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Planning Legislation for Major Projects

22 August 2018

Dr WOODRUFF question to MINISTER for PLANNING, Mr JAENSCH

 

The open for business mantra of your Government is causing alarm among communities as to the lack of opportunity for development on their own terms. You are doing everything you can to stack the deck in favour of big developers over the public. Your Government's draft major projects legislation was widely condemned as a perversion of good planning process and natural justice.

It gives you total power to declare major projects, with eligibility criteria so broad you could call in almost any development without proper justification. Unsurprisingly for your Government, it also ensures the public has no right to appeal planning approvals. It would be a recipe for corruption and open the floodgates to waving through a Cambria Green or a woodchip export port in the south. Given the rising movement across the state of people determined to have their say over their public places, will you rule out introducing any major projects legislation in this term?

 

ANSWER

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for Franklin for her question. It is apparent, yet again, the Greens will take a protest over a process any day of the week. What they are referring to in major projects legislation is a draft bill written last year. It has had two rounds of public consultation, through which we have received substantial feedback. There is an ongoing process, in consideration of that feedback from that public consultation, toward finalising that bill for tabling next year, at which point two Houses of parliament will have their opportunity to debate that bill. That is an appropriate process for developing a bill. Yet, midway through that process, out of the blue and for their own reasons, the Greens choose to lodge a protest, to fire a shot across our bow because two rounds of consultation, two Houses of parliament are not good enough for them to ensure good laws.

The draft legislation we are working will establish an independent, comprehensive and rigorous assessment process with multiple opportunities for public involvement, more than there are under the current laws for major projects. It will not fast track projects or be used to replace legitimate planning controls. This is another conspiracy, another protest, not a call for better process.

The Government intends to continue to deliver reforms to Tasmania's planning system, with our first priority being the establishment of the Tasmanian Planning Scheme. We are committed to replacing the projects of regional significance process with new major projects assessment processes in the Land Use Planning and Approvals Act 1993. The bill will provide for a staged approval process that includes a new mechanism for in-

principle permit commencement conditions that apply to major projects. This will give greater certainly to proponents and the community at an earlier stage in the assessment process as to whether a project is likely to gain final approval and what conditions will need to be met for final approval.

The draft bill has been subject, as I said, to two periods of public consultation, firstly in mid-2017, and again in early 2018. Revisions to the bill clarify and reinforce the key processes of independent assessment and public engagement. The bill will not fast track projects and will not be used to replace legitimate planning controls relating to tall buildings, for example. It will establish a comprehensive and rigorous assessment process taking upwards of 12 months with many opportunities for public involvement. However, it will provide for a range of separate permit processes at the one time instead of them being sought consecutively or individually from multiple regulators, as is currently the case. It will allow for greater public participation on issues than are currently provided for under projects of regional significance and state significance legislation introduced by Labor in 2009.

The bill is now being refined, based on the feedback we received through two public consultation processes. We expect to introduce it into the Parliament in the autumn session of 2019, where two Houses of elected Parliament will have their opportunity to have a say.