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Council calls for change

THE Property Council of Australia’ has called for the WA Government and the Opposition to revisit their proposed models for planning appeals because the current system is failing.

Property Council WA executive director Joe Lenzo said while both parties agreed change was necessary, their rival models had features that required alteration.

“In our view, stricter regulation of whatever body is to hear appeals is required to ensure that the processes are inquisitorial, with flexible, timely and efficient practices in decision making,” Mr Lenzo said.

“Clearly, the current system where more than 90 per cent of appeals go to the Minister is an inefficient and inappropriate use of a Minister’s time.”

Mr Lenzo said the Government’s plan did not allow for parties to appeal, or make submissions to the decision making panel.

“The Government’s plan also has the potential to disadvantage parties unable to effectively represent themselves in the appeal process,” he said.

“There appears to be enough common ground for the strengths of each model to be combined into an efficient process agreed between the Government and the Opposition.”

The Property Council believes the ALP’s proposed requirements to publish decisions with reasons for the decision, makes sense.

“However, the proposed ALP model runs the risk of developing a new government bureaucracy with opportunities for parties to unduly delay the appeals process,” Mr Lenzo said.

“The development of a large bureaucratic process would simply become another burden on the public purse.”

The ALP proposes that complex cases be dealt with by tribunal members and that all appeals abide by the rules of natural justice.

It has been accused of letting lawyers in on the act.

“The ALP model could result in a legalistic approach to dispute resolution when matters are referred to the (Planning Appeals) Tribunal, which has been the experience with the Tribunal in previous years,” he said.

“We prefer to keep a simplified process where an investigator publishes an accessible report. The minister should retail ‘call in’ powers for projects of economic or social significance.

“This would retain the benefits of the existing appeals system with the transparency desired by all parties.”

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