2nd Reading Speech

14 November 2017

The Hon. ADAM SEARLE ( 20:19 ): By leave: The Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment Bill 2017 relies heavily on subsequent regulations. That is not, of itself, a reason to not support the legislation but it would be good if, in his reply, the Government were able to provide a broad outline of its intention in relation to those regulations. We have seen a regrettable trend in recent years in which this Government provides legislation that sketches a broad outline with many of the finer details to be coloured in later. The problem that presents for the Parliament is that it is then left with only a very blunt instrument of disallowance and even then only within a short time frame.

Mr David Shoebridge: Much of this is not disallowable.

The Hon. ADAM SEARLE: I acknowledge that interjection; much of what is to be done here is not disallowable. But to the extent it is, it provides the Parliament only with a blunt instrument where it cannot help craft the solutions that need to be addressed. The problem with disallowance is that it can rob legislation of its ability to operate so the Parliament would be slow in disallowing regulations if they are necessary to the functioning of the planning system in particular. We would like the Government to provide greater detail about why it has chosen to withhold so much of the detail until a later time.

The bill proposes a system of local strategic statements required to be prepared by councils every seven years. It is important to understand how those statements would fit in with the work of the Greater Sydney Commission and how they can relate to transport infrastructure proposals being developed by government. There is no point in having all of these different bodies working at cross-purposes. We need to understand better how the Government intends that the parts will work together. The bill is also said to provide a greater level of safeguards for the community in relation to decisions made by private certifiers. Again, the Government should expand upon this to assure the House and all members that the safeguards are effective and meet the reasonable requirements of local government.

The bill addresses development contributions, special infrastructure contributions and voluntary planning agreements. Given the widespread practice of councils seeking to be paid some proportion of value uplift of a rezoning, the House should be in a position to understand whether such practices are always appropriate and how the needs of local communities can be better addressed in those situations. There are a number of questions still left unaddressed by the bill and by the Government’s contribution. To the extent that the Government is able to do so subsequent to this debate, we would invite it to provide that greater level of detail and certainty for the community.