Government planning over-rides get a tick

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SIMON Corbell has welcomed a report that supports the ACT Government’s proposal to limit appeal rights on infrastructure and development projects of benefit to the ACT community.

“The Latimer House Principles and the ACT Legislative Assembly” was prepared by the University of Canberra’s Institute for Governance and Policy Analysis and tabled by the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly this week. Simon says it supports the government’s decision to limit appeals on major infrastructure projects like light rail.

The report stated:

“The approach to seek legislative approval through the whole of the Assembly to limit rights to judicial review (as in the case of Light Rail) seems a satisfactory and democratic safeguard to the exercise of such limitations in the ACT’s Westminster system of government and an appropriate way to avoid additional costs being imposed on ACT taxpayers.” It also noted that, “In some matters the right of appeal can be seen as a highly over-rated commodity and itself a cause of concern to the citizenry.”

The report highlighted appeals of planning decisions for DFO in Fyshwick, for the Gungahlin Drive Extension and for the Giralang Shops redevelopment as examples of where “narrow vested interests” have sought to “overturn decisions on public or commercial amenity approved for the wider good by the government”.

“This report is supportive of the approach to limit appeal rights through the Legislative Assembly where projects are of benefit to the ACT community as a whole,” Simon said.

“Using the legislative process to limit appeal rights is an appropriate safeguard for important projects, such as light rail and ACT’s secure mental health facility, in order to avoid unnecessary delay and expense.”

The report stated that:

“The Government has recently sought to limit appeal rights through legislation in regard to plans for a light rail system in northern Canberra and Gungahlin in an attempt to reduce the additional cost to the project of being subjected to delay and appeal by narrow vested interests. Its justification for this action has been that the project is part of an electoral mandate. It seems that the unfettered rights of narrow vested interests to seek to thwart broader interests of the citizens of the ACT needs reflection and review if the very expensive and most often fruitless processes are to be avoided.”


UPDATE: We’ve posted a copy of the report online.

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2 Responses to “Government planning over-rides get a tick”

  1. The Senator
    February 16, 2015 at 9:10 pm #

    I agree with “Consult or perish” – planning laws, like all laws, exist for a reason. There is often a large number of silent supporters of those so-called “narrow-vested interests”. For example, every time I use the Gungahlin Drive Extension I am impressed with how quickly one can get to the Northside from the south, but I also think to myself how easy it would have been to have created a short tunnel through the ridge. In addition, I think it is ridiculous to suggest that the wave of opposition to the light rail project is “narrow vested interests”. Finally, the reference to the “ACT’s Westminster system of government” is misleading. The great problem in the ACT (which allows Shane Rattenbury and the Green Labor government to force light rail upon us) is that there is no upper house, no Senate, no Legislative Council, no governor, and there is a fixed 4 year term. There is no way to stop them from doing outrageous things. We need a few true independents and minority government!

  2. Consult or perish
    February 12, 2015 at 10:06 am #

    Did the ACT Government commission the University of Canberra’s Institute for Governance and Policy Analysis to prepare this report by any chance??

    In which case it’s barely worth the paper it’s written on. I’ve worked in universities and on consultancies – you’d be crazy not to produce the kind of answers the client is paying you for! It’s hardly independent, robust advice. And if you do, you’ll be quickly pulled into line or the report will never see the light of day, or you’ll never get another consultancy in this town

    Due process, including appeal rights and proper consultation, exist for a reason. Planners and Ministers don’t have all the answers, and without the community keeping them in check, can make pretty woeful decisions.

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