Media Releases - 14 May 2020

Developers’ dream: Major Projects Bill a disaster for Tasmania’s people and wild places

World Heritage land is covered by the new Bill. Image: Glenn Dawes.
  • World Heritage Area & National Parks land included in scope of Bill. Why?
  • Planning minister has power to declare virtually any proposal, large or small, ‘major project’
  • Public sidelined in favour of more special treatment for vested interests 
  • Bill a solution to a non-existent problem 
  • Local councils bypassed, public appeal rights removed

The Gutwein Government’s Major Projects Bill is a developer’s dream but a local person’s nightmare (and everyone in Tasmania is local to somewhere). 

“The Bill proposes radical changes that represent an assault on the Tasmanian way of life that will weaken the fabric of the state for generations to come,” said Tom Allen for the Wilderness Society Tasmania. 

“Laws are already failing to stem the decline of nature and properly protect Tasmania’s more than 600 threatened species, as well as protect public World Heritage land and national parks. Major project laws should offer stronger not weaker environmental protections, but this Bill doesn’t. 

“The Major Projects Bill covers World Heritage land, national parks and public reserves. Why would you want major project legislation to cover such special and pristine places unless you intend to develop them? 

“The Major Projects Bill creates new exemptions from planning rules for yet another group of Government mates - rules that everyone else has to follow. There are already exemptions for industrial logging and fish-farming, and now they propose developers get special treatment too.

“The Government’s blind spot is social licence. The Bill does away with appeal rights (so that the public can’t appeal poor decisions) and input from local councils (who are blocked from having a say on projects in their areas) and gives the planning minister virtually unchecked powers to declare pretty much anything a major project. By torpedoing the ingredients of social licence, the Bill will hardwire local community conflict into the future of Tasmania’s planning system.

“The Bill is an answer to a non-existent problem because major projects can already proceed through the existing planning scheme, helped by the Projects of State Significance legislation under the State Policies and Projects Act 1993 (POSS), the Projects of Regional Significance process under the Land Use Planning and Approvals Act 1993 (PORS) and the Major Infrastructure Development Approval (MIDA) process.

"The Bill should be abandoned in favour of the existing system, which, for all its faults, still allows the public to have a say. Incremental improvements to it are preferable to silencing local communities for generations to come,” said Mr Allen.  

For further comment contact Tom Allen on 0434 614 323