Last Updated: September 27, 2016

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Committee to scrutinise planning bills; CCC warns of potential corruption increase

26 February 2016

EDO Qld and community groups will provide oral submissions on the State Government’s proposed planning bills at 9am on Friday (26 February 2016) at the Parliamentary Annex, Brisbane.

Queensland’s Infrastructure, Planning and Natural Resources Parliamentary Committee will hear from EDO Qld, alongside community groups Brisbane Residents United, Park it Toowong and Kurilpa Futures Campaign Group as part of Committee’s scrutiny of planning bills.

EDO Qld law reform solicitor Revel Pointon said they would be recommending the LNP Private Member bills not be passed.

“The LNP bills would be a seriously retrograde step in Queensland planning – they provide no certainty, no transparency, no accountability in decision making, nor adequate protections for community rights and for our precious ecosystems,” she said.

“We will also be asking the Committee to recommend amendments to the bills proposed by the Government – principally, changes must be made to the Government’s bills to ensure Queenslander’s can have far greater certainty in our planning framework.

“The Crime and Corruption Committee has even highlighted their concerns as to the potential for increased corruption due to the amount of discretions decision makers will be given under the new planning framework.

“Planning decisions involve significant amounts of money and vested interests; Queensland needs strong safeguards in our planning framework to ensure decision makers make the best decisions for Queensland so that they do not abuse their power, and applicants cannot easily ‘work the system’.

“We hope the Committee closely considers the submissions put to them to ensure that community rights and the environment are protected in our new planning framework”.

Kurilpa Futures Campaign Group spokesperson Phil Heywood highlighted the need for changes in assessment rules to replace the present ‘development pipeline’ to ensure neighbours and local communities had rights to be informed. This would also enable them to comment and object on all significant new development proposals, which is not the case under the present and proposed systems, he said.

“The effects of the current ‘performance based system’ of assessment were questioned in favour of evidence based ones of actual height, bulk and site coverage.

“Better practical systems of earlier, more continuous and creative community consultation were put to the committee for their consideration.

Dr Erin Evans, spokesperson for Brisbane Residents United, reflected that we have seen a rapid increase in the number of community groups due to poor planning issues. Across SE QLD there are over 200 groups which speaks volumes about the level of public concern about planning and impacts to people’s lives.

“Neither governments planning bill and the private members bill meet the communities expectations for a transparent, accessible planning scheme that will protect things that matter.

“When the level of discretion raises concerns with the CCC this rings alarms bells that we need to wake up and re-examine the direction.”