Page 721 - Week 03 - Tuesday, 8 April 2014

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Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill agreed to in principle.

Leave granted to dispense with the detail stage.

Bill agreed to.

Planning and Development (Project Facilitation) Amendment Bill 2014

Debate resumed from 20 March 2014, on motion by Mr Corbell:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MR COE (Ginninderra) (10.27): The opposition has serious concerns about the Planning and Development (Project Facilitation) Amendment Bill 2014.

The government claims that this bill is designed to improve process efficiencies in development assessment and territory planning variation processes. It is also designed to facilitate the delivery of key government projects. There are four main elements to this bill.

The first element of this bill is the provision which allows the executive to vary the territory plan for a special precinct area variation. A special precinct area variation allows the executive to identify a designated area of priority development and changes to the territory plan. This bill would remove third-party appeal rights to ACAT on developments in this precinct. It would also remove AD(JR) Act appeals to the Supreme Court. This is a significant reduction in the right of interested parties to raise concerns about projects in the ACT.

The scrutiny committee raised legitimate concerns about the removal of these appeal rights but the minister said in his response to the committee:

The continued availability of Supreme Court rights of review in this circumstance is significant. These rights, notwithstanding the costs involved are available to the community.

In other words, the minister says that it is okay to take away the normal appeal rights because we still have left an expensive option. The opposition does not believe that this is acceptable. How can the minister say that appropriate scrutiny will take place when the only appeal mechanism is so expensive that practically no-one will be able to afford to appeal against a variation to the territory plan?

The provisions in this bill also allow a restriction declaration to be made. This will mean that many of the provisions in the Heritage Act and the Tree Protection Act do not apply to the precinct. This bill also contains provisions for a special precinct variation for the proposed mental health facility at Symonston.

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