Dr WOODRUFF question to MINISTER for PLANNING, Mr JAENSCH
While we have been pushing for a housing-led recovery, you have been deceiving Tasmanians about the need for your damaging and unnecessary major projects legislation. You rushed through a sham consultation process at the height of the COVID shut down. You used all your powers to quash thousands of Tasmanians from all walks of life who want fair planning laws to protect what makes this island special.
The Heritage Protection Society slammed you for using the pandemic to impose this bill on the community when people were under severe pressure. Westbury Residents Against the Prison know it demolishes normal assessment processes and hands major planning decisions to a handpicked, unaccountable panel.
Your Government has been pushing these planning changes since 2014 to deliver for your big development mates. There is nothing in this legislation that we need to kickstart a successful economic recovery. It is a recipe to sow community discord, which is the last thing our state needs in a coronavirus recovery. Will you listen to the outrage that has been expressed in the submissions made to you and walk away from this very divisive legislation?
Madam Speaker, I thank the member for her question but refute the assertion she has made, the outrageous claim that we have rushed through consultation on this bill under the cover of a pandemic. At the end of her question, she pointed out that we have been consulting on this since 2014. We have just completed another 10 weeks of community consultation, doubled during the coronavirus emergency, and including an invitation for anybody who wanted one to have a one-on-one briefing with members of my department to answer any questions they may have.
Dr Woodruff - One-on-one? You hate community meetings, don't you? You hate public meetings. You can't control them. People might express their feelings in a group.
Madam SPEAKER - Order, Dr Woodruff.
Mr JAENSCH - My question is, why would you not want large, complex, important projects for Tasmania to be assessed under all relevant legislation by an independent panel of experts, including -
Madam SPEAKER - Order. I remind everyone that we are in parliament. We are not in some pub where we are shouting at each other.
Mr JAENSCH - Thank you, Madam Speaker. Why would you not want these assessments to be conducted at arms' length from government by a panel appointed by the independent Tasmanian Planning Commission, including members of the commission, delegates of the relevant local council and appointed independent expert members of that group, all appointed by the independent Planning Commission and working under the same codes of practice that it is bound by -
Dr Woodruff - Why does no-one believe you?
Mr JAENSCH - Here is the answer. It is because the Greens will take a protest over a process any day of the week. The Greens are not interested in independent scrutiny under planning laws that have been created by elected state and local governments using consultation processes and put in place to protect the broader public's interest. What they want to protect is the opportunity to stop and frustrate to death individual projects that they have decided they do not like. They want the ability to parachute in professional protesters to bully and cajole local elected councils that are struggling to make decisions about very large complex projects that have implications beyond their boundaries.
I fully expect that when this major project legislation gets up and is available to Tasmania to use, there will be local councils that find they have a project in front of them which they know is significant and complex and they are going to have a lot of information to work through -
Dr Woodruff - What, like Fragrance towers and the cable car that the Hobart City Council has knocked off twice?
Madam SPEAKER - Order.
Mr JAENSCH - that there is going to be interest in from the outer council boundaries and there is going to be strong feelings about from within their council boundaries. I reckon there will be councils then that bring forward those projects and say to the Government, 'We would like this to be considered through the major projects process so that we can represent the views of our community in the process', not as a local planning authority bound only to make decisions based on the planning scheme in front of them and the planning process laid out, but to advocate for the voices in their community and ensure they are heard.
They do not want to be sitting in their local council chambers with fly-in professional protesters and police outside, raising a rabble, getting the television cameras and putting those poor local government representatives under unseemly pressure when they are only trying to do the job they were elected to do.
This major projects process allows a local council, allows a proponent of a project and allows the minister to put forward a project that is large, complex and significant to be assessed as to whether it warrants going through this major project process.
As the minister in making that decision, I must take advice from the Tasmanian Planning Commission, the local government in the relevant area. I must publish and explain my decision for allowing a project to enter that process, at which point my involvement ceases. Sometimes the Greens want me to refer stuff to the Tasmanian Planning Commission because they do not like the way council is going with it - Cambria Green - but sometimes, like now, they infer it is wrapped up in some conspiracy for the white shoe brigade. They do not trust anybody. They have no interest in proper process. All they want to do is frustrate all the good projects.
Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Madam Speaker. The minister is being hysterical and longwinded. He should remain calm. This is not about us. It is about legislation which has alienated people all over the island.
Madam SPEAKER - That is very kind that you recommend he stay calm. Thank you very much.