Tuesday 20 November 2012


Hansard of the Legislative Council




[9.02 a.m.]

Mr HALL (Western Tiers - Motion) - Madam President, I move -


That the Legislative Council acknowledges -


(1) The significant resources invested by local government in good faith and in accordance with the memorandum of understanding in the development of regional land use strategies and the interim planning schemes.


(2) That 'planning reform' for 'consistency' is delivered through the application of a strategy based on current information, not the continuation of out-dated land zoning regimes; and


(3) That the Solicitor-General's advice as interpreted by the Tasmanian Planning Commission indicates a failure to implement 'planning reform' and significantly disadvantages some councils and their communities by disregarding years of local strategic work undertaken in preparation for new planning schemes.


This motion is due to the frustration and concern that have been raised by councils, particularly in the northern area and some other areas, as I understand. I apologise that I must give some technical information to give some background. I know a lot of it is 'gibby-gobby' speak, but gives the context of this motion. In 2001 I launched the new Meander Valley planning scheme, but it still has not come to fruition some 11 years later. I am reflecting here some of the frustrations and anxieties being expressed by many of the elected members, the staff and also the citizens of some of those council areas.


(Extract from Greg Hall’s motion)



Mr FINCH (Rosevears) - I do not have the local government experience of other members, so I am interested to listen to their arguments. These are very complex issues. I know from my own research that trying to understand planning laws in Tasmania is complex and confusing. Over time I have had quite a bit of advice on our planning schemes and I am none the wiser.


Mr FINCH - I want to support the member's motion because I cannot remember a time in Tasmania when planning has not been in a mess. I get that sense from my constituents who talk to me, particularly developers. People who want to subdivide pieces of land want to know what is going on. The Protection of Agricultural Land - PAL - policy has really confused things on the West Tamar. People were in a bind trying to find a pathway through, and a way forward for their development, house, land or property.


The member for Western Tiers seems to have gone to the heart of long-term zoning and land-use problems in Tasmania. It seems to go back to 1992 when the Tasmanian Liberal government advertised for submissions for proposed right-to-farm legislation. What followed was the PAL scheme based on the American right-to-farm laws. It caused a de facto devaluation of their land for many of my constituents because they no longer had a right to build a home on their land. I remember going to a meeting called by the West Tamar Council and there was a young fellow there, about 25 or 26. He and his new wife had bought 25 acres of land on the West Tamar and had built a shed and wanted to use it to build their home. They took a long time planning it and were very excited about it and suddenly the PAL policy said, 'No, you can't build a home on 25 acres'. That investment, and the time he had put into building the shed, was worth zilch. It was a very disappointing outcome. That was one story of many that we heard at that time with the West Tamar Council and their submissions regarding the impact of the PAL policy on the land in the West Tamar.


Since that time there have been some minor adjustments made to the planning areas in the West Tamar. I have raised questions on some of those in the chamber from time to time. There have been some noble cases that have been resolved through our legal system. One I can recall resulted in the local council 'spot rezoning' one property in the Waratah-Wynyard municipality: a couple, named Bridge, both in their 80s, who had been asked to vacate their cottage because the council had no record of their home being legally approved. There are a lot of instances like that.


Ms Forrest - That is not a typical example. There are a lot more other challenges up there with the PAL policy.


Mr FINCH - Absolutely, but I cite that one because it received a lot of publicity. That was an example of our planning system being in a mess. I do not know how developers in the state have coped over the years trying to progress for their business colleagues the things that they are trying to achieve for the state.


Ms Forrest - They throw their hands in the air.


Mr FINCH - I have only to look at Ross Harrison[To be confirmed.]. He has torn his hair out. Ross had an article in the Examiner this week. He has been one of our really solid developers. He has been challenged over many years. He has a lot of great ideas, a lot of energy, and he has put that to good use in the north of the state. I know that through this fog of confusion and lack of support, that he feels the clarity in what he is able to achieve. Nonetheless, he has kept going and he has some really interesting developments on the books.


The honourable member for Western Tiers' motion goes straight to the heart of the problem. Local government has done much good work in the development of regional land use strategies, but years of local strategic work undertaken in preparation for new planning schemes seems to have been disregarded. Is that a waste of ratepayers' resources, energy and effort? I strongly support the honourable member for Western Tiers' motion and hope that it will be noted and acted upon.