Media Release

Planning Bill will be improved thanks to Legislative Council

11/12/2015 11:00 am

The Government’s Planning Development & Infrastructure Bill will be improved thanks to the solid work of the upper house in diligently analysing the details, according to Greens Leader (and planning lawyer) Mark Parnell MLC.

This week in State Parliament, members of the upper house (Legislative Council) showed it takes its job of scrutiny of government legislation very seriously.  Despite immense pressure from Planning Minister, John Rau, to rush the Planning Bill through in the final sitting week of the year, the upper house honoured the request of key community stakeholders to allow more time to understand this most complex legislation.  Every key body wanted the Bill adjourned so it could be properly analysed over Summer before debate resumes in February.  This includes local government, environment groups, residents’ associations and the building and development industry.

“At stake is the future of our cities, towns, suburbs and regions.  If we get this right, it will have real benefits to our quality of life.  If we get this wrong, our children and grandchildren will suffer the consequences of poor planning such as endless urban sprawl and a degraded environment”, said Mr Parnell.

“This once-in-a-generation opportunity to reform our planning system mustn’t be squandered and shouldn’t be rushed.  After all, it will take at least 3 to 5 years to implement, so getting the rules right now is essential.  That means detailed scrutiny of every one of the 216 pages, 232 clauses, 6 schedules and all of the 250+ amendments.  The Government promised the Bill in July, but didn’t deliver it until September, so the responsibility for the blown-out timeframe rests squarely with the Minister.

“On top of the other work that Parliament does, the Legislative Council devoted 19 hours over 3 days to dissecting this Bill clause by clause.  In the process, we have fixed mistakes and passed amendments that improve accountability and help ensure that the right balance is struck between economic, social and environmental objectives.  The 96 amendments proposed by the Greens were designed to “put people back into planning” and several have passed with opposition and cross-bench support.  Some have been supported by all parties.

“Sadly, as a consequence of its arrogant rush to give the Minister a “win” before Christmas, the Government has already lost key elements of its reform agenda.  This includes enshrining the Urban Growth Boundary in legislation to protect environment and food growing areas from urban sprawl (which the Greens support).   If Minister Rau had been a bit more respectful of the democratic process, he may have got more of his agenda through. 

“Now the Bill has been adjourned until February, there is time for everyone to settle down and commence negotiations over how to improve this important legislation.

One critical issue that remains to be resolved is whether elected local councillors should be banned from serving on Development Assessment Panels.  When debate resumes in February, the Greens will be moving to retain the status quo, with Councillors continuing to serve, but in a minority role”, concluded Mr Parnell.

Below is a table indicating the way various Parties voted on a number of issues.

ISSUE

HOW THEY VOTED

RESULT

Enshrine Urban Growth Boundary in legislation to protect environment and food growing areas from urban sprawl

For: Greens, ALP, Dignity for Disability (D4D)

Against: Liberal Party (Libs), Family First (FF), Nick Xenophon Team (Xen)

Failed

Ensure citizens have rights to engage in actual development decisions, not just planning policy

For: Greens, D4D

Against: ALP, Libs, FF, Xen

Failed

Green amendment to ensure direct notification of planning updates to interested persons

For: Everyone!

Passed

Green amendment to ensure public consultation timeframes are enforceable

For: Greens, Libs, D4D, Xen

Against: ALP

Passed

Green amendment to give Parliament the power to “disallow” changes to the planning rules and other key documents

For: Greens, D4D

Against: ALP, Libs

Failed

Green amendment to prevent abuse of “essential infrastructure” provisions

For: Greens, Libs, FF, D4D, Xen

Against: ALP

Passed

Green amendment to provide greater protection for significant Trees

For: Greens, Libs, D4D, Xen

Against: ALP, FF

Passed

Green amendment to ensure the public participation rights contained in the Adelaide Park Lands Act are maintained

For: Greens, Libs, D4D, Xen

Against: ALP

Passed

 Issues yet to be voted on:

  • Government plans to strip local Councillors of ability to serve on Development Assessment Panels
  • Green amendment to prevent Government approving developments BEFORE public consultation has finished
  • Green amendment to tighten planning rules by making key features like height limits, mandatory
  • Green amendment to prevent abuse of “major project” declarations that by-pass planning rules
  • Green amendment for fairer compensation where neighbours need to access your property to construct their development
  • Green amendment to remove barriers to community groups being able to enforce planning laws in Court

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