Page 2259 - Week 06 - Friday, 27 June 2008

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Proposed expenditure agreed to.

Proposed expenditure—part 1.12—ACT Planning and Land Authority—$36,835,000 (net cost of outputs), $9,386,000 (capital injection), totalling $46,221,000

MR SESELJA (Molonglo—Leader of the Opposition) (4.23): Madam Assistant Speaker, it is a pleasure, as always, to speak about the planning system in the ACT. One of the really disappointing things in recent times has been the implementation of the planning system reform process. At this time, during this line item, it is worth reflecting on that a little bit. When this was first announced by the former planning minister, Simon Corbell, we took a very constructive approach to it. Reforms are difficult; reforms in the planning system are difficult, and they are necessary. It is necessary to reform our planning system because it has been in a very bad state for a number of years.

We could have chosen to play politics; we could have criticised the planning minister throughout that process of decision making, but in fact we did not. If you look at my statements throughout the media and in the chamber on that issue, you will see that we have been very broadly supportive of that process. We have been supportive of the need and we have been supportive of a number of the aims. We gave the government the benefit of the doubt as they were implementing these changes. In fact, they got the first iteration of the territory plan so wrong that nine industry groups, in an unprecedented fashion, had to come together and blast them, and essentially say, “You’ve got it wrong, and you’ve got it wrong badly.” We said: “Yes, take the extra time. This is important; let’s get this right. It would have been better if you’d got it right in the first place, but it’s better that we don’t push ahead with the wrong plan for the sake of six or 12 months.” So we worked constructively in opposition. We did not carp; we did not criticise. We said, “Yes, let’s get this right.”

Throughout the debate, we put forward some constructive changes. We had a very lengthy debate on the legislative changes that underpinned this. I put forward a number of amendments, most importantly to fix one of the real problems that I think is evident in the new planning regime and that will undermine confidence—there is absolutely no doubt about that—and that is this concept of uses development. I will not go back into that.

Mr Barr: You wouldn’t be reflecting on the vote of the Assembly, would you?

MR SESELJA: I am not reflecting on the vote of the Assembly. I am reflecting on what I put forward, and I do continue to have concerns about those legislative changes. But we put forward constructive changes which I believe would have been good. At the same time, we supported the broad principles behind the legislation. It is unfortunate—and we raised this in estimates—that these “simpler, faster, better” principles behind these changes are not being implemented and that we are seeing massive delays and an amazing complexity in terms of the administration of the new planning regime.

It is something that we put very strongly to the minister and officials. There were some answers that gave me some comfort that they recognised the problem. Certainly,

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