Page 2281 - Week 06 - Friday, 27 June 2008
is a professional and I think he is quite honest in his dealings. I have always found him to be that. I think we occasionally just need to put that on the record. I do have a healthy respect for a number of the senior officials in ACTPLA even if I do not always agree with all of the directions that they are going in or all the decisions that they take.
It is worth reflecting on one on those decisions, and this is the Kingston development which was approved for five stories instead of four, in breach of the territory plan. Obviously, we put some concerns on the record during estimates. It is a concern that that was able to happen. And we did hear from officials as to how they went through the process of, firstly, identifying that; and, secondly, investigating that. It was quite a lengthy investigation. I suppose the time, the energy and the costs that would have gone into that investigation are a great lesson or perhaps something that will impose significant disciplines going forward because I am sure that ACTPLA staff would not want to go through that process again. I am sure that would have been an uncomfortable time and it would have been something that they would prefer not to have been investigated. Nonetheless, I appreciated Mr Savery’s remarks and the detail that he took us through in estimates.
There were other concerns raised as part of that, though, it must be said, and in relation to various allegations made. Some of that is dealt with in the dissenting report which Mrs Dunne and Mr Smyth have put forward. I think there was a feeling that we never were quite able to fully examine that. There was talk of going in camera and then the committee obviously made the decision not to go in camera. I certainly had the feeling and I think my colleagues would have had the feeling that we were not properly able to pursue that issue.
One of the recommendations in the dissenting report is that the papers of the Chief Minister’s Department relating to the development of Kingston be made available to the Assembly. I think that would certainly shed some light on the situation for us. There were allegations made as a part of that process, separate from the actual mistake which was made by the ACTPLA officer in question, and in order for us to properly resolve that it would be useful if the Chief Minister’s Department were able to put those documents on the table. Given what we have seen, unfortunately, from the Chief Minister’s attitude to the disclosure of documents in recent times, we, of course, will not be holding our breath. But we do call on the Chief Minster to release those documents so that we can properly examine them. I certainly came out of that hearing feeling that we were not able to get to the bottom of it. And that was disappointing.
In relation to the QEII site, which was an issue that I raised, obviously it is more an LDA issue and we certainly raised that with the LDA. But in the context of the broader planning system, I understand that this has now been split. It has been split between ministers in relation to the land release versus planning functions. Looking through the FOI documents that we got in relation to the Macarthur power station certainly suggests to us that that split did cause some confusion amongst agencies. In fact, we saw what ACTPLA had to say on the issue in some of the FOI documents where they did raise some of the concerns which, if they had been all under the one minister, maybe we would not have had the outcome that we did in the end.