Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 12 Hansard (Wednesday, 25 October 2017) . . Page.. 4365 ..
Let the government get on with planning better open spaces, but it does not need targets and legislation, just better management. I will refer again to an article that was in the Riot Act yesterday: “Former planning commissioner’s call to arms over Government’s development ‘incompetence’”. This article, dated yesterday, says:
A former National Capital Development Commissioner will tonight issue a wake-up call to the ACT’s community councils and residents groups in a hard-hitting speech that accuses the Barr Government of corrupting due process and being incompetent.
It goes on to say:
He will call on them to target the Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate and its head … for not doing its job properly.
“It doesn’t carry out necessary investigations into the community needs to be served, the likelihood of adverse environmental impacts, the compounding effects of multiple development approvals in residential and suburban shopping areas and the provision of public transport and public parking availability,” he will say.
[He] will say the directorate’s planning section is chronically understaffed and can only process development applications, which it manages poorly.
So what we see is a directorate that is already, according to this particular person, chronically understaffed and unable to do their current job properly. What we are talking about is adding additional bureaucracy and regulation in this area, when what we actually need to see is better management of what is already there, better trust of the community to make decisions, including about trees on their own land, and less confusion and contradiction in government policy.
Tree canopy and solar access, it seems the tension between them is something that is difficult to resolve, and this flip-flopping of policy is going to make it even more difficult for people who may make a significant investment in solar panels for their home to achieve the outcome that they were seeking when they invested in those solar panels for all the right reasons, including where it is dictated by government that they must have them. For many people it is a conscious decision that they make to install solar panels. Those in older areas will find it difficult because of existing trees; those in new areas obviously want trees, for many of the reasons that Ms Le Couteur has outlined, but are going to find it difficult with respect to solar access. Let us not make the situation even worse than it already is.
MS FITZHARRIS (Yerrabi—Minister for Health, Minister for Transport and City Services and Minister for Higher Education, Training and Research) (5.13): I thank Ms Le Couteur for moving this motion today and for the opportunity to speak.
As has been noted, it is widely recognised that trees are such an important element of all urban landscapes, contributing to the liveability of cities, none more so than Canberra, the bush capital. A healthy urban forest underpins the economic, cultural,