Legislative Council

GREENS BILL: Inserting biodiversity into State Planning Policy - Bill passes SA Parliament

November 15th, 2017

On the 15th of November, Mark brought his Greens Private Members Bill - Planning, Development and Infrastructure (State Planning Policy) (Biodiversity) Amendment Bill 2017 -  to a vote in the Legislative Council. It was passed with the support of the Labor Government.

On the 29th of November, the Bill was then passed by the House of Assembly and will become law in December 2017.

A copy of the transcript of the debate is below. A link to Mark's second reading speech on 9 August 2017 and a copy of the Bill is at the bottom of the page.

Second Reading

Adjourned debate on second reading.

(Continued from 9 August 2017.)

The Hon. T.T. NGO (23:13): I rise to speak on behalf of the government to support the Planning, Development and Infrastructure (State Planning Policy) (Biodiversity) Amendment Bill. The State Planning Policy (SPP) is the primary strategic document of the South Australian planning system. While the Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act legislates specific SPPs, they can be prepared on any matter relevant to planning and development. In addition, the State Planning Commission can prepare an SPP on any matter that it considers appropriate.

Investigations into additional SPP matters have identified a requirement to create a State Planning Policy with the intent to protect the natural character of areas, including biodiversity, without precluding the facilitation of appropriate development. The natural character of our state provides us with a sense of place and identity. It also underpins our economy and quality of life, from the provision of food, air, water and raw materials, through to its role in supporting recreation and tourism, human health and wellbeing.

Maintaining a healthy and biologically diverse environment will help create a better and more productive South Australia to live in. Taking into account natural character and biodiversity will help to safeguard the prosperity, vitality, sustainability and livability of South Australia. It will also make it possible for us to successfully capitalise on new and emerging market opportunities while also adapting to challenges such as climate change.

The Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure has been working closely with the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources in preliminary work on developing the SPPs, and both departments have agreed to the preparation of an SPP for natural character, which will also address biodiversity. An SPP as proposed that addresses both natural character and biodiversity would satisfy the requirements of the amendments in the SPP bill. The amendments will have nominal practical or resourcing impacts, given that there is already an intention to prepare such a policy.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (23:15): I rise to make some remarks in relation to the bill. Clearly, the intent and impact of it was indicated by the mover of it, the Hon. Mark Parnell. I note with keen interest that the government speaker, the Hon. Tung Ngo, has indicated that it sounds like the government is working on the implementation of the impact of this legislation.

The particular recommendation is adopted from one of the many recommendations made by the Environment, Resources and Development Committee investigation into biodiversity, which was completed in 2016. That inquiry did take some time. It is quite a complex area and it was certainly noted that the planning system can be one of the difficulties in terms of protection of biodiversity and that there is often conflict between those particular goals.

I think one of the things that came to my attention over the term in which I was the shadow environment spokesperson was the death by a thousand cuts that occurs to biodiversity. It is unintentional, but it may be that a particular ecological community exists in some part of the state that is quite unique. A bit of it might be subdivided here and a bit of it there, and over time the entire ecological community can disappear.

I think the area of concern—and it not particularly well understood by the community in general—is the impact that this has on species loss. I note that, once again, Associate Professor David Paton has recently been calling on the community to take a more proactive approach. His particular area of interest is the Coorong and also the declining bird species in the Adelaide Hills, which is a biodiversity hotspot that does contain the resources, whether plant or animal species, that those birds feed on. He notes that there is an upcoming extinction if we do not take some action to reverse that. I think that is a terrible outcome. I think that is something that the community does not want to happen, but in this death by a thousand cuts it happens piece by piece, unintentionally, but that is the outcome.

I have to be honest. There are a number of members of the Liberal Party who have concerns with this particular bill because they have concerns about native vegetation, NRM and those sorts of things, and they certainly have expressed those views. I make those comments in relation to the bill.

The Hon. M.C. PARNELL (23:19): I thank the Hon. Michelle Lensink and the Hon. Tung Ngo for their contributions. I am very pleased that this bill is going to pass tonight. I did discuss this with the planning minister and he pointed out to me, much the same as the Hon. Tung Ngo has pointed out, that this is something they were going to do anyway. My point is that I think it is important that the act reflect the importance of this subject matter.

As members will reflect, we put a whole lot of other important issues in the legislation when it was debated two years ago, including state planning policies on adaptive re-use, which the Liberal Party put forward—a very sensible policy. The Hon. Kelly Vincent put one forward in relation to accessible design. I put one forward in relation to climate change. Ideally, we would have done this one at the same time but, as I have said, the ERD Committee was part way through an inquiry and it made sense to wait for that process to finish.

I am pleased that the government has now agreed that this can go into the legislation. The Hon. Tung Ngo has affirmed that it is not going to create any more work or cost any more money than they were going to do anyway. I do not need to delay the house longer. I am delighted that our planning legislation will reflect the importance of biodiversity and I wish the planning commission well in their drafting of the state planning policy for biodiversity.

Bill read a second time.

Committee Stage

Bill taken through committee without amendment.

Third Reading

The Hon. M.C. PARNELL (23:22): I move:

That this bill be now read a third time.

Bill read a third time and passed.

For more information see a copy of Mark's second reading a the Bill

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