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Planning – Kangaroo Bay

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Tuesday, 6 June 2023

Tags: Kangaroo Bay, Planning, State Budget

Dr WOODRUFF - Minister, your actions with the Clarence City Council on two occasions presents a picture to people in the community that you're more of an imperial planning overlord than a minister who's allowing councils to go through the process of applying planning laws within their jurisdictions. You have twice overruled, or sought to overrule, a Clarence City Council planning decision. The first was with the buyback decision - 23 March by the Clarence Council for Shandong Chambroad's land in a prime piece of Bellerive foreshore. You would know that, after six years of design revisions and community outrage, that that development was a non starter. It is still a dirt patch, and the question that many people in the community are asking is, is this about a land-banking exercise by this Chinese, state controlled company, and why are you defending them so strongly?

Mr FERGUSON - Thanks, Dr Woodruff. There were two elements to your question. I might deal with them one at a time if time permits. There was a lot in your question. In relation to Chambroad Kangaroo Bay Hotel, there's a fair bit of history there and we shouldn't need to go back over all of that. But, in terms of the planning situation, far from excluding the community, the process has had a long history of strategic planning; amendments to the planning scheme; and publicly-exhibited development approvals.

That started in 2008 with community consultation before council adopted its masterplan and then, over the intervening years, the Government has been involved. In fact, we transferred that land to council in support of that masterplan and in support of that vision. So, of course, the Crown and the Government have a continuing interest. We want to see good things happening; and that's why the comment that you've made surprises me.

I'm not sure that you've made any argument about the role that I've played in this, because there is no intervention by the minister for Planning in those processes of council. It's completely unrelated to those statutory approvals. The council's refusal to extend the agreement - there's no role for me, no intervention by me as minister for Planning into those planning processes has happened at all. I've certainly expressed a disposition which is supportive of the Premier's own comments that we would like to see good development going ahead there. Once again, you've failed to make out your case. You're trying to be political.

In relation to Skylands, I have to restate the point that council voted against its own planning advice on that matter. Council made a decision against its own planning advice.


CHAIR - Dr Woodruff, can the minister be heard in silence. Thanks, minister.

Mr FERGUSON - I think that the Skylands project proposal is one of the most exciting housing projects that this state has, perhaps, ever seen. It's very exciting, not just from supply - because it's not just about producing thousands more homes, although there's value in that. This could be one of the most exciting developments with six discrete communities nestled around Droughty Point in a very sustainable way. In any other state, you would expect the Greens to think this is brilliant. The development proposes a park on the top of the hills as well, which shows that people have misunderstood the role of the urban growth boundary.

The future plans for six discrete residential communities, sustainably and carefully developed one at a time are not just filling a housing need, but providing a place that a lot of Tasmanians would think is a wonderful place to live. Council, unfortunately, appeared at that time to have conflated the removal of the boundary with the quite specific proposal of the landowners to develop the area around Droughty Point. The change to the boundary is not an indication that the entire area will be developed at all. I think that people make the assumption incorrectly. It simply allows the more detailed processes of the planning system to determine the appropriate land use without definitively ruling out urban residential.

While the council voted against the inclusion within the urban growth boundary, it's not a decision that's held by councils. The urban growth boundary is the responsibility that I have to discharge. It's something that I have to do.

The Government consulted the community and a range of the councils together with the Tasmanian Planning Commission before I took that decision. Again, I think it shows a misunderstanding on your part, Dr Woodruff, and perhaps others in the community that are interpreting this as somehow a decision that council took that was overruled by me or the Government.

We certainly had a different position, we certainly had a different point of view, but under the act I'm required to keep those regional land use strategies under constant review and to amend them from time to time. It's a responsibility that I try to take very seriously.

Dr WOODRUFF - Chair, can I finish that question? The Premier definitely sought to overturn the Chambroad decision that council made when they initiated the buy back. The Premier came in in a very heavy handed way. You made public statements at the time in support of him that you totally disagreed with council's decision.

That was council's decision. They were correct in making that decision but you sought to overrule them on behalf of an internationally owned foreign company that had done nothing on their turf for six years.

In relation to Droughty Point, there is a process in place for strategic planning. What you did was overruled the council's decision about providing for an extension to the urban growth boundary for a project that was on the record with the developer saying they would go ahead, regardless of an urban growth boundary extension.

It was never an either/or situation. You sought to paint it that way for political purposes. When are you going to stop meddling in decisions by councils just because it doesn't suit you or your friends, or your mate's political and financial purposes? When are you actually going to start doing proper planning processes. There's nothing in legislation that says councils can't disagree with a recommendation from their planning officers.

You mightn't like it, but that's their right. They made a considered decision. When are you going to stop interfering and do stuff in a strategic planning way, which is exactly what we need given all the pressures on us at the moment, rather than these ad hoc decisions that you've been dropping recently? Don't have an answer for that?

Mr FERGUSON - I was just waiting for you to finish. Thank you for the question. I am doing my job and my job is to look after the public interest, Dr Woodruff. That is something that the Greens are incapable of doing. They are famous for stopping things.

This is an exciting housing development. I hope it gets through. I hope it can be developed in line with what I think is a very genuinely, positive, sustainable, good housing outcome for our community.

I am able to signal my support and at the same time respect the Tasmanian Planning Commission to get the calls right on this. All we are asking council to do is to allow the proponent to have their day in the planning commission, to allow the planning commission to consider the rezoning applications that would follow and the style of housing that is proposed and for the commission to be trusted to make a decision.

Without my decision, which only I am able to make, and I am expected to make, that was not going to be possible for the proponent to have their day in the commission. It's just so like the Greens. It's just like wind farms, you say that you want more renewable energy but you fight every possible renewable development.

It is like housing, you get exciting housing developments but when the day comes, you actually oppose them. A responsible government has to make decisions in the public interest. I accept and I respect different people, good people, can have different points of view on this, but far from the golden pen line you rattle out, which is kind of funny but also inaccurate, the fact is that under the act I have to make these decisions and judgements and I do it on the best possible advice. I'm happy to be scrutinised, held accountable for it. The bigger claim that could have been made against me is if I had refused to remove those anomalies, which are unlike hilltops in other parts of the same urban growth boundary and to allow that proponent to actually have their development and their rezoning proposals considered by the trusted experts, the independent experts, at the TPC. That's my position.

Dr WOODRUFF - The Clarence Council passed a no confidence motion against you as a result of your intervention.

Mr FERGUSON - You are getting it wrong again and, unfortunately, Chair -

Dr WOODRUFF - They did.

Mr FERGUSON - Dr Woodruff, this is perhaps the fourth time today. I have to correct you, Dr Woodruff. Again, you're rattling off your political lines. I suffered a censure motion from -


Mr FERGUSON - That's not what you just said, or don't you care about the facts?

Dr WOODRUFF - Censure, no confidence. Basically, they thought your decision was outrageous.

CHAIR - Order.

Mr FERGUSON - I would like the opportunity to respond. Again, it is muckraking, negativity. I will quite happily suffer the barbs because what I'm doing is creating a pathway for more housing, which you say you want.

Dr WOODRUFF - We're happy to stand with the council on this one.

Mr FERGUSON - You're a funny person.