Excerpts from HANSARD, HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY Wed 19 October & Thurs 20 October 2016
BILLS: Statutes Amendment (Planning, Development and Infrastructure) Bill
GRIEVANCE DEBATE: Goyder Electorate School Closures
MOTION: KESAB Environmental Solutions
From HANSARD, HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY WED 19 October 2016
Statutes Amendment (Planning, Development and Infrastructure) Bill
Adjourned debate on second reading.
(Continued from 21 September 2016.)
Mr GRIFFITHS ( Goyder ) ( 12:03 :47 ): I confirm that I will be the lead speaker for the opposition on the legislation, but there are a few other members from the opposition who wish to make a contribution. Can I put on the record from the start that it has always been an understanding of the opposition that subsequent legislation would be introduced on the basis, as it turns out, of turning off some sections of the Development Act 1993 and turning on some components of the Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act 2016. A very significant debate was held in this and the other place in about November of last year going through to April, I think, before the legislation was eventually carried in the Legislative Council.
It is a very significant piece of legislation that has an impact across many areas of our economy, and it was important that it occur. The debate there put in place some 240‑odd pages or thereabouts of legislation, whereas this statutes amendment legislation is about 44 pages. It does amend some 24 different pieces of legislation, much of it being as a consequential amendment in the way that previous references to the Development Act of 1993 have had to be changed and now expressed as the Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act of 2016.
The opposition certainly has no debate about the fact that the legislation is necessary and I put on the record from the very start that we do support it. I put on the record, though, that there will be some questions I intend asking the minister in committee because there are some aspects of it that I seek to put on the public record for clarification to assist all those who have to try to use it because that does create some challenges.
The legislation was introduced by the minister on 21 September. It was rather a surprise to me to see it originally tabled for debate on the following Wednesday, which turned out to be code black or 'black Wednesday', and therefore the legislation did not occur because the chamber was closed down. The briefing was only provided to me on the day of the legislative intention for the debate to occur, so it created a bit of a bottleneck about what was going to be said and what the position was going to be.
I did have some preliminary thoughts in mind and I had been in a position to contact some of the industry players, in particular, and get some very preliminary feedback from them, but in the 2½ weeks subsequent to that I have had an opportunity to get a lot more detailed information, for which I am very grateful. That information has come from the Local Government Association, the Urban Development Institute of Australia, the Master Builders Association, and the Housing Industry Association, and the Property Council also gave me feedback. It has been a bit of a cross-section, but that is because those are the players that are involved in it significantly, so that is where the consultation has been.
I note that the first four pages of the legislation were debated at length, as I have mentioned previously, but there are some changes that occurred from it, particularly in reference to a change in philosophy where the minister has to accept responsibility for certain actions to take place instead of the planning commission, which is very different to amendments that were considered in the other place as part of the eventual legislation that came in earlier this year. I can accept that, though, on the basis—and I have used a simple equation for it—that accountability requires responsibility. I indicate that there is an acceptance of that change to occur in this area because it relates to specific areas, so that is appropriate.
It is interesting that pages 8 to 28 of this legislation deal with subsequent amendments to the other 23 pieces of legislation, and that is why the review will take place of some areas that there were concerns about. I will give an example in clause 8 on page 7 of the legislation, which is an amendment to section 73 of the act. A concern put to me by the Local Government Association was that the legal advice provided to them indicated that the bill decreases the consultation requirements for the preparation of the designated instruments, so that will be an area that I will be seeking to clarify with the minister.
There are also references on page 8 to 'designated day', but later on the bill refers to the designated day potentially being 'before or after', so I will seek some clarification from the minister on that. There are also references on page 8 to 'saving of operation', and this is where I think we need some important statements by the minister on the intention of that because the second reading speech was only about a page long and therefore did not contain a lot of detail and it is important to be on the register, too.
There are some further references to change of land use, where it puts in place the ability for current rights to be continued for a two-year period. That was a period that we were aware of, so I support the intent of that, but I just want some details on it. There is a reference that the appointment of the commissioner, who is going to play an absolutely key role in this—and this was also a bit of an emphasis from me in estimates questions of the Minister for Planning—is not likely to occur until the end of March, that is, 12 months or thereabouts after the legislation passes.
The commissioner has to be in place before the planning commissioner is appointed and then the serious work is undertaken, even though some of the background work on some of the documentation required is being undertaken now by planning staff, but, for example, the charter for community consultation stems from that early work of the planning commission, and the legislation includes a requirement for that to be in place within six months, so there are some points that are going to be required on that one, too.
I note the reference to the regions on page 12. My initial thought, as a regional person, was that it refers to regional South Australia, but it does not. It refers to regions within metropolitan areas, and the head nod has been given to that, so thank you for the clarification. That, I understand. Page 13 refers to preserving existing authorisations and rights, and I suppose that relates back to the land use opportunities and, therefore, the equity and the value held in the property, and that is for the two‑year period.
There are references to a planning and design code. The interesting part is that it is not required to provide for all matters until 1 July 2020. I know that there is an enormous amount of work—I do not deny that—and effort that has to go into planning and design codes because they will become the drivers of the development vision for the areas, but we are still talking a good four years or thereabouts before that is achieved, so that is a concern we all have. Therefore, the question becomes about the resources and the capacity of staff in dealing not just with what they are doing at the moment but in creating this new documentation.
I also note that there is a reference in one clause, and we will debate it in the committee stage, about how the minister may make amendments in such a manner as the minister thinks fit. I presume that this is intended to work the way a ministerial DPA operates, much as in the current process. Indeed, other members in this chamber would be aware that where that is in place, it is an authorisation for a 12-month period subject to some community consultation before the eventual decision is made on it. 'As the minister thinks fit' is a bit of a worry area. I understand there is a need—and it comes back to how accountability requires responsibility for decisions to be made—but I will seek some clarification on that.
There are some references to local heritage. Everybody in this chamber no doubt would be aware of the discussion paper that has been issued by the minister and his staff, with consultation closing on 7 October, which has created considerable debate across all South Australia. No doubt the department has received many comments on that. As I understand it, it is about the transfer of those properties that are currently listed to go onto the new listing process. I will get some clarification on that.
I also note on page 17 the general transition scheme for the panel. The UDIA has provided me with some comments and a suggestion for an amendment on that. The information I have had, particularly from the Property Council, the UDIA and the Local Government Association, and I believe Master Builders, is that a high-level group is involved in the implementation of this. They have put their concerns to the government and staffers about that. In some cases, there has been an acceptance of it, but in other cases there appears to be a very different position on it. It does not just involve this transition scheme for panels but other areas, too, so it will be likely that we have a discussion about that in committee.
By going into committee and seeking answers from the minister, I want to flag the fact that while the opposition supports the legislation, depending on what sorts of responses we get and depending on my continued discussions with the industry groups that have put these issues to me, there might be some amendments flagged and provided to the minister between the houses for consideration by the Legislative Council as well.
I note on page 19 the reference to existing applications and that clause 19 is about appeals. My question, therefore, is because we are talking about turning off some aspects of old legislation and turning on aspects of new legislation as to how the appeal process will be run, whether this will create some legal concerns about what an appeal might be based upon regarding the provisions under which a decision is actually made. As I understand that in very simple terms, at the time of an application being lodged it is assessed upon the provisions that exist at that time—and I am also getting a head nod about that—and it has to because otherwise it will be bedlam. We will get some clarification on that.
I note some references on classification and occupation of land in clause 27 as to building use and activities, so I will be seeking some comments from the minister on that. At clause 28, there is a reference to swimming pool safety. No doubt the minister and his staff have been contacted, as I certainly have been, by the Swimming Pools Association and a representative of that group, who was concerned particularly about fencing when it comes to safety aspects of swimming pools, and the concerns about ambiguity (my word, not theirs) that exists between different regulations. So, I am not sure if it deals with that—it does not appear to me to do that, but I seek the reason it is in there.
I note also on page 32 a reference to the Environment Protection Act, and it inserts a definition of 'preschool'. I am rather intrigued as to why that is there. I will get some clarification for the record on that also. I can understand the definition, and the fact that it probably needed to be in place somehow, but I am not sure if it was just missed accidentally as part of the initial legislation discussion about that and why it is there.
I note also that on page 43 it refers to amendments to the Roads (Opening and Closing) Act 1991, and that is where there is a change of reference from the Governor being the authorised person to the minister being the authorised person, and I also seek clarification on that. We will not been talking for anywhere near as long as we did on the Planning, Development and Infrastructure Bill 2015, as originally tabled. This is a consequential piece of legislation that stems from that. It will be an enormous amount of work over the next three to five years, which is the date period commonly quoted about it, but it has to be right.
While there might be some concerns, I know the minister in his discussion with me three weeks ago, when his requirement was for this legislation to be debated then, without an opportunity to consult with the different groups, said that it was nothing, that there was nothing in it, that it was easy to do. I respect that there is an agreed position on most things, and I respect the fact that the government needs to have the capacity to turn off aspects of the Development Act 1993 and to turn on the PDI Act 2016 in areas, but it does highlight the fact that every component of planning and development controls is worthy of discussion.
I am a very firm believer in the fact that questions asked here, explanations provided by the minister and scenarios created around the reason why the questions are asked, allows those who are the implementers of it, and the people who have to work around it, along with potential future legal actions involved in the consideration and inactions against it, to understand the intent of it. It is a good discussion to have.
We do not intend to hold up the house forever on this, but we want to make sure that there is an opportunity for members to put positions and for clarification to be sought. With those very few brief words, in comparison with others, I support the legislation and look forward to its passage through the house.
GRIEVANCE DEBATE THURS 20 OCTOBER 2016: Goyder Electorate School Closures
Goyder Electorate School Closures
Mr GRIFFITHS ( Goyder ) ( 15:20 :36 ): I wish to talk about two of the schools in the Goyder electorate today and sadly put on the record that, as a result of enrolment numbers and a decision made by the parent bodies, it is intended that the schools will close at the end of this year. I am grateful that the minister is in the chamber at the moment. She would be aware that Port Vincent Primary School and Edithburgh Primary School are two great little schools on the eastern coast of Yorke Peninsula.
Some members in this chamber might have visited these schools in the past, and they would be aware of how good they are but, as a result of the declining numbers, it has been necessary for the schools to really consider what the future is. Recent polls have been conducted by the parent groups, and the very regrettable but probably only decision that could have been made by the parent bodies was to close. The children who would normally go to the Port Vincent Primary School will be going to the Minlaton District School instead, so that is a bus trip for those kids. The children from the Edithburgh Primary School will be taking a bus trip to Yorketown which is where I went to school.
It is very unfortunate. I have visited both of those schools many times, sometimes on an official visit and not just as an MP. In my previous role, I escorted the Governor when visiting Yorke Peninsula and took him to the Edithburgh Primary School. We have been very proud of what this school portrays and the quality of education that has come from it. While small in student numbers and relatively small in size, these schools have done super jobs not just with the current generation of students—I have some younger relatives who have been students at Edithburgh Primary School and relatives who have worked there—but with the previous generations.
This is exemplified by the fact that the Edithburgh Primary School celebrated their centenary of education on that site in 2013. I was blessed to be there, and my mother, too, came for that because she went to school there. I did not go to school there, but it just shows that multiple generations of families have. When grandparents, their children and now their grandchildren had been at that school, there was real pride on that day in the quality of what they managed to get out of it.
There were memories recalled about the good and bad things that, as young people, we all get up to. It was a special day. Celebrations were held and rightly so. There were discussions going on even in 2013 about the future of the Edithburgh Primary School. It was fantastic that they got through that period, but the challenge has become even greater for them so the very regrettable decision was made to close up.
Probably all members of parliament try to get to as many end of school year functions as possible and witness the very proud young kids being presented with awards and the pride of the parents and relatives who are there watching the culmination of 12 months of education and effort. I am going to try to make sure that, in particular, I go to Edithburgh Primary School and Port Vincent Primary School because I want to be part of that last day which will be rather challenging.
Port Vincent Primary School celebrated their centenary in 1996, so they have provided 120 years of education continuously from that site. This school has been extra special, I must say. They have had a very strong focus on marine studies. I have witnessed some of their displays and been told the stories of when, not that long ago, students went to Japan to an international symposium to present the studies they had undertaken of the marine environment around that school area and the seas close by. The kids have learnt an enormous amount that is a bit different from what most other schools would be doing, but I think it has helped equip them for later education and life, too.
For the current generation of parents, this is a concern. For the current generation of students who have to get on the big bus sooner than they probably would have had to to go to a bigger school, that will be an issue for them. However, I am sure the integration that will occur between those students and the kids from the Minlaton and Yorketown schools will be good, but it is going to be sad to see no activity taking place within the physical structures for 40 weeks of the year.
My hope is that the positive outcome that can come from this is that there is an opportunity to negotiate with the communities in Port Vincent and Edithburgh, which have very strong progress associations that have driven an enormous amount of community development, to make use of those structures. The schools have good facilities and they have benefited from some improvements in recent years, which will no longer be used for education purposes, but they can be used for community services in a different way.
As part of the consideration about the future of the sites, I hope the minister ensures that the local community is given an opportunity to benefit so that, while sadness comes from the closure, some positives can come from the future use of the structures. I say goodbye, sadly, to the Edithburgh Primary School and the Port Vincent Primary School.
MOTIONS THURS 20 OCTOBER HOA: KESAB Environmental Solutions:
Mr GRIFFITHS ( Goyder ) ( 17:45 :25 ): I want to make a quick contribution also and talk about two instances in the 50-year history of KESAB and one person, if I may. I am very proud that within the Goyder electorate there have been two communities that have been acknowledged in a very particular way by KESAB, and it was a great pleasure in 2004 when Port Vincent was chosen as Australia's Tidiest Town.
I cannot tell you how proud the whole region was when one of our communities was awarded Australia's Tidiest Town. It was not just a one-year effort, though; this was a decade-long commitment by so many volunteers to get to that level. It went through some very strenuous judging because it is judged on a wide variety of criteria: it must involve the whole community, it had to involve kids, and all that sort of stuff. It was a truly amazing effort. So to those people who were involved in that, and to those who have done the work in Port Vincent since, I congratulate you.
All of us in this chamber can talk about something in our community which has involved KESAB. In 2009, Stansbury won the South Australian contest. It was part of the national judging and was awarded two of the criteria areas. I think there were about 10 at the national level that did not quite get there but they still did an outstanding job, and it made me very proud. I was with the Stansbury group in 2009 in Canberra for the presentation of those awards, and those people were really pumped about how well they did. It was a fantastic day, and, again, another example of community people coming together on a regular basis to do so many little things that go unnoticed by others but make a profound difference. To all of those people across the state who are involved, I offer my congratulations.
Finally, I want to talk about one particular person, Mr Ross Swain. In my research on this, Deputy Speaker, I found a photo of you with Mr Ross Swain in 2008 when he was presented with a gift for his retirement after 30 years as the Tidy Towns judge. Ross started working for KESAB in 1973 and became the judge for the Tidy Towns competition in 1978, and did it for 30 years. In that time, Ross Swain, later to become OAM, travelled for 26 weeks per year visiting communities across South Australia. He knew so much. In one of my previous local government roles, one of my responsibilities was to drive around with Mr Swain when he was judging a town, and talk to him about the locality and give him any information that he did not know.
The lifelong impression that I will have of this fine man is that he knew so much about every town that he went into. I did not believe that it was possible for one person to possess that level of knowledge. It was to such a level that he would comment to me, 'They have a different lot of flags in their front garden this year.' He knew it so well, and this is after visiting hundreds and hundreds of towns and doing it for 30 years continuously. He had that level of detail, and he ensured that when he judged, he was very fair about it, and no matter if you were a large or a small community you were equally considered.
I have vivid recollections of living in the Mid North, at Carrieton, a very small community in the very far north which has a population of about 50 people. It would regularly feature in the top 10—which blew me away—because the whole community got behind the effort, and that was the consideration that he gave.
Mr Ross Swain OAM retired in 2008. The member for Florey, representing the premier on that day, I believe, is in the photo that I have looked at for the KESAB Tidy Town Awards, and was part of the group when Mr Swain was recognised for his 30 years of effort. The latest reference to him that I can find is when he received his OAM late last year, so I hope that Mr Swain is still well. I have vivid recollections of him.
I congratulate the KESAB organisation on what it has done for 50 years and pay tribute to the quality people involved with the organisation; they are outstanding. Mr John Phillips has also been recognised and he is a long-term member too. They and the board members and the dedicated staff, many of whom have served for a lot of years, provide an opportunity for communities to become involved in making our places better communities to live in, and for that I pay tribute and say thanks.