The Property Council of Australia commissioned Urbis - one of Australia’s leading specialist consultancy firms - to identify reforms to Queensland’s development assessment system that will restore Queensland’s competitiveness and rebuild investor confidence.
Queensland Executive Director of the Property Council of Australia Kathy Mac Dermott said the Urbis report provides a roadmap for the Premier’s Building Revival Forum on 12 April by identifying roadblocks in the current system and highlighting solutions sourced from best practice examples utilised around the world.
“The research confirms that we must streamline the development assessment decision making process in Queensland if we want to lose our tag as the nation’s laggards,” Ms Mac Dermott said.
“The Property Council has long been a leader in development assessment reform, and is a strong advocate for the leading practice model developed by the Development Assessment Forum (DAF).
“The reforms identified in the Urbis report will bring Queensland more into line with the nationally accepted DAF model.”
The Urbis report highlights that Queensland’s system is characterised by a number of challenges including:
- A lack of integration between policies
- A lack of coordination between government
- A lack of certainty to industry, small business and local government
- A lack of responsiveness and flexibility
- Inequity which limits access to an adjudicator.
“These findings reinforce the evidence provided in a recent Productivity Commission report which confirmed that development assessment processes in Queensland are the most costly in the country, and decision making timeframes are more than four times some other states. (refer pages 14-15 of Urbis report)
“One of the key recommendations of the Urbis report is to increase accessibility to affordable and timely dispute resolution processes. This can be achieved by increasing the powers of the existing Building and Development Dispute Resolution Committee to follow the successful VCAT model in Victoria. (refer page 35 of Urbis report)
“Too often applicants are forced to pursue dispute resolution through the Planning and Environment Court, the cost of which is prohibitive for many people, and ultimately adds to the cost of development. Cheaper and faster dispute resolution will vastly improve the viability of development and will also play a part in improving housing affordability in Queensland.
“The report also confirms the success of Independent Development Assessment Panels utilised in South Australia and recently adopted in Western Australia. These bodies speed up and depoliticise decision making while still providing councils with the leading hand in shaping the future of their communities.
“This is a reform Queensland needs to seriously look at and Western Australia provides Australia’s newest and best model.
“The report highlights the negative impact of the increasing volume and complexity of State Planning Instruments and state agency referrals.”
“This is why the Property Council has called for a three year moratorium on new State Planning Polices and State Planning Regulatory Provisions and is advocating for a Major Projects Office within the State Government.”
The Urbis report lists 8 recommendations to restore Queensland’s competitiveness and rebuild investor confidence. These are:
- An expansion of the Building and Development Dispute Resolution Committee jurisdiction
- More compliance and code assessable development in new schemes and planning provisions
- Bringing forward the preparation of new planning schemes
- A review of Negotiated Decision Notice processes – timeframes and disincentives for time delays
- Reduce duplication and inefficiencies of State referral agencies and the lack of policy integration
- Introduce disincentives to manage frivolous and vexatious appeals
- Formal training for local government on quality decision making
- Enhanced community engagement in the early stages of planning policy development.
“Queensland is no longer seen as a solid destination for property investment, and the result is fewer jobs as investors continue to find doing business in other jurisdictions like Victoria more efficient and more profitable,” Ms Mac Dermott said.
“A significant component of the growing negative perception of Queensland has been the rampant and unjustifiable increases in infrastructure charges across the State.
“Clearly the combination of the nation’s highest infrastructure charges with the nation’s most complicated and costly development assessment process has led to a crisis of investor confidence.
“We are hopeful that the State will resolve the issue of infrastructure charges shortly, following the release last month of the Infrastructure Charges Taskforce Report.
“It is vital that the State adopt the lower charges recommended by the taskforce. Locking in the current exorbitant level of charges - which are reflected in the upper end of the spectrum identified by the taskforce - for a further three years, would be a critical error that will only serve to cement Queensland’s reputation as an undesirable investment destination.
“However, without action to improve the timeliness and cost effectiveness of Queensland’s development assessment system, large national investors and developers will continue their withdrawal and ultimately they will take the investment and jobs they generate to better performing jurisdictions.
“The property industry is the largest private sector contributor to Queensland’s economy, is the single largest source of State taxation revenue and is the State’s largest employer.
“Without immediate action to restore State’s property sector, Queensland’s economy will be stuck in second gear, regardless of the growth of other industries.”