Territory Stories

Debates Day 1 - Tuesday 23 November 1999



Debates Day 1 - Tuesday 23 November 1999

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Parliamentary Record 20


Debates for 8th Assembly 1997 - 2001; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 8th Assembly 1997 - 2001




Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory





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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory

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Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory



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DEBATES - Tuesday 23 November 1999 Consent Authority. I believe that if the Planning Scheme is properly and adequately developed, and if the ministers power to amend this scheme willy-nilly is removed, then the make-up of the Development Consent Authority is less worrying than before. It should be able to act within very defined guidelines. However, these guarantees are not in place, so concern about the make-up of the authority remains. I support the ministers decision to remove his unlimited power to determine who will represent councils and other local government appointees. It is evident, however, that the community wish to have guarantees that the people selected to represent them will indeed do so. The minister needs to shift his thinking on the need to control these appointments to the authority in such a direct manner. I believe that the appointment process needs to be rethought and spelled out more clearly in the act, based on the principles of choosing community members who will be acceptable to the community. The community has suggested that the chairman and the appointed council members should be the deciding people in recommending who will be the communitys representatives. They would be required to publish ground rules for who would apply. Selection criteria would be included. I am aware that whatever process is adopted would be a clumsy one, but if we are to abide by the principle that these representatives should align their views with the community, then we need to have something in place which satisfies the communitys concerns. Direct ministerial appointment does not. Whatever is decided needs to be embedded in the act, not left to a process which can be easily changed on the whim of the minister. In my discussions with stakeholders it was apparent that there are many concerns about the operations of this section beyond the make-up of the authority. There are concerns about section 91, relating to the alternate members, which reflect the concerns of the community established in section 89. In section 100, which gives the minister the power to remove members from office, the community wants these powers to be better defined. In division 3, the procedure of the authority, the chairmans powers should be limited. The ability of members to delegate their votes to the chairman should be deleted, except in exceptional circumstances. The conduct of public meetings needs to be more clearly defined. There is no doubt that community feels the meeting procedures adopted by some chairmen have been unnecessarily restrictive. The meetings of the authority should be open, except when determined by a majority of members of the Development Consent Authority. Under section 103, which deals with the minutes, the minutes should record the vote of each member. This makes those members more accountable to the community. I fail to understand the governments objections to allowing this to be recorded. The votes of everyone in this House are recorded and judged. The votes of every council member are recorded and also judged. Surely the votes of every member of the Development Consent Authority should be recorded and open to scrutiny. This would place no unnecessary burden on the members of the authority. It would require them to be up-front about their decisions and allow them the opportunity to state their position. It is a democratic right of the community to know how their representatives vote on these matters. To deny the community this right also denies them a fundamental feature of our democracy - the right to question the decision-makers. In my view, this small section alone reflects the level of government paranoia about planning as a whole. This paranoia is evident throughout the entire act. Part 9 deals with the appeals - or I suppose youd have to say the lack of appeals. Labor supports the right of third parties to appeal. We believe those third parties must be a part of the process before the appeal stage, and time limits must be placed to ensure timelines in the process. To continue to refuse to give the community this right is inequitable and unjust. It forces community groups into the Supreme Court, a reality which is unnecessarily extreme and, of course, unlikely to be taken simply because of the cost. It effectively removes the communitys ability to be part of the planning process through to its end. Third-party appeals must be in our act as a right, but if we get the rest of the act as a consultative and agreed-to act, then I would say there would be very little reason ever to go into the area of third-party appeals. If we establish certainty for all players involved in planning and there is a regular review of the Planning Scheme, I am positive that third- party appeals would be an absolute rarity. As I said at the outset of this debate, a Labor government will rewrite this Planning Act. It is flawed. It denies equality to all stakeholders in the planning process, a fundamental process that underpins our future as citizens of this community. In conclusion, I will read a letter from one community group who have been extensively involved in the planning process. This letter sums up the concerns of the community. Its from the

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