The Property Council is calling for the Government and the Opposition to revisit their proposed models for planning appeals.
Executive Director of the Property Council in WA, Mr Joe Lenzo, said “Although both main parties agree that reform is necessary, their rival models have features which, in our view, require reassessment.”
“Clearly, the current system where more than 90% of appeals go to the Minister is an inefficient and inappropriate use of a Minister’s time. Further, it is agreed that there is a need for more transparency in planning appeals.”
Mr Lenzo said: “The ALP’s proposed requirements to publish decisions with reasons makes good sense.
“However, the ALP model, as currently proposed, runs the risk of developing a new Government bureaucracy with opportunities for parties to unduly delay the appeals process.”
The ALP proposes that complex cases be dealt with by tribunal members and that all appeals abide by the rules of natural justice.
“The ALP model could result in a legalistic approach to dispute resolution when matters are referred to the Tribunal, which has been the experience with the Tribunal in previous years.”
Mr Lenzo highlighted that the Government plan does not allow for parties to an appeal to make submissions to the decision making panel.
He said, “The Government’s plan also has the potential to disadvantage parties unable to effectively represent themselves in the appeal process.”
“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 Opposition.
The Property Council will recommend an alternative model to both Government and Opposition in the next few months.
“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,” said Mr Lenzo.
“The development of a large bureaucratic process would simply become another burden on the public purse.
“We prefer to keep a simplified process where an investigator publishes an accessible report. The Minister should retain ‘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.”