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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 01 Hansard (Thursday, 11 February 2010) . . Page.. 357 ..

As everyone in this chamber knows, I regard a good planning system as one that keeps politics out of planning. Labor also believes a good planning system needs to get the balance right to achieve a strong economy, a strong community and a healthy ecology. And that is why, after extensive community and industry consultation, the government put its new planning system in place in March 2008. The intent was to make the planning system simpler, faster and more effective. And with the unanimous support of all parties in this place, the new planning system did just that.

The Planning and Development Amendment Bill 2009 (No 2) builds on Labor’s determination for a simpler, faster and more effective planning system. It brings into law the mostly small but necessary changes required to assure this—the sorts of changes that become apparent over time with any new and reformist legislation.

This bill complements other steps we have taken since March 2008 to continue to improve the territory’s planning system. And after working with industry in the face of the global financial crisis, I announced ACTPLAn in December 2008. This plan involves a number of practical steps to further cut red tape to allow sensible development to keep the local economy strong.

ACTPLAn saw the reallocation of staff within the planning authority and the streamlining of interagency arrangements. It saw the establishment of the industry monitoring group as the main and ongoing means of communication between the government and industry. I can report that this forum is working extremely well.

The government also established the territory plan review program. The review will ensure that the plan is easier to use and continues to meet the needs of the ACT community.

We have introduced electronic lodgement and tracking of development applications, and this has proved so popular that from when it was first lodged on 20 April 2009 to now more than 40 per cent of development applications are lodged and tracked online. We will further improve this system to allow the electronic online lodgement and processing of building applications in the first half of this year. For customers, this means greater convenience and savings of time and money.

In the calendar year 2009, I can advise that ACTPLA approved over $1 billion worth of development, something that would not have been possible except for the reforms to the planning system that the government introduced. The new planning system has seen the assessment of development applications in the ACT become the fastest when compared to other jurisdictions such as Queensland, Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia. This bill, with its incremental but, nevertheless, important changes and corrections, is a key part of the government’s ongoing drive to cut planning red tape and to deliver a planning system that is simpler, faster and more effective.

I thank members for their support of the legislation and commend the Planning and Development Amendment Bill 2009 (No 2) to the Assembly.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

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