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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 12 Hansard (Thursday, 26 October 2017) . . Page.. 4415 ..

I move:

That the Assembly take note of the paper.

MS LAWDER (Brindabella) (10.39): I would like to make a few very brief comments relating specifically to the planning, land management and heritage aspects of Mr Gentleman’s ministerial statement today. One of the points he makes is that the government is exploring innovative engagement tools and ensuring that communities across Canberra are heard, including previously unheard voices.

It is interesting. The best way for the government to engage with the whole community would be to start by involving all groups, even those that disagree with the government. Every individual and group has the right to express an opposite view to the government. Remember, that is what is called democracy. We should not be locking people out of community panels and making community meetings by invitation only. That means that other unheard voices remain unheard.

In saying that, we know that the government do not like to hear the voices of those that disagree with them. They refuse to deal with them. That makes it harder for us to ensure that all voices are heard. Some of the examples we have heard about include the government refusing to attend events and talk with people, including Master Builders, ClubsACT and the greyhound industry. A lot of people do not engage with development in their area until development work begins. That is why it is important to ensure that all voices are heard and not to have closed consultation systems.

Earlier this year we had a new chief planner appointed. The new chief planner is exploring opportunities to embrace collaborative conversations and build trust to deliver better outcomes for our city. That is great to hear. It is great to see that the government has finally realised that the people of Canberra have lost trust and faith in planning in Canberra. Our once great planned city has become a city that is run by and for the benefit of the union movement in many aspects of our work.

The minister also points to his work on housing choices, looking at the issue of what has been called “the missing middle”. It is a particular problem in Canberra where it sometimes feels like the options are either a stand-alone home or an apartment and very few options in between. The government talks about the missing middle. Yet this year’s budget increased lease variation charges for unit titling by 300 per cent, making it increasingly unaffordable for townhouses to be developed on schedule 1 land. It is a matter of doing one thing but saying another.

I would also like to briefly mention the point about swimming pool safety education. The government had quite a comprehensive 2011 consultation on swimming pools. Yet we have never seen what else is to come out of that. It has been quite a long time that we have been waiting to see the results of that consultation.

The minister makes mention of our territory’s proud heritage being a prominent focus. Apparently, it is not so prominent, as there is not one achievement relating to heritage

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