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Land Use Planning And Approvals Amendment (Tasmanian Planning Policies And Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill 2018

22 November 2018
Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr WOODRUFF (Franklin) - Madam Speaker, I am pleased to provide the 
Greens' support for this Land Use Planning Approvals Amendment Bill. I am 
pleased to do that particularly because of the willingness of the minister 
to have the conversations about concerns raised by stakeholders. There 
are stakeholders in Tasmania who have spent their career focusing on 
planning, people who are planners, but also people in legal centres, 
lawyers, members of the community, and strong advocates for people who are 
coming to understand the value of standing up and speaking out about 
things you care about in your communities. 

The process of the Tasmanian Planning Scheme implementation that went 
through this parliament in 2015, the act, caused a lot of anxiety in the 
community because there were things that were missed in that and a process 
that was unduly hasty - by the previous minister, I hasten to add. That 
was unfortunate. One of the things people spoke very strongly about was 
the grave mistake to rush ahead with creating a Tasmanian planning scheme 
without overarching policies to guide the development of that scheme. 

Here we are today and I am very pleased that the minister has been willing 
to listen to some of those stakeholders who came together in 2015 and have 
remained a strong force for good in the community by putting their time 
into thinking deeply about the issues for planning, how we live, where we 
put our money and how we manage our resources in this state for the good 
of us all in Tasmania and to preserve the environment that sustains us.

What we have before us are the Tasmanian planning policies that will sit 
over the top of the Tasmanian Planning Scheme. I would like to talk about 
the statewide planning scheme. The process was rushed and widely decried 
by pretty much every planner from local councils that I listened to in the 
public hearings process before the Planning Commission. It was also 
decried for being loose in its language in the wrong places and overly 
narrow in its language in other places. In planning you would have to 
accept that you will not please all the people all the time, there is no 
doubt about that, but the overall view from the community and local 
government was that that process was rushed and in the scrambling of the 
eggs it missed some very important code overlays, particularly around 
cultural and Aboriginal heritage protection, a sufficiently rigorous 
biodiversity code, and it missed Tasmanian planning policies to guide it. 

One of the things it definitely did not do well enough was to protect 
heritage. There were hundreds of properties removed from the Tasmanian 
Heritage Register by the Liberal Government and dramatic changes were made 
to the planning laws under the Tasmanian Planning Scheme that removed a 
number of protections for streetscapes and heritage buildings that had 
been in place before that. There is strong concern about the changing 
fabric of Tasmania in terms of the towns and cities, particularly in 
relation to building heights, massing density and the ability of people to 
have say over developments that are within their neighbourhood. The 
Greens believe that the Planning Commission needs to be able to review the 
heritage code within the state planning provisions. That is ongoing work 
that must be done. 

We also believe that the current natural assets code has exemptions, gaps, 
loopholes and vague terms that will continue to encourage landscape 
fragmentation and degradation and fundamentally threaten the ability for 
plants and animals to be able to survive given their shrinking habitat, 
the break in connectivity between landscapes across Tasmania, which 
happens simply by a death of a thousand cuts, in this case the death of a 
thousand chainsaws, which is where developments break up landscape and 
reduce the opportunity for plants and animals to adapt given the changing 
climate we are all facing. We believe the Planning Commission ought to be 
instructed to review the natural assets code as a matter or priority and 
be provided with the resources for biodiversity mapping so there is up-to-
date information to provide the appropriate zoning and inform the 
decisions that are made under the natural assets code.

Something that has also become apparent in the statewide planning scheme 
as it has rolled out is that there needs to be much stronger opportunities 
for the Tasmanian community to have their say and level the playing field 
between developers and individuals or community groups in terms of 
reducing financial barriers for people to appeal planning decisions and 
prevent communities from being required to pay exorbitant costs when they 
want to appeal a planning decision. 

We saw the successful appeal the Cremorne community took to the Resource 
Management Planning and Appeal Tribunal. I did not hear the final 
estimate but I believe it cost them in or the order of $30 000. That 
money was raised by the community and it was raised mostly with the tea 
towel drive - unbelievable, but true. It was raised with events they ran 
in their small community and was successfully prosecuted through the 
Resource Management Planning and Appeal Tribunal. It was successfully 
prosecuted but that is an undue burden for a community to have to bear; $
30 000 for around 200 households in Cremorne and they shared that cost. 
They shared that cost because they care so much about their community.

We remain concerned about that there is a onesizefitsall fee designed for 
the Resource Management Planning and Appeal Tribunal. Instead, there 
should be a tiered approach depending on who you are, your resources and 
ability to pay and you would be required to pay different fees. 

At the top we have the Tasmanian Planning Scheme. There are many things 
that need to be amended within the Tasmanian Planning Scheme. There is 
much work for the Tasmanian Planning Commission. It would be great if 
this minister took it on, in the context of looking at introducing 
Tasmanian planning policies, to fix the elements of the Tasmanian Planning 
Scheme identified by the Tasmanian Planning Commission. The Tasmanian 
Planning Commission did a fantastic review and they made a series of 
recommendations. The previous minister for planning ignored many 
important recommendations. He completely ignored their advice.

After the exhibition period and the public hearings that went on for 
months and months with councils from all around the state a very common, 
comprehensive body of evidence was formed that showed substantial parts of 
the Tasmanian Planning Scheme needed more time to be properly reviewed. 
The Planning Commission made a number of recommendations that the previous 
minister did not adopt. That is outstanding work for this minister to 
revisit, to look at the Planning Commission's recommendations in that 
report on the Tasmanian Planning Scheme and consider picking them up again
. It is not too late. It would be a great thing for this state to do so 
because, in the context of Tasmanian planning policies, the Tasmanian 
Planning Scheme is where the rubber hits the road in planning.

Over the top of that we have these Tasmanian planning policies and I 
return to those the minister has outlined in a moment. I want to look to 
the higher level of state policies. As the minister said, we have only 
three. We only ever created three: the protection of agricultural land, 
water quality, and the coastal policy. As Mr O'Byrne, the member for 
Franklin, said, we need a firm commitment from the Government to create 
more. While we accept there is a place for Tasmanian planning policies, 
which is within the narrow framework of the planning system, we have a 
desperate need for state planning across some hugely critical areas for 
our future. The job of state policies is to link agencies together in a 
united way, so they are not looking at the central issues of our century 
in a silo fashion.

The Tasmanian Greens believe we need a minimum of six new state policies 
around big issues that determine the state's security and the quality of 
every person's life. They are: climate change, settlement transport and 
infrastructure, biodiversity management, public consultation, health and 
wellbeing, and cultural preservation. 

Climate change must come first. We now know that we, as a global 
community, have only 12 years to deal with the increasing warming of the 
atmosphere. We have only 12 years to put in place mitigation measures to 
reduce emissions to make sure we do not exceed 1.5 degrees of global 
warming. We have gone over 1 degree. We, as a world, are on track with 
our current emissions to warm more than 3 degrees. We are seeing extreme, 
volatile climate changes, much more than climate scientists thought we 
would at 1 degree of warming. We must stay under 1.5 degrees. 

This is not me saying this. I am parroting what the Internaitonal Panel 
on Climate Change has said in its very severe warning to nations. In the 
context of that, the first state policy we must look at is a policy on 
climate change. Fortunately, the previous climate change minister, Ms 
O'Connor, developed a very good start. It was the climate smart 2020 
strategy, which is and remains a comprehensive plan to reduce carbon 
emissions and adapt to the already extensive changes global warming is 
causing to the weather patterns of Tasmania. We need a climate change 
statewide policy to address the management of natural resources such as 
water and arable land. 

The second state policy we need on settlement transport and infrastructure 
would deal with the fact that successive Liberal and Labor governments 
have presented population growth figures that appear to have been plucked 
out of the air or created on the back of an envelope. There has never 
been any substance behind the population figures that have been presented. 
That is madness when we are trying to work out settlement strategy 
decisions. We have to make an informed decision about what the population 
growth figure looks like if we are going to decide which parts of 
agricultural land we will protect, and which parts of the lands we might 
like to protect will have the water we need to water crops this century. 
We cannot prevaricate any longer. 

It is totally interlinked, which is why we have put settlement, transport 
and infrastructure as whole state policy. The long-term settlement 
patterns and the transport that connects regions and the infrastructure 
needed to service them are tightly linked. We are seeing this with the 
issues with the Southern Outlet. We are seeing this everywhere. All the 
bottlenecks around the state relate to the large development in population 
density in an outlying area and councils, because two councils are 
involved, have not solved the road problem or how you move people between 
places. We will never get there unless we do that. We can do that in a 
planning policy but, unfortunately, if we only do it in a Tasmanian 
planning policy it is only within the planning scheme. It does not 
address the issue of transport and settlement issues across all the 
agencies. Health, education and housing all need to be part of the story.

The third area we need a state policy on is biodiversity management. All 
life depends on healthy ecosystems and having a wide genetic diversity 
within them. I noticed something when looking at the objectives under 
LUPAA, schedule 1, something was pointed out to me by Mr McGlone. I 
acknowledge we have Mr Peter McGlone from the Tasmanian Conservation Trust 
watching the debate today. If people are not aware, Peter McGlone is from 
the Tasmanian Conservation Trust. If people are not aware who Peter 
McGlone is, he is a legend. He has been working for the environment 
quietly and persistently for a very long time and most people in Planning 
would have come across Peter. Peter made a very good point about the 
definitions around what is genetic diversity and what is a healthy 
ecosystem. What we can see now are great ideas in that schedule in the 
RMPS but very non-specific language. It is impossible to do anything with 
those words because there is no meat. What is genetic diversity? What do 
we mean? If we stray too far from a certain level of diversity, when is 
it a problem? We need a biodiversity management policy that would improve 
the functioning of our ecosystems and make sure that we have the 
precautionary principle and ecological sustainability right at the centre 
of decision-making across government.

We also need a state policy on public consultation. Community 
consultation across local and state government in Tasmania has been at a 
very low bar under the Liberal Government. It is dispiriting and 
frustrating and now people in the community are coming to understand from 
the experience so many people had in the public hearings process for the 
Marine Farming Planning Review Panel for Storm Bay, that it is not only 
dispiriting and frustrating, it is simply a sham of a rubber-stamping 
process. People are not being listened to and there are no guidelines 
about how that must be done. It is the public's right to be actively 
engaged early and sincerely in decisions. It is not only their right, it 
makes for better policy and a happier and more robust society. 
Fundamentally it reduces a lot of angst in the community, which is a 
problem in relation to the Marine Farming Planning Review Panel and the 
Storm Bay decision.

We have now a community of people in southern Tasmania and the north-west 
who have come together united in their outrage at being completely shut 
out of the process about the expansion of fish farms into Storm Bay and 
totally silenced. They are now considering what their next step will be. 
People are desperate. There are people whose livelihoods are on the line 
here with this decision. There are people whose recreational fishing 
rights and concerns about the sustainability of salmon farming in that 
quite particular marine environment of Storm Bay, and who are looking 
around for other ways to voice their concerns.

It is clearly affecting the reputation of salmon farming in Tasmania. 
Tasmanian salmon is now on the nose nationally. We do not yet know how 
much it would bite, so to speak, with Australian consumers, but it is 
pretty clear when the National Sustainable Seafood Guide puts Tasmanian 
salmon on the 'do not buy' list. That should be a wake-up call, not only 
about the decision that was made but about the process for the decision 
that was made which shut people out of the process. A public consultation 
policy is essential.

We also need a health and wellbeing state policy and a cultural 
preservation state policy. I will not go into the details of those other 
than to flag that a minimum of six statewide policies are required.

We have a number of amendments and have worked with the Labor Party and 
the minister and I believe the three parties have come to an understanding 
so we will see where we land in Committee, but it has certainly been 
productive and, most importantly, the people who are stakeholders feel 
listened to, which is really valuable.

We will be proposing an amendment which would go to the possibility of 
substantial modifications for Tasmanian planning policies, if they have 
been changed after they have been through the exhibition and consultation 
process of the Tasmanian Planning Commission to ensure that if there are 
really substantial modifications that are made by the minister after that 
process, they would return for another opportunity for people to have a 
say about the substantially changed Tasmanian planning policy. 

We also have amendment to check off whether the Tasmanian planning policy 
criteria have been sufficiently met, if another change has been introduced 
by the minister. None of that takes away the ability of the minister to 
make policy but it respects that in Tasmania we have a statutory body, the 
Tasmanian Planning Commission, which holds the people with the planning 
skills in this state we have entrusted through legislation to undertake an 
independent advisory role for government over planning. It is totally 
appropriate that their advice is sought on changes.

That is all I will say at this point because we have the committee stage 
to go into and we can talk about the details more when that happens.

Minister, I certainly hope the Tasmanian planning policies are brought on 
soon because there has been a dearth of planning in this state for far too 
long and people are hungry to have a say about big issues. I encourage 
you to take a leaf out of - and you might be surprised to hear me say this
- the Australian Productivity Commission's book. The Australian 
Productivity commission does apparently a very good job of consultation. 
At the initial stage of developing policy or an idea, they put out a draft 
issues paper so, for example, there are two ways could go on housing 
planning policies. You could simply release a housing planning policy to 
go straight into the exhibition process to the Tasmanian Planning 
Commission. That, I would suggest, is a very poor path to take because 
people have no opportunity to shape the scope of the planning policy. 
What the Productivity Commission does is put an issues draft which gives 
people an opportunity to say, 'Okay, we're not quite sure whether you've 
got this or that right, but, by the way, did you know you have missed this 
whole area over here? This whole area needs to be included in the draft.' 
Then they put out the draft and consultation is had on that and then they 
do the formal process. It is the shaping of ideas that people are craving 
to have a say in, as well as the detail.

What we used to say when I was on the Huon Valley Council is that the 
problem people have with consultation, the way it is done these days, is 
that you get given a document and asked whether the toilet block should be 
brown or grey and that is the only opportunity you have. Instead of 
asking, should there be a toilet block, should it be here or should it be 
over there or do you have any other ideas about toilet blocks, please? 

I encourage you, minister, to use this opportunity to set a new pathway. 
The pathway people are craving in Tasmania is to have an early say over 
the big issues in a meaningful way and for their voice to be genuinely 
heard. On that hopeful note, that is all I have to say on this part of 
the bill.