POST 41: THE MCGOWAN GOVERNMENT’S NEW PLANNING LAWS – THE MOST UNDEMOCRATIC IN AUSTRALIA?

Introduction.

Premier Mark McGowan has reached high levels of public approval due to Government strategies dealing with the coronavirus. This could begin to unravel when the new planning laws (enacted under the pretence of Covid-19 recovery plans) begin to implement significant development that is out of scale in Perth’s attractive low-density suburbs.

Compared to other Australian planning systems, the McGowan Government has formulated some of the most undemocratic planning laws in Australia.

The McGowan Government denies the public the right of appeal against inappropriate planning and development.

Population Research WA commends the West Australian Party MP Charles Smith for his opposition to the McGowan Government’s radical planning agenda. Mr Smith put forward an amendment arguing for the right of third party appeal for property owners affected by poor State planning decisions.[1] Unfortunately the amendment was defeated. WA has the unenviable distinction of being the only jurisdiction in Australia without third party appeal rights.[2]  

Landowners and the local community have a legitimate interest in whether development occurs and the form of that development. New development impacts on existing neighbourhoods. It is appalling that the McGowan Government have denied appeal rights for local communities.

Unrestricted planning power for a small elite group of politicians and unelected bureaucrats is not good for democracy.

The WA Planning Minister, the Premier and the West Australian Planning Commission have unrestricted powers to give the green light for contentious high density urban development plans in Perth’s Northern suburbs. One of those is in Rural East Wanneroo. This massive residential project has been planned in the Gnangara Mound water protection zone. Main environmental features in this area include the chain of linear and circular wetlands (Lake Mariginiup and Lake Adams) and associated vegetation and wildlife.[3]

Another major concern for Northern suburb residents is the McGowan Government will be able to use their unfettered command and control of suburban development to push ahead with a high residential density project proposed for Ocean Reef Jetty. The Ocean Reef project will not only blight the surrounding low-density suburban landscape but will have significant environmental impacts. It will be built adjacent too Marmion Marine Park and will require removal of coastal bushland.

References.


[1] Parliament of Western Australia, ‘Western Australia, Parliamentary Debates, Legislative Council, 23 June 2020, (Hon Stephen Dawson (Minister for Environment) in Charge of the Bill) (PLANNING AND DEVELOPMENT AMENDMENT BILL 2020)’, 2020 <https://www.parliament.wa.gov.au/Hansard/hansard.nsf/0/37CA4C0E8B1DA7DF48258593001C0590/$file/C40%20S1%2020200623%20All.pdf> [accessed 28 July 2020].

[2] West Australian Local Government Association, ‘Western Australia Local Government Association: Third Party Appeal Rights in Planning Discussion Paper ATTACHMENT 1 APPENDIX 3’, 2016, p. 3 <https://www.joondalup.wa.gov.au/files/councilmeetings/2017/Attach3brf170711.pdf> [accessed 11 August 2020].

[3] West Australian Planning Commission, ‘East Wanneroo: Land Use and Water Management Strategy’, 2005.

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