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 Parap Residents Association: Dear Clare, Could you please table for the information of members o f the Legislative Assembly this letter from the Parap Residents' Association. Last week, the Parap Residents Association rang the Minister fo r Lands, Planning and Environments office to see what he had decided after hearing the communitys position on the proposed Planning Act We were told that we would find out what the minister had decided when the bill was debated in Parliament. When we pointed out to the ministers adviser that this would provide no opportunity for us to comment before the bill became law, he said our only option was to go through the opposition. That has been the nature and tenor o f the consultation with the Minister for Planning throughout this entire debate. Our association has been operating for 3 years. We realised very quickly that to achieve our goals as a community group interested in protecting the lifestyle o f local residents, we needed to change the Planning Act That change was needed to allow the community to be more involved in the planning process. When the Earl James review began, we saw some opportunity for us to put a point o f view. That point o f view was reflected in the Earl James report, but it has been sadly ignored by the government in its deliberations. The Parap Residents Association was shocked when the minister tabled a draft piece o f legislation on planning in the August sittings o f Parliament. We believed we would be consulted before this legislation was written. We were not. The government left us with no option but to fight the legislation. It was reactive consultation at its worst. Without the assistance o f the Darwin City Council we would not have been able to take our case to the public and we are grateful for their support. It seems to us that the only effort that changes this governments mind is a $60 000 advertising campaign. We understand how absurd it is that consultation has to occur by means o f television advertising. Not once throughout that whole period between August and October did the minister attend any public meetings called by residents groups. He sends his representatives instead. They could not argue the policy making behind the act. They could only advise on the affect o f that policy. And I would certainly like to put on the record, diverting from that letter, my thanks to the members of the ministers department who did attend and explained to the best of their ability, and with their skills, what the government was intending through this Planning Act, and the ministers absence from every single one of those meetings was noted. But to go back to the letter I am reading from the Parap Residents Association: In October, the Chief Minister changed some elements o f the bill. He did so without direct consultation with resident groups. He did so out o f fear o f the political impact o f the Lord Mayor, George Brown. We had some hope that this would signal a change in the consultation approach. We believed it may lead to direct negotiation with the minister. What we got instead way a 3 V2 hour meeting which satisfied no-one. It left us with no clear view o f what the minister intended and subsequently a comment that we would not know the outcome until the bill was debated in the Legislative Assembly. We are at a loss to know where else in Australia would such a process ever be labelled consultation. It is clear that the ministers view on how to deal with community groups differs greatly from the expectations o f those groups. The bill that you will debate today is not good planning law; it is not based on any principle o f community involvement. It reflects the ministers priorities and not the community's. It will continue the conflict that has developed in the planning o f our city. It resolves nothing. It is a bill designed to project the ministers definition o f lifestyle and not the communitys. It is clear to us that the minister does not even begin to understand why we as ordinary citizens want to be involved in the development o f our community. Had the minister and the Chief Minister bothered to attend our rally in October, they would have seen some o f Darwins oldest residents represented there. These people fought in war and cyclone to protect and rebuild this city. They are the essence o f our community. 4802