Page 3938 - Week 11 - Tuesday, 15 Sept 2009

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into the wrong places while at the same time major centres are being under utilised because there is not the same body of community concern, and reasonably so because people expect that there will be a greater level of development in and around those major town centres.

The policy settings still have not recognised that. Whilst there has been a tinkering, certainly a tinkering and, in some cases, a positive one, the government still does not seem clear as to actually what it wants, what policy outcomes it is going to go for and how it will develop those. Now, referring it to a committee is fine. We supported that, but we need to take a broader look, and our planning rules should reflect that.

In short, we have no dramas with the technical amendments and the changes in this legislation. As I say, and I will restate it again, we will always support simple positive changes that fix legislation, that make legislation more workable and that make it easier for industry to exist with some degree of certainty. So we will be supporting the bill.

MR BARR (Molonglo—Minister for Education and Training, Minister for Children and Young People, Minister for Planning and Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation) (11.41), in reply: I thank members for their contributions to the debate. I seek to reiterate that the bill is critical to maintaining the existing operation of the act. The modifications that we are addressing today will ensure that the act continues to work effectively to deliver a simpler, faster and more effective planning process for the Canberra community.

In closing the debate, I would like to acknowledge the work of the scrutiny of bills and subordinate legislation committee for its advice on the regulations as they were made and in response to this bill. I would also like to acknowledge while I am here the support that the committee gets from its advisers.

Faced with the challenges of the current economic climate and the uncertainty of the future, it is essential that the planning system in the ACT operate sympathetically and in a timely manner. As members would be aware, earlier this year, in February, the Prime Minister and state and territory leaders signed the nation building and jobs plan announced by the Prime Minister on 3 February. This plan extended the commonwealth economic stimulus measures that were announced in December of last year.

The ACT is working with the commonwealth to implement the nation building and jobs plan to limit the extent of the economic slowdown and associated job losses. There is no doubt that streamlined planning approval processes have ensured that the ACT has received the full benefit of the timely delivery of the stimulus package. For instance, regulations to expedite the schools construction program and significant exemptions from development applications took effect on 23 March this year. Those exemptions apply to all projects that meet the prescribed physical parameters within certain heights and setbacks and for a range of features such as shade structures and upgrading the front entrances of our schools.

I would like to take the opportunity while I am on my feet to thank representatives of industry groups for their contributions to the development of this bill. These include

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