Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 01 Hansard (Thursday, 12 February 2015) . . Page.. 309 ..
Even if you believe in the Latimer House principles, the very committee which Mr Rattenbury chaired into the Latimer House principles in the last Assembly said:
The committee recommends that potential government shortcomings identified in submissions and listed in paragraph 3.12 of this report could be considered as part of the independent assessment.
And what is one of those issues? It is increased use of public consultation during the pre-drafting stage of legislation and through all the major pieces of legislation being referred to the appropriate Assembly committees, allowing for an inquiry process. They were Mr Rattenbury’s views in the last Assembly, but Minister Rattenbury, I am afraid, has different views—totally different views.
What is the purpose of stifling debate about the light rail project? Why is the government so scared about a debate on the light rail project and about debates on development in the light rail corridor? The government seems to be scared that if the community is given the opportunity to voice its opinion it might well raise a concern about tree protection or heritage issues.
The bill allows the Planning and Land Authority to disregard advice from the Heritage Council and the Conservator of Flora and Fauna. Under this bill, ACTPLA is given the authority to disregard advice about registered trees for the first time. ACTPLA also has the authority to disregard advice about regulating trees. This of course means that any trees that get in the way of the light rail project will be cut down. The same principle applies to buildings and objects with heritage value: if they are in the way of the tram they will be demolished.
Why is it necessary to remove the light rail project from the normal planning process? Unlike other jurisdictions which have this legislation—they have councils as well, and that is why they have the legislation to bypass the councils—we do not have councils; we have one planning authority, therefore we do not need this legislation. The legislation in another jurisdiction is about bypassing the councils. We do not have that here in the ACT.
The bill removes important review and appeal rights which are usually part of the planning process. Under the usual planning decision process the community is able to raise concerns about proposed developments, including in cases where the development has been approved. The bill removes appeal rights under the AD(JR) Act and third party appeals to ACAT. The remaining appeal mechanism, a common law appeal, must be brought within 60 days of the decision. This type of appeal is virtually impossible as it is extremely expensive and very difficult to achieve and is effectively locking people out of the process. The provisions in the bill mean that the government has shut the community out of the discussion about light rail development.
Another concerning aspect of this bill is the provision which allows reduced documentation requirements of development applications relating to light rail. This provision means that a development application for light rail does not need to include all the information which any other DA does. If a development application does not