The Victorian Auditor General notes that Victoria's population grew from 5.5 million in 2011 to about 6 million in 2016, and is expected to reach 10 million by 2051. That is in 34 years! Responding to this madness, the Auditor General has recommended the introduction of "a risk-based approach to development assessment processes and guidance materials, by developing clear, simple assessment pathways that ensure applications are progressed in a transparent way in proportion to the potential risk, impact and cost, and in accordance with community expectations reviewing efficiency indicators to support the application of a risk-based approach (see Section 2.2.2); [the strengthening] of accountability requirements for decisions by applying better-practice principles for discretionary decision-making and transparent public reporting, including publishing reasons for all planning decisions, and publishing advisory committee reports within three months of the committee handing its report to the Minister for Planning (see Sections 4.2 and 4.3.1). [It has also recommended working] with councils to complete the performance measurement framework for the planning system so that it provides the relevant information and data at the state and local levels to assess the effectiveness of the planning system, measure the achievement of planning policies and support continuous improvement of the planning system through monitoring the effectiveness of reforms (see Section 5.2)." Will this help Victorians and Australians to halt the environmentally dangerous and antisocial development push from growth lobby governments? This is an excellent and informative report that will be of use to anyone wanting to understand our current predicament and the relevant bits of the law. It includes the subject of loss of agricultural land and how so defined and a summary of the objectives of the Planning and Environment Act 1987, which have an ironic flavour under the present Victorian regime. [Emphases by candobetter.net editor.]
Access the Report
Full report as PDF (5.5 MB)
PDF of the presentation
The following are selections from the "Findings" part of the Report:
Assessments that were not comprehensive were inadequate due to a number of reasons:
- assessment against state planning policies is difficult due to the vague policy objectives and lack of measurable indicators
- gaps in statewide guidance on challenging planning issues, such as housing diversity and affordability
- no statewide guidance on what the Act's concepts of net community benefit, sustainable development and acceptable outcomes cover, and how they might be assessed in a way that is in proportion to the scale, complexity and risk of the planning proposal being considered
- limited consideration of potential adverse environmental, social and economic factors
- in-house assessment report templates that do not adequately reflect the requirements of the Act or the VPP for integrated decision-making.
Past reforms have had little impact on fixing other systemic problems impeding the effectiveness, efficiency and economy of planning schemes. As a result, many of the issues prevalent before the 1996 overhaul of the planning system have re-emerged: These include:
- vague and competing state planning policy objectives and strategies, with limited guidance for their implementation, which reduce the clarity of the planning system's direction in meeting state planning objectives
- a lack of specific guidance to address key planning challenges, such as social and affordable housing, climate change and environmentally sustainable development
- an overly complex system of planning controls in local planning schemes—councils add and amend policies and controls to try to provide clarity and certainty to their schemes in the absence of clear guidance at a state level
- DELWP's and councils' performance measurement frameworks being unable measure whether the objectives of the Act or state planning policies are being achieved
- lengthy delays in the processing of planning proposals, leading to set time frames not being met and unnecessary costs for applicants.
- These systemic weaknesses exist because of the poor uptake and implementation of review recommendations. This is due to:
-a lack of clear prioritisation, time frames, actions or resources to support the implementation of recommendations by planning departments or government
-a lack of continuity in reform processes and commitment to their implementation due to changes in government or government policy
-poor project governance and oversight, with frequent machinery-of-government changes to the planning department and its systems, and the absence of a good project management structure to oversee the implementation of recommendations.
As a result, the planning system is difficult to navigate and implement, and it places an unnecessary burden on local government, DELWP and applicants to administer and use.
The objectives of the Planning and Environment Act 1987
Planning objectives, section 4(1)
Planning framework or system
Source: VAGO, from the Planning and Environment Act 1987.