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Thursday, 1 March 1984
Page: 250

Senator REID —by leave-On behalf of the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory I present a report on the parliamentary zone draft development plan. I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard a short statement relating to the report and to make some further remarks.

Leave granted.

The statement read as follows-

The report I have just tabled concerns a draft development plan for the parliamentary zone. Last October, the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory along with the Joint Committee on the New Parliament House received a briefing from the National Capital Development Commission on proposals for the future development of the parliamentary zone.

Until recently the major planning priority has concentrated on the location, design and servicing of the site of the new Parliament House. This included the road access to the new House, which the Committee has previously reported on. With the finalisation of major planning decisions concerning the Capital Hill area, attention then focused on the remainder of the parliamentary zone.

During the briefing by the Commission it was pointed out that the quality of landscaping in the central northern part of the zone was poor. The landscaping had always been a temporary measure until the site for the permanent Parliament House was decided. Consequently it was minimal and poorly defined.

The NCDC put before the Committee plans for correcting the deficiencies by creating a more coherent plan for the northern part of the zone-that is, for the area between the present House and the Lake. The design:

Reinforces the Burley Griffin land and water axes;

provides a framework within which future public buildings can be located; and

encourages increased tourist and pedestrian use of the lake edge.

The Parliamentary zone is the focal point of the national capital and it should now be developed as such. The completion of the new House and the major design elements of the remainder of the parliamentary zone by 1988 will be a fitting way to mark the bicentenary in the national capital. The designs presented to the Committee are still evolving and the final designs may differ in some aspects. However, to work within a tight timetable and in keeping with good planning practice of allowing comment on planning at an early stage, the Commission has sought an early in-principle approval of the plan. Several elements will require gazettal action and detailed scrutiny at a later date. A major concern of the Committee was the lack of provision in the proposal for consultation with all senators and members or for that matter with the community . Parliament's role in the planning of the parliamentary zone was made clear in the Parliament Act 1974. The Act establishes Parliament's control over major works in the parliamentary zone. Therefore the Committee believes that all members and senators should have an opportunity to examine the proposals in detail and comment on them before final decisions are made. We have requested the NCDC to follow this procedure. Despite its concern about the lack of consultation the Committee believes the development plan to be a good one because:

It provides an overall framework within which road proposals, landscape proposals and long-term development can be resolved in a way that will complement the new Parliament House;

The plan will complete Griffin's land axis between the new Parliament House and the lake; and

The plan is sufficiently in keeping with Burley Griffin's plans given the structure and location of existing buildings and the need for the zone to cope with modern day traffic problems, including tourist and commuter traffic. The 1983 plan provides a much clearer road system and an improved pedestrian environment in the Parliamentary Triangle. In general, the layout is now more suitable for tourists.

I strongly recommend that all members and senators read the report and, more importantly, examine the proposals for themselves.

Senator REID —I also table the minutes of the proceedings of the Committee. The part of the report to which I refer specifically is made more apt by the remarks Senator Peter Rae made just a short time ago, when he moved that the Senate take note of the paper dealing with a small variation of buildings in the parliamentary zone. Whilst the Joint Parliamentary Committee on the Australian Capital Territory is empowered to scrutinise national capital matters on behalf of the Parliament, we believe that we cannot speak for all honourable members and honourable senators on a matter such as this. We believe that the proposals are of such significance that all honourable members and senators ought to have been advised of them and given the opportunity to comment. We have said that in the report. I recommend the report to honourable senators and honourable members . We approve the proposals for variation which have been put to us, but we believe that, in this area, because of its significance, it is a matter that ought to be brought to the attention of all honourable senators and honourable members. As I said, I welcome the remarks made earlier by Senator Peter Rae endorsing this concept.