WA Labor’s planning decision conceals failure

Under the cover of Christmas, WA Labor announced it would be discontinuing the Strategic Assessment of Perth and Peel (Strategic Assessment).

By way of background, Shadow Planning Minister Mr Thomson was involved at the beginning of the process under the Labor Carpenter Government where he represented the State, advising the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) process on business regulation and red tape reduction, including measures on how to improve housing affordability.

“A measure considered as early as 2007 was to progress a Bilateral Agreement with the Commonwealth to delegate urban environmental approvals to the State under the Commonwealth’s Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC Act) in order to streamline the costly and time-consuming twostep process involving both State and Federal approvals for the same project,” said Mr Thomson.

“However, instead of bilateral agreements, in 2008, the Federal Labor Government recommended the adoption of Strategic Assessments which were underpinned by rigorous environmental science, mapping and environmental offsets policies. This was agreed to by the incoming Barnett Government in 2009.

“The move to give up on the Strategic Assessment, which had the aim to reduce red tape and improve housing affordability, demonstrates, yet again, the adhockery of Minister for Planning when it comes to land and housing development approvals.

“The announcement by the Premier and ministers for planning and environment provides very little comfort to those developers who have invested time and money into a framework which was supposed provide greater clarity and certainty.

“The Victorian Government saw fit to adopt this approach and it appears to be working in the urban growth areas of Melbourne,” said Mr Thomson.

Mr Thomson continued, “However, in Western Australia, the Minister for Planning Rita Saffioti seem intent on trashing the transparent and consistent planning framework that underpins urban development.

“A nonsensical claim is made within the Government’s sneaky Christmas press release where it states, ‘the McGowan government will instead focus on regional planning for Perth and Peel under WA’s Native Vegetation Policy’. The Native Vegetation Policy, which was released earlier in 2022, is a flimsy document, fails to even mention endangered species such as Carnaby Cockatoos and doesn’t acknowledge that both State and Federal Government approvals are required.

“The community deserves answers as to how this policy will replace the proposed synchronisation of Federal and State environmental approvals and why after millions in expenditure, was the Strategic Assessment was terminated under the cover of the festive season.

“The sad reality is this Government is systematically destroying the strategic approach to urban planning, which rightly focusses on community consultation and environmental science, in favour of system which seems more reliant on relationship between a few developers and the WA Labor Party,” said Mr Thomson.

“WA deserves better than that.”