272D is primarily about giving ACTPLA the actual power to make a late decision, notwithstanding that the prescribed time period has elapsed; it is not about exercising a discretion to decide an application for an extension of time, as is the case in the new section 298B.

The scrutiny committee also raised an issue about the unfettered exercise of discretionary power by ACTPLA to restrict the class of people that may be eligible for the grant of a lease in respect of a particular ballot, auction, tender or direct sale. I note that, apart from the inclusion of direct sales in this discretion, the provision is identical to that contained in the Planning and Development Act 2007, which in itself is the same as the provision contained in the current land act. This discretion has been exercised on a fairly regular basis, without much comment, so the government does not propose to amend the legislation at this time but will examine the need for such an amendment and other possible legislative answers to the matters raised.

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