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The Tasmanian Conservation Trust puts the Liberal and Labor parties on notice about the dangers of the State Government’s ‘Draft Land Use Planning and Approvals Amendment (Major Projects) Bill 2017’(Major Projects Legislation), which will soon be tabled in the state parliament.

‘The ‘Major Projects Legislation’ is unacceptable and, if the state government insists on introducing it, the Legislative Council should refuse it,’ said TCT Director Peter McGlone

‘While it is vital that the four Labor members of the Legislative Council vote against the legislation we are greatly worried that the Labor Party has not yet announced their position on this most controversial new law.’

The proposed legislation will enable developments to be taken away from local councils (either by the proponent applying to the Planning Minister or by the minister calling-in projects) and the assessment and approval fast-tracked by an unelected ‘panel of experts’.

‘The proposed legislation will grant the Planning Minister Peter Gutwein with far too much power – to declare virtually any project a major project for any reason - and takes away the communities rights to appeal final approvals,’ Mr McGlone continued.

While virtually any development may be fast-tracked through the proposed Major Projects Legislation, the TCT is concerned that projects such as the Mount Wellington Cable Car, the Fragrance skyscrapers proposed for Hobart and Launceston and Seven Mile Beach golf resort, that was refused by Clarence City Council in 2014, are on the governments list for fast-tracking.

The TCT’s major concerns regarding the Draft Major Projects Legislation are:

•      The legislation grants Planning Minister Peter Gutwein total power to decide which projects are declared ‘major projects’ and the criteria in the legislation allow virtually any development to be eligible as a major project.

•      The minister may ‘call-in’ a development simply because he thinks the council has ‘unreasonably delayed’ its assessment. With the term ‘unreasonable’ not defined in the legislation the minister has total discretion to decide what an ‘unreasonable’ delay is.

•      Although the planning panel members are nominated independently the Minister has the power to veto any appointment for any reason, ensuring panel members are acceptable to the government.

•      While the community will be given a chance to express their view on proposed major projects the right to appeal final appeals will be taken away.