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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 09 Hansard (Wednesday, 12 August 2015) . . Page.. 2793 ..

MR COE (Ginninderra) (8.26): Planning is very important to the ACT, and this government continues to get it wrong. The government talks about consultation but refuses to listen to the community’s views on major projects. The government continues to try to bypass important scrutiny from public and statutory bodies, particularly when it knows its plans are just so unpopular. The government continues to cling to unreasonable policy even though it has proved to be a failure. The government continues to be unwilling to listen to the community, and there are so many examples with regard to this fact.

The government likes to talk about community consultation but very rarely does it act upon that consultation once it has been conducted. It produces lots of fancy brochures and sends public servants along to community meetings, but very rarely do the plans change by way of what the community wants. If the government was listening to the community, it would make changes to improve projects. Instead, after all the supposed consultation, the government goes ahead and does exactly what it wants to do anyway which is, of course, not always in conjunction with what the community is saying.

This method of consultation has been seen at the Canberra brickworks. For years the government has been talking about developing the brickworks site. Numerous plans and reports have been prepared, open days have been held, and still the government cannot get it right. The results of the consultation show that the residents of Yarralumla are not opposed to redevelopment of the site but they want the development to be appropriately serviced by adequate infrastructure and also to be to the appropriate scale.

The government simply cannot come up with plans that are suitable when they keep trying to jam in as many units as possible to try and get the best yield of that land. It seems there is a fair bit of gamesmanship when it comes to Yarralumla or Downer or many of the other sites around Canberra. It seems that they say, “Well, we want 1,000 units, so we’ll go for 1,500 and then do a wind back to 1,000 and everyone will thank us.” The truth is this gamesmanship can be so easily called out, and that is exactly what the community is doing time and time again.

Another issue of particular concern to the opposition is variation 306. The effects of this variation continue to be felt by the construction industry. It was no surprise to hear from officials at the estimates hearings that they are recommending changes to these provisions. I am very keen to hear from the minister as to whether these changes are going to play out in reality. Officials noted they are looking at simplifying the development codes in order to make it easier for industry to comply.

The opposition continue to have serious concerns about variation 306. We believe it needs to be repealed and we need to start again. The government continues to stubbornly cling to this unreasonable policy, despite the fact that it was opposed by the Institute of Architects, the Institute of Landscape Architects, the Master Builders Association, the HIA, the planning industry, the Property Council and others. It is unworkable and it will continue to be unworkable.

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