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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 14 Hansard (Thursday, 9 December 2010) . . Page.. 6151 ..

be filled with fights to retain what is left of our native woodlands and grasslands. It is imperative, therefore, that our planning legislation contains sufficient protections which will guard against important vegetation being cleared without any knowledge of what is contained within. The bill that is before us today lowers the thresholds for ensuring that we access these environmental values, and the Greens do not believe this is acceptable.

The Greens will not be supporting this bill today as we do not think it is acceptable that this much native vegetation can be cleared without sufficient assessment, public input opportunities or ability for review. I do not commend the bill to the Assembly.

MR BARR (Molonglo—Minister for Education and Training, Minister for Planning, Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation and Minister for Gaming and Racing) (5.16): I thank Ms Le Couteur for seeking to move these amendments en bloc and indicate that the government will not be supporting any of the amendments. There are a range of reasons that I will very briefly summarise.

Firstly, Ms Le Couteur’s amendments seek to put in place a requirement to consult on a draft strategic environment assessment, which misconceives the nature and purpose of an SEA. An SEA is not simply a fixed document; it is as much an ongoing process as a document, so it involves scoping, assessment, monitoring and adjustment—the steps identified in sections 10 to 15 of the regulation. It is not practical for a fixed document draft SEA to encapsulate such a process.

With respect to some of the other Greens amendments that the government will not support, the proposed change of wording would have the effect of lowering the threshold for an adverse environmental impact, which would in fact increase the likelihood of an EIS being required for a development proposal. The effect of this series of amendments would be contrary to the whole purpose of the bill, which is to reduce the number of unnecessary environmental impact statements, which are expensive and time consuming.

Ms Le Couteur would be aware that a general regulation-making power exists within the act which would enable the regulations that she was seeking to be made through one of her amendments to occur through that general power.

The government’s amendments make an exemption under section 211 a notifiable instrument which must be made available on the ACTPLA website and the reasons for granting such an exemption have already routinely been made public on the Planning and Land Authority’s website. So that particular amendment is not required.

The government does not support amendments around establishing ACAT reviews because the act already provides for ACAT review of the decision on a development application. Again, the Greens’ proposed amendments would defeat the purpose of the government’s bill.

The government does not support the Greens’ amendment which reverses the government’s proposed removal of the EIS trigger for major roads in future urban areas because it removes a very important distinction made in the government’s bill between future urban areas designated under the territory plan and other areas. It

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