Approvals process under fire

GOVERNMENT approval processes for building projects were roundly criticised by participants in WA Business News’ engineering forum.

“One of the big frustrations that we have in the building area is the huge amount of time we take to get over all of the hurdles that are created by the different government departments,” Wood & Grieve director Matt Davis said.

“Anything they can do to streamline the process would be a huge benefit.”

Mr Davis called for greater clarity in the decision-making process.

“With more and more projects that we get involved in, there is an anticipated period of time to obtain a DA and that blows out by a couple of months, then you apply for a building licence and that blows out, and then someone decides that you need environmental assessment, and there’s another couple of months,” he said.

“There doesn’t seem to be a clear logical path with agreed time frames.”

Mr Davis said bureaucrats charged with implementing policy were the main problem.

 “It appears to me that bureaucracy is unwilling to clearly define what the rules are and how we decide whether a project proceeds and under what terms,” he told the forum.

“The State Government could do a lot to clearly define what the rules are and the processes you need to go through.”

Pritchard Francis Associates managing director Arthur Psaltis expressed similar concerns.

“The level of competence of the people who do the assessments is not sufficient,” Mr Psaltis said.

He said there were many building projects where detailed assessments, in areas such as traffic impact, acid sulphate soils, geotechnical conditions and social impact, were not needed but had to be completed anyway.

“For an experienced, trained person it’s clear they are not required, but you end up having to do them,” Mr Psaltis said.

“The nth degree is carried out because the people making the assessments are not competent enough to judge.

“We get confronted with that day-in and day-out.

“A lot of the time you have to climb ladders to find people who will make a decision and be accountable for the decision.”


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