Page 1927 - Week 06 - Wednesday, 25 June 2008

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We can put in place a statutory independent planning authority and have assessment of development applications at arm’s length from political interference: we set the policy, we set the territory plan, as members of this Assembly, but assessment of development applications is done at arm’s length.

I would argue, and I know my colleagues argue very strongly, that that is a preferable system to what occurs in New South Wales. Most particularly, if you want to cite an example of how the New South Wales system can go wrong, I direct you to Wollongong. That is an example of how, if there is undue political interference in the planning process, you get bad outcomes.

This statutory process is not yet complete. It should be allowed to be completed. The real danger and the real motivation behind this motion from the Leader of the Opposition is that it signals his intent to have dramatic change to how the planning system would operate if the Liberal Party were ever in government in the ACT.

MRS BURKE (Molonglo) (3.36): Once upon a time, a $2,000 million gas-fired power station and data centre were planned for Canberra. This would have boosted the government’s claims to be leading the way on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and also maintained the commonwealth government’s infrastructure presence in Canberra.

But, as has now become form and a trademark of the Stanhope government, they failed to manage the project properly, did not communicate with the community until they were sprung, and chose to site this station near residents in the southern suburbs of Canberra rather than away from people’s residences. They told people as little as possible, but the community were naturally angry when they found out—and the project has since been scaled down by half.

People are not fooled by this Chief Minister after seven years of his sham community consultation. How could they be? After seven years of the Stanhope government pulling the wool over people’s eyes, they are now awake to the way that this government governs—or does not. They now know that this government is about deals and decisions behind closed doors and a cynical nod in the direction of community consultation after the decision has been made.

The first time that these people in the Tuggeranong valley knew about it was when they saw a notice in a paddock regarding horse agistment. So I suggest you check your processes, Mr Barr. In fact, this sham consultation process continued when you decided to close 23 schools—remember? Now you have tried to do it with the Tuggeranong power station and data centre.

With the Stanhope Labor government we are in a looking-glass world where nothing is quite as it appears. Ms Gallagher as Acting Chief Minister said information blacked out in FOI documents may have been commercial-in-confidence but that the government had nothing to hide. According to this Labor government, blacked-out documents show they have nothing to hide! They have really used the commercial-in-confidence excuse once too many times.

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