NSW: Construction Industry Blasts Planning Reform Failure

Friday, November 29th, 2013
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A coalition of key lobby groups in the property and construction industry in New South Wales has slammed proposed amendments to the state’s planning laws, saying the failure of the Parliament to pass the laws represented short term political opportunism rather than the long term interests of the state.

In a joint statement co-signed by eleven leaders of business lobby groups such as the Property Council of Australia; the Civil Contractors Federation; Australian Hotels Association and Sydney Business Chamber, New South Wales Business and Industries says the failure to pass the Planning Bill 2013 is disastrous for the state.

“The ongoing uncertainty surrounding planning in NSW is an ongoing threat to the economy and the long term job security of many thousands of working people” the statement read. “The failure of the Planning Bill to secure passage through the Parliament is a victory for short term political interests over the long term interests of the State.”

“It is extremely disappointing that this major opportunity for economic reform in NSW has been at best delayed, and at worst lost.

“The Government’s Bill is not perfect, but the amendments proposed by the Opposition Parties would significantly curtail much needed economic growth in NSW.

Billed by the government as the most comprehensive set of reforms to urban planning in 30 years, the proposed new law aimed to remove planning constraints blamed by many in the industry for a substantial period of under building and lower levels of construction activity than was needed to meet the state’s requirements.

The Bill has been left in limbo, however, after Labour, the Greens and the Shooters and Fishers Party combined on Wednesday night to demand significant amendments, including removing ‘code assessable’ provisions which grant automatic and expedited approval of projects that comply with an overall development code in areas designated as growth areas and also removing a provision which stated economic benefits would be the principal consideration when assessing mining developments – amendments with regard to which the government has refused to vote upon and give itself three months to consider and negotiate.

Whilst the amendments reflect concerns the code-assessable regime would remove rights of the community to oppose individual developments that fit within the codes but were not considered appropriate, leaders of the eleven business groups say the reforms are necessary to address shortages in housing and that unpopular decisions are necessary in order to support growth.

“Reform is hard. Surrendering to the noisy voices on important reform is reckless and irresponsible” the statement from the leaders concludes.

“Our elected officials need to set aside their individual agendas and support what is good for NSW.”

“We urge all political parties to return to Parliament in 2014 with a renewed focus on delivering this important economic reform for the people of NSW.”

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