Page 1100 - Week 03 - Thursday, 18 March 2010

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But this really is simply an attempt by the government to tidy up what I am advised was an unintended consequence of a change of jurisdiction. And it is a serious issue. It is a serious issue for developers and I accept that it is. I understand it is and, as I say, I received—and I must say it is anecdotal—advice about one development. And the advice that I have received in relation to that was that precisely what the government never intended has occurred in that case. A matter was heard, with a 120-day time limit; the tribunal responded appropriately; then the tribunal agreed to an internal review. The advice I received is that there is no time limit now on the internal review. It may be that the internal review will take a year. And that simply is not an acceptable outcome for that particular developer.

As I say, that was a case that was provided to me anecdotally and that is my understanding of the implications of this particular process. And I do not believe that that is an appropriate regime. It provides no certainty and it was never the government’s intention that there be a double merits review process within the tribunal. If an unsuccessful or dissatisfied applicant remains dissatisfied after a merits review through ACAT, then the government’s position is that the issue could be appealed on matters of law. We believe that to be the appropriate structure. So the government will not be supporting this particular amendment.

MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo) (11.35): You are looking a bit quizzical. I am entitled to speak twice in the detail stage of the bill. I do not intend to speak for long, I assure you, but I am entitled to do it.

I just wanted to comment on Mr Stanhope’s contribution, which I listened to carefully, and I think he made the point exactly for why I am moving this amendment. He talked about the time limit and there being no time limit for internal review. I think that is an issue of merit and I think that is a debate that is there to be had. It opens up the question perhaps: why did the government not issue an amendment to put a time limit on the internal review process? There are a range of possible responses to that seemingly evident problem.

I think that underlines the point that we are making, which is that these are not minor or technical amendments. These are substantial policy amendments that warrant a debate, warrant a fuller consideration and warrant, perhaps, some more detailed policy analysis on the part of both the department and the stakeholders.

On that basis, I would implore the Liberal Party to stick to some sort of principle. Mrs Dunne just stood up and said that she considered, looking at this, opposing the whole bill in principle because of the insertion of these provisions. But she decided to let it go anyway. The Liberal Party spent the entire week in this chamber lecturing about accountability. They have hectored, they have lectured, they have ranted about accountability. Yet when a real and concrete opportunity arises to force the government to stick to convention, to stick to the rules of this place, the Libs have squibbed it.

It is fine to stand up here and put motions and fire political pot-shots at the government all day—and that is part of accountability—but this is a real opportunity

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