Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2009 Week 03 Hansard (Tuesday, 24 February 2009) . . Page.. 859 ..
example, the sorts of provisions that the government has made through both the exempt and code tracks within the new planning system do exempt a large number of smaller developments.
The question, of course, relates to the extension of some of those matters from residential zoning into land zoned for school use. I suppose the question I pose to the member in response to that is: if it is okay under the current planning arrangements in relation to a single house in a new housing estate for a carport or shade structure, a courtyard or freestanding wall, decks, patios, terraces, fences, garage, sheds, pool fencing and barriers, swimming pools, retaining walls to all be exempt in a context of residential development, why would it not be supportable that new school buildings or porticos, awnings, canopies, entries, school signs, school playground equipment like monkey bars, swings, slippery dips, fencing around schools, normal sized shade structures, school flagpoles, the installation of water tanks and artificial grass, bike enclosure structures and changes to the sealing treatment of driveways could not similarly be exempted? That is the simple proposal that the government will put forward.
It can be done by regulation. It will not require this place to do anything. The government has it entirely in hand. As I indicated previously, the only action that the opposing parties in this place can take is to block this regulation. That is the only option open. If they cannot do anything constructive, they can get out of the way and let the government get on working with schools communities to deliver this investment.
I do note that the Greens spokesperson made a suggestion that just employing a couple of extra DA staff would resolve all of these issues. That, of course, does not address the statutory time frames in relation to public notification and third-party appeals on some of these projects and it belies the fact that there are already 35 staff in the development application area. Adding two more will not significantly increase the capacity of the authority to process those applications.
It is worth noting that, as a result of a number of initiatives I introduced late last year, the Planning and Land Authority has reallocated resources such that every officer within the authority who has experience in assessing development applications has been working with that DA assessment team. I am advised that more than 400 DAs were processed between the end of December and February and that there are now only about 280 outstanding DAs in the merit track.
The new planning system, with its exempt and code track developments, has made a significant difference in reducing the amount of development applications that need to go through a rigorous and extensive development assessment process. That has resulted in fewer DAs requiring that assessment. It is all part of the government’s agenda for a simpler, faster and more effective planning system. This government is about jobs and education and my challenge to those opposite is: get out of the way, let us get on with delivering this package; if you do not have the fortitude to do that, then you must front up to every school community and explain to them why you do not believe they should be allowed to get on with delivering these projects.
MR SPEAKER: Ms Le Couteur, a supplementary question.