Concerns over tribunal loss

MOVES to abolish the Town Planning Appeals Tribunal has the legal fraternity concerned.

Planning Minister Graham Kierath has introduced legislation to abolish WA’s current two tier planning appeals system.

Currently developers can choose to appeal either to Mr Kierath or the appeals tribunal. If the legislation is passed their appeals will be taken directly to a panel.

Mr Kierath can opt to hear appeals himself if he deems the matter to be of state, regional or public significance.

Law Society of WA president John Ley said he was unsure of Mr Kierath’s motivation.

“Admittedly the current system has problems,” Mr Ley said. “But with the tribunal you could have a proper hearing. The tribunal was set up to hear cases presented in a formal way.

“It is headed by a lawyer, an architect and a town planner. It gives more control to the appeals procedure.”

Mr Ley said he believed cost had been one of Mr Kierath’s reasons for the proposal.

“It’s similar to what was done with the Workers’ Compen-sation process,” he said. “They took lawyers out of the system and now it is in crisis.

“A lawyer’s whole function is to oil the wheels and make settlements more readily attained.

“Taking lawyers out of the system is false economy. It is taking out people that understand the system,” he said.

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