MAJOR INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT APPROVALS BILL (No. 123)
Mr JIM BACON (Denison - Premier) - Mr Speaker, I move -
That the bill be now read the second time.
This bill forms part of the suite of legislation referred to as the Resource Management and Planning System. It provides a number of measures which augment the system and meet the particular needs of major infrastructure projects, including those initiated by the private sector.
Mr Deputy Speaker, my Government recognises the critical importance of infrastructure to the Tasmanian economy. This legislation is aimed squarely at ensuring that the critical infrastructure needs of Tasmanian industry and the community are provided in the most efficient manner within the resource management and planning system. There is a clear need for legislative action to assist with existing and future major infrastructure development that provides a clear and significant benefit to the Tasmanian community. There is also a need to allow, and indeed encourage, the early definition of projects by proponents, so that environmental impact guidelines can be provided at the earliest opportunity. This means that a developer has every opportunity to get the project right and it also means that the community has more opportunity to participate in the refining of the project.
The opportunity exists to address the coordinated approval of imminent major infrastructure projects such as rail, gas pipelines, roads and electricity transmission, but also for the whole future class of such projects. An important qualifier is that any legislative action should maintain existing rights and accountabilities. To this end, the approval process for major infrastructure projects - or MIPs - is, to the greatest extent possible, linked into the existing approval processes that apply to any development on land in the State.
In relation to the provision of major infrastructure, there are three key issues that need to be addressed. They are the issues of coordinating developments across multiple local government boundaries and planning schemes, the requirement for written consent of landowners before development applications can be considered, and the acquisition of land by the Crown to facilitate these developments.
I will turn first to situations where a proposed infrastructure development
traverses a number of local government areas, and possibly an even greater number
of planning schemes. This would normally result in the need for multiple development
applications, multiple approval processes running in parallel and, potentially,
multiple appeal hearings, all applying to what is in effect one single development.
A further factor linked with this is that, under different planning schemes,
the criteria against which a planning authority assesses the development will
most likely vary. This variation can include the definition of, for example,
utilities infrastructure, and the values and criteria against which the development
is assessed. The status of the development, in terms of the right to undertake
it, can also vary. This can range from being permitted, to being discretionary,
to being prohibited. As a result of this varying status across planning schemes,
there will be different notification and appeal rights afforded to landowners.
The bill proposes two ways to resolve this. First, the bill offers an opportunity to have a combined planning authority declared for the purpose of considering an MIP. Under the bill now before you, before an MIP is declared, all the councils likely to be affected by the declaration are consulted. This consultation relates not only to their involvement in the planning assessment process and the structure of any combined planning authority but on the matters that need to be considered in that assessment. Each council will indicate what factors are important to them and the appropriate manner for their interests to be represented. Where the major part of the infrastructure or the major impact is on only one of a number of councils, then representation on the Combined Planning Authority may reflect these varying levels of impact. We are not proposing a prescriptive formula for how this will be calculated but will leave this to be resolved in relation to each project, depending on the particular impact of that project.
After considering a project and their involvement the councils concerned may request that the MIP be assessed by the Resource Planning and Development Commission. In such situations the commission would act as if it were a planning authority, with all the usual public involvement and appeal rights that apply under the Land Use Planning and Approvals Act . There may be times when this is an appropriate outcome, perhaps in situations where a large number of councils are involved. Again, we are not making prescriptive rules on this but leaving it as a matter to be discussed by the Government and the relevant councils as the need arises. This flexibility is considered to be an important factor and enhances the partnership between the State Government and local government.
In the unlikely event that there are major disagreements between the relevant councils and the combined planning authority becomes unworkable, then there is a power to refer the proposal to the Resource Planning and Development Commission, which again would act as if it were a planning authority.
Secondly, the development will automatically become discretionary. This provides the community with consistent and full rights of appeal. The combined planning authority will be required to develop specific planning criteria for use in considering the MIP. This task will be helped by the strategic planning work that is already undertaken by local government and their communities. The planning criteria will be placed on public exhibition and endorsed by the RPDC. The time frames for the development and the endorsement are shorter than would normally apply for a new planning scheme. This is in fact the only feature of this legislative package where the usual time frames do not apply.
I would like to add here that there has been very positive involvement from local government in the development of this legislation, both in the broader policy framework and in the detail of the legislation. This valuable contribution, from both the Local Government Association of Tasmania and from officers of a number of councils, has played a significant role in the finalisation of this bill, and I thank them for it.
What about section 52 exemptions?
Mr Deputy Speaker, the second feature of the current planning process that does not assist with the facilitation of, in particular, linear infrastructure projects is that section 52 of the Land Use Planning and Approvals Act requires that landowners provide express agreement to the submission of a development application in respect of their land.
With infrastructure projects of the nature anticipated, this could cover many individual titles, and the requirement to undertake detailed surveys and get every landowner to provide their agreement in writing would be unnecessarily onerous prior to the submission of a development application. Instead, for projects declared as an MIP, notification will be required to be given to all relevant landowners. This notification will be in two stages. The first is when they are given notice by the Government that their land falls within a defined corridor. This will happen after Parliament has declared the infrastructure project to be an MIP and after exact survey detail of the precise location of the corridor is provided. It is from this point that the landowner will become eligible for 'injurious affection'. This means that if they are restricted in using their land because of an impending MIP, then they are compensated for that loss of use. This will apply even if their land is ultimately not actually purchased for the construction of the project.
The second notification, which is to be given by the developer, must be given at least fourteen days prior to submitting the detailed development application to the combined planning authority. At this point the detail of the proposal will be narrowed down and it is most likely that many landowners who received the initial notification will not receive this second notification because not all of the land within the original corridor will necessarily be required for the final project.
The third critical aspect is the issue of land acquisition, which has always been a sensitive issue in our community. In the past when major infrastructure was almost invariably provided by the public sector then the Crown could, as it still can, acquire land for a public purpose under enabling legislation. This applies routinely to the purchase of land for the construction of roads.
The concept of public infrastructure being provided by the private sector is, however, relatively new. The provision of infrastructure by the private sector post dates the Land Acquisition Act 1993 and its provisions are not sufficiently wide to allow for private-sector involvement in provision of infrastructure, without a separate enabling act of parliament on each and every occasion. This traditional approach of 'one off' legislation may well have been appropriate when the norm was for infrastructure to be provided by the Crown, with private-sector involvement being a rare occurrence. It is not appropriate where government continues to limit its role in the direct provision of infrastructure, particularly infrastructure that has a key utility focus. The legislation needs to be modified to reflect this changed circumstance. There is still a very strong public interest in expanding utility infrastructure and the Government maintains a very clear responsibility to facilitate this while at the same time safeguarding individual rights.
Mr Deputy Speaker, this bill provides an opportunity for the Crown to acquire land for the facilitation of major infrastructure projects. In some cases this means purchasing the freehold, while in others the acquisition of an easement may be sufficient.
This bill provides a framework for the acquisition of the land by the Crown by making a declared project a 'public purpose' for the purposes of the Land Acquisition Act. While parliamentary approval will still be needed it can be given in a simpler way than having a full legislative procedure for every new project. This bill provides for a simpler process of parliamentary endorsement of each project without having to have new legislation on each occasion.
Mr Speaker, this bill also includes consequential amendment of the Land Acquisition Act 1993 to ensure that it applies to the acquisition of land for MIPs. It also provides that the land acquired by the Crown for privately-constructed infrastructure cannot be sold to that developer except in accordance with section 64 of the Crown Lands Act 1976. This means that both Houses of Parliament will have to approve any onselling. This provides a further opportunity for parliamentary scrutiny.
The proposed procedure for an MIP
The process will commence when the proponent provides the minister responsible for the planning legislation with a project description. The detail of the project description may be prescribed in regulations, but in general the level of detail expected would satisfy the requirements for a project description under the Environmental Management and Pollution Control Act 1994.
If satisfied that the proposal is clearly in the public interest, the minister administering the act in conjunction with the minister responsible for Infrastructure would then have the power to declare the project to be a major infrastructure project - MIP. The declaration would be subject to parliamentary disallowance which would provide the necessary opportunity for parliamentary and public scrutiny. As already noted, the minister is also required to consult with the relevant local councils.
Once the project has been given this status, there would be a suite of measures that the Government can provide to project proponents, depending on the requirements of the project and the level of assistance the Government wishes to provide. As noted earlier these features augment, rather than replace, the normal approval processes under the Land Use Planning and Approvals Act and not all of them will be required for every project.
Where there is more than one council affected the minister may direct the relevant councils to form an assessment body, referred to as a combined planning authority, CPA, which would be deemed to be the relevant planning authority for the purposes of the Land Use Planning and Approvals Act and the other relevant components of the planning system. The combined planning authority will undertake a coordinated assessment of the proposal, utilising the existing provisions under the Land Use Planning and Approvals Act and the Local Government Act and a single development application would be taken to be sufficient to meet the requirement of all relevant planning schemes. All conditions of approval would be incorporated into a single permit and any appeals would be heard in an integrated process.
Where there is only one council involved, it would remain the planning authority for the purposes of the proposal and the declaration would ensure that the proposal is to be addressed as a discretionary use.
As I have already said, the Resource Planning and Development Commission may also be a combined planning authority for the purposes of the MIP should the councils choose not to participate in the process.
Where the project is a level 2, either under section 25 of the Environmental Management and Pollution Control Act or where the call on powers under section 24 of that act has been exercised, then the same approaches apply as above; however the planning authority - either the CPA or the commission - must include the environmental requirements of the Board of Environmental Management and Pollution Control in any permit granted.
The participating planning authorities will be required to nominate membership of the CPA within a defined time frame with formal appointment being made by the minister. They will also be required to develop planning criteria and place them on public exhibition to be followed by endorsement by the Resource Planning and Development Commission, as I mentioned earlier.
For level 2 approvals, the early provision of environmental guidelines is a key part of this bill. By enabling the early provision of these guidelines the developer is able to refine their project before the submission of a development application. Through provision of these guidelines the community has more of an opportunity to participate in the planning process before the submission of the development application. This means that there is a greater opportunity to modify the project to meet broader social, economic and environmental outcomes.
How does the combined planning authority operate?
Each of the councils represented on the CPA must provide such resources to assist the CPA in the carrying out of its powers and functions as the CPA may reasonably require. Should councils not choose to share the costs of the planning approval process in an equal manner, then they are able to negotiate an alternative arrangement.
To ensure that a developer does not take advantage of the assistance being provided by State and local government there is a period of time after which the declaration as a major infrastructure project lapses if a development application is not lodged with the relevant planning authority. This is twelve months, extendable at the discretion of the minister for a further twelve-month period. This would ensure that there is an onus on the proponent to progress the development. There are also other commitments required of a developer to ensure that they are committed to the development. These include the lodgment of a bond to cover the proactive provision of guidelines and a guarantee to cover the cost of the Crown acquiring any land.
Once a permit has been granted, the normal two-year life of a permit that currently applies should be sufficient. After this time an approval lapses unless there has been 'substantial commencement'.
Why not a POSS?
One question that has been asked is whether or not these measures are necessary and why such infrastructure projects are not automatically declared to be projects of State significance.
The procedures for dealing with approvals for projects of State significance are complex and detailed. They are ideally suited to particularly complex projects that require a wide range of different types of approvals or have particularly complex environmental considerations. In the hierarchy of the RMPS approval system projects of State significance are level 3 approvals. In contrast it is quite likely than many Major Infrastructure Projects are level 1 or perhaps level 2 approvals. This would mean that they would properly be within the jurisdiction of local government, with the possibility of input from the Board of Environmental Management and Pollution Control. The only reason for the issue of complexity to arise for these types of projects is because a number of planning schemes apply and because there would be several councils involved, each considering parts of a single proposal.
Mr Deputy Speaker, it simply makes more sense for an infrastructure project that spans a number of municipalities or planning schemes to be dealt with as one project. It also makes sense in terms of the resources of the relevant councils. A combined planning authority allows the pooling of resources and the more efficient sharing of costs and the removal of unnecessary duplication of multiple approvals being conducted in parallel. As an option the relevant local councils can request that the infrastructure project be referred to the RPDC. If this happens then the RPDC considers the project as if it were a local council, under the same obligations and with the same opportunities for public involvement and appeal as if it were a normal local government approval.
If a major infrastructure project is particularly complex, then there is nothing in this bill which would prevent it from being declared a project of State significance. This bill simply provides some optional ways of achieving the outcome of clear, transparent and efficient consideration of development approvals. Mr Deputy Speaker, I commend the bill to the House.
Mr RUNDLE (Braddon) - Mr Deputy Speaker, we have read this bill thoroughly and made a number of approaches to parties that would have a special interest in the legislation, as I mentioned briefly during the pervious debate in this House. The conclusion this side of the House has come to is that we would not stand in the way of this bill and oppose it; however it is true to say that we are not convinced that in the practical application of this legislation it is not going to be without difficulties in some areas and the view and conclusion we had come to was in fact reinforced when I received a written indication from the Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry as to some of their views about the particular legislation.
Certainly there needs to be clarity in terms of all planning issues in this State. There is a perception here and I think beyond that Tasmania is just too difficult a place in which to bring about major projects - not even major projects, even further down the scale to quite modest projects. On this side of the House we will support any legislation that safeguards the interests of individuals who will be involved and in this particular legislation with infrastructure projects there will certainly be many individuals whose rights will need to be protected, giving due regard to environmental consideration, social impact and so on. But with those caveats we obviously support clearly-defined paths for development projects to proceed in this State.
In relation to some of the points that we would make at this time on the second reading, I would simply place on the record some of the issues that have been raised with us by the TCCI. They make the point that they believe LUPA is flawed in a number of areas and the current planning system is not conducive to early approval of major linear development projects, so they express sympathy in relation to the need for the legislation. They acknowledge that while the bill overcomes some of the flaws in LUPA in respect to major infrastructure projects, the mechanism it uses is untried and 'in our view may be unworkable'.
We do not go so far as to say that we believe this will be unworkable; we will look forward with interest to the first practical test of this legislation and it certainly seems to me that when you look at development projects in the offing you could easily describe this as the 'gas pipeline facilitation' bill although we know that it is much broader than that. But it certainly seems to me that this would be the vehicle by which you would wish that project to proceed, particularly if it is going to be reticulated from the point of entry, which everyone assumes will be the George Town area, through the midlands and down to Hobart, the major urban centre there and of course south to Launceston and then north-west to the urban areas of that part of the State. Obviously this will be a spectacular linear infrastructure development and obviously I believe that this legislation would pick up that project.
But the TCCI goes on to say that they are 'not sure that the bill really tells us who is to make the decisions and who will bear the responsibility. The concept of a combined planning authority sounds okay in principle but will it really work? If the authority's members are not empowered to bind their respective constituencies the entity will become dysfunctional. Any combined planning authority must have teeth and be able to make quick decisions binding on all parties. We are not sure if the proposed bill presents us with such a creature. The need to refer a matter back to the commission for decision where a single council objects to a matter may also be problematic ...'
This was a point that I detected in the legislation, that if a council objects to the route it can in fact end up back with the commission for decision and one could see the possibility, where a number of councils are involved, that a single council somewhere may in fact opt for that to occur and if that does occur that probably changes the thrust and intent of the legislation. So with a pipeline, for instance, where there will be goodness only knows how many local government areas involved, it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that nine out of ten of them might agree with the thrust of this legislation and the new system and one might in fact opt to have the commission deal with it and in a sense I do see that as a potential problem.
I also spoke to the TFGA because obviously if a gas pipeline is going to be dealt with under this legislation there will be dozens if not hundreds of farmers affected with a major gas pipeline route to those centres that I have previously mentioned. They are telling me - TFGA that is - that they believe the compensatory issues have been adequately addressed and that if farmers are involved in a linear infrastructure project then proper compensation to those people would be a very prime issue for them, and they advise me that they are satisfied with the provisions.
It is an interesting area, because obviously structures such as a gas pipeline
- and to some extent even Basslink although the Basslink pylons will not be
traversing the country as such but they will be coming ashore and already you
have chosen the major projects route for that in any event - the interesting
thing for farmers in the rural community will be any dislocation caused by a
pipeline: will it be above ground or underground? Some of it may be above ground,
some of it may be underground. I do not know the answer to that but certainly
any above-ground structure has the ability to cause fairly significant dislocation
on a farming property where it moves across a discrete rural property.
So the TFGA ought to be taking a very close interest in this legislation, because I am sure that individual farmers will, when they understand that this is before the Parliament and will presumably be passed in the next week or so. The implications for something like the gas pipeline are quite significant. The implications for the pylons of Basslink, while they may not be picked up in this legislation, are already significant and a big political issue in Victoria, so therefore we get a little taste of the complexity and the sensitivity of these issues.
As far as the bill is concerned, there are a couple of interesting points in it. We have a definition of what a major infrastructure or linear infrastructure project would be, and that says it could be a road, a railway, a pipeline, a powerline, telecommunications cable or link, such other linear infrastructure as may be prescribed, and then it goes on to talk about other matters. I note on page 38 of the legislation where an amendment to the Land Acquisition Act 1993 takes place under section 25, proposed subsection (10) says:
'For the purposes of this section, "infrastructure" means any installation, utility, service, facility or work which supports economic or social activity in the State or part of the State.'
They do not gel in terms of your definition and the Land Acquisition Act 1993 definition of infrastructure. That may well be because they are two separate bills and have a slightly different approach to that, but you can advise me on that. It may be a matter of insignificance, but in terms of the two definitions there seems to be a different set of words describing them.
The creation of the new body is interesting. We do not know why the new combined planning authority adopts the nomenclature, if you like, of local government where the chairman becomes the mayor, the members of that body become councillors or aldermen, and they are taken to have been elected as local government representatives are elected. There may be a purpose for that, I am not sure what it is, but I just found that interesting and quaint and no doubt there is an explanation. It is not a fundamental or central issue but it is interesting.
The ability of the minister to appoint - we have had a look at that. The minister appoints on the recommendation of planning authorities. They nominate a member and a deputy, which is a reasonable thing. We note that the minister has the ability, if he is not happy about a particular individual, subject to having further consultation with the planning authority which has made the nomination, of actually rejecting. He or she has a requirement to go back and to express presumably some concern or reservation and, subject to taking that course of action, the minister has the right under this legislation, as I read it, to actually reject a nomination, which seems to me to be a widening of powers. I do not believe you ever had it in any of the legislation that you oversaw. That, obviously, is giving the minister a greater input -
Mr Hodgman - I would have liked it.
Mr Llewellyn laughing.
Mr RUNDLE - and imprint on it but that is an interesting element. One of the issues that I could not really get to grips with was the initial order where a corridor can be the subject of an order, but it seems to me that the definition of the original corridor may have quite a wide scope and then later on it will be refined. The boundaries and definitions will be refined but initially, under the initial order, it seems to me that there is almost an ambit claim going on then saying these are the parameters but later on there will be surveying work and we will refine those. There is a reason for this no doubt but it seems to me that you may bring into that loop a whole group of people who ultimately may be excluded once you get down to the redefinition of the boundaries.
Mr Jim Bacon - So when the surveyors are doing their work any property owners who might possibly be affected by where it is going will have a chance to be involved and to know.
Mr RUNDLE - Yes, but I think in a sense -
Mr Llewellyn - It's the same with roads, really. I mean, it's not much different on the roads - there are indicative corridors that are put into place and in this case it won't be until the development application is put in that the narrower -
Mr RUNDLE - the more defined area will actually be decided upon and those people who are absolutely affected will know, and they will also know where the lines will be on their properties. I do not know whether my assumption is correct but I think it is. In a sense this looks to me like the gas pipeline bill.
Mr Llewellyn - Yes.
Mr Jim Bacon - There might be some others.
Mr RUNDLE - There might be some others. I do not know the physical dimensions of a gas pipeline corridor. I would imagine the pipe itself is not necessarily a huge thing dimensionally.
Mr Llewellyn interjecting.
Mr RUNDLE - It depends how much money you get from the Commonwealth, how fat it is.
Mr Llewellyn - That's the one coming across Bass Strait.
Mr Hodgman - Are there any limits on it?
Mr RUNDLE - Well, you would not want a little pipe on land if you have a big pipe coming in, would you?
Mr Llewellyn - No, but it comes in as a big pipe and little pipes go in different directions.
Mr RUNDLE - But you will have trunk line pipes, won't you?
Mr Jim Bacon - That is not answering the question if they are the -
Mr Llewellyn laughing.
Mr RUNDLE - Anyway, let us press on. I do not know what sort of corridor we would be talking about. Let us assume that we are talking about gas, I do not know what sort of corridors we are talking about but certainly they do have the ability to cause very significant disruption on farming properties unless they are underground. If they are above ground they could be one hell of a nuisance, I would have thought.
Mr Llewellyn - They are mostly underground, I think.
Mr RUNDLE - The other point that came to notice during an examination of the bill was the ability of the minister to change the original order, to make a change to the order, and it is claimed in the legislation that if that change to the original order does not materially change the effect of the original order then there is no need for it to come back to the Parliament. I see this as a potential weakness although my colleague, the member for Franklin, Mr Hodgman, has advised me when I raised this matter in the party room that this provision does exist in other legislation, provided there is no material change to the intent to the original order - although I would have been happy, and this side of the House would be happier, if an order under this legislation is changed so that it actually comes back to the Parliament.
The Premier might advise us why he believes that is an unreasonable request, if he does. It seems to me that there is a possibility there of misunderstanding and ministers making changes, where it would be a moot point as to whether a material change took place in the original intent of that first order. It could be an argument, the minister claiming that it does not materially change it, and other people having a different view. If it came before the Parliament then I do not think there is any possibility for disagreement and arguments on those changes.
The legislation also attempts to streamline the time frames. There are time frames now that are outlined in this particular legislation: from gazettal and the public display of the proposal I think the public have fourteen days in which to respond to public display of the proposals. The proponents have to be advised, I think, within seven days of those comments being received, taking into account all of those proposals and it seems to me that there is an attempt by the Government here to actually streamline those time frames. Certainly there has been a lot of criticism over time by developers of the time frames that are involved in getting developments approved in Tasmania, although the existing planning legislation does have certainty in time frames. Existing legislation requires all of those people involved in the process to perform within stipulated time lines, and that was always one of the things, when the legislation was talked about initially and introduced into the Parliament many years ago, that there needed to be certainty of outcome and that time frames had to be specified and they had to be performanced.
It seems to me that this legislation attempts again to condense time frames and to reduce the period from application to final approvals, provided safeguards are built into this. As I have said before, I think this is likely to receive support of the majority of the Tasmanian community. It certainly will receive the support of industry and potential developers and we do not propose to argue that clause during the passage of this bill.
But, Mr Speaker, as we go through the clauses we will be asking the Premier
for explanations of certain sections of the legislation. We support it. We did
have the view that allowing the minister to change the original order without
submitting the changes to the Parliament was a potential weakness and an area
for argument and we will get some comment from you on that particular issue.
No doubt you will assure us that the legislation has sufficient safeguards.
We will also want to know in some detail what the effects of land acquisition are and what the real effects of compensation would be, particularly in rural areas where it may not just be a question of land value; it might also be a question of the disruption of cropping activities and the rotation of normal farming activities - whether or not those considerations can be dealt with under the legislation. They should be, given that the rural community will be very much up-front in this legislation and those sort of linear infrastructure projects. We will also be asking the Premier - and he might address this when he sums up the second reading - whether or not there is any intention to move Basslink from the current status of a major project into this new legislation when it is passed. I suspect there is no intention to do that, but there might be.
That virtually sums up my attitude to it. I have spoken to Stuart Wardlaw of the Local Government Association. He has indicated that there have been discussions over a period of time with the Government on this legislation and they have signed off. Apparently at a meeting, I think, some time in September this matter was discussed and there was approval given at that meeting with a couple of exceptions. I think two mayors indicated that their preferred route was that the existing legislation be amended and changed, and that we deal with it in the framework of the existing planning laws rather than introduce a new structure. But that was a minority view, apparently, and the major consensus there was to support the legislation.
I do wonder when push comes to shove whether or not there will be any feeling by local councils that they have proprietary rights on some of these decisions and that you may find, when you are seeking approval of the councils, on something like a gas pipeline, to institute the new process, whether or not there may be some territorial protection there and whether or not that might in fact - or the provision in the act that gives a single council the opportunity to simply bypass this route and revert back to the commission - may be a problem.
Mr Llewellyn - That's not exclusive. I mean, the minister can still make a joint body - a combined body - work even if one council objects to it. It's not an automatic process.
Mr RUNDLE - But it reverts back to the commission. They can opt for the commission to deal with it -
Mr Llewellyn - Yes, it can go back there but it's still, you know - it has to -
Mr RUNDLE - But if a single council seeks that course of action, is that not what happens under the legislation? We will find out about that later.
Mr Llewellyn - No, not necessarily.
Mr RUNDLE - Not necessarily so. Well, we will see.
In any event, as I say, I have concluded my remarks on it and I know my colleague, Mr Hodgman, who has had many years grappling with these planning issues and legislation, will speak, and I have no doubt Ms Putt cannot wait to get to her feet also to make a contribution.
Mr HODGMAN (Franklin) - Mr Speaker -
Mr Rundle - Ms Putt's keeping her powder dry.
Mr HODGMAN - Actually, she is assisting me with a 2.30 appointment and I am indebted to her.
I concur with the comments of the previous speaker in regard to the Opposition's views on this legislation. As a principle I fully agree with it and I guess my views have been, if one reads Hansard , like Parliament's, all over the show in regard to governments of the day keeping at arm's length from the due planning process, through to legislation where there should be strong ministerial intervention and decision making, and being involved with the decision making. I very firmly come down on the latter component. Governments are elected to govern; they need to get on with it.
It always frustrated me when I was minister for planning that really the only thing I did in that portfolio was to appoint members to the Land Use Planning and Development Commission and the Resource Management and Planning Appeal Tribunal, and from that point on it was over to them. Clearly they had an arm's-length involvement in the due process, and from time to time companies and constituents would come forward, 'What can you do about it?' and you were really left in no man's land not being able to do anything.
If ever there was a case in point, it was a debate - if I might transgress for one moment - with the Atlantic salmon industry where the Federal Government were powerless to override AQIS and we had a major problem confronting the State. I know that matter is a principle which is just one example of numerous ones and, as the previous speaker, Mr Rundle, mentioned, let us not be coy about this, I think this legislation is coming in as a prerequisite to the final announcement of a major gas line coming into the State. There is nothing embarrassing about that, if it is part of the overall agreement to bring it in, then so be it. From the Government's point of view they need not be coy about that.
Clause 8 of the bill refers to a road, a railway, a pipeline and a powerline, so clearly there is no discrimination or favouritism in regard to this particular proposal, whether it is a gas line or a powerline. One area that did intrigue me was the telecommunication cable link, and of course one of the main problems I am sure you would be aware of at ministerial meetings, was that Telstra, being a Commonwealth-owned agency in the past, was exempt from State planning laws. There was a very strong argument that they should be bound to our State planning laws, and -
Mr Llewellyn - But Vodafone or Optus are not, you see.
Mr HODGMAN - That is true, but -
Ms Putt - So you reckon the competition council might have something to say.
Mr HODGMAN - also with the partial sale of Telstra now to the private sector it is gradually coming under State planning laws. It always should have been and it was one of those very difficult issues, from an Australian point of view, that governments of all persuasions try to -
Mr Jim Bacon - It was really probably because of the need for this sort of legislation that the Commonwealth originally did that, because they were leaving out things everywhere, you know.
Mr HODGMAN - Yes. There are strange ways we resolve these issues, but within this legislation -
Ms Putt - I was just wondering if it covers cable TV.
Mr HODGMAN - Well, true, and the other one is the mobile phone towers that have always been exempt from planning laws. I think the one at Lenah Valley was an issue, outside the Lenah Valley Primary School -
Ms Putt - That's right.
Mr HODGMAN - and they were exempt. This Government - either government - was powerless to do anything about it.
In a sense one could say in this legislation there might be perceptions of fast tracking, but equally in this legislation there is picking up environmental problems, such as the telecommunication network across the State, that I think does bring it under planning laws, and that is a very good component about it.
My colleague asked me - and I have to say we only really had this legislation yesterday - on the principle of once Parliament approves it, the minister having a right to make changes to the proposal, albeit not of a great material nature. As a principle I believe it is enshrined in other legislation, and I advised him accordingly of that. If I have advised him incorrectly then I would appreciate being told about that, but I think the principle we have here is in other legislation and there should not be anything untoward about it. Clearly, if a proposal was put up and the external construction was to be changed, or there were no dramatic alterations to the concept - just conceptual changes being made - then to expedite that I think it is appropriate the minister does have the right to do that. If there was a significant change in the project then Parliament should intervene and approve that change.
I think I am correct in saying my background knowledge is that the principle that is in this legislation is in fact in other legislation. With projects of State significance, I believe that is there in the flow chart - I do not want to inflame the debate but the one in which I think there was a provision was in the cable car legislation. There was a question about the receiving tower and I think that had there been no dramatic change the minister of the day could make alterations to it. In other words, in any design - if you are designing your own home, Mr Speaker, from the original plans to its completion, there will be minor alterations. Now councils of various locations do not have to go back and necessarily have a full council meeting to decide whether you should paint your house red or white or whatever. I mean, there should logically be, from a government's point of view, the right for the minister to say, 'Well, this is a minuscule alteration, let's get on with it'. When it becomes a major alteration then c learly Parliament should have some right of say. Anyway I have advised my colleague accordingly in good faith and that time has not permitted me to go back and I just hope I have not -
Mr Llewellyn - I think Geoff Harper would probably agree with you on that one.
Mr HODGMAN - There you go, you have a good example.
So I think from our point of view and from my own personal point of view this is really good legislation. It enshrines the position of government getting on with the job of getting the State moving. There will be cries, and I think possibly with some justification, that elements of third-party rights of appeal will be reduced and rights of public opposition will perhaps have a more restricted process to convey their views through.
But I say to those people, this Parliament has agonised for many a day over the impropriety or the wrongful procedure of fast-tracking legislation. I think equally there is another argument that is just as wrong and that is the slow-tracking of legislation for a project going through approval. In other words, if you continually delay the project by an appeal process then the window of opportunity closes and its capital costs start to blow out of the water. One which I always recall and have used in the past was Electrona - forget the rights and wrongs of the silicon argument but the capital costs of that project was $28 million. The delays in getting it through the approval process meant that capital costs escalated to close to $40 million and in the fine market line of selling a commodity that was one of the main factors the company was burdened with in regard to its profit and loss situation, and it inevitably closed. I think history will show it was the capital cost blowout caused by the appeal provisions that meant we no longer have that industry down there.
I certainly believe that people have a right of appeal but I also believe developers or proponents have a right for the project to be heard. Geoff Harper, as you mentioned yesterday, through basically three processes of appeal, finally has his project off the ground. But one would have to look at the capital cost today of that project compared to the cost had it gone through a one-approval process and been under way. I suggest it would have been a much lower figure.
So I say to the Government, from my point of view and my background this is good legislation. There are some areas that we do want to raise that we need clarification on. I think that without pre-empting the member for Denison, Ms Putt's comments to it there will be some aspects that she will find may be hostile to her views but equally I think there are some goodies in the cookie jar for her as well, that companies like Telstra are brought in under the legislation. So it is a kind of a conglomerate of pluses and minuses but from our side of the House we think there are far more pluses and good luck to the Government with the legislation.
Ms PUTT (Denison) - Mr Speaker, I have already expressed earlier this day in the Parliament, but I feel I should also do it on the second reading of this bill, my extreme disappointment at the very short time frame that the Government has actually allowed for the members in this House to examine the legislation and get prepared to come in here to fully debate it. I have to say that I am not fully cognisant with all of the provisions in here. You introduced it some time late on Tuesday afternoon - I was not aware of that until I came into the adjournment debate and found the legislation sitting there. I happen to have had a very busy day yesterday where I could not go all through it and I have actually only just sat and read through the legislation as we sit here with the speeches going on.
I know that the Government has adhered to the letter of the Standing Orders
but I do not think they have actually taken note of the intent, which is to
give people time to be able to get to grips properly with what is to be debated.
I feel I may miss significant elements of the legislation and that perhaps I
will not do the job I would like to do on behalf of my constituents in representing
them because of they way that this has arisen.
I am aware of the genesis of this legislation, I think through some FOI material that I received on the Crest rail link where there was internal discussion in the Infrastructure Energy and Resources section of the Transport department over the fact that for some municipalities it looked like there was a discretionary use for something along the lines of a rail link and that sort of infrastructure and that for one of the other municipalities it was actually a prohibited use and would have required a zoning change in that particular municipal area. As I recall the discussion in the documents there were people within the department who were starting to propose that something had to be done to get around that. I am aware also that Duke is certainly relying on this legislation to be passed before they proceed with the gas pipeline - at least that is what they have told me, so I presume that is what they have told everybody else - and that they would expect their gas pipeline proposal is assessed as an MIP, a major infrastructure project.
I am going to oppose the legislation because I think it does limit community input in a number of ways. Of course the first most obvious one is that a planning scheme which would have infrastructure such as is described and comes under this bill as prohibited use is simply you are not allowed to do so. We do not have the normal provision for a zoning change where people actually get to have a say about what that zoning will be in their municipality In fact where a municipality has zoning such that this sort of infrastructure would be prohibited then that will have been formulated on the basis of significant community consultation.
We all know that the process to set up a planning scheme is a lengthy one that involves a lot of community input - as it should because the whole point of it is to allow community aspirations for what the areas they live in will look like and how development will occur and where things are appropriate to flow through to be in the planning scheme so that citizens can, in a sense, mould their environment. You intend to cut straight through the middle of that and say well it is a discretionary use - it is automatically discretionary - which means that in a certain context community aspirations about what should and should not happen with that area are automatically overridden. In fact that is the reason why you are doing it. So I cannot support that.
Mr Llewellyn - No, it's not specific. That isn't the reason why we are doing it.
Ms PUTT - Well, it is one of the things that you are doing and it is because there was a difficulty with the length of time that would be taken and the process that would have to be gone into in order to make a zoning change with respect to an area where there was a prohibited use.
Mr Llewellyn - Yes and the complications of different jurisdictions were moving through.
Ms PUTT - Yes, I know that another one of the reasons for doing this is in order to coordinate decision making between different jurisdictions. That is one of the things that the projects of State significance legislation was set up to deal with.
Mr Llewellyn - Yes, but that takes it out of their hands - that is opposite to your argument. It takes it out of the hands of the councils, this one puts it in the local government area.
Ms PUTT - Yes, I understand what you are saying. I tend to be of the view that this legislation is somewhat unnecessary, that with a simple amendment to the Land Acquisition Act to redefine 'public purpose' there are a range of provisions already in place under our resource management and planning system that would be perfectly adequate. It is quite a complex series of proposals that are put together here. I do not know how they will work in practice. We never do know about these things until we try them, do we. In fact, as I say, I have not managed to get my head around exactly how all the little ins and outs of it work and often it is actually at that level of detail that some of the problems become apparent.
Mr Llewellyn - It was a much softer version than the Land Acquisition Act proposal I can tell you, so in that regard you ought to be supportive if you support the land acquisition.
Ms PUTT - I am not saying that everything in it is bad at all and I will be interested to see how it does work.
The view that the Tasmanian Conservation Trust expressed to me was that they were pleased that from the original proposal which was essentially 'son' of projects of State significance without the safeguards, we have at least come down to something that is focused on linear infrastructure. They still are of the view that they think the legislation is unnecessary and superfluous and that is what they have communicated to me.
Mrs Bladel - Who was that, Peg?
Ms PUTT - Tasmanian Conservation Trust who have been consulted on this.
Mrs Bladel - Yes, well, they are a bit dour about everything.
Ms PUTT - A bit what?
Mrs Bladel - Dour.
Ms PUTT - Are they? I do not think so.
Mrs Bladel - I find them.
Ms PUTT - I thought Michael Lynch was quite an enthusiast for 'Tasmania Together'.
Mr Hidding - He's not a very happy person, though.
Ms PUTT - You know, that was one of the things you wanted people to be out there supporting.
Mrs Bladel - That has nothing to do with this, though.
Ms PUTT - It is just claiming that they are dour about everything, I do not think so.
Mrs Bladel - No, I said they are quite a bit dour.
Mr Jim Bacon - He's known to be a bit dour. I wouldn't call him always dour at all, he's a quite lively sort of person.
Ms PUTT - I think they are out there trying to advance some very good positive initiatives at the moment and you may be very interested in some of them, particularly the Minister for Primary Industries, Water and Environment. They are positive proposals and I think this -
Mrs Bladel - I just find him a bit dour, it doesn't mean to say everybody finds him a bit dour.
Ms PUTT - I do not. Of course they have a role as a watchdog body to point out when the Government is doing things that they do not think is appropriate.
Mr Jim Bacon - They are becoming very comfortable with the minister.
Mr Jim Bacon - Really warming to him.
Ms PUTT - The minister is in fact looking nervous because there is a level of comfort there.
Mr Llewellyn laughing.
Mr Hidding - Charming.
Mrs Bladel - People might even say our minister is a bit dour. These sort of things are subjective, aren't they.
Mr Hidding - Yes, that'll go down real well.
Ms PUTT - We are off the subject really. It is one of those portrayals, those caricatures I suppose that people make about conservation organisations, that they are somehow always being negative and out there protesting on street corners, and it is simply not true. It is along the lines of the same sort of stuff that is portrayed about the union movement, as if all they ever do is try to have strikes, mess up the way people want to run enterprises profitably, be bully boys or something - and we know that is not true as well. It is the same sort of thing and that is what I am responding to there.
Anyway to get back to this legislation, I see that there are provisions here to give EIS guidelines early to the proponent and I can understand why a proponent wants something like that, but we must not forget that the EIS guidelines are equally important to the community where that infrastructure is going to go. I think, from my quick reading of the bill, that what I have seen is that there is an ability for the public to have input for the scope of those guidelines.
Ms PUTT - As I was saying before lunch, it is my understanding that there will be an ability for the public to give input to the scope of the EIS that is to be the criteria that are to be assessed. However I have a number of matters to raise on that anyway, although of course I am pleased that that public input is there.
I think the first thing to say is that allowing a two-week period only for input effectively excludes nearly every community group. I am sure the Government would be quite aware of that. This case has been put repeatedly over the years because community groups generally meet monthly and unless they happen to have a meeting or are able to call a special meeting to consider the criteria they are basically not going to be able to do it. Clearly they would need a meeting, having found out what the proposed guidelines are, to discuss what their response was and then they would need a period to formulate that response and send it and it is highly unlikely that they are actually going to be able to do that inside two weeks. So making the period so short is only slightly better than not having the ability to have that input at all.
I also have to say that I am very sceptical about how thoroughly any submissions are going to be able to be taken into account and transmuted into revised criteria when there is only a further seven days to finalise those assessment criteria. It seems an extraordinarily big ask if you have a project that is of any major contention in the community that that could possibly actually be done. It leads to the conclusion that the whole thing is a bit of window dressing and that in that situation the criteria would not be substantially revised.
I know that the experience we have had with projects of State significance is not necessarily analogous but I do have some experience with that process and with the sorts of submissions that people put in on the scoping and of course if people are concerned about any major infrastructure project you could expect the same level of interest in terms of having an input into those criteria. Anyone who has examined, for example, the Oceanport process and the report that was put out by the Resource Planning and Development Commission about the whole scoping exercise - the public input and what they did - knows that they received nearly 500 submissions, many of which were very detailed. How on earth would anything along the lines of that volume and that level of detail of submission be dealt with in seven days to finalise the guidelines? It is basically a physical impossibility.
I am also concerned about how wide-ranging the assessment is to be. The second reading speech refers to EIS guidelines and so I would like it if the Premier could actually tell us whether it is only the environmental impact that is being assessed or whether it is the more usual sort of assessment that we expect which also looks at social, economic and community impacts. I think it is a very important matter that we actually know how wide-ranging the assessment is. I do hope that has actually been thought through already.
I have already mentioned the problem I have with the overriding of planning schemes in that people get no input as a community to that effective zoning change when they clearly have articulated that through a public process as being -
Mr Llewellyn - Yes, but they do get an input because the guidelines and the terms of reference developing that up go to the Resource Planning Development Commission initially.
Ms PUTT - Well, perhaps I can have another explanation of this. Perhaps someone might have produced something like a flow diagram that actually disinters this and interprets it in such a way that we can make sense of it. I have just read it through once quickly while the Premier was giving his second reading speech, as I said, because it is the only opportunity I have actually had. I have to say that it is impossible for me to form a clear mental picture of exactly what processes happen in what order and how, and although the second reading speech made a sort of first cut at outlining that, it is still not entirely clear to me at all. This just makes various changes here and there.
Mr Llewellyn - At the back of your fact sheet, if you have a look in your little kit there, you will find a flow diagram like you're talking about.
Ms PUTT - Aha, excellent. No, I have not got one.
Mr Llewellyn - I'll get you one.
Mr Rundle - It's a conspiracy; they're definitely trying to make sure you didn't get one.
Ms PUTT - Absolutely, I can tell.
Mr Rundle - The Greens got one but I haven't, I don't know what he's got against me.
Ms PUTT - I think Mr Rundle wants one too - oh, he is not in here. All right, let us go on anyway.
I see - and the Premier did go to this in the second reading speech - that the landowners' agreement which would be normal for land acquisition is waived and they receive a notification only. As a quid pro quo the landowner becomes eligible for injurious affection. But do they have a right to object and appeal? I see a nod over there - I am pleased if that is the case because if they simply have to put up with it and be paid out, then I think again that could be a problem and I would find it extraordinary that a body like the TFGA would actually allow something like that to occur.
I am interested in what the scope of injurious affection is, how narrowly or broadly that is defined.
Mr Rundle - Does it include the disruption of the agricultural cycle or -
Ms PUTT - Yes, the matter that you raised, Mr Rundle, about the disruption of the agricultural cycle -
Mr Rundle - Apparently it covers that.
Ms PUTT - I know from my personal experience of talking to some of the farmers who thought they were going to be affected by the Crest rail link as it was initially proposed that they were very concerned often because they had planned out their farm such that putting the rail link in would not have disrupted just that small area of the farm that the rail link went through but would have actually radically altered the way that they had to organise their entire enterprise. All the fencing and laneways and organising which fields would be fallow when - all that farm planning stuff which had been put into place over a period of time with quite a substantial investment to get it right was jeopardised. They had the understanding that they would in no way be compensated for that and that in fact in a couple of cases it would have made their entire operation unviable but they were not going to be paid out for their entire dairying operation. So I am interested as to how far that injurious affection applies.
I think it was fairly clear in the documentation that it does not apply to a potential future use, such as if somebody has bought land for investment purposes in order to subdivide and set up some houses which they then sell. If they have not actually proceeded with that they would get no compensation for losing that opportunity, they would simply get compensation in relation to the current use and value of that land. That was my understanding of the matter but I would like that clarified.
The next matter on land acquisition - I understand that the Crown is enabled to acquire land for a private operator and that is achieved by a redefinition of 'public purpose' and that both Houses approve the on-selling of the land acquired by the Crown to the private operator. I am interested in what happens with respect to crown land and in particular with respect to reserves. The reason I raise this is the fairly obvious case in point of Deal Island and the gas pipeline. Deal Island is listed on the register of the National Estate. It has cultural heritage listings over it; it has other values to do with the natural values and the plant life and of course the waters surrounding it are the subject of a government promise to create a marine reserve. So I am interested here when going through this enabling process for major infrastructure projects how an infrastructure project going through any crown land or reserve is dealt with, and whether this legislation actually addresses that all. If it does not, what does?
In particular I am concerned about the interaction between the project and the management plans for those natural areas that are conceived to further the objectives for which the reserve has been put in place. One would imagine that a marine reserve around the Kent Group would have a management plan applying to it and that the various islands there would also have management plans that apply. I am unsure how the assessment of the environmental and other impacts interact with such management plans. What sort of process there is laid down to change management plans in respect of it, whether this all comes in to the EIS process or not. I did not see anything like that there on my admittedly quick read through. That is an area we need cleared up because it is a very real possibility.
What I am particularly concerned about is, having had a talk to Duke. they say that they want to get permission to put a compressor on Deal Island as part of the approval for a gas pipeline but they would not want to actually put the compressor there until they decided they really needed it, probably in fifteen years' time. It is pretty extraordinary to do an assessment and grant an approval for something like that fifteen years out and not afford people an opportunity at that time to actually have input if such a thing is to go ahead - if you can see what I mean.
Mr Llewellyn - It depends what size pipeline.
Ms PUTT - If a decision is made in 1999 about what is appropriate to do there
but the building of the thing does not actually occur until 2015 you would hope
that there would be an ability for people then to have an input and a say in
the assessment and the conditions under which such a thing went ahead, if in
fact it did. Again I seek some clarification and assurance with respect to that
Another thing that does concern me is the ministerial ability to vary the proposal. I understand that that is limited to minor variations. I am not certain how 'minor variations' are actually defined and whether that will be satisfactory. I say that advisedly, because of course this sort of mechanism has been used in recent years to quite radically change some proposals that have been approved by local government. An argument has been mounted that there is no need for a new approval process because the thing that is now built is a minor amendment.
On several occasions that argument has actually been overturned in the Planning Appeals Tribunal and they have had to go through a new assessment. It has also been the subject of Supreme Court action and of course we have seen a more recent example of it with the silos development. But I am thinking about some of the matters which took place with respect to Wapping in the past few years and the considerable delay that was caused by the dispute about whether or not it was a minor variation delay that led to not one but two different appeals processes going on sequentially. It is actually possible that putting the ability in there to make the ministerial variation could turn out to be the thing that opens up all sorts of litigation and makes the thing take longer.
It could also be that what the minister claims is a minor variation is not seen to be so in the eyes of the community, particularly if that variation has something to do with route or with size and you get a new body of people who are affected who perhaps did not originally take advantage of an ability to object and appeal. For example, think about the electricity infrastructure in the overhead powerlines proposed for Basslink that is causing such a furore in Victoria. People are obviously very sensitive about having things like that in their view field. In fact they do not want to know about it. They are going quite berserk.
Imagine if the minor variation is that the route changes a little but maybe still goes through parcels of land owned by the same people as was originally approved but the ambit of the view field changes so that people who thought it was not going to be a problem for them and did not object and appeal because it was not going to be in their line of sight from their property, find that under the minor variation it is, and they have missed their opportunity to interact in the process. I think there can be some really quite substantial problems as a result of this ability to make the variation.
Mr Rundle - To the original order?
Ms PUTT - Yes. Because there will be dispute about what is minor. There will be challenges and there may be some very angry people who feel that this provision has enabled them to be disenfranchised.
To sum up my approach on this bill, I find it extraordinary that an argument
has been put forward that it is not a project of State significance, and then
we look at it and it is called Major Infrastructure Development Approvals Bill.
Well, if a major infrastructure development is not of significance to the State
I cannot imagine what is. It is a most extraordinary thing to do. I think it
is about finding shortcuts around having to go through the project of State
significance process because what experience has told us over the years is it
is a very thorough process and it weeds out -
Mr Jim Bacon - It's not really fast-tracking like you've been telling everyone forever, is it.
Ms PUTT - The fast-track element of it is the lack of right of objection and appeal. That is what we mean by it.
Mr Rundle - You get a result without a recourse to the courts.
Ms PUTT - I do not mean it happens fast.
Mr Jim Bacon - It is not fast.
Ms PUTT - No, and I have often said that. I have said fast-track is the term used to describe getting rid of public rights of objection and appeal, overriding that ability. That is how the term is always used. Again and again, from both sides of the House at different times, people have said, 'But it's not fast'. We all know that, and I am the first to admit that, but that is not what fast-track is about. It is perhaps a bit of a misnomer, but that is the popular term and has been for a long time.
So I think that what we have here is a push to have something that will be quicker than a project of State significance.
Mr LLEWELLYN (Lyons - Minister for Primary Industries, Water and Environment) - Mr Speaker, I have great pleasure in supporting the Major Infrastructure Development Approvals Bill. Although this bill has been introduced by the Premier as Minister for State Development, the policy framework behind the legislation has been developed jointly with the Department of Infrastructure, Energy and Resources and my own Department of Primary Industries, Water and Environment. You will note from the final clause of the bill that responsibility for the administration of the bill lies with me as Minister for Primary Industries, Water and Environment.
Mr Rundle - That's a worry. I'd rather see Jim handle this. You're bound to muck it up.
Mr LLEWELLYN - As noted by the Premier in his speech, this bill forms part of the resource management planning system of the State and as such is intrinsically linked with the Land Use Planning and Approvals Act 1993. The Premier has outlined the need for this legislation in terms of the Government's role in facilitating infrastructure needs of industry and the community, so I do not need to expand further on that. I would like, however, to emphasise that this legislation has been carefully crafted to ensure that in providing the means to facilitate infrastructure development approvals, the key features of the resource management and planning system have been retained and thus the integrity of the planning system has been maintained and provides the core approval process for the purpose of the integrated approval system.
With only minor modifications, the bill now before the House maintains all the key elements of public participation and local involvement in planning and development decisions. This bill provides at least as many opportunities for public participation and involvement in major infrastructure projects as they have in any other development that also undergoes a full public process. First there is the declaration of the project as a major infrastructure project, which must be approved by parliament. This public process allows considerable detail as to the project to be made public at a very early stage. Following approval by parliament the project must also be notified in the print media.
Secondly the planning criteria are to be developed in a public process. In all but exceptional circumstances, the development of criteria for the project will be undertaken at the local government level by representatives of councils in the municipalities. The process for development of the criteria under this legislation mirrors the process under the Land Use Planning and Approvals Act arrangements with the exception that the time frames are somewhat shortened. It is important to note, however, that this is the only aspect of the bill where the time lines are not identical to those that apply to any other development.
A third feature of this bill is that a major infrastructure project is always taken to be discretionary use. This means that there will always be an opportunity for public representations to the combined planning authority and any person who makes a representation and feels that their interests have not been adequately taken into account has the right of appeal. It is important to note that this applies even where the original planning scheme would have allowed the infrastructure development as a permitted use, in which case there would normally be no appeal rights.
Mr Speaker, this bill allows for component parts of a single development to be consolidated in a sensible way. The unnecessary duplication of having different parts of a project considered by a number of different councils is removed and there is no advantage to anyone in retaining the duplication in these situations. By consolidating the components of linear developments into one process, local government is able to consider the project at a reduced cost, not only because the costs are shared by a number of councils but also because the process is only done once, not numerous times in parallel.
Full appeal rights are retained, preserving the rights of the public including anyone who believes they may be adversely affected, but the appeals are consolidated and heard in one process in relation to the whole project.
Mr Speaker, the bill is a welcome and timely addition to the suite of legislation that comprises the resource management and planning system. It provides for orderly and efficient development of important infrastructure by the private sector where the infrastructure is critical to the Tasmanian community. It maintains public and community involvement in making decisions that impact on our communities.
Mr Speaker, there have been a few questions that were asked across the Chamber. I will run through a couple of them and there have been some others subsequently which the Premier will answer in his summing up.
Mr Hidding - There will be some more too.
Mr Groom - You're not summing up.
Mr LLEWELLYN - No, I am not. But I would think that the member for Denison's questions and questions that were asked by other members would probably be more adequately addressed when we go through the Committee stage, if that is the way the bill is heading and I assume that it is, from the question from the member for -
Mr Hidding - If you want us to.
Mr LLEWELLYN - No, I am thinking about the member for Denison.
Mr Hidding - There is a fair chance Ms Putt might want to.
Mr Rundle - There is a reasonable chance we might too.
Mr LLEWELLYN - In regard to the changes of time line I think I have outlined that in what I have said. Certification of planning criteria is the only change to existing time frames; all other time frames are the same. Only for level 2 activities will the assessment time be shorter. This is because the environmental guidelines can be developed and go through consultation prior to submitting a development application rather than the existing process which has the guidelines developed after a submission of the application itself. These time lines will not be shorter in that case.
In regard to the TCCI view about LUPA and the fact that it is flawed, that came from the member for Braddon, Mr Rundle's comments about TCCI's view about the planning system. There have been a lot of calls in the past that the Land Use Planning Approval Act is flawed and you would be aware from your time as Premier that you conducted a review of LUPA. Both the review conducted by Andrew Edwards and rising out of the Nixon Inquiry were had as a result of that sort of planning process.
The outcome of that was that the claims that LUPA is flawed were not substantiated. When you were in government you accepted that fact and I think that that is the case. People will level all sorts of allegations about systems but, frankly, it is a fairly contemporary planning process that we have. Yes, you can always do things that will improve it and that is what happens with any act of parliament or any process; we are always striving to improve the process. But fundamentally I do not believe it is flawed.
Mr Rundle - Geoff Harper has a few worries at the moment.
Mr LLEWELLYN - Yes. I mentioned one aspect of the legislation and the member for Denison, Ms Putt, referred to that again. Perhaps there is a need for some reference to that aspect. I have also heard that from people in other circles.
Regarding the Local Government Act and the chairman being classified as a mayor
and so on for the combined arrangement, this I am advised reflects the desire
to have the operation of a major infrastructure development approval integrated
with the operations of the Local Government Act. That enables the existing process
to be continued and the actual designations that are in that Local Government
Act of course are referring to mayors and other like people from the local government
sectors. So it enables that integration in a closer way.
There was a question about whether the minister could actually refute or reject a nominee. It is certainly not the intention that a nominee made by local government be rejected, but that provision is there. The question about the corridor and the size of the corridor, I am advised that with -
Mr Rundle - Sorry, what did you say about rejecting a member?
Mr LLEWELLYN - We can talk about it in Committee.
About the corridor, though, you were asking a question and I have some advice here: the corridor we find in the development application must be within the area defined in the order. So in other words, when you define the corridor the development application and order must be within that broad corridor, the original corridor, that has been advertised. I made a mention of it by way of interjection before as to why you needed to have a corridor and it is very similar to those sorts of operations that apply with the Land Acquisition Act when you are looking at constructing a road. From time to time it may be that after discussion with people the actual route is adjusted to avoid certain things and so on but it is within a broad corridor that you first decided as far as that route is concerned. I think that is all very consistent with current arrangements.
Ms Putt was talking about acquisition concerns, injurious affection - that covers the loss of right or capacity to use the land and the farming cycle, for instance, will be part of that process - the actual use of the land for growing crops at particular times of the year and so on. Acquisition of land includes compensation for loss of future earnings as long as it can be demonstrated that there were actual plans or proposals to use the land in that particular way.
Ms Putt - But is that just a compensation for taking out that bit of land and then not being able to use that, or in the case of a dairy farm, say, that had planned out all the corridors for beasts travelling from one paddock to another and the different paddocks to be used at different times of year and all that, and put in all the fencing and infrastructure to deal with it - if that is thrown into total disarray and they have to totally reorganise their farm, including of course all their fencing, does this pay for it?
Mr LLEWELLYN - Mr Speaker, the member is having another speech from her seat there -
Ms Putt - No, I'm just trying to get it clear.
Mr LLEWELLYN - Yes, it does. I mean, all those issues are taken into account and they are normally taken into account in the land acquisition arrangements too, so it is very consistent from that point of view. For instance, if it can be shown by a landowner that they had planned to plant a dairy right in the path of where this is to be and they have had the architect draw up plans and so on and they bring their plans along and the date on them was prior to this announcement and so on, and they, as a result of that, have had to move that some 100 metres or whatever and delay the proceedings and so on - that would be an issue that would be compensatable under those arrangements.
Ms Putt - Sorry, if I can just pursue this briefly - one of the cases that came up with respect to the proposed rail link when it was in the initial location was that a farmer had spent some time putting in an underground irrigation system and the impact of going across the irrigation system was going to be quite extraordinary on the whole farm operation. He had been advised that under the Land Acquisition Act he was not going to get any compensation for that disruption.
Mr LLEWELLYN - I do not know. I think he would have been advised incorrectly if that was the case because it is a specific process that is embarked upon under the Land Acquisition Act and all these issues are taken into account when final decisions are made about compensation and that is what is intended in this regard.
Mr Rundle - The Crown is all heart, especially now it's still a monarchy.
Mr LLEWELLYN - Well, not all heart and we will not entertain unreasonable -
Mr Rundle - Oh, won't you.
Mr Jim Bacon - Even we have a limit.
Mr LLEWELLYN - The Crown will not entertain unreasonable or contrived situations.
Mr Rundle - Sometimes the hope expressed in the Parliament to get legislation through and the reality later on are two different things from what I hear.
Mr LLEWELLYN - There are things that have to be addressed in these sort of cases, I guess: what is reality and is not reality about approaches that people make about what their intentions for the land were.
Again Ms Putt made mention or had concerns over the time to assess a proposal and the time to develop criteria. It is probably spelt out a little bit in that flow chart. These projects are the same as current level 1 or 2 projects under the existing process and an MIP may be assessed as two or more separate developments when it is in fact one development. The major infrastructure project legislation makes for only one development application and therefore reduces the duplication in effort and will be as easy to assess as is currently the case. If it is more complex then - I am having a bit trouble reading my writing here - it is considered as a project of State significance.
In terms of assessment criteria there is a minimum time in the legislation. This is open for discussion with local government and much of the work will already have been undertaken through the current strategic planning and planning scheme development process of local government. Again from Ms Putt: in the unlikely event that a proponent wishes to purchase a portion of a reserve it would need to meet the legislative requirements of the revocation.
Ms Putt - In other words the Parliament just says yes.
Mr LLEWELLYN - Well, Parliament would need to actually revoke, or whatever -
Ms Putt - Yes, so what about the management plan? That's just bad luck.
Mr LLEWELLYN - In the Deal Island situation, the two issues that you raised, one was with regard to land use and, yes, management plans have to be developed for that particular area; they will most likely be developed in a way that would enable multiple use, frankly, because of a lot of the prescriptions associated with the nature of that reserve there. As to the marine reserves, you would probably be aware that under the international union arrangements as far as marine propagation areas go, there are six classifications. I think on classifications four, five and six - most of those classifications four, five and six - under those criteria it will allow certain normal activities or some fishing activities. In fact as the criteria gets towards six, it is almost to the stage where the only real change to the area would be associated with interference with bottom conditions and actually physically damaging the bottom. But most of the fish and so on are able to be fished in a normal way.
Ms Putt - That's right, which is exactly the case in point here. A gas pipeline, for example, is to be drilled in and buried under the ground, you know. That's exactly what we're talking about.
Mr Rundle - It doesn't have to be, does it? It can run on top.
Ms Putt - But they're not going to where they come onshore. They're not going to do that; they've been quite clear about that.
Mr Groom - What's going to be the position onshore? Will it be underground or above the ground?
Mr LLEWELLYN - Those things have not been finalised with the company, and it depends to some extent on the size of the pipeline too, I understand. Again that is where the question of the compressor really relates. If it is a small pipeline they may wish to compress the pipeline quicker to enable a larger volume of gas to be transported in the smaller pipeline; if it is a larger pipeline it may -
Mr Groom - Has the size been discussed?
Mr LLEWELLYN - be adequate for a longer period of time. But the provision of -
Ms Putt - The ability to have a compressor determines what size of pipeline they'll have.
Mr LLEWELLYN - a facility that would enable a compressor to be installed I think would be able to be factored in to a management plan arrangement.
The other questions that have been brought up during the debate - I think the Premier may need to answer some further ones because there may be some further debate on this issue. I am not closing the debate, the Premier will be on the matter, but the other ones I think can be dealt with in the Committee stage.
Mr HIDDING (Lyons - Deputy Leader of the Opposition) - Mr Speaker, this legislation,
as has been indicated from this side of the House, is welcomed; we trust that
this legislation will be used often as well. We really hope that this framework
is attractive to developers all around the world, not just from the point of
view of gas and Basslink but of any other developer that might want to develop
major infrastructure, whether it be downstream processing, or no matter what
it is; I hope they would look at this legislation and see that this is a House
of majority government, and the major infrastructure process -
Mr Groom - And there's an Opposition which is strongly supportive of development in this State.
Mr HIDDING - In fact there is an Opposition particularly supportive of development, and with this legislation it shows that Tasmania is open for business. We therefore wholeheartedly support these kinds of measures.
There are some things that I want to say about this kind of legislation and there are some things that I invite the Premier to clear up for us. There is no question that the timing of this legislation just so happens to fall at a time when both gas and Basslink are warming up to the point where there is a very real possibility that we will get both. We, on this side of the House, believe -
Mr Jim Bacon - We've got a good government.
Mr HIDDING - If by the interjection the Premier is convinced that we are going to get both because they are a good government over there, so be it. We will stand behind him in that and we will give credit where credit is due, and we will also claim credit where it is due on our side. We will be particularly fair about that. As we started both of the projects we obviously -
Mr Jim Bacon - The Tasmanian people couldn't care less, who wants to claim credit.
Mr HIDDING - Well, except for you.
Mr Jim Bacon - Eh?
Mr HIDDING - Well, okay, that is easy to say when you are Premier, but from our point of view we are positive about this. We will give credit where credit is due regardless of where it is, but it just so happens that both of these projects are heating up to a point where they could very well happen, and so therefore there are some particular questions that I think ought to be faced.
The gas, we understand, is going to come ashore at George Town. It is going
to traverse a lot of crown land and, if we are to understand, that gas is not
just coming ashore to feed Bell Bay or a major development such as Crest - and
one would hope that is going to be the case - that it is not just coming ashore
for that; it is also coming ashore to provide industrial users an industrial
base load quite a distance from George Town. I understand that Duke is speaking
to potential users in Hobart. That is all good news for this State but it does
present a set of circumstances where there will be a gas pipeline traversing
crown land, farmland, private land, all sorts of land. And yes, there needs
to be a major infrastructure development approvals process in place for that.
This specifically contemplates this circumstance because it has a section called
'Corridors', from clause 14 on, and I know that recently when we were out on
our regional tours as a PLP, a smallish kind of plant - I will not name them
because I am not sure of the context of the conversation - said that they had
been talking to the gas people and they were interested. If that is the case,
certainly that is a little distance away in a different direction from Launceston,
but if that is the case then there is more farmland to be traversed.
It seems to me that when you add that together with Basslink and the knowledge that Basslink also will come ashore or leave our shores in the George Town area, then it is not too hard to figure out that the cables for that would probably generate from Trevallyn Power Station and have to find their way to George Town. There are many people on the West Tamar just now starting to ask questions about what might be in people's minds. There are people on the East Tamar where it is likely to cross in the Batman Bridge area, you would think, the narrowest area, and there are property owners around there who are becoming interested. I will not call it concerned, because that would put a spin on it that would create more concern, but they are genuinely interested in what is going to happen, and why would they not be? We are talking about here - well, what are we talking about? We actually do not know what the scope of the easement has to be for the type of transmission cables that are being contemplated by this Basslink connection. How wide is it going to be? How much power is it going to transmit along those wires? How far is the separation area for safe dwelling? How far should it be from houses, will it limit landowners' ability to later develop their land or build a house in a certain area?
And of course when you look at the two concepts together it could well be that the Basslink easement is the correct easement and the simple easement also for gas.
Ms Putt - Not if it's a monopolar link that you're putting in.
Mr HIDDING - Is it?
Ms Putt - Well, Basslink would destroy a gas pipeline fairly instantly if you put it in the same corridor.
Mr HIDDING - Because of the field it generates? Yes, okay - well, that is the information that we need. That is the information I think it is time for Tasmanians to be made aware of. The Minister for Primary Industries, Water and Environment said a moment ago when he was asked about whether the gas pipeline would be above ground or below ground, 'Oh, that's a matter of the detail'. Well, yes, it is a matter of detail and for deciding later on, but I would venture the opinion that this Government knows whether it is going to be above ground or below ground, and it also knows roughly where the easement is going to be for the Basslink cables.
I want to make the point that while this legislation provides for the process of how, you need to tell people what you have in mind with their land, how long you have to give them to appeal, how long before compensation has to be claimed - all that kind of stuff. That is just the legal process and I do not think it actually contemplates what I would call the morally correct process. I think the morally correct process, considering we have two major infrastructure proposals for this State, is for this Government to be up-front, open and as transparent as possible about its ideas for where these easements and pipelines will actually go. It is only in that manner that householders and landowners in those areas who are talking to me and with whom we will continue to be very responsible, that the Government will ensure that these developments happen in a way that reflects that this is a parliament that is development oriented and actually wants this stuff to happen.
I am saying that you ought to declare the intention before you seek an order, you ought to define the corridor early and say, 'That's the general area we're thinking about; we're happy to meet with all you landowners to talk about and work through these things'. You ought to define the options and you ought not to be ambushing these residents and saying, 'It's got to go there and if you play up on us you'll kill the Basslink proposal', because that would just be moral persuasion that would be beyond the pale -
Ms Putt - It's a bit like what that chap said about the objectors to the Abt Railway the other day - you wouldn't approve of him saying that, then?
Mr HIDDING - I am sorry?
Ms Putt - The developer of the Abt Railway and the sort of stuff he said about the people who had an appeal - you wouldn't agree with those sort of statements?
Mr HIDDING - The developer of the Abt Railway is a private citizen; he certainly does not speak for the Opposition and I venture the opinion that he certainly does not speak for the Government either.
Ms Putt - I just thought it was appalling to brand people as all sorts of things for taking advantage of their proper legal right.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - Order.
Mr HIDDING - He is a private citizen; he has strong opinions, he is welcome to them and the media gave him a run. I would have to say that of the two things that I have heard in the last couple of days about cowardice in this House or Roger Smith giving someone a bollocking over an appeal, I would have to say that the cowardice in this House was a damn sight worse.
Mr Groom - The use of the phrase.
Mr HIDDING - That is right - the use of the phrase 'cowardice in this House' was probably the most appalling thing I have heard in this House but I recognise that the independent member has a role to play, a game to play in this House, and she played it particularly well yesterday.
Ms Putt - It's not a game.
Mr HIDDING - We must not forget primary industry in this. One of the most debilitating
exercises in public policy was where the Hagley bypass was going to go. I mean,
for goodness' sake, was that a horror show! In fact you could probably construct
a case that there had been too much consultation, I suppose, but perhaps there
ought to be a post mortem on it to figure out what actually went wrong in that
process. There were probably both Federal governments and both State governments
involved - I do not know but it had that kind of history - but it was a dreadful
exercise that has still left people particularly upset. One particularly upset
person there showed me the other day a petition that they had sent around the
township of Westbury years ago - so that is how long that has been going on
- and there down the bottom of that petition was this solitary little name,
K. Bacon. I have never discussed it with him but it was probably way before
he ever contemplated coming into State Parliament. He signed a petition that
he wanted it to go exactly opposite to where it is now and of course now he
is in this House, he is voting for it to go the other way, but that is just
to show how long this has been going on.
Mr Jim Bacon - It's a learning experience.
Mr HIDDING - Yes, it is, but for goodness' sake let us not let these two very exciting proposals go down that sort of path. As I said, we are here to play a constructive role in that process and if at any time you think we are not I would welcome your comments on that. If you think we are not being constructive or helpful to either of those projects you are welcome to say so and we will consider our position.
Often the discreet way it is gone about in the early stages has nothing to do with the Government; it is often the officers who feel that it is their responsibility to keep things fairly well under wraps so that it does not turn into a political bunfight. There have already been surveyors, they may have been electrical surveyors, I am not sure, but they were surveyors of some note who have been on certain properties in the West Tamar speaking double-speak to anybody who has asked them what they are up to. All that has done is concern people. I suppose there have to be base-line surveys done; I think they actually were cadastral surveys - I do not think they were at the Hydro stage - I am fairly sure they would be cadastral but either way, as soon as the Government can take control of the process and say if and when these look like coming off and say to the people of Tasmania, this is where we believe this will go, and that will go, and for goodness' sake let us all, as best we can, work together to make this happen.
I think it is time for the Premier, if he has it available to him, to announce whatever routes he knows have now generally been decided. We should know where the gas line generally is being contemplated, whether it is going to be above ground or below ground or half and half, and where Basslink is going to go, whether it will be a shared corridor, how wide the easement is likely to be for the carriage of wires such as will be required for Basslink. It fired up people on the other side of Bass Strait; somebody realised that they did not want major power pylons there, so they jumped up and down and they have come to some arrangement - they have hosed that off quickly.
Before we get to that kind of press why would we not say up-front that this is the general area and this is where we might go, and this is around about how wide the easement will be, and let everybody participate in discussion on these things.
Mr Speaker, with those words that do not detract from the legislation there are a number of points that I know our spokesman on this, Mr Rundle, has made, that he wants to discuss in Committee. I have not any particular points on it but this was specifically about a corridor and certainly in my electorate there would appear to already be a discussion about what might be in the Government's mind. I offer the Government the opportunity to get on the front foot with this and clear up as much as they possibly can.
Mr GROOM (Denison) - Madam Deputy Speaker, I would like join with my colleagues
in indicating support for the principles contained in the bill and say that
we welcome such legislation which might assist in the future development of
the infrastructure required in the State. We hope that gas will come ashore
at some point in time and some point physically in the State, that the magnesite
project will proceed as well and no doubt that might be relevant to this legislation.
I do not know whether that has been given consideration which could involve
rail, possibly pipelines and other things, I do not know for sure.
Basslink may also be relevant, I do not know, but no doubt it has general application so there could well be other projects of the kind to which it is directed that might be in prospect in the foreseeable future. To have in place a mechanism for dealing with planning issues for such a project is obviously sensible and it should balance the needs of the general community. It should also take into account appeal rights that citizens have and also enable there to be an expeditious process for getting major projects under way in the State. We can argue one way or the other about different projects but at the end of the day it is achieving the right sort of balance that I think is the ideal for the overall community.
We hope this legislation does achieve that right kind of balance. I understand that the legislation, the Major Infrastructure Development Approvals Bill, is directed at linear-type development which can involve a number of different councils and potentially lots of different landowners. I can see a great deal of merit in the idea of this being properly coordinated so there are not lots of different processes going on at the one time for what is essentially one major development. If you take gas, and I do not know the details of what might be in mind for gas, but it is to be pipeline from the north to the south of the State and along the north-west coast if the market is there for that sort of development then obviously that would be a major project. I do not know whether the Government would have in mind that that total complex of pipelines and facilities and infrastructure would be seen as just the one project so this bill would apply to the whole lot. If that is the case then it could involve obviously dozens of different bodies and potentially, I suppose, hundreds of landowners right around the State and hundreds of different parcels of property right around the State. That just underlines how complex it will be but also the sense in this notion of having one piece of legislation that can apply to all of those different individuals, different councils and other bodies that might have some involvement in such a large project that might traverse large areas of the State of Tasmania.
I am pleased to see that councils are to be properly consulted and there are strict provisions in the bill about that, with the 28-day notice required for councils of the minister's intention; they have to be given relevant information so they are properly informed and their ratepayers are properly informed about what is going on, and then they have to provide a response to the minister which indicates whether they approve and so on and support the project - all of that seems very reasonable. I think that should be supported. The idea that there can be this combined planning authority which can decide planning approvals and so on, a composite sort of body that might be made up of representatives of, I suppose, all of the councils involved or other authorities involved and be representing the various areas or municipal areas that would be traversed in such a linear development again makes some sense and we will probably go into some of the detail about that as we go through the bill.
I suppose one of the issues that does concern us is the matter of land acquisition.
It is always a sensitive issue, how you go about acquiring land and here generally
if the Government wants land for a public purpose it has the power under the
Land Acquisition Act to acquire the land pursuant to that act and fulfilling
all the requirements of that act. But this could be a private development, as
I understand it, and the Government can acquire it for one of these sorts of
projects even though it is perhaps privately funded and not the normal government-type
project. That is something a little different which we need to think about I
suppose, but again I see some sense -
Mr Jim Bacon - Very similar to the Abt argument.
Mr GROOM - It is but there is a modern trend towards private people being involved in infrastructure development, private finance being involved in infrastructure development - not like the old days when governments did that and that was the way it was done. I, speaking personally as an individual member, would not argue really against that concept; I think that is reasonable.
The comment my colleague, Mr Hidding, made I think is a valid one and has merit and that is we need a transparent system. If it is going to be such a large approach involving many different landowners and councils, obviously it should be transparent as early as possible so they know where they stand and I think it will gain more support but if people become suspicious and people stir up problems then it could make it very, very difficult indeed with rights of appeal and all of the rest of it; it could become extremely difficult. So I think being transparent as early as possible and letting people know what is being proposed - for example, if you have some definite ideas about where the pipeline might be the sooner that is put out in a proper manner - it should not be premature but as soon as you have some idea bearing in mind it will probably be fairly controversial unless it is really handled carefully but the sooner it is put out without there being suspicions about all sorts of things the better it will be for the project if gas is in fact going to come ashore. I think that would be a sensible approach.
I do not see any limits in the bill about the corridor, how wide the corridor can be, how long it can be - there is no limit, as I understand it, to how wide a corridor could be or how long it could be, there is no limit at all. But if it is to be a pipeline obviously there will be a certain decision taken as to how wide that should be. There are almost two phases as I understand it: there is a broader corridor perhaps and then it is more carefully defined, if I understood Mr Llewellyn properly.
Mr Jim Bacon - That's what was in the second reading speech, start off with an indicative corridor and then when it is clear exactly where it is you narrow it down.
Mr GROOM - Then you define it and survey and whatever else has to happen.
Mr Llewellyn - Similar to a road, a normal highway.
Mr GROOM - I think that is reasonable if that is the approach.
Notices have to be given to the landowners within the corridor - I am not sure about those who are nearby, adjacent to the corridor, but there will be a fair bit of publicity, I would imagine, so they will probably know as well, but it seems there is no requirement to have to formally advise them.
Mr Jim Bacon - That's partly why the corridor is much wider than would actually end up being used.
Mr Llewellyn - That's similar to the Land Acquisition Act too because the order to treat under that act is a similar sort of process.
Mr GROOM - Yes, it seems to be.
Clause 14(12) is an important one:
'If land within a notified corridor is injuriously affected by -
(a) the proposal for the corridor; or
(b) the grant of a permit to proceed with a use or development within the corridor -
the owner of the land or its purchaser, in the case of land being purchased under a Crown lands contract, is entitled to compensation from the initial proponent for injurious affection to that land and to other land belonging to that person.'
The initial proponent, I take it, would be the developer, would it? So it is not the Crown paying compensation, it is the developer paying compensation - the initial developer or proponent paying the compensation. That is an interesting one because it is not just the Crown paying it; it is someone else paying it. 'For injurious affection to that land and to other land belonging to that person' - so it could involve not just the land that is in the corridor but the impact upon other land belonging to the person. So there would be a right of compensation that is reasonably broad.
I think that is similar to the provision in the Land Acquisition Act, although one thing that does interest me is whether in fact this limits the right to compensation because the Land Acquisition Act sets out a whole range of bases for compensation which are not spelled out here. If there is a dispute it comes back under the Land Acquisition Act. But because it only talks about 'injurious affection to land' - which is only one element referred to in the Land Acquisition Act - I wonder whether you are not in fact limiting the right to compensation under this bill. In section 27 of the Land Acquisition Act 1993 - and I do not know whether this has been amended in recent times - there are a very large number of different bases that can be considered in the acquisition of land. Maybe this bill brings those into play, I do not know. Maybe the minister could explain whether in fact you are limiting the right to compensation or in fact including all the bases -
Mr Llewellyn - Actually, I think it widens it if anything.
Mr GROOM - Widens it in what way?
Mr Llewellyn - In the injurious affection arrangements in the beginning of the project and so on, otherwise the provisions of the Land Acquisition Act and compensation arrangements under that stand.
Mr GROOM - But it says under the Land Acquisition Act, section 27(1)(e):
'whether other land belonging to the claimant is injuriously affected by the carrying out of, or the proposal to carry out, the authorized purpose.'
And it refers to other matters here: the market value, the special value to the individual, the damage caused by severance - that is not mentioned, but maybe it is linked in in some way. Maybe that can be explained. The officers, I think, are saying that this all comes into play.
But I see that 'If not agreed on, a claim for compensation under subsection (12) is to be determined in the same manner as a disputed claim for compensation under the Land Acquisition Act'. I just wonder whether that in fact does incorporate all these things because it seems to me it might just relate back to proposed subsection (12) and when you have a dispute you only look at whether other land is injuriously affected or the land in the corridor is injuriously affected, but there might be some other argument as far as that is concerned. We can go on to those matters in the bill itself.
In clause 19(2), which has been referred to already, there is this opportunity to amend an order without it going back to the Parliament - the initial order having to be approved by the Parliament. I wonder if that is only if there is some immaterial alteration. It does not say so. That might be the intention of the Government; I think the Government should spell out what its intention is. Under clause 19(2):
'the Minister must determine whether the proposed amending order will alter the order made by the Governor under section 7(2) to such an extent or to such effect that the amending order should be submitted ...'
It is an opinion - it is the minister's opinion as to whether it should be. It does not say if it is materially affected or there is a major change to it. It does not appear to say that in the bill. So I would like that point to be clarified.
Mr Jim Bacon - It still has to be tabled, an amendment.
Mr GROOM - So it does not require the approval of the Parliament. It says in (2) whether it needs approval or not, of the Parliament. That seems to suggest, if the minister says it does not require approval, it does not require approval of the Parliament. Or is there some confusion there? That is the way it appears to be. Perhaps that can be explained and we can go through that in more detail later on.
I just want to indicate my support for the points of view made by my colleagues, that we do support the bill. We believe it makes sense to have such a piece of legislation when you have a linear development along a corridor of the kind that is in prospect in Tasmania. Rather than having it dealt with in a piecemeal manner, on an ad hoc sort of basis, it should be properly coordinated and combined into one process if at all possible. I think that makes sense. Therefore we do support at least the principles contained in the bill.
Mr JIM BACON (Denison - Premier) - Madam Deputy Speaker, I thank members for their comments and such support as there was for the bill. I think my colleague, the Minister for Primary Industries, Water and the Environment, in fact did answer most of the issues that have been raised and obviously we will deal with them in Committee and hopefully that will give all members the opportunity to be satisfied on the matters they have raised.
Can I just say, particularly in response to the last two contributions, that it is not a question of the Government being coy about anything with this. Of course the gas project is envisaged as one that would come within the scope of this legislation. Ms Putt actually raised the question of the proposed railway from the magnesite mine to the north-west coast where, in fact, that raised issues that have to do with some of these matters and although it may not necessarily have been the same situation or come within this legislation, that is another example. But there could be other extensions of the rail network throughout the State. Certainly an example of a project that might still be some way off but nevertheless a lot of people are talking about it in the Derwent valley and round Bridgewater/Brighton is the Bridgewater Bridge, which is part of the national highway and that, in fact, would involve three councils just in that bridge from one side of the Derwent to the other. There are also road improvements being planned on the Bass Highway between Devonport and Latrobe councils which is another example.
But there is no attempt to be coy about anything. Of course the gas project, according to Duke Energy, is more and more likely to proceed and certainly the Government is optimistic about it. But this legislation, whilst we are quite content to have it seen as, in part, clearing the way, if you like, or enhancing the chances of that project succeeding, it would be wrong to think that this legislation is only about the proposed gas project. It is, as we said in the second reading speech, precisely for linear infrastructure and I think particularly in relation to telecommunications there may be some type of infrastructure that we have not considered because we do not know about it yet which may, in the future, be of interest in Tasmania and may provide opportunities for us to follow up.
So the purpose of the legislation is to provide a more transparent, if you like, but smoother approval process for projects that go through multiple municipal boundaries and potentially even more planning schemes. It is a very simple intent and I do not think people need read anything more into it than that. I think that is the reason and whether it is the gas project or a railway or roads, or some telecommunications infrastructure, they would all come within -
Mr Hidding - Chairlift.
Mr JIM BACON - The chairlift - it would have to be a pretty long one.
Mr Hidding - Cable car, I meant.
Mr JIM BACON - Cable car.
Ms Putt - That is what you define as a major infrastructure project, is it?
Mr Hidding - I was just seeing if she was awake.
Ms Putt - Can you please say that a cable car wouldn't be a major infrastructure project.
Mr JIM BACON - I must say to the member that had not occurred to me at all.
Mr Hidding - She was awake.
Mr Llewellyn - It probably could fit the bill if it went from the Bellerive port facility right across the Derwent and up the mountain. You'd be going through two councils then, you see.
Ms Putt - We could have a flying fox from Mount Wellington to Bellerive, you reckon.
Mr JIM BACON - Let us not get distracted, it is not about cable cars and I cannot envisage any circumstances where it might -
Mr Rundle - Secret agenda cable car.
Mr JIM BACON - You can have that one right back over there.
The other point I make about this, particularly in some of the comments members have made about the impact on farming and so on, is that I think it is important to remember that there are different sorts of infrastructure involved in this. For instance, the question has been raised about whether a gas pipeline would be above ground or below ground. Telstra has laid an optic fibre cable through a lot of farmland in Tasmania - it has been laid, it has been buried; the grass has grown back over the top of it and the sheep go on eating the grass and the farming continues, apart from the disruption while the cable was being laid, entirely as it did before.
Ms Putt - A major infrastructure project going through a town is actually likely to be at least as controversial an issue as going across farmland.
Mr JIM BACON - Oh, yes.
Ms Putt - Look at South Hobart and the dispute over the powerlines.
Mr JIM BACON - Yes, but the point I am making is that there are different sorts of this infrastructure so we want to bear this in mind when we are talking about the possible impact. Certainly a railway line going through a farm would have a significant impact. That might be ameliorated in some way by culverts being put in for stock to go through and so on, but nevertheless it would have an impact - perhaps more impact than infrastructure which was buried and then allowed free access and the use of the land above could continue as normal, so I think we need to keep this in mind.
As I say, it is not a question of being coy about anything with Basslink or the Duke Energy gas project; it is simply a matter of not having a project description for those that we can go out - in fact, this legislation is really in large part meeting the concerns of the member for Lyons, the Deputy Leader, Mr Hidding, because it is giving earlier notice and it is designed to give earlier input to people into these proposals. In some of the cross-discussion with the member for Denison, Mr Groom, we were talking about the initial corridor being very much wider in all probability than the actual final defined area needed. That again is to ensure that everybody who could potentially be affected does have an opportunity to have a say.
I must say to you, Mr Hidding, I have no idea what surveyors have been doing on the West Tamar. They may be just checking up on where the neighbour's fence is or something -
Mr Hidding - Oh no, no, a lot more than that.
Mr JIM BACON - No, no, you say, but in fact I cannot inform the House of where Basslink might go. I think it should be remembered that Basslink will be considered a project of State significance under the agreement with the other two jurisdictions concerned: the Commonwealth and Victoria. So I think the question of Basslink is covered. But I am not being coy, I am saying, 'Yes, this legislation would be used in the case of the gas project going ahead, with the lateral pipes to Hobart and to Port Latta, but this is not specifically for that. There are other things we have in mind and there are some examples I have already given.
Madam Deputy Speaker, in view of the fact that we are going through the clauses in Committee I think it would be best for us to get on with that. I thank members for their contribution.
Bill read the second time.