Page 1267 - Week 04 - Thursday, 10 April 2008

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Planning and Development Regulation SL2008-2

Motion for disallowance

DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (10.54): I move:

That Subordinate Law SL2008-2, Planning and Development Regulation 2008, made pursuant to the Planning and Development Act, be disallowed.

Mr Speaker, I am moving this disallowance motion suspecting that the chances of it being passed are minuscule. However, given that Labor and Liberal are basically in step on these issues, I feel it is my duty to make the following criticisms and observations which are held and have been put to me by many of my constituents and to place them on the public record. My main criticism of these regulations concerns what they do not contain.

First there is the issue of building certification. A building certifier should perform a watchdog role over developers and builders. The ACTPLA website states that the planning system reform permits a certifier to be the sole regulator of exempt houses—that is, there will be no need for ACTPLA approval. However, there are no constraints on a building certifier being an employee of the builder whose work he or she is called upon to certify. The conflict of interest and potential for corruption is obvious, and these regulations should contain provisions ensuring that there is an arms-length relationship between the certifier and the person whose work is being certified.

I know that one aim of the measure is for the government to externalise costs and privatise the role of certifier, and I have some sympathy with this position. However, the role is too important for ACTPLA not to accept responsibility for keeping a close watch on quality control. These regulations should contain provision for independent auditing and policing of certifiers by ACTPLA. So-called political donations from developers have corrupted the political process in other jurisdictions. I am not alleging corruption in the ACT planning system. But I fear that, by centralising power and taking away the community’s capacity to challenge and force the government and ACTPLA to comply with their own planning laws, these regulations and the other recent planning law changes may facilitate or actually engender corruption in the planning approval process.

Curtailing public input into the development approval process enhances the powers of public officials. Last week my Greens colleague Sylvia Hale introduced a bill into the New South Wales parliament that, if passed, would make it an offence for anyone involved in property development to make a donation to a political party or candidate. It would also make it an offence for a political party or candidate to accept a donation from a property developer. I agree with Sylvia that the problem warrants such firm measures, and similar provisions should be included in these planning regulations or elsewhere in the act.

The other day the planning minister lauded the Development Assessment Forum, or the DAF, which came up with the basic planning model that we are adopting. The DAF was itself set up and funded by the Howard government. It was part of the push

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