Page 2267 - Week 06 - Friday, 27 June 2008

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . .

In a faster, simpler, better system, I would have thought that it was not a sufficient ground to reject a development application because all the boxes were not ticked and that, if we had a system of faster, simpler, better planning application processes, there could be somebody who exercised a little bit of initiative, rang somebody up or sent them an email, or sent them a letter that said, “In reference to your development application, there appears to be some information missing. Can you provide it to us? If we do not hear from you within a certain amount of time,” et cetera, “then if it is not forthcoming there might be reasonable grounds to knock it back.” But on this occasion, the whole thing was knocked back and they had to start again.

This is not how bureaucrats in a reasonable system should work. There should be some leeway and, if there is not leeway, it is time that the bureaucrats went back and revised their forms and their systems so that we do not have people who automatically get their applications rejected because there may be some deficiency or something missing from the information.

We had a lengthy discussion in the estimates about the problems with the new forms and it really boiled down to the fact that ACTPLA had decided that, quite rightly, in the new e-age, there could be electronic lodgement of forms. Even though the introduction of the new planning system was delayed, they were not ready to go on line at the time and the forms were not tested. So they had to cobble together a hard copy version of what was supposed to be the electronic forms.

As a result, people had a cumbersome system, with a whole lot of boxes that they probably did not have to fill out and they would not have had to fill out if it was in electronic form because that would automatically take them from place to place. Then people were being penalised for not filling out all the boxes. It is unacceptable that an organisation that is supposed to be as professional as ACTPLA would put out into the public domain forms as important as this that had not been tested. And it is reprehensible that we got to this situation.

The minister has to ensure, and has to work very hard first of all to ensure, that the forms work, that they are efficient and that they are tested. And this needs to be done quickly to ensure that you do actually have a reasonable process for lodging.

It is an expensive process to lodge a DA. Then to have it rejected, so you have to go back and do it all again and have another lodgement fee, is an unacceptable impost on people who are trying to build houses and develop land for the economic benefit of themselves and other people in the ACT.

The failure of systems in ACTPLA has been one of those ongoing sagas. When I first became a member of this place and we debated the first tranche of Labor Party amendments, the so-called reforms to the planning system, I and my colleagues took a lot of effort to try to slow down that process so that it became a better process. We also argued that the process was more important than the structure and whether ACTPLA was called PALM or ACTPLA or whether it was an authority or whatever. The thing that was much more important was the reform of the development application process and the reform of the territory plan.

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . .