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Wednesday, 28 March 2007
Page: 156

Ms ANNETTE ELLIS (9:42 AM) —I rise to talk about a very important issue in Canberra—that is, the National Capital Authority’s draft amendment 53, which affects the Albert Hall precinct, not far from this building. In doing so, I want to refer to a report that was tabled in the Senate last week and in the House this week regarding the Griffin Legacy. Mr Deputy Speaker Causley, it is an issue which you are also very familiar with; you and I are both members of the Joint Standing Committee on the National Capital and External Territories.

Draft amendment 53, which is the Albert Hall precinct amendment, is out for public consultation now. That process will conclude on 4 May. It is proving to be an incredibly controversial draft amendment and it is raising many issues in the Canberra community. Many people are contacting both me and other colleagues here locally to talk about their huge concerns.

Before we get into the rights or wrongs of the Albert Hall precinct proposal, I want to refer to process. My concern is based on the fact that, with amendments 56, 59, 60 and 61, which actually form the Griffin Legacy, we had a very curtailed process. Minister Lloyd, who is in fact the minister for territories—the NCA is not the minister; he is—wrote to our committee on 27 November last year asking us if we wanted to consider inquiring into the Griffin Legacy. The committee wrote back three days later saying yes, we would. However, on 6 December those amendments were tabled in both houses, regardless entirely of the committee’s position. The taking of that particular action broke a very serious convention. Those four amendments have a bigger impact in Canberra than we have seen for decades, yet that was the process that the minister allowed himself to follow. Now we have draft amendment 53, which has yet to come to the committee, and I am very concerned that we do not see a repeat of that sort of curtailment of process again.

Many well-known and well-regarded Canberrans, particularly people like Professor John Mulvaney, who is the former Chair of the ACT Heritage Committee, have very serious concerns about draft amendment 53. I am not going to stand here and say DA53 is good or bad. That is not my job at this point. I believe my responsibility is to draw attention to process and to implore the minister not to allow again a process like that which was attracted to the Griffin Legacy amendments. For DA53, the process must be followed correctly. Our joint committee must be given the opportunity to consider what, if any, action it wishes to take on it, and the community must be listened to. The minister, not the NCA, is the minister. The NCA should not direct him to do anything in this regard. He should make the decision to follow due process. (Time expired)