Legislative Council

PRIVATE MEMBERS BILL: Greens oppose Liberal State Planning Commission Bill

November 15th, 2017

On the 15th of November, Mark opposed the Private Members Bill from the Liberal Party's David Ridgeway MLC - Planning, Development and Infrastructure (State Planning Commission) Amendment Bill 2017.

The Hon. M.C. PARNELL: This bill of the Hon. David Ridgway is very simple in its intent. His proposition is that there must be one person on the State Planning Commission who has expertise in agriculture or primary production. When we look at the composition of the State Planning Commission in the Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act, we can see that the parliament has approved a system that is based on what you might call skill sets or an expertise-based system, and the list does not include agriculture or primary production. I understand that the honourable member sees that as a gap and he is seeking to fill it, but there are some problems with the way he has gone about this.

First, I think that there is an assumption made—I think it is an erroneous assumption—that the State Planning Commission will make a great number of decisions in relation to agriculture and primary production, when I think the reality of the situation is that most activities that fall into that category do not require planning approval. A farmer does not need planning approval to grow wheat or to graze sheep or, in fact, for most things. It is even possible to switch crops or to switch from cropping to grazing and not have to go before any planning body for approval.

The other shortcoming in this bill, I think, is that the range of expertise set out in the act uses the following words:

The Minister must, when nominating persons for appointment as members of the Commission, seek to ensure that, as far as is practicable, the members of the Commission collectively—

in other words, it does not have to be a particular individual, but collectively—

have qualifications, knowledge, expertise and experience in the following areas…

So, the four words are 'qualifications, knowledge, expertise and experience', and then there is a list, (a) through to (f), of a range of areas, including economics, finance, commerce, planning, urban design, development, building construction, etc.

The Hon. David Ridgway's proposed amendment does not require qualifications, it does not require knowledge and it does not require experience. He has limited it to only expertise, so I think it does stand out like a sore thumb in relation to how people are chosen for this commission. I do not think it is well targeted.

I am sympathetic to looking again, after the election, at the appropriate composition, and if we are going to have a bit of an auction I have a few categories of people that I think the commission would benefit from having on as well. But I do not think this really works as drafted, so whilst I appreciate what the honourable member is doing, the Greens are not able to support it.

printer friendly version

Get email updates