Image for Gutwein’s wrecking ball over land use planning continues

First published May 3 ...

Recently draft Tasmanian legislation was published for comment with very little media. Always strange when that happens. And even stranger when the comment period is very short.

Public comments on the draft Land Use Planning and Approvals Amendment (Tasmanian Planning Policies) Bill 2017 to the Department of Justice are due by Monday, 15 May 2017. This whole notion of public consultation on legislative change of this magnitude for only three weeks on such a far-reaching change is complete nonsense.

The Government claims that The Land Use Planning and Approvals Amendment (Tasmanian Planning Policies) Bill 2017 would provide strategic direction on land use planning to the Land Use Planning and Approvals Act 1993.

This draft legislation proposes to introduce a suite of Tasmanian Planning Policies (TPPs).

The Bill claims to ensure that the TPPs would be consistent with existing State Policies, (under the existing State Policies and Projects Act). Further the aim is to ensure the three existing Regional Land Use Strategies would conform to the Tasmanian Planning Policies which would also themselves confirm with the State Policies.

The limited number of State Policies has been an identified failure of the RMPS since at least 1997. Governments could have introduced more State Policies and indeed refined this legislation in about 2009, then did not use it for creating new Policies.

If the draft Bill was successful, then at some stage thereafter the Government would introduce the TPPs and ensure planning controls – both the State Planning Provisions and the Local Provisions Schedules – are consistent with the TPPs. It may be that during the current Local Provisions Process to the Tasmanian Planning Scheme the State’s policies will change and along with them the RLUS and then the Local Provisions work may have to be partially redone again.

Now you may be asking the reason for the need of an introduction a second lot of Land Use Policy legislation, because the state’s planning system, the RMPS, has long had good sound state land use policy legislation – The State Policies and Projects Act. But in a fit of making it “simpler” the Liberals consider Tasmania should now get a second set of legislation for land use Policies. Remember the Liberals’ election mantra: “Fairer, Faster, Cheaper, Simpler” but nothing about being smarter! The Liberals want one state-wide planning scheme for 29 local governments yet two sets of Policies for use by one state government. How logical!

It is abundantly clear the overriding purpose of the Tasmanian Planning Policies is primarily to destroy the suite of three currently approved Regional Land Use Strategies, which must inform the current process of creating Local Planning Provisions and to diminish the role of State Policees.  In essence the effect of the Tasmanian Planning Policies would subvert and erode the communities’ views, as expressed through the Regional Land Use Strategies (RLUS), replacing them with the Minister’s views, constraining the RLUS content by way of the very limiting TPPs.

You can read the consultation documents on (TPPs) at:

It is hard to believe this (TPP) LUPAA amendment Bill: The Minister may firstly write TPPs (which in effect he has already done) and then he even gets to consider the Tasmanian Planning Commission’s summary of representations in its report on the objections, before himself making the final decision.

Consultation in relation to TPPs would seem to be limited to technical matters including in relation to changes to the RLUS. Why should a Minister have these multiple roles and this conflict or lack of separation of powers? Talk about self-serving. Somewhere along the way “Fairer” has dropped off the Liberal’s list.

The Tasmanian Planning Policies have already been constructed even though the legislation is only at the DRAFT Bill stage. How is this fair and orderly land use planning? Could there be any point in referring the matter to the Integrity Commission? Or should Tasmania have an ICAC?

You can see from the website, one currently has absolutely no right or ability to make comment on the actual draft Tasmanian Planning Policies at all, they are ostensibly there, only as a mere “example” of the great planning god Gutwein’s ability to wreck local government, along with the beleaguered RMPS and LUPAA planning system – our democracy at work!

If in regards to the published TPPs, it is indeed (as the DOJ website claims) so that: “We have provided these examples only to aid in your review of the draft bill. They are not intended for consultation at this time.” then why would The Dept. of Justice then have published a document that states ‘Consultation Draft’ but not seek public comment? Their facile reason is implausible. Nor do they disclose they are already consulting privately with some sectors.

Why is the Document titled: ‘Tasmanian Planning Policies, overview and suite of policies – Consultation Draft’ – authored by Department of Justice, is being treated as an additional document. What does “additional documents” actually mean? Is the DOJ Policy Section out of control? By the way the DOJ is consulting over the TPPs, just not with the public.

It is even worse than this: When one goes to the DOJ website:

This is the page titled: ‘Tasmanian Planning Reform’, one finds no mention of the new Bill or the consultation, just the statement: “The Government intends to commence consultation on the Tasmanian Planning Policies in the second half of 2016”...

The obvious intent of seeking comment on the draft LUPAA Bill and the TPP policies together, when there is no underpinning legislation is in itself somewhat amazing. The drafting of such land use policy, willy nilly, without legislation was surely a malfeasance.

It gets worse: In the Government’s documentation, there are not adequate reasons given for the new (TPP) system (bearing in mind Tasmania already has the existing State Policies and Projects Act (SPPA) and some existing State Polices).

Further there are no adequate reasons for the way in which the draft ‘Land Use Planning and Approvals Amendment (Tasmanian Planning Policies) Bill 2017’ confers greater powers on the Minister for Planning under the RMPS when compared with the existing RMPS Policy system which confers powers to the Premier who is responsible for State Policies. In essence the change from the SPPA to the TPPs would have far-reaching impacts in terms of Policy Development and the concentration of power.

The TPPs probably represent the wrecking of a number of Policies which sit outside of the RMPS such as Tasmania’s land clearance policy. This of course has not been disclosed but people who have no professional policy-making skills seem to be rubbing out meaningful policies, replacing them with drivel.

The Liberals’ puerile TPP Policies, as now published, show the contempt for the proper legislative process which should have been followed. Making land use policies when you have no right to do so and when there is already a proper alternate means to do so under the State Policies and Projects Act, which Government is in essence subverting, deserves a severe public rebuke.

The removal from the Tasmanian Planning Policies Bill’s consultation process, of the suite of 5 draft Tasmanian Planning Policies, which nonetheless remain on the DOJ website in a “consultation draft” document is a major confusion and surely a lack of fair and orderly land use planning. It doesn’t get more confusing and incompetent that this effort.

On behalf of all Tasmanians, Labor and The Greens should reject in its entirety this fiasco, the draft ‘Land Use Planning and Approvals Amendment (Tasmanian Planning Policies) Bill 2017’. It is a pathetic attempt - draconian rubbish.

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*Andrew Ricketts is Convenor of The Enivironment Association

WEDNESDAY, May 10 ...

Peter McGlone: Gutwein’s Planning Polices consultation bungle