Page 971 - Week 03 - Thursday, 10 April 2014

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . . Video

If the proposed action is covered by an assessment bilateral, then that action has to be assessed under the territory’s processes. After assessment, the proposed action will still require approval from the commonwealth minister. If a proposed action is covered by an approvals bilateral, then it will be assessed and approved by the territory, with no further approval required from the commonwealth minister.

In December last year, the ACT signed an MOU with the commonwealth, agreeing to the negotiation of a one-stop shop for environmental approvals. We already have an assessment bilateral agreement in place. However, this new MOU will result in improved administration and more efficient assessment.

Around 15 per cent of the projects referred in the ACT have been determined to require assessment and approval. Between 2007 and 2012, the Land Development Agency was the leading referrer of controlled actions. Therefore, we expect there to be significant benefit to the LDA’s operations in a streamlined process.

The government is pleased to be negotiating a new one-stop shop with the commonwealth. The first step will be the establishment of a new assessment bilateral. A draft of this new agreement was released jointly by the commonwealth and the ACT last month and is currently the subject of public consultation.

The establishment of a one-stop shop is an important reform which will provide certainty when it comes to the environmental approvals process in the ACT. It will reduce the need for duplication between the territory’s environmental assessment and approval processes and the commonwealth’s. It will reduce the regulatory burden but it will still maintain a strong level of environmental assessment and protection for our city and our territory.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Mr Gentleman.

MR GENTLEMAN: Minister, what commitments have been identified and agreed to that would support the assessment and approval bilateral?

MR CORBELL: The most critical commitment that has been made is to the establishment of an approvals bilateral with the commonwealth by the end of September this year. Negotiations have been underway for some time and the territory has identified key policy and legislative changes needed to support a new agreement. The main matters to be dealt with in this negotiation include undertaking a strategic assessment of Gungahlin under the EPBC legislation; finalisation of an offsets policy based on the commonwealth’s proposed policy; and making a range of amendments to the Nature Conservation Act to strengthen the role of the conservator.

As members would know, the Gungahlin strategic assessment has been completed. This was a very successful assessment—a comprehensive, strategic assessment that provides certainty around what areas in Gungahlin can and cannot be developed for residential development and other development for the remainder of the Gungahlin development cycle. It also provides significant protection for a whole range of endangered habitats in the Gungahlin district. As a result of that strategic assessment,

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . . Video