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Tasmanian Planning Scheme

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Thursday, 17 August 2023

Tags: Planning

Dr WOODRUFF (Franklin - Leader of the Greens) - Mr Speaker, I move -

That the House take note of the following matter: Tasmanian Planning Schemes

Mr Speaker, the matter of public importance today is political interference in planning laws. What a perfect opportunity it is to lay out the situation.

Mr SPEAKER - Just be very careful that your comments do not reflect on the Chair.

Dr WOODRUFF - I was talking about the planning scheme, Mr Speaker, and political interference in the planning scheme.

Let us just go back to the beginning. This Government's political interference in planning in Tasmania started immediately after the state election. It reached its zenith under the current planning overlord minister Michael Ferguson, but it has had its history right back before the 2014 election when Mary Massina was the CEO of the Property Council and was spruiking the interests of developers in the state. She was pushing for council amalgamations on the Property Council's behalf. And, lo, when the Liberals got into Government, they appointed Ms Massina to be the head of the Planning Reform Taskforce.

Under her direction, all I heard in my first six months as a new member of Parliament was how appalling the opportunities were for true community and stakeholder engagement in that Tasmanian Planning Scheme. Then what we had was a Tasmanian planning scheme that went through an extensive process with the community. It was from that work, because of the planning scheme that the Liberals have crafted, that we have today, Planning Matters Alliance Tasmania. It was formed by many community groups who were outraged at the changes - the removal of appeal rights from communities, the removal of real opportunity to have a say over developments and especially the creation of a set of rules so that councillors on councils are not able to make a decision which is specific to their local area. It’s a statewide cookie-cutter approach.

Peter Gutwein did not adopt a huge number of recommendations from the Tasmanian Planning Commission. He chose to ignore them. So, what we now have today is this minister who, on a regular daily basis, accuses the Greens, the Opposition, anyone he can, of playing politics with planning decisions.

He stands here and accuses councils of making political decisions when what they are doing is standing up for their communities and their community's interests. It is all right for Mr Ferguson to pick his projects. One of the projects he has picked, with the Liberals, is the cable car on kunanyi. He constantly derided the Hobart City Council, he helped their Government create special legislation to enable a cable car.

Even despite that, the community won, the Aboriginal community won, and it was knocked back by the Independent Planning Commission. But the Liberals are having another go. They have recommitted to prosecuting a cable car anyway they can.

With Mr Ferguson as the planning minister, it is a political decision for him to make if a council makes a decision that does not comply with developers' interests. He has a vision for the planning scheme that is no planning scheme. It is about developers' interests, making sure they get the first and only say, making sure they get everything they want regardless of the community's views.

What minister Ferguson calls 'our political councils', we call councils that are standing up for their communities. You could not get a better example than what is running down the line at Kangaroo Bay at the moment. Comprehensively knocked off, three times that Chambroad Petrol Chemicals failed to substantially commence according to their contractual obligations. Three times.

You would think, the minister for Planning might be concerned about backing a developer that has taken seven years and done nothing. It does not have a hospitality partner, does not even have a hotel that can put up as backing their development. But no, minister Ferguson wants to use whatever state planning powers he possibly can, flick the council and their community and completely ignore them. Instead, he has chosen to back Chambroad Petrochemicals, a Chinese state-controlled company, over the interests of the Kangaroo Bay community.

Clearly, this minister does not mind having fights on both sides of the River Derwent. He is choosing to take our planning scheme and wring the most division he possibly can out of it, instead of looking for projects that are genuinely good for the state, that have a social licence. He has trashed the idea of a social licence. He is committing himself to go in with a shonky developer, a developer that cannot even fulfil their contracts, one that has repeatedly failed to meet their obligations. It is in legal process with council, yet he actively reaching in to a situation that has got a legal process in train at the moment.

What is going to happen? Is he going to be involved in compulsorily acquiring that land? Will he do anything that is required to make this project get up - despite the fact that the whole community and the council think it stinks? They are in their own process of deciding what to do with that land. They have many ideas of what they want to do with that dirt patch, which is all that Chambroad's done with it for the last seven years. Many people call it land banking.

We have now heard, now that on 10 April last year, council met in a workshop and they heard from Chambroad. We understand it was for luxury apartments.