THE ACT Greens have slammed Planning Minister Mick Gentleman, saying they’re outraged that he used call in powers to override the development application for Common Ground Dickson.
“Canberrans will be outraged to learn that an ACT Labor Minister has decided, of his own accord, to ram through development decisions in our city – with only the pretence of consulting with the local community. Controversial development should see more community engagement, not less,” says ACT Greens planning spokesperson Caroline Le Couteur.
By overriding the process for the contentious development at Section 72, Dickson, the ACT Greens say it ignores proper assessment, scrutiny and community feedback.
“Normally, the assessment and decision-making is conducted independently by the Planning Authority without the Minister’s involvement. This gives the community confidence that planning decisions are not driven by political considerations, such as political commitments to anyone, or the timing of the upcoming September/October election,” the Greens say.
“The development has already seen wide-ranging views canvassed among the local community about the use of the site over the past five years or more.”
ACT Greens is now calling on the Minister to reverse his decision and allow for the regular progression of independent approvals process that ensures the community gets a say on the issue. The party also calls on the Minister to release what the community has already told the ACT government in relation to this issue.
Ms Le Couteur says this is the second time the Minister has overridden normal processes for this development, saying, in December 2019, planning changes needed for the project were given “interim effect”, which effectively over-rode scrutiny by the Legislative Assembly.
“It’s especially disappointing that this Minister has made this decision before his party is called on to vote to ensure these kinds of decisions can be overridden by the Legislative Assembly,” she says.
The Greens say they support public housing, but believe that the Common Ground development, as with all other planning and development decisions, should be made in consultation with the community and in step with regular processes.
ACT Greens leader, and ACT government Minister Shane Rattenbury says: “It is deeply disappointing that call in powers have been used in this case. Our Canberra community deserves better than to have a project like this called in without even releasing the outcomes of the community consultation.”
Greens candidate for Kurrajong Rebecca Vassarotti says the Minister should explain to Canberrans why he feels there is a sudden rush to act on this issue at the expense of community consultation, given that by his own admission today, this has been in the works since 2014 – and his own Party made this an election commitment back in 2016.
“Our community expects more than to be simply ignored. Why bother consulting if in the end, decisions are made on a political basis?” she says.