ARDEL LTD RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPMENT
Dr MACDONALD: My question is to the Minister for Agriculture, and Minister for Land and Water Conservation. Why has the Minister shirked his responsibility to protect the Manly Dam catchment by effectively paving the way for the Ardel residential development at Allambie?
Mr AMERY: It is very rare to get a question from members of the Opposition these days, not to mention the crossbench members. They can groan - they should ask a few questions! This is a very important matter. The honourable member for Manly seems to be indicating that I have shirked my responsibilities. Like the Leader of the Opposition I want to be heard in silence! I have been called to account. The only Minister in this place who should be called to account is the Minister for Health. He is spending $450 million on mental health and this lot still have not been locked up!
An unformed Crown road provided legal access to land subject to a development proposal by Ardel Ltd at Allambie Heights. Recently, Warringah Council refused to take ownership of the Crown road and it is now proposed to transfer the road to council using the provisions of section 151 of the Roads Act. I will soon come to the point of the honourable member’s question. The decision of the Land and Environment Court clearly indicated that Ardel’s proposal should proceed and that the company had meaningfully addressed the constraints and impact on the subject site. It would not be appropriate for the department to attempt to overturn the clear and stated intention of the court.
It is the policy of the Government that Crown roads are transferred to council with its consent when construction of a road is required. The court has clearly indicated its intention to approve the proposal and that is a compelling reason for transferring the road to council. The court is in a position to expedite the matter by considering the threatened species legislation as it applies to the recently listed plant community, and to direct council to provide its consent when necessary in order to finalise the matter between the two parties. Council, as the local planning authority, and Ardel Ltd are the parties to the appeal in the court. The department is not a party to the appeal action.
It is appropriate that finalisation of this matter should remain with the court and the two parties. Therefore, the road is to be transferred to the council. Council, as the local road construction authority, is the appropriate owner of the road for the purpose of maintenance and establishing construction standards. The Department of Land and Water Conservation can act only within the terms of the Crown Lands Act 1989 and cannot assume a de facto planning role. The Director-General of the Department of Land and Water Conservation informed council of the department’s intention to transfer the road in a letter dated 11 September. The letter provided council with a further opportunity to elaborate on its position by submitting additional information within 21 days of the date of that letter.
The honourable member for Manly, who suggested I have shirked my responsibilities by transferring the road back to council, is actually saying that in the event that a council determination is the subject of an appeal to the Land and Environment Court and the court makes a decision I should use some technical or legal provision of the Crown Lands Act to frustrate the decision of the court. In other words, it would be a secondary boycott situation. That is not how planning rules in this State apply. If a council does not approve a project and somebody appeals to the court it is not up to me to use a technical legislative provision to frustrate the decision of the court. I reject the suggestion that I would in any way frustrate the decision of the court.