Page 2264 - Week 06 - Friday, 27 June 2008

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sunlight even after they have had photovoltaic cells installed. I am confident that the people of Canberra are ready to move much faster on sustainable design, but either the government or ACTPLA is not prepared to make that happen.

I should like to stick up for ACTPLA on another matter to do with its regulatory systems. ACTPLA always cops a lot of flak when unwelcome development applications are proposed and on almost every occasion ACTPLA officers can justifiably argue that they are following the statutory processes—(Second speaking period taken.)—and that they are not making the proposal themselves but merely assessing it, including asking for expert and community feedback. I am not saying that I always agree with their assessments and proposals and I am certainly not saying that I believe that the statutory consultation and assessment requirements are appropriate because they are often patently inappropriate. However, I acknowledge that ACTPLA probably follows its rules quite well.

The caveat I would add to that is that ACTPLA does not need to be limited to the statutory minimum notification requirements. If they were to put drawings on their yellow notices and wrote street addresses and put maps in the newspaper advertisements and notices at suburban shopping centres, people would not be so surprised and angered when they learn about proposed developments by the arrival of bulldozers and the crash of falling trees and buildings.

I recall when there was some distress over a proposed eight-storey expansion of Goodwin Homes in Ainslie. ACTPLA and the then planning minister argued that they had done the statutory minimum and how could they know that they had not done enough? Funnily enough, a few months earlier the new chief executive of Goodwin Homes had advised an Assembly committee that his proposed expansion plans were likely to be controversial. So they should have guessed and then gone the extra yards.

This raises another issue that seems to be awry in ACTPLA. It has some strange opinions on the extent of its own and its minister’s statutory powers. How can ACTPLA seriously argue that its responsibility to ensure adequate community notification for an eight-storey development is legally complied with when houses that were actually going to be overshadowed were not notified because their street frontage did not abut the road next to the development site.

It was interesting to see an internal ACTPLA document raising questions about ActewAGL’s proposed power station and data centre, and we are talking about the big one here. It was reassuring to me that the questions coming out of my office were being asked by others who hopefully have more influence than a cross-bencher in majority government. They were asking, “Why is this site the best one when there must be many others? What are the greenhouse implications? What are the transport facilities? How does the gas-fired peaking station fit into more wide-reaching energy and planning policies?”

It seems clear to me, however, that that dialogue was coming too late. It showed us that the expertise in ACTPLA would not be drawn on until a preliminary assessment process was well under way. The project would have been better served if the

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