HON ALISON XAMON (North Metropolitan) [6.21 pm]: I rise this evening because I would like to say some words following the rally that was held on the steps of Parliament House this morning. There was an eclectic range of groups from across the North Metropolitan Region there, along with speakers from the Melville area. I think it is significant to note that they all held one thing in common and that was a deep concern about the decisions that have been made by both local and state government bodies on their behalf and that they simply have not met their expectations when it comes to issues of community consultation or, worse, have been made entirely without community consultation.
I have already spoken in this place about a number of the issues that they raised, and specifically the concerns about moving the International School of Western Australia to the Doubleview Primary School site. I have also raised concerns about the inexplicable decision to approve the 43 and 33-storey towers in Scarborough. I have raised concerns about the complete disregard of strategic environmental and planning concerns for the proposed Alfred Cove wave park. I have also raised concerns about the abrupt and unexpected education cuts, not all of which have been reversed as yet, and the ongoing wait for Design WA documents, which will provide more weight to local councils’ attempts to maintain tree canopy during private developments and create subdivisions and apartments that are appropriate and neighbourhood friendly. These are the sorts of issues we have raised. In all these cases, the decisions made by the relevant body have been directly counter to community expectations, which have been built up through an established consultation process or through years of developing and implementing strategic plans. In every case, as was said this morning, the community goes searching for a reason that subsequent decisions have been made that are counter to its expectations. The explanations that the community arrives at are not particularly flattering to those decision-making bodies. In the absence of any clear, logical or transparent decision-making, allegations of conflict of interest, corruption and self-aggrandisement, or even petty personal vendettas, are commonly offered by the community groups as potential rationale for how illogical decision-making has been arrived at.
For example, I have been speaking about concerns about moving the International School of Western Australia since the beginning of this term. To remind members of the situation, moving ISWA to the Doubleview Primary School site was part of the former government’s plans for the western suburbs school strategy and was required to make the reopening of City Beach Senior High School as a public school possible. We know that the government has since decided to build the public school at Kitchener Park, and I assure members that there are also concerns about a number of elements of that decision, but, in any event, the Kitchener Park decision at that point killed any justification for spending more than $20 million moving ISWA out of the City Beach Senior High School site. Since then, there have been issues with poor quality information that was sent to the joint development assessment panel, which meant that the project was delayed long enough that both the original and renegotiated sunset dates on the agreement had passed. There was an opportunity, but instead of simply not spending any further money on what is now clearly not a necessary project, this government has instead continued down the path in the face of strong community concern about the impact on the existing community at Doubleview. We are talking about a community that has already lost a large chunk of valuable land that has been used as public open space, and it is going to be losing more, with restrictions on access to the remaining oval set to increase. We are talking about a community that is concerned that the impact of increasing infill in both the Doubleview and Scarborough areas on the primary school have not been answered in any depth. To update members about where the project is now, the removal of trees at that site has commenced, and, as was noted at the JDAP numerous times, the mapping of trees on the site is incorrect. A small tree has been saved that was supposed to have been a 13.5-metre tall tuart tree, and the community continues to be correct about the flaws in this project. There has been a complete inability by the government to provide any believable explanation for the decisions that have been made around this issue. Combined with poor decision-making and a lack of community consultation in the education portfolio, it has resulted in an ongoing lack of trust in both the education department and the JDAPs to do the right thing by their school communities.
A similar pall has been cast over the Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority with the decision regarding the 3 Oceans development. The consultation that the MRA went through to develop the scheme and the policies for the redevelopment originally were great; it was good. The community was really happy. It had been really happy with the way the MRA went about its business. The consultation resulted in a plan that the community genuinely believed in, which is why the decision to approve the 3 Oceans towers has come as such a great shock. The MRA had built up a store of goodwill and trust not only in the Scarborough area, but also across numerous developments across the city, and the decision to approve these towers more than challenges the scheme and the policies; it burns a huge amount of public trust, not only in the MRA, but, frankly, in the planning system generally. The “Scarborough Master Plan” was the furthest thing from a tick-and-flick exercise. It had been really good practice and it is very disappointing to see something so counter to the vision that had been agreed upon by that community subsequently being approved.
I know that a number of members in the North Metropolitan Region and also across Perth have been approached and asked to act on a number of these issues. The problems that people are highlighting with the planning process at the local and state level and within departments are genuine and they are serious. We all need to take a hard look at what is happening here and make sure that when community consultation occurs, it is genuine, and that decision-making bodies are living up to the higher expectations of fairness and impartiality that we expect of them. We need to ensure that our strategic planning in all areas is done well and it is easy to understand. People are unhappy, and not without good reason.