Media Release

Don’t Trash Democracy in Quest for Planning ‘Efficiency’

12/12/2014 2:00 pm

Greens Reaction to Expert Panels’ Planning Reform Recommendations

The Greens today welcomed the release of the final report from the expert panel on planning reform, headed by Mr Brian Hayes QC, entitled: “The Planning System We Want”.

“One of the most important recommendations talks about a change in the planning “culture”.  That change has to start at the top – with the Planning Minister. 

“First of all, Minister Rau has to accept that local councils and local communities are NOT the problem; in fact, they should be part of the solution. That’s why it has been so appalling over the last two years to see the Government stripping away responsibilities from local councils without justification and without consultation, said Mark Parnell MLC, Parliamentary Leader of the Greens in SA and former planning lawyer.

“The Expert Panel recommends a new Charter of Citizen Participation and I urge the Minister to take that very seriously, and to seek to work with local communities rather than against them.

“If the Expert Panel’s vision of a “Planning System We Want” is to mean anything, the “We” must include all voices, not just the Government’s mates in the property development industry.

In relation to changes to decision-making bodies, the Panel has recommended greater centralisation and reduced role for local Government in individual development decisions. The extent of the changes will be up to the Government.

“Local communities have to live with the outcomes of planning decisions for decades. That’s why democratically elected local representatives need to have a strong voice in planning.

“Having a say in the shape of our cities, towns, suburbs and regions is the main reason hundreds of South Australians put themselves forward for election to local Councils.

“The Government ignores local knowledge at its peril. When it comes to planning, one size doesn’t always fit all.

“The Greens will also be analysing the report and any ensuing legislation to make sure that there are opportunities for people affected by bad planning decisions to go to an independent umpire. Being able to challenge bad planning decisions is one of the best safeguards against mediocrity.

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