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Wednesday, 29 May 1996
Page: 1674


Mr TANNER(1.41 p.m.) —by leave—I move amendments Nos 8 and 9:

(8)   Clause 71, page 59, lines 5 and 6, omit subclause (2), substitute the following subclauses:

(2)   Subject to subsection (3), the Minister may, by written notice given to the company, exempt the draft plan from sections 69 to 70.

(3)   The Minister shall only exempt the draft plan from sections 69 and 70 where the final master plan is being replaced by a draft plan which varies the original master plan only with respect to proposed changes which have already been the subject of public comment or consultations pursuant to sections 69 and 70.

(9)   Clause 117, page 96, lines 24 and 25, omit subclause (2), substitute the following subclause:

(2)   Subject to subsection (3), the Minister may, by written notice given to the company, exempt the draft strategy from sections 115 and 116.

(3)   The Minister shall only exempt the draft strategy from sections 115 and 116 where the final environmental strategy is being replaced by a draft strategy which varies the original strategy only with respect to proposed changes which have already been the subject of public comment or consultations pursuant to sections 115 and 116.

These amendments relate to one quite significant change which has been made to the legislation in comparison with the equivalent legislation introduced to the House by the former Keating government.

The change was explained in the second reading speech by the Minister for Transport and Regional Development (Mr Sharp) and it relates to the power on the part of the minister to exempt a private leaseholder of an airport from engaging in a process of public consultation and public comment with respect to a draft plan or strategic plan for the airport and for environmental considerations.

The reason for it, as explained by the minister in the second reading speech, the opposition finds quite reasonable but we believe that the initial component of the legislation that has been put forward by the government is far broader than the intention announced by the minister.

The minister indicated that it was his intention to give the minister a power to exempt the leaseholder from public consultation and comment processes where those processes have previously occurred, a draft strategy plan was in place and, as a result of those processes having occurred, there was a need for an amendment to the plan and, therefore, under the previous government's legislation there would have had to be another round of public consultation. That arrangement opened up the possibility of an endless cycle of public consultation/amendment/further public consultation.

The opposition does not oppose the intention of the government. However, what we are concerned about is the fact that the provision that has been inserted effectively gives the minister the power to exempt a leaseholder from any public consultation process at all, including that with respect to the original plan or the original strategy that is under consideration.

The two amendments that I have put forward in effect narrow the scope of the ministerial power to the specific situation that the minister identified in his second reading speech, namely where there has been a draft plan put forward, where it has been subject to public consultation and comment and, as a result of that consultation and comment, a change is proposed to be made by the leaseholder. We think it is reasonable in those circumstances that, if the changes proposed have already been the subject of some public comment and consultation, there should not necessarily be a requirement for further consultation about making that change. The intention of our amendments is to narrow the power of the minister to exempt the leaseholder from any public comment to that particular situation.

The minister has indicated previously a preparedness to consider these amendments. I understand he will be opposing them at this stage but will give further thought to the matter prior to the bill going to the Senate. On the basis that he accepts at least the intention and logic of what the opposition is putting forward here, if not the precise words, and that he will give some consideration to the proposition that we are advancing and reconsider the position prior to the matter going to the Senate, it is not the opposition's intention to divide on this matter.