Page 1842 - Week 06 - Thursday, 14 May 2015

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Detail stage

Bill, by leave, taken as a whole.

MR GENTLEMAN (Brindabella—Minister for Planning, Minister for Roads and Parking, Minister for Workplace Safety and Industrial Relations, Minister for Children and Young People and Minister for Ageing) (4.45), by leave: I move amendments Nos 1 to 5 circulated in my name together [see schedule 2 at page 1855]. I am pleased to move the amendments to the Planning and Development (Call-in Power) Amendment Bill 2014 that have been circulated in my name. The bill was presented by Mr Rattenbury on 18 September last year. I take this opportunity to thank Mr Rattenbury for the work on this bill and for raising related issues. I also thank him and his office for their willingness to talk through the issues it raises with the staff in my directorate.

By way of introduction, I note that the bill relates to the exercise of what is known as the minister’s call-in power—that is, the ability of the minister to call in a development application and assess and decide the application. This power is set out in existing sections 158 to 162 of the Planning and Development Act. As members would be well aware, the key consequence of an exercise of this power is that the development application can be decided by the minister rather than the planning and land authority and any such decision is not subject to ACAT merit review.

I also note that the bill relates to the requirement in the act for the proponent to undertake community consultation prior to lodgement of certain prescribed development applications. This is in section 138AE and it applies to certain development proposals only as listed in section 20A of the Planning and Development Regulation. These include projects that are likely to have significant impacts on neighbouring properties, including a residential building with three or more storeys and 15 or more dwellings, a building with a gross floor area of more than 5,000 square metres or 25 metres or more in height, and finally a variation of lease to remove its concessional status. For convenience I will refer to this early community consultation that is already required in the act as “pre-lodgement community consultation”.

The government recognises that the bill of the ACT Greens raises an underlying issue which needs to be addressed. The issue is this: there is a need to ensure as much as practicable that adequate community consultation has occurred prior to any exercise of the call-in power by the minister. Currently the Planning and Development Act does not require a minimum level of public consultation or public engagement prior to the exercise of this power. The government agrees this issue needs to be addressed. The government proposes to do so through government amendments to the existing bill of the ACT Greens. I note that the underlying methodology of the government’s approach has been discussed with the office of Mr Rattenbury.

As I have indicated, the government recognises the issue around community consultation but is not able to support the bill in the form that has been presented. The government proposes significant amendments which effectively replace the method used in this bill. The proposed approach is preferred for the reasons which I will outline.

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