TIERNEY (Western Victoria) — My question is to the Minister for Planning.
Can the minister update the house on the Brumby Labor government’s initiatives
to make the planning system more efficient for local councils, the planning
community and all Victorians?
Mr Finn interjected.
J. M. MADDEN (Minister for Planning) — Could I take up Mr Finn’s
The PRESIDENT — Order! I advise the minister to just answer
Hon. J. M. MADDEN — I will try not to dignify Mr Finn’s
remarks with a response and I will take your advice, President.
We are seeing the enormous growth that is taking place right
across the state, which is a great thing, but it does place a bit of stress on
the planning system.
When you have greater demand in terms of applications for
whatever projects, the officers at the front line in local government, who are
predominantly the planning authority in the vast majority of the state, have to
deal with many of these issues. If they are dealing with the rats-and-mice
issues, it means they cannot concentrate on the bigger, more strategic work that
needs to be done to make the way for significant developments. That was part of
the reason why the Premier made his announcements last week about getting more
housing onto the market by streamlining the process.
Streamlining or cutting red tape is not new to this government.
In fact it follows a very successful and ambitious program for continual
improvement in the planning system. Our cutting red tape in the planning program
has led to a significant number of improvements as well as removing the likes of
the rats-and-mice stuff of shade sails, garden sheds and the like from the
planning system — those annoying little things that we want to get out.
We have been able to do that.
We have also established an e-planning system. So when Mr Davis
gets his website up, he might actually know how to operate the e-planning
system. There is a roadmap to online planning systems. As well as that we have
reduced the time frames for the documentation associated with planning scheme
amendments and we have embarked on a five-point priority action plan for making
local policy stronger. That is really about giving local councils more control
over protecting their green, leafy suburbs and the amenity of their communities.
This has all paid dividends. Last week I released the Planning
Permit Activity in Victoria 2006-07 report. This is an exciting document.
Honourable members interjecting.
Hon. J. M. MADDEN — It might not strike members as exciting in
the first instance, but let me tell them where the excitement lies. If you read
the detail you see that it says that residential applications for alterations
and additions have been slashed by 10 per cent as a direct result of cutting red
tape. For the first time since reporting began, planning permit approvals in
Victoria have dropped below 50 000. You might wonder if that is a good thing.
Let me tell members that it is a good thing, because this is a time of
record-breaking building activity, and planning permit applications have
dropped. What we are seeing are building approvals increase and planning permit
activity drop, so what we are seeing is the effect of taking out that red tape.
It means we allow the planners on the front line to concentrate on the bigger,
more important things rather than that paperwork that is so annoying.
This means that what we are seeing is the red tape burden being
reduced and those on the front line concentrating on the big things that matter,
cutting the red tape and streamlining the planning system. The holding costs,
which often are passed on to the consumer, are reduced and delays and the
regulatory burden are reduced. At the end of the day we will see savings for
everybody and a better system. It is a win-win for everybody, consistently
making Victoria the best place to live, work and raise a family.