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Proposed changes could sideline communities

News Release

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Proposed changes could sideline communities

The Local Government Association of Queensland has raised serious concerns over moves by the Palaszczuk Government to sideline local councils in the development of major infrastructure projects.

The LGAQ has told the Government that the proposed Queen’s Wharf Bill will give the Minister for Economic Development Queensland too much power over developments in council jurisdictions.

It has also criticised the Infrastructure, Planning and Natural Resources Committee for deciding against holding a public hearing on the Bill.

In its submission to the Committee, the LGAQ took issue with the Bill’s proposal to amend the Economic Development Act 2012.

Under the amendments, the Minister for Economic Development Queensland (MEDQ) would have more power to assess and decide development to be located outside of all Priority Development Areas (PDAs) and be identified as “PDA-associated development”.

LGAQ general manager of Advocacy Greg Hoffman said the Minister’s expanded powers were seemingly at odds with Queensland Labor’s election commitment to transparency and assurance that legislation “does not place undue power in the hands of the Planning Minister.”

“Given the potential scope of development that may be considered as “PDA-associated development”, the LGAQ is concerned as to the potential ongoing consequences of these broad criteria and the uncertainty it creates to both councils and the community, particularly as the community does not have appeal rights,” Mr Hoffman said. 

The LGAQ does not support the proposed amendments to the Economic Development Act 2012 and recommended to the Committee that, at a minimum, the Bill be amended to:

  •  significantly limit the scope of what constitutes “PDA-associated development”, and/or 
  • ensure MEDQ reaches agreement with each local government before declaring a “PDA-associated development” (not merely consult in the way the MEDQ considers appropriate as per Section 40B in the Bill).  

The Committee included just one recommendation and that was to pass the Bill.

In response to issues raised by the LGAQ and councils:  

The committee considered the concerns raised by local governments about PDA-associated developments, and the advice of the department. On balance the committee considers that the PDA-associated development is a reasonable policy response to the need to have a streamlined planning approval process for developments that are necessary for a PDA development. Noting the concerns raised by local governments, the committee encourages the Attorney-General to consider whether there is scope to further define the criteria for declaration of a PDA-associated development, along the lines proposed by Bundaberg Regional Council.

Further, in response to not having a specific right of review or appeal against the declaration by MEDQ to identify PDA-associated development outside a PDA:

In relation to clause 93, the committee notes that judicial review is still an option to appeal a decision. Given this avenue still exists the committee considers that sufficient regard has been given to fundamental legislative principles in this instance.  

Mr Hoffman said the Committee decided against a public hearing because only eight submissions were received, however two-thirds of the submissions represented the views of local government, the sector with the potential to be most adversely affected by the Bill.

In addition to the LGAQ, Brisbane City Council, City of Gold Coast, Logan City Council and Bundaberg Regional Council made submissions to the Committee.

The LGAQ is currently reviewing the Committee’s report concerning the Planning Bills and will release a full synopsis to councils in the next week.

Local Government Association of Queensland
LG House, 25 Evelyn Street, Newstead Qld 4006


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