Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 01 Hansard (Thursday, 12 February 2015) . . Page.. 310 ..
have supporting documentation, how can it properly be assessed? Let me say that again. Another concerning aspect of this bill is the provision which allows reduced documentation for development applications—reduced documentation. So not only do you have a situation whereby there is no consultation, you have reduced documentation. It is absolutely outrageous. This is a circumstance where you need increased documentation, not reduced documentation. So you are going to have reduced documentation and no consultation. So what are we going to get? A one-page DA saying, “Light rail down Northbourne,” and just get a tick of approval? It is scandalous stuff.
If a development application does not have supporting documentation, how can it be properly assessed? Again, the government is removing the ability to scrutinise its pet project. Again, the government is scared that if it actually gives people information about the light rail they might reject it, and those people who might reject it may well be the Heritage Council, the Conservator of Flora and Fauna or perhaps even ACTPLA.
This bill is yet another example of the Labor government trying to avoid scrutiny, and being backed by Mr Rattenbury. The government knows that its light rail project has the genesis of a political deal, a partisan deal. It knows that the community concerns about light rail are so serious that the project will be significantly delayed if the proper process is followed. So if concerning itself with actually listening to the community is so objectionable, the government is just bypassing the proper process. It does not like the idea of the community objecting so it gets rid of their ability to do so.
This bill sets a dangerous precedent. This government is not concerned about proper process or the community’s opinion when it comes to complicated projects. It is so scared of scrutiny that it legislates to stop the community from scrutinising it. Let me remind the Assembly what I said last year when the government introduced similar legislation to prevent scrutiny of its secure mental health facility. Speaking on the Planning and Development (Symonston Mental Health Facility) Amendment Bill 2014, I said:
The bill is not really about the mental health facility. It is about the government setting aside planning laws. Once proper processes have been set aside, what is stopping the government from doing it again? What will be the next urgent project? Will the government bring a special variation to cover the Uriarra solar farm? What about Northbourne Avenue and the government’s grand light rail project? Where will it stop …
Well, that has come to fruition. Exactly as I predicted, here is the government trying to declare that it has another project which is so urgent that proper scrutiny should not be allowed.
I would like to reflect on the process the government has used with this legislation. As I have already said, it was my office that contacted people who are the informed planning people in our community. They are the usual suspects when it comes to providing advice to the government, to the opposition, to the crossbench and others. We all have these email lists. We all have the community council address book. Yet, for some reason, the government did not send it to them. Why not, Madam Assistant Speaker?