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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 09 Hansard (Tuesday, 22 August 2017) . . Page.. 3114 ..

In summary, the environment portfolio is, no doubt, an important one. It commands significant amounts of ACT and federal taxpayer dollars; the directorate employs significant numbers of people; we are lucky to be surrounded by great natural beauty; and Canberrans take their responsibility for our environment seriously.

The Canberra Liberals believe the estimates process is important. Not only does it give non-executive members—and, through the public hearings, the broader community—a unique opportunity to find out more about the government’s work in various portfolio areas, but also, because it is an integral part of a transparent, accountable government, it allows scrutiny from the community that elected it to represent them.

I know that I was not alone in preparing and asking questions at the public hearings and following up with a significant number of questions on notice. I thank the officials for their hard work in preparing for, and their attendance at, the public hearings to answer a wide range of questions on this important portfolio area.

MR COE (Yerrabi—Leader of the Opposition) (3.38): The Canberra Liberals would again like to emphasise our commitment to integrity in urban planning and development. The Suburban Land Agency is one of the two new territory bodies that will replace the troubled LDA. While the City Renewal Authority is focused on renewal only in declared precincts, the SLA has power over every other planning aspect and development within the territory, both urban and greenfield residential areas.

The functions of the SLA include buying and selling leases, ensuring a mixture of public and private housing, increasing the supply of affordable and community housing, meeting housing targets, and carrying out the development of land. My colleague the deputy leader of the Liberals, Nicole Lawder, will be speaking further on particular planning aspects.

While the provision of additional funds for oversight is one small step in the right direction for the SLA, there are still serious concerns over the governance arrangements as they stand with the SLA and the City Renewal Authority. A key question remains: how will the initiative ensure stronger governance if the measures that were proposed by the Canberra Liberals a couple of months back were voted down by Labor and the Greens? After all, the CRA and the SLA are in effect the LDA in everything but name. Pretty much the same governance arrangements that were in place for the LDA are in place for the new organisations.

The Auditor-General found that the LDA board and management ignored the procurement framework set out in the notifiable instrument, the land acquisition policy framework, and instead relied upon their own internal interpretation. In effect, a notifiable instrument was an insufficient governance mechanism. I repeat: in effect, the notifiable instrument was an insufficient governance mechanism.

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