The State Government has reaffirmed its commitment to
stimulating the development sector by pursuing statutory reform in
an effort to slash both red and green tape.
Speaking at a UDIA development forum this week, the Deputy
Premier (and Minister for State Development and Infrastructure and
Planning) Jeff Seeney, confirmed that the major changes proposed
under the Sustainable Planning and Other Legislation Amendment Bill
2012 (SPOLAB 2012) (released on 13 September 2012) were the key to
getting the State's development industry back on its feet.
Mr Seeney touched on the high points of the changes proposed by
the SPOLAB 2012 (a single State assessment and referral agency,
removal of master planning and structure planning arrangements and
streamlining the assessment process) but did not raise much that
was new during his presentation. During question time however, Mr
Seeney added some colour to the motivation behind the
Government's proposed change to the costs regime of the
Planning and Environment Court (with costs to follow the event
unless the Court orders otherwise) stating that it is a necessary
check for litigants who should generally be required to consider
that pursuing litigation will have cost consequences.
Although Mr Seeney was unable to shed any light on the proposed
amendments to the Planning and Environment Court Rules, which is
expected to provide some detail as to how the Court will exercise
its discretion in relation to costs orders, he did indicate that it
was hoped the amendments will achieve in an even greater focus on
the early resolution of matters through the expanded powers
provided to the Court's Alternate Dispute Resolution Registrar
and the likelihood that there would be no order made as to costs if
an early resolution was reached.
Mr Seeney went on to outline the further regulatory reform that
was on the State Government's hit list, targeting the
The Infrastructure Charges Regime – Mr
Seeney indicated that balance was required to address developer
concerns of unaffordable infrastructure charges and Council
concerns of artificially capped infrastructure charges that are
inadequate to cover the cost of delivering new infrastructure. He
indicated that "When capping of infrastructure charges was
introduced by the previous Government we knew then that it was
flawed and would end in tears." He also indicated that the
Government is currenlty reviewing the infrastructure charging
regime, with a decision to be made early next year.
Coastal Management reform - Mr Seeney trumpeted
the Draft Coastal Protection State Planning Regulatory Provision
(the Draft SPRP) which took effect on 8 October 2012 and suspends
the operation of the State Planning Policy 3/11: Coastal Protection
Mr Seeney indicated that:
the Draft SPRP was an essential repair to the uncertainty and
limitation to development caused by the previous Government's
hastily adopted Coastal SPP on the eve of its demise at the recent
State Government election;
the new regulatory provisions introduce a revised framework for
managing development in the coastal zone which attempts to redress
the balance equally between the environmental, social and economic
aspects of coastal protection; and
it is expected that the SPRP will remain in place until the
State Government enacts its proposed single State Planning Policy
sometime in 2013.
Reform of Vegetation Management laws - Mr
Seeney pledged the Government's commitment to simplify and undo
the constraints imposed upon landowners by the Vegetation
Management Act. He said the current tangled web of regulation is
not achieving what he understood the initial intent to be, which
was the prevention of broadscale clearing of rural land in Western
Queensland. He indicated that the State Government was well on
track to fulfilling its commitment to addressing these concerns
with reforms to be announced in further detail some time soon.
Developments on this story are set to continue. The State
Development, Infrastructure and Industry Committee is holding a
public hearing this week on the SPOLAB. It is understood that key
stakeholders in the Development industry have been invited to
present their views on the anticipated impacts of the proposed
changes should the SPOLAB be enacted in its current form (expected
to occur mid December 2012).
We will endeavour to keep you updated on these changes as and
when they occur.
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