Government planning over-rides get a tick


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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