Major reforms to ‘simplify Western Australia's planning system and boost the State's economic recovery from COVID-19’ passed the Legislative Assembly on 20 May and will go before the Legislative Council this week.
The McGowan Government's planning reforms were urgently brought forward to support the wider economic response to the pandemic, protect WA jobs and create new job opportunities.
A series of amendments to planning legislation and regulations aim to simplify the planning system, cut red tape and increase support for small business.
The first initiative, made effective upon the passing of the legislation, would introduce a new development application process for significant, job-creating projects for the next 18 months to provide immediate support for the State's economic recovery.
In the short term, the Western Australian Planning Commission will be the decision maker for such projects, with plans to create a new Special Matters Development Assessment Panel after the 18 month period based on a similar model.
WA Local Government Association President, Mayor Tracey Roberts said not enough consideration had been given to the potential impact on residents and communities of the wide ranging reforms when an expedited process of reviewing the potentially unforeseen impacts of the legislation could be achieved within one month.
“Rushing through such important legislation without the proper consideration by all affected parties, especially residents and the community, is a high risk.”
Mayor Roberts said she was aware of a suggestion by the property and investment industry that WA needed to hasten the reforms to ensure projects were not lost to other states.
“The proposed planning reform is well intentioned, but it would be a tragedy if the legacy of the pandemic response was ill considered or problematic developments that adversely impact communities for the long term.
“The unintended consequences on the community could be projects that are not required to give consideration to issues such as, traffic, heritage, or appropriate building heights to reduce overlooking and overshadowing of private property."
The Federal Government today announced a $1.8 billion boost for road and community projects through local governments across Australia. Read more >
NCTCE Free Webinar Series
Thursday 28 May 2020
12.30pm - 1.30pm AEST
How are local government sustainability leaders preparing for the ‘next normal’?
The COVID19 pandemic, along with the summer bushfires and floods, has highlighted that healthy and resilient cities, communities and societies are more important than ever. As attention turns to the post-pandemic phase, what role will SDG projects play in local government recovery plans?
This webinar will discuss:
- Are these crises presenting an opportunity to rebuild or reboot in a sustainable way helping to make sustainable development become a priority for local government?
- With local government resources being stretched across two significant crises, how has this altered future planning?
- Has the disruption enabled councils to undertake projects they wouldn’t normally do and/or bring shovel ready projects forward?
- As the health crisis disrupts and is taking precedence, how are local government sustainability leaders grappling with the prospect of SDG projects losing momentum and taking a backseat to the COVID19 response?
- What are the local communities asking for right now?
Tracie Armstrong, Senior Program Manager, Climate Response, Knox City Council
Tina Perfrement, Business and Industry Engagement, Economic Development and Events, City of Greater Geelong
Cr Declan Clausen, Deputy Lord Mayor, City of Newcastle
Troy McGrath, Senior Manager, Market Development, CitySmart Brisbane
Scott Breust, Industry Advancement Lead - Clean Technologies and Advanced Manufacturing, Sunshine Coast Council
New Mayor, Teresa Harding, announced Ipswich City Council, Queensland, will ‘set the gold standard’ for accountability of ratepayers’ money by having a dedicated hub for transparency and integrity – a first for local government in Australia. Read more >
Logan City Council, Queensland, has found a way to make learning from home easier for more families with rebuilt computers provided to families in need. Read more >
A decision made last month for Wagga Wagga, New South Wales, to cut ties with sister city Kunming, China, was reversed at an extraordinary meeting of Wagga Wagga City Council held remotely one week later and livestreamed via Council’s facebook page and website.
Councillors voted 6-1 in favour of a motion to rescind a resolution from the 14 April 2020 ordinary meeting for Wagga Wagga to repeal and sever, any and all sister city agreements associated with China.
Council also endorsed a report put to the meeting by Mayor Greg Conkey, authorising the him to write a letter of apology to the Mayor of Kunming and recommit to Wagga Wagga’s sister city and friends in China.
In his report to Council, the Mayor outlined the city’s strong relationship with Kunming spanning more than 30 years.
“As a Council and as a community, let’s show the world that we haven’t changed – we are the same community with a proud history of leading regional initiatives.
“A letter to our friends in China is a start towards reclaiming the reputation and confidence in the compassion and inclusiveness of our city.”
The resolution was passed in unusual circumstances which enabled the three councillors to pass a motion which was strongly opposed by most of the elected members.
The Acting Chair from the 14 April meeting, who effectively passed the motion with his casting vote, has since publicly apologised for making the wrong decision and announced he supported the rescission motion.
The majority of councillors expressed deep regret that the resolution had caused harm to the reputation of the city and completely misrepresented the inclusive and multicultural heart of the community.