The credibility of Peter Gutwein’s planning reform process has hit an all time low with the discovery by the Tasmanian Conservation Trust that the minister’s Tasmanian Planning Polices, released earlier in April for public comment, are now being promoted on the Department of Justice web site as ‘examples only to aid in your review of the draft bill. They are not intended for consultation at this time’.

http://www.justice.tas.gov.au/community-consultation/planning_amendments_bill

This statement directly contradicts what stakeholders have previously been told in a letter from the Secretary of Department of Justice. On 7 April 2017, the TCT and a range of other stakeholders received three documents from the Department of Justice, the:

- ‘Tasmanian Planning Polices Bill 2017’
- ‘Tasmanian Planning Polices: overview and suite of polices’
- ‘Tasmanian Planning Policies Explanatory Document’

The covering letter from the Secretary of Department of Justice states that the: ‘Department of Justice invites your comments on the Bill and the draft Tasmanian Planning Policies by Monday, 15 May 2017’ Download here: 20170410130250973.pdf

The ‘Tasmanian Planning Policies Explanatory Document’ explains that ‘The Government is seeking views on the proposed content of the new Tasmanian Planning Policies’ (page 3). The ‘Tasmanian Planning Polices: overview and suite of polices’ does not refer to the policies as ‘examples’. These documents are still on the Department of Justice web site (in their original form) one week before submissions are due.

“This type of contradictory approach to public consultation destroy’s the credibility of Minister Gutwein’s planning agenda,” said TCT Director Peter McGlone.

“This is an almighty bungle, which is typical of how Minister Gutwein treats public consultation.

“It appears that the government is refusing to give the public the right to comment on the draft planing polices.”

“If the government wants to reclaim some credibility it must restart the public consultation, guaranteeing that the community will have a right to comment on draft planning polices.

“It is ridiculous enough that the polices are being developed after the Statewide Planning Provisions have been finalised but now the public does not know whether it should or should not make comment on the draft policies.

“Some people may have made submissions before the statement was issued on the Department of Justice web site (probably posted on 24 April 2017, following the Minister’s media release that day) or did not look at that web site. They could have wasted a great deal of time and effort commenting on the draft policies which are apparently not official policies.

“I wonder whether Local Councils have made submissions on the draft polices and now find out that the government apparently does not want to know what they think? Given that Local Councils are expected to prepare Local Planning Provisions that are consistent with these polices, it seems unclear how they can proceed with that vital task.”