The Greens have welcomed news that the State Planning Commission is about to reform its practices to improve transparency and reduce secrecy, says Mark Parnell MLC.
“The review process was started after I lodged a formal complaint back in February, where I pointed out that a veil of secrecy had descended over State planning bodies to the point where even the agendas and minutes of meetings were being edited to hide controversial projects. I pointed out that this was unnecessary, undemocratic and added to levels of suspicion in the community,” said Mark Parnell.
“The public already think that the system is stacked in favour of developers and against communities. Denying access to documents and preventing access to hearings only re-inforces those concerns.”
“I was pleased that the State Planning Commission invited me in to expand on my submission and it now looks like reform is coming. Whilst we haven’t seen the detail, it looks as if most of the Greens’ requests will be met. These include:
1. Publishing details of “Crown development” (government projects) and “public infrastructure” (mostly private projects) on the Planning Commission’s agenda.
2. Publishing any advice received from public officials about proposed developments.
3. Publishing public submissions for and against projects.
4. Publishing “reasons for decision” and “advice to the Minister”
5. Keeping all documentation about previous developments publicly available in an on-line archive
6. Opening development application hearings to media and other observers, regardless of whether they have made a submission.
“If the Government wants the community to have faith in the process, it needs to be more open and accountable. That means changing the culture of planning bodies, so that they recognise the rights of citizens to know what is being proposed, to have their say and to see the outcome. If they don’t, then who can blame people for thinking that the system only works for the rich and powerful?” asked Mark Parnell.