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CAIRNS: find out about Qld planning reforms at

09 November, 2015

Community Seminar Wednesday 18 Nov

Queensland’s planning reforms are poised to enter their third stage, with draft legislation set to be introduced to Parliament on Thursday 12 November.

CAIRNS: find out what the reforms mean for you, your community and your environment, at our community seminar on Wednesday 18 November. More information here.

Once the bills are introduced, they will go to the Infrastructure, Planning and Natural Resources Committee for review and scrutiny. The community will have further opportunity to have their say as part of this review process.

An exposure draft of the proposed new planning framework was open for public comment from 10 September to 23 October. EDO Qld’s analysis of the exposure draft revealed that while some nuances of the current framework have been simplified, and Court costs rules partly restored to previous ‘own costs’ rules, the environment and community rights have not come out better and in many ways are actually worse off.

We produced three tables analysing how the proposed framework delivers on key areas of concern:

  1. Protecting nature
  2. Community participation in decision making
  3. Open, transparent, accountable planning framework

In summary, our key concerns have been:

  • The principles of ‘ecological sustainable development’ are not adequately provided for or defined;
  • Climate change and the environment only get tokenistic mention;
  • Development assessment provisions are now provided in Rules which can be easily changed at the whim of any government;
  • More flexibility is given to local governments in deciding content of local planning instruments, leading to inconsistency between local government areas in planning approaches;
  • State Assessment Referral Agency is being maintained – meaning our State specialist departments only have ‘advice’ agency status and cannot require refusal, approval or conditions as they previously could;
  • Costs orders may be made against third parties who take enforcement action under the Act. This was not provided for in SPA prior to LNP changes and does not follow through on Labor’s pre-election commitment; and
  • No detail in the Act provided prescribing the types of documents that must be made accessible to the public – these are provided in the Regulation which is easier to change.

We have to ask – why overhaul a planning framework if it is not going to be better than its predecessor? Particularly on essential components of planning – environmental protection and community engagement?

The Department has stated that they will release a consultation report this month, outlining how the bills (as introduced to Parliament) have changed (from the exposure draft) as a result of this public submission process.

EDO Qld will also be producing a review of the bills as introduced, to help you with submissions to the Committee reviewing the Bills.

We hope that they’ve listened to the community’s concerns.

Environmental Defenders Office Queensland (EDO Qld) gives a strong legal voice to the environment when needed most.

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