Ex Planning Minister attacks extensions to exempt and complying development

Ex-Planning Minister Brad Hazzard

The Minister for Urban Affairs and Planning would be concerned to find that the development next door to him has been constructed which he wished he had known was going to be built, so that he could have some say in it. That is a key issue in respect of this legislation. It is about the community’s right to know what is happening in the local area.

There has to be more that satisfies local residents that they will have an ongoing say such that they can approve or not approve of a particular development on their very boundary.

The Minister should hang his head in shame. He should have been embarrassed to introduce this legislation into this House.

But the legislation will not guarantee that any development undertaken by the Minister’s next-door neighbour will suit him. In effect, the Minister has killed community consultation.

When a private certifier is ticking off the boxes for some development next door to the Minister, the Minister will acknowledge that he got it wrong.

Yes, the Hon Brad Hazzard said all these things. And they are all appropriate comments in response to the Government’s current consideration of expanding exempt and complying development to include a range of one and two storey medium density housing options.

The problem with politicians, our incapacity to trust them and our reluctance to believe them, is a crisis of our times. There is far too much evidence of this slippery and un-principled approach to policy. The quotes above were all things said by Brad Hazzard, faithfully recorded in Hansard on 17 October 1997. It was part of his vitriolic attack on then Planning Minister Craig Knowles in the second reading speech for the Environmental Planning and Assessment (Amendment) Bill 1997. A Bill which, amongst other things, introduced exempt and complying development and encouraged private certifiers. Good call, Brad.

But Planning Minister Hazzard took a different view and his White Paper released in 2013 aimed at security to developers and insecurity for neighbours and the community. See depaNews issues in August 2012 and June 2013 for more.

Now, the Government through the Department of Planning is seeking feedback on expanding complying development to various one and two story medium density housing options, including dual occupancy, Manor homes, townhouses and terraces. This despite the notoriety of problems associated with neighbours building another storey, overlooking, overshadowing and generally buggering up the amenity of your own backyard.

This will be another step in the campaign by Governments (of both persuasions) to remove the impartiality of Council inspection and compliance from the building and development process. Put it all in the hands of private certifiers and let them rip. Private certifiers paid for by the developer and the inherent conflict that exists in that flawed model.

This is not just an issue for your Council to respond to and oppose. It’s an issue deserving of a response from all of us. There is, after all, nothing wrong with looking after your own backyard.

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