HON ALISON XAMON (North Metropolitan) [5.30 pm]: I rise tonight because I want to talk about a range of North Metropolitan Region planning concerns that have steadily been coming into my office over the last few weeks and months. Concerns about planning have been a bit of a constant refrain throughout my entire term in Parliament, but I have found that those concerns became louder after the establishment of the joint development assessment panel system because the JDAPs do not have a majority of local government members. Prior to the JDAP system, the community had available to it the last resort of voting out the local government in response to planning issues, but because JDAPs simply do not have enough elected representation, that has become an ineffective community response. Over the last few months, we have seen a rush to clear, seemingly, all barriers to development. Regulations have gone through that enable the Minister for Planning to remove the conditions imposed by an approving authority and provide a pathway for larger projects. The minister has also been given the power to push certain developments through that process and remove any remaining impediments to development proposals, even if those proposals would not ordinarily be legal.
I have been receiving an increasing number of concerns as people believe that almost zero avenues are available through which to seriously address their concerns. People are coming to me in the last few sitting weeks of this term of Parliament to start developing petitions about local planning development applications.
In the northernmost reaches of my electorate, I am hearing concerns largely shaped by the encroachment of development into lands that have been reserved for conservation. That has particularly been the case in the Quinns Rocks Caravan Park redevelopment proposal, which is surrounded by Bush Forever site 397. The community is not opposed to redevelopment—in fact, its members are quite pleased to see it—but they want to see the conservation values that have long been recognised in this coastal strip to be respected rather than it being treated as a land bank.
We are also seeing this in Neerabup National Park, which is, once again, being nibbled away at. This time it is for the purposes of a road. There is a long history of improvements to this national park being a condition of approval for developments in that area, but those conditions are not being fulfilled. However, there is no consequence for the failure to do that. The community is becoming increasingly frustrated and disheartened by the environmental regulation regime that cannot protect even a national park.
In recently developed areas, we are seeing issues such as the community’s concern about the proposed tavern in Iluka. I have tabled petitions in this place on behalf of that community. A specific local area plan exists for the site, and a tavern is a noncomplying use. The proponent’s submission to the JDAP contains a lot of guff about why it should not have to pay attention to it. Once again we are seeing a community that is raising really pertinent issues about traffic, the nearness of homes and conflicting uses of nearby land effectively having to resort to a parliamentary petition, as there is simply no other avenue of appealing that decision, which, as far as that community is concerned, seems already rigged in the developer’s favour.
In one of our older areas, Karrinyup, we have seen a proposal that complies with both the strategic and local planning scheme for the area, but it has substantially increased the height of the relevant buildings since the last round of public consultation. This has now become an issue of what members of the public are expecting versus what is now on the table; they understand that the ground has shifted under them in what they can expect and what avenues they have to pursue a return to the original proposal.
In the Scarborough Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority area, we have in front of us two proposals for developments that are far in excess of the height limits. In one case, the developer is saying that it is impossible for them to do anything unless they are allowed to vastly exceed the absolute maximum allowed height for the area. What I am really hearing from Scarborough residents is absolute fatigue. They know that the developers are going to keep coming with proposals that do not match the plan or the scheme, and they know that these proposals will keep being approved. As far as they are concerned, it has made an absolute mockery of the public consultation process, which had been extensive and well undertaken.
We know that it is better to shift the public consultation stage to earlier in the process, to the strategy and planning stage, but the community also knows that under our current developer-driven model, its input at the strategic stage will continuously be disregarded at the development application stage. I remind members that community input is absolutely essential for the planning process, and we are seeing that effectively being ignored on what is becoming a disturbingly regular basis. The community has no right of third party appeal, as has been brought up in this place multiple times. It has no ability to vote out a joint development assessment panel and very shortly, as we enter the closing months of the fortieth Parliament, it will not even have the parliamentary petition avenue. It is no surprise that the community is pretty frustrated and angry at the moment.
We talk a lot about ridding our system of red and green tape, but this is doing nothing more than removing community consultation from the system, and that is the bit that we should never have looked at removing. I think that is a terrible outcome. It will be very interesting to see how a number of these communities start arcing up as they realise that every single avenue has been lost to them. I think that our planning approval system has completely lost any sense of balance and we really do need to look at reassessing it as a whole.