Why the CSIRO won’t be subject to Territory planning laws – Kim Fischer

Why the CSIRO won’t be subject to Territory planning laws

There appears to be some confusion about the difference between National Land and Territory Land for the purposes of planning laws in the ACT. This is particularly relevant to the potential development of the 701 hectare Ginninderra Field Station site near Crace.

The relevant sections of the Australian Capital Territory (Planning and Land Management) Act 1988 are:

6  Functions of the Authority

(1)  The functions of the [National Capital Authority] are:

                     (g)  … to manage National Land designated in writing by the Minister as land required for the special purposes of Canberra as the National Capital.

27  National Land

(1)  The Minister may, by notice published in the Commonwealth Gazette declare specified areas of land in the Territory to be National Land.

(2)  The Minister shall not declare an area to be National Land unless the land is, or is intended to be, used by or on behalf of the Commonwealth.

28  Territory Land

At any time when any land in the Territory is not National Land, that land is Territory Land for the purposes of this Act.

29  Administration of Territory Land and the taking of water on National Land

(1)  The [ACT Legislative Assembly] Executive, on behalf of the Commonwealth:

                     (a)  has responsibility for the management of Territory Land; and

                     (b)  subject to section 9 of the Seat of Government (Administration) Act 1910, may grant, dispose of, acquire, hold and administer estates in Territory Land

In short, these sections mean that the ACT government has no planning powers over National Land. The National Capital Authority has full management and planning control. If the CSIRO site is developed while it is National Land, the democratically-elected Assembly has no say in what gets done on this site and when.

I have written further about the consequences of this situation on the Canberra Times and the RiotACT.