Greens concerns over Planning Bill remain

The Planning and Development Amendment Bill 2020 today passed both houses of Parliament.

The Bill provided some long overdue planning reform, but also created a new streamlined approvals process for large developments that sits outside of regular planning law.

Among a number of other concerns, this Bill allows the Minister for Planning to direct another government agency to do things that would otherwise be illegal.

Hon Tim Clifford, Greens Spokesperson for Planning:

“For the most part the reforms in the Planning and Development Amendment Bill were welcomed, however the Special COVID-19 provisions raised serious corruption and transparency concerns.”

“Good planning is vital to the liveability, health and enjoyment of our communities, and cannot be overruled in the name of a crisis.

“WA is already riddled with communities paying the price of questionable planning decisions, and developer influence; I truly hope the McGowan Government remains true to the stated intention of the Bill and does not use it to push an agenda that is not in public interest.”

Hon Alison Xamon, Greens spokesperson for Integrity in Government:

“The Special COVID-19 provisions under the McGowan Government’s planning bill allows for drastic overreach by the Minister for Planning and potentially facilitate corruption. No minister should be able to direct another government body or person to take actions that would otherwise be unlawful.”

“Property developers were one of the largest industries providing political donations in 2017-2018. Donations can influence political decision-making and, given that access to Ministers and their senior staff is an area where we have very little transparency and oversight in Western Australia, the ability for the Minister to be heavily involved in fast-tracking development applications through the special COVID-19 provisions is concerning.”

“Like many other COVID-19 provisions in other pieces of legislation, we have asked the community to accept a transfer of power to the Government for the short term, but communities will be left with the long term implications of developments approved under these provisions”

"It is very disappointing that the McGowan Government did not introduce the COVID-19 provisions in a separate bill. The planning Bill addressed some essential reforms to WA's planning systems but a robust debate on this was overshadowed by the very real risk of corruption included in the hastily compiled COVID-19 provisions.”