Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 06 Hansard (Thursday, 8 June 2017) . . Page.. 2101 ..
As I started by saying, the Canberra Liberals support the majority of this bill. Of 26 clauses, we are proposing amendments to only two. These amendments have come about from consultation with the community, which is something that this government has so far refused to do.
MS LE COUTEUR (Murrumbidgee) (11.34): My comments will relate to the two issues that Ms Lawder has talked about. Mr Rattenbury will have some further comments about the issues relevant to his ministerial responsibilities. As Ms Lawder said, she has talked about the only two controversial aspects of this bill. Of course, it is appropriate that there should not be many—preferably no—controversial issues in PBELAB. That is the purpose of these bills—to do routine, noncontroversial things. But we will not go there. We have had this conversation before. I will stick to the knitting on the Heritage Act amendments and the Public Place Names Act amendments and I will address Ms Lawder’s amendments.
I will start with the Heritage Act amendment. Over the last month my office has had a large number of phone and email conversations with community organisations and individual members of the community about this, including, usefully, people who actually know the heritage system very well. Probably my office and Ms Lawder’s office have had a considerable overlap in terms of correspondence on this subject.
Most of these members of the community were concerned about the possibility that the bill was introducing a new loophole that means that the Heritage Council will be able to reject nominations without conducting a proper assessment of them. However, not everybody has agreed with these concerns. To try to work my way through this and make sure that the Greens support the best legislation for heritage, my staff and I have had extensive conversations with Minister Gentleman and his staff, Ms Lawder’s office and members of the community, including, importantly, members with considerable knowledge and experience of heritage assessment.
I must admit that I was initially very concerned about the changes and initially considered whether to vote for them. But my office has done a lot more work on this. We have had a lot of consultation from a lot of people. The additional time we took to look at the issues has been very useful from our point of view. But on the basis of all the consultation we have done, I have reached the view that what is done is probably not intended to be a loophole. I am confident it is not intended to be a new loophole. Maybe, to be clearer, I should say that I think that not only is it not intended to be but that it is not.
It is, I believe, what the government has said it is, a small change that is required to allow the Heritage Council to do its job effectively. In this instance I might comment that the first thing I was lobbied on when I was re-elected was Bruce Hall. I happen to be a former resident of Bruce Hall. Of course, Bruce Hall is located in the ACT and the issue was the potential demolition and the heritage issues relating to this.
This is something that is relevant to this debate. Clearly, Bruce Hall has heritage values. No-one would debate that. The question really, though, is whether or not the