A WIN for community consultation

Mark Parnell’s Interim Development Control amendment bill was passed in the Legislative Council on Wednesday 20th March.  This is a win for the Community Alliance and member groups, and is a step towards restoring community consultation in planning and development.

It was clear that community views has played an important role in gaining support for the bill.  The Hon. Kelly Vincent (Dignity for Disability) said she had received a vast array of correspondence on this particular Bill and that there is clearly a lot of community support for it.  Some of the comments she made were:  “I would like to thank all the individuals, community organisations and residents’ groups that have taken the time to contact me with submissions seeking my support for the bill”, and “Community Alliance SA is also a ferocious supporter of these reforms, as an umbrella organisation that represents a broad range of community and resident groups.  So, clearly, again, I reiterate that the community is very unhappy about what has been occurring in relation to development and, therefore, so should this parliament be very unhappy.”

The Hon. Ann Bressington (Independent) also supported the Bill and said “I think, given the vast array of letters, submissions and requests to support this bill, it is a very clear indication from the community that all is not well. I think we get this now more and more, where we are seeing community activism starting to rise because of the absolute dissatisfaction with a government that is tired and arrogant and, I believe, at the end of its days”.

The Community Alliance and many of the member groups were named by Mark Parnell and Kelly Vincent.  Mark Parnell also read out letters of support for the Bill from the Planning Institute and the LGA.

The Hon. David Ridgway spoke for the Opposition (Liberal Party) in favour of the Bill.  He spoke out against the use of interim development control for the Statewide Wind Farm DPA, saying it had taken away third-party appeal rights.  He also said “although it is interesting to note that when the Capital City DPA was implemented on an interim basis I think there were seven development applications lodged within a week. That is interesting because it takes a fair while to develop a $20 million or $30 million project”.

He also put on the record a letter from the Urban Development Institute, which talked about the provision being a tool to facilitate development and to fast track it and move red tape and bureaucracy.  Mark Parnell’s response to this letter was “They would say that, wouldn’t they?  Because one person’s red tape and bureaucracy is another person’s rights to public participation and engagement in the planning system”.

Speaking for the government, the Hon. Gerry Kandelaars opposed the Bill, saying “the government cannot agree to an amendment of this nature without also solving the issue of delays in the rezoning process which bedevil the planning system. These delays in the rezoning process are among the reasons why ministers from time to time use the interim development control powers in the way which Mr Parnell seeks to prevent through this bill”.

With the passing of this bill, the government’s apparent wish to push through rezonings at the cost of community consultation has given way to resident’s rights, thanks to those Members of the Upper House who have listened to community views.  Hopefully, this will continue when the bill comes up in the House of Assembly, where a successful vote will require the support of the Government.


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