Page 1846 - Week 06 - Thursday, 14 May 2015

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

This bill proposes to require the same pre-lodgement consultation process as already applies to large projects. This requires a proponent to fill in a form that says that consultation has taken place. The form includes a letterbox drop, a meeting with the community council, a community meeting, or any other possible consultation.

While the bill does require community consultation as a prerequisite for a call-in, it also states that a “defect or irregularity” in community consultation does not affect the validity of a decision about the application. This means that a proponent who genuinely seeks to consult with the community before lodging the development application would not be disadvantaged due to a problem in the consultation process.

The government’s amendments remove the requirement for community consultation as a prerequisite for calling in a development application. Instead, the amendments insert a requirement for the minister to consider whether sufficient consultation has taken place.

This, I think, is actually a fairly significant deviation from the bill that Mr Rattenbury put forward, so in some ways I am surprised that Mr Rattenbury is supporting it. If the minister does not believe the consultation is sufficient then additional information can be sought. The government’s amendments are intended to increase the level of community consultation, but in fact they make it easier for the minister to call in a development application. The minister could decide that a sufficient level of community consultation is no consultation. These amendments do not actually demand increased consultation; they are really just words.

Of course, Mr Rattenbury’s bill is relatively light on too. It is, I think, another example of Mr Rattenbury trying to look like he is doing something in this space. Mr Rattenbury might want to go back to his party and say, “Look what I did with regard to call-ins.” However, I do not think this is actually the action that many people in his party will be requesting that he take.

I think Mr Rattenbury is so desperate to get this bill passed today that he will, in effect, take any amendment that gets put forward by the government—even one that waters down his bill considerably. Mr Rattenbury’s complicity with the government on decisions about Downer, Yarralumla, Telopea Park and many others is making people angry, and I do not think this light-hearted bill is going to change much.

The Canberra Liberals will support this bill today because we believe that the community should have a say in planning matters. That said, the bill will not change much at all, if anything. Encouraging community consultation before a development application is lodged is an important step and something which is already included for most development applications that are likely to cause some concern in the community. This latest bill, if amended, will still, in effect, give the minister the same discretion he has now.

We will watch closely to see whether there are any real changes which come about as a result of this bill.

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