Page 355 - Week 02 - Tuesday, 14 February 2017
is needed for an applicable species. Clause 7 is an editorial amendment that makes the operation of the provision more clear and removes redundant wording. Clause 7 substitutes the word “and” for the word “or” in section 100A(4)(a).
This has the effect of requiring only one of the elements to be satisfied rather than both before the minister can decide that an action plan is not required for a species. Section 100A(4) will now allow the minister to decide that an action plan is not required if the minister is satisfied that (a) the species does not occur in the ACT or occurs infrequently, or (b) having no plan will not increase the risk of extinction of the species.
The construction of this provision with an “and” instead of an “or” appears to have been a drafting error and produced an unsatisfactory result, as the second element in (b) is redundant if the species does not satisfy subsection (a) by occurring in the ACT. Therefore, the minister may now decide that an action plan is not required if the species does not occur in the ACT or, if it does occur in the ACT, having no plan will not increase the risk of extinction. The amendment in clause 7 of the bill will ensure that action plans are directed to the species most at risk in the ACT and that limited resources are being used in the most effective way.
The next amendment I would like to discuss is made by clause 16 of the bill. It amends the power in section 395B of the Planning and Development Act 2007 in which the Planning and Land Authority can request contact information for lessees from the Commissioner for Revenue. This information is then used by the Planning and Land Authority to be able to notify the public of proposed development activity near to them. This is an important administrative power that assists in planning notification processes and in notifying the current owners of properties of development proposals.
Currently this contact information can be requested no more than once every three months. The amendment changes this to allow for more frequent requests for information, that is, once every month to ensure that the authority has up-to-date contact information for lessees. This will assist the Planning and Land Authority to access more current contact information and notify the current lessee of the properties in the immediate vicinity of the development. It will also enhance the provision of information to the community so they are informed of opportunities to have a say on development in their area.
This is another initiative of the government to ensure that people have the opportunity to engage in the planning process and that the process works for them. This practical measure is consistent with the government’s aim to bring planning back to the people. It is important to note that the Planning and Development Act already expressly provides that the Commissioner for Revenue must release this information when it is asked for by the Planning and Land Authority. While there is a general right to privacy and confidentiality with personal information such as contact details, this right is limited by the power to release the information in the existing section 395B. The amendment does not materially engage the right to privacy by allowing for more regular access to information that is already able to be obtained under the