Page 1099 - Week 03 - Thursday, 18 March 2010

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MR STANHOPE: Substantially. I said “substantially”.

Mrs Dunne: Not wholeheartedly this time.

MR STANHOPE: Substantially. Mrs Dunne has summarised quite fully the ACT government’s position and the ACT government’s thinking in relation to this particular issue. We have a view about any unintended consequence, and Mrs Dunne rightly suggests that the unintended consequence should have been identified and should not have occurred.

But it is simply a fact that in the creation of the new review tribunal, ACAT, a transfer from the Administrative Appeals Tribunal to a new structure, a consequence occurred in relation to essentially a double-mirrored review process which was not possible in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. As a result of the way in which the new administrative structure was developed, it created a circumstance in which there is essentially a double review or the potential for it. It has occurred and it was never intended that it should. It was not anticipated that it would. It does and it has. And it has created, I know in relation to one particular development particularly—and it may be that there are others—a very significant issue for that development.

A merits review process was concluded. The initial applicant was not satisfied with the review and sought an internal review. It seems to me it is an anachronism that a piece of legislation provides or imposes a time limit on a tribunal of 120 days—the 120 days was complied with—an internal review was sought and granted and there is no time limit on the internal review. That is a circumstantial situation where the government never intended or expected that the 120-day time limit on the initial review does not apply to the internal review.

That, potentially, doubly thwarts the government’s understanding at the time of the legislation was introduced. The government, as Mrs Dunne has explained, is simply trying now to restore or create the situation that it always intended to apply in relation to these appeals.

As for the broader question that Mr Rattenbury raises about why this particular reform or amendment is being restricted to just planning appeals and not more broadly, I have to say that I do not have a depth of understanding around the operation of this. I am standing in today for the Attorney-General and I do not have the depth of understanding or knowledge that Mr Corbell would have brought to this debate today.

I am relying very much on a five-minute briefing received today in relation to this matter. I am not across the detail of it and I cannot answer that question, the question that Mr Rattenbury poses, but it seems to me a reasonable question to ask. All I can say is that I regret I cannot answer the question. I would have to take further advice on that. In any event, it will not be me, it will be Mr Corbell.

But certainly the government would have no objection—I would have certainly no hesitation in saying we have no objection—to more fully exploring that. But I regret that I cannot. I simply do not have an understanding today that can assist members in relation to that particular issue.

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