Queensland Deputy Premier Defends Calling in Mega Project

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Monday, September 19th, 2016
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Queensland Deputy Premier Jackie Trad has denied pandering to the Greens in defending her controversial decision to call in an $800 million urban-renewal project in her South Brisbane electorate.

Ms Trad said stage one of the West Village project in West End, for which construction on two towers has already begun, would not be impacted after the plans were approved by the Brisbane City Council.

She said significant community concerns had been expressed, “But when I issued the proposed call-in notice I said we believed that there were some state interests involved,” Labor’s deputy leader said.

The project’s departure from the neighbourhood plan had stirred concern among the local community, she said.

“We’ll be reassessing the application against all of the statutory planning instruments and that includes the local neighbourhood plan.”

Environmental concerns had also played a role in the decision, but Ms Trad denied pandering to the Greens after newly elected Brisbane City Council member Jonathan Sri took issue with the proposal.

Cr Sri welcomed the decision as “a small win” and detailed a wish list for the next phase of the debate, including appropriate height transitions to neighbouring properties and the inclusion of a park.

“The risk now is that even though she’s calling it in, she will only require the developer to make minor changes to the plans,” he said.

Deputy Liberal National Party leader Deb Frecklington said Ms Trad was clearly “petrified” of the surging Green vote in her electorate.

“It just goes to show the disdain Jackie Trad has for jobs, investment and the state’s economy,” she said.

The Queensland executive director of the Property Council, Chris Mountford, said the industry would be disappointed.

He said call-ins that overrode approvals “undermine broader industry confidence in the planning system, and ultimately damage the state’s investment reputation”.

Ms Trad said her decision did not mean the project would be rejected.

She said about 20,000 development applications were made every year in Queensland and it was only the third time she had exercised her powers in such a way.

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