Keeping Local Politics Out Of Development Assessment

28/06/2012 10:59 am



The Minister for Planning, Brad Hazzard, has revealed that he considers that local government councillors are allowing their own political interests influence their decisions rather that considering a proposal on its merits. You think??

Mr Hazzard addressed the Urban Taskforce this week and presented his view that local councillors should be involved in setting planning frameworks for the area, like zoning and density , but they should not have a role in determining individual developments.

“I am very supportive of keeping politicians, as far as is humanly possible, out of development assessment decisions,” he said.

Mr Hazzard is supportive of Council appointing independent panels to determine major local applications. “The 139 that have not done it, think about it, because your elected officials should be dealing with the broad strategic issues...not dealing with individual development applications,” he said.

Mr Hazzard pointed to the phenomenon of councils rushing to the Land and Environment Court to fight applications around local elections to benefit the personal political interests of local councillors. Hazzard stated that the green paper would include measures to keep councillors from making decisions based on what was in their personal political interests. We would love to see this, if it can really be achieved!

“It is time to get a fairer system, a more proactive system, and one that does not waste ratepayers’ money,” he said.

“They have to understand it is their job to produce proper merit based decisions in the current system and one of those ways is for professional people to support that exercise.” Right on Minister.

Taking major planning decisions out of the hands of local councillors is a good move to avoid local politics and NIMBYISM hijacking the planning process. However, disadvantages of a professional panel based system include members of the panel taking differing views to the Council planning officers, including when the officers are supportive of a proposal.