Page 5651 - Week 15 - Thursday, 10 December 2009

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would need the capacity to make refinements based on changing circumstances and with the benefit of having used the legislation in the field.

Happily, all parties recognised this by permitting the power to modify the act by regulation. And we have monitored the effect of the act during its initial implementation phase. We have consulted with industry and the community and made a number of priority modifications by regulation in response to unforeseen and emerging issues.

These modifications were made permanent through the Planning and Development Amendment Act 2009. In presenting the bill for that act earlier this year, I emphasised that the government’s commitment to planning reform was ongoing and that further amendments would be introduced later in the year. This bill includes those further amendments.

The public consultation on the exposure draft did not generate a large volume of comment. Perhaps there are not as many planning nerds as we thought. However, detailed written comments from the Property Council and the Woden Valley Community Council and verbal comments from the Law Society were received. Written comments were also received after the due date from the Australian Institute of Architects and these have also been considered.

The comments were greatly appreciated and of significant assistance in the refinement of the bill and I thank these organisations for their responses. I also thank other organisations, including the Housing Industry Association and the Master Builders Association, who attended presentations and reviewed the bill but did not feel the need to provide formal comment. It is clear that all of these organisations, including the Law Society and the Property Council, support or do not object to most of the proposed amendments.

I now highlight a number of the comments received and the government’s response. The exposure draft included a proposal to make it clear that land and buildings must not be left entirely unused for more than 12 months. There were a number of significant exceptions to this requirement. For example, it did not apply to private residences. The point of the amendment was to make this position clear in cases where the provisions of the relevant lease are not clear.

The Law Society and the Property Council both strongly disagreed with this proposal, suggesting the matter remain one determined solely by the provisions of the relevant lease. In light of these concerns, we have withdrawn this item from the bill, to permit further consultation.

Other specific comments were made, and I am happy to acknowledge the bill includes a number of improvements as a result. I will mention some of these changes by way of example. The bill before us now extends the scope of permissible changes to already granted development approvals. Currently it is possible to apply for a change to an approval provided the change is not substantial. But an application for change must always be refused if an application for a new development approval, that is, for the approved development plus the modification, would be assessed in a different assessment track. In considering this rule, it is necessary to keep in mind that there are

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