Key Points: Australian States and Territories are in the midst of major
planning law reforms, spurred on by COAG.
It seems there is always a need for more planning reform, a need
which has been brought into greater focus by the current economic
climate. We are seeing the beginnings of some harmonisation of
State and Territory planning laws, but there is a very long way to
The Council of Australian Governments (COAG)
meeting in June 2009 produced some significant initiatives in
national performance measures for development assessment will
be established, and all jurisdictions will be measured against
them, with the first report for FY09 due in June 2010;
more smaller-scale developments should be assessed under
code-based development standards (which allow approvals to be
issued by qualified certifiers), and these should be harmonised
each jurisdiction should have special development assessment
mechanisms to facilitate the delivery of Commonwealth-funded
projects (especially under the Commonwealth's Nation Building
Programs), including the appointment of a Co-ordinator-General in
each jurisdiction; and
major project funding agreements between Commonwealth and State
Governments will require an integrated assessment and approval
process (presumably, more effective than current bilateral
agreements under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Act
The COAG initiatives should accelerate the pace of streamlining
and harmonisation, particularly for smaller-scale projects.
Governments argue that streamlining small-scale development
processes will free up resources to deal with the large-scale
projects which all State and Territories so desperately need.
However, reforms for major development approval processes must also
continue if Australia is to have world-class planning and
development approval laws, and it is to be hoped that all
governments proceed with these soon.
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The Council announced planning policies to encourage more inner suburban retirement village and aged care development.
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