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Bulldozing freeways through residents' rights

Recall defective Planning Bill

Protectors of Public Lands Victoria Inc has called for the withdrawal of the Major Transport Projects Facilitation Bill 2009.

Brian Walters SC, President of Protectors of Public Lands Victoria Inc. said: “This Bill is an affront to democracy as well as to good planning. It will inevitably lead to damage to the environment and public assets. It is an irresponsible measure and suggests that its proponents are in league with developers instead of upholding the community’s interests.”

Under the provisions of the Bill, the Planning Minister (in consultation with the Premier) can recommend that a project be a “declared project”. Then the project is fast-tracked without any of the normal safeguards the community has a right to expect.

Community's rights removed

The community will have no right of objection, and comment by the public is only to be permitted at the whim of the Planning Minister – and then only in exceptional circumstances, and with only 15 days’ notice. To expect community organisations to provide proper comment on major projects with only 15 days to master the material and assess it – and if necessary obtain expert advice - is ludicrous. These provisions provide for a sham right of consultation which is effectively impossible to exercise. The real goal is to remove public comment altogether, but the Bill lacks the integrity to say so.

Without public comment, projects that do not serve the interests of the community will be rammed through without a full assessment of their impact.

Ministers will not have time to assess the projects

Even when comments are offered, the Minister has only 15 days to assess them, so only the most cursory examination of the merits of a project is anticipated. For most decisions under the Bill, appeals to VCAT or judicial review are expressly excluded. Where judicial review is allowed (only for the final decision to approve a project), the Bill allows just 21 days to commence proceedings once a decision is published in the Government Gazette.

Bill heavily biased in favour of developers and varies Constitution Act

In its haste to limit rights, the Bill goes so far as to vary the Constitution Act. All consideration is given to “project proponents” and none to the community.

Labour legislating for millionaire mates

Mr Walters said: “We hope the government sees sense and withdraws the Bill. If it does not, we hope the Parliament will reject it. The fast tracking of major projects for developers, at the expense of the community and good planning, appears to be legislation for millionaire mates rather than for the good government of the people of Victoria.”

Contact via this website:
Brian Walters SC President Protectors of Public Lands Victoria Inc.
Julianne Bell Secretary Protectors of Public Lands Victoria Inc.