QLD councils hawkish on planning laws

By Paul Hemsley

Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ) chief executive officer Greg Hallam has warned the state government that councils will be keeping a close eye on recent reforms to local government planning to ensure that sure communities are not unfairly slugged with development costs.

Mr Hallam’s statement follows the passage of the Newman government’s new Economic Queensland Development Bill in late November 2012, laws that are expected to change how major development projects are “dealt with” by allowing councils input into land use planning.

The latest changes are part of ongoing plan to give local governments in Queensland more autonomy and follow the Newman government’s long awaited reforms to wind back the state government’s stranglehold on council planning.

In mid-November 2012 amendments to the Local Government Act and the Brisbane City Council Act abolished the unpopular community plans that were regarded as costly, time consuming and duplicated information already held in financial and corporate plans.

Mr Hallam welcomed changes such as government consultation with councils representing communities in priority development areas (PDA).

He said it was “pleasing” that Deputy Premier and Minister for State Development, Planning and Infrastructure Jeff Seeney stressed that the key priority in the operation of the new laws was increased engagement with local government.

“However, the LGAQ will be vigilant in ensuring that the new laws [are] not used to forcibly shift development costs on to communities,” he said.

Mr Hallam reiterated the Partners in Government agreement signed with Premier Campbell Newman by saying “local government is not just another stakeholder in the economic development of the state but a genuine partner with a political constituency as broad as the government’s”.

Mr Hallam said “communities are winners” if councils and the state government can work together and respect each other’s interests.

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