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Planning - State Planning Provisions

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Wednesday, 8 September 2021

Tags: Tasmanian Planning Commission, Planning, State Budget

Dr WOODRUFF - Minister, in preparing legislation for the Tasmanian Planning Scheme, draft statewide planning provisions were consulted. A process went from March to October 2016. There were a wide number of representations and the Planning Commission held public hearings. In February 2017, the minister announced that he intended to make the final statewide planning provisions with some of the modifications from the draft version.

Some of the modifications recommended by the Planning Commission were adopted and others were not. In the draft statewide planning provisions report that was handed to the minister, 15 recommendations were made. The top one of those was that there should be amendments to the SPPs made for the Natural Assets Code. They said that the Natural Assets Code should be scrapped in its entirety and a code developed after proper consideration of the biodiversity implications of proposed exemptions. The production of adequate statewide vegetation mapping and consideration, including protection of drinking water catchments. The minister rejected that recommendation and did a number of minor things which I won't go into. No further amendments were made to protect drinking water catchments despite concerns that had been raised by TasWater. Are you planning on providing this Natural Assets Code amendment to the SPPs, which the Planning Commission recommended around five years ago?

Mr JAENSCH - As you identified, the SPPs were created four years ago and they're due to be reviewed when they reach five years old.

Dr WOODRUFF - March 2022.

Mr JAENSCH - Next year will be the year in which the SPPs are scheduled for their first review. It will also be the year during which they will be in service across the state, as councils convert from their IPS across into the new TPS. That is the time where there is a structural requirement to review the SPPs and that will be happening alongside the review of the regional land use strategies.

This is one of the reasons why I have been most keen to try to drive the process urgently to get the LPS work done and out of the way, so that we could roll into the Regional Land Use Strategy and SPP work. They are crossing over each other a little bit but I think that the phasing is still manageable.

The other thing I have asked the PPU to do, now that we have seven councils working with the SPPs in their routine processing of planning matters, is to keep a record of the issues raised in use of these SPPs so that we can give back to councils who are asking about interpreting an application of the SPPs consistent answers. Also, so that we can build a body of evidence about aspects of the SPPs that might bear review, adjustment and amendment based on the community of practice who have been applying them. That is something we are taking more input on as the SPPs are being used.

Dr WOODRUFF - It has been five years since an extensive body of evidence was prepared and that still sits and is available to you, the 300 odd representations that were made in hearings. We don't need to wait to collect the evidence. It's still there, five years old. It could be updated but there is no doubt that we have extensive exemptions, because we don't have a functioning Natural Assets Code and that severely compromises our capacity to have even limited effect on protecting threatened species. The fact that we don't have an updated state coastal policy, a stormwater code or a proper Aboriginal heritage or geo-conservation area protections is also a grave concern.

My question is about the SPP review. The community is very concerned that they have adequate time to raise their views and to feed into the amendments that are outstanding, we would argue - and so would the TPC - at five years old. What is the process for people being able to have a long time to prepare and provide information for this very important review? Will you be engaging closely with bodies like PMAT who do that great work on behalf of so many organisations as the lobby group?

Mr JAENSCH - With these sorts of processes we do want public engagement. We want to engage organisations like PMAT but also the planning professional sector, local government and users of our planning schemes as customers, if you like, consumers, developers and the property council and those sorts of people. They have important insights into how these things work, so yes there will be a well announced and foreshadowed process for the reviewing of the SPPs. Given that this is going to be the first time round, we do not have an established process for doing that. We are going to have to design that as we are doing with the -

Dr WOODRUFF - The act has quite a lot of vigour and detail about how it has to happen. I suppose the question is when does it start?

Mr JAENSCH - This is the public process we are talking about.

Dr WOODRUFF - Maybe, through you, Mr Risby might be able to provide that detail.

Mr JAENSCH - I would be happy for Mr Risby to provide any further comment he has.

Mr RISBY - Normally we would undertake a very comprehensive public process to start off that sort of review. As you point out, Dr Woodruff, there is a statutory process there as well. It is a bit similar to the way the Tasmanian planning policies process is starting now where it is a public process to scope the issues prior to them going into the statutory formal process which has procedures set out in legislation.

As the minister has indicated, we would anticipate that with the local provision schedules coming on line that we are increasingly getting advice and comments from local government using the SPPs as to why things are phrased a certain way and what do they mean. We are addressing those as we go and if something needs to be addressed now we can do that through some of those amendments to the SPPs that parliament passed recently. We can also feed them into the longer-term review if we think it is a bigger issue that needs some consideration.

Dr WOODRUFF - Minister, one of the things the previous planning minister, Mr Gutwein, did not adopt from the draft SPP provision amendments from the Planning Commission's recommendations of February 2017 was a review of the State Coastal Policy.

This is clearly becoming a pressing issue for Tasmania, with changing conditions around the state, and lots of properties experiencing threat from coastal erosion and infrastructure. What are you doing, and planning to do, to review the State Coastal Policy? Is this in your time frame for the next year?

Mr JAENSCH - Thank you. The State Coastal Policy is technically in the Premier's portfolio of responsibilities - the State Policies and Projects Act - so I won't answer on his behalf. I consider that there are a range of matters relating to coastal policies and other areas of planning policy -

CHAIR - The time for scrutiny has expired. I will allow you to add to the answer you wanted to before we break, minister.

Mr JAENSCH - Thank you. I need to add to an answer I provided to Dr Woodruff regarding the UTAS environmental health officer workforce report. My office advises me that we do have a copy of that report. I will dig it out and take some more advice on the content of that report. It is not that I haven't seen it. My office has seen it and I will certainly go back to it now, off the back of our discussion Dr Woodruff, as soon as possible after Estimates.