Last week, the Regulation Committee of the NSW Legislative Council announced it was conducting an inquiry into whether State Environmental Planning Policies, or SEPPs, should be made disallowable by the Legislative Council.
In a media release supporting the announcement, the Committee Chair, the Hon Mick Veitch MLC, commented that the inquiry would provide an opportunity to shine a light on the “scrutiny gap” arising from the exclusion of SEPPs as legislative instruments from disallowance, or the power of veto, by the House. The inquiry will also examine whether the NSW Government Guide to Better Regulation is being adhered to in the making of SEPPs.
The inquiry follows the introduction to Parliament late last year of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment (Review of Land Decisions) Bill 2020 (Land Decisions Bill). The Hon Mark Banasiak MP introduced the Land Decisions Bill as a private members bill on 20 October 2020 before debate was adjourned on the bill on 11 November 2020. In his second reading speech, Mr Banasiak told Parliament that he was introducing the Land Decisions Bill in response to what he termed recent impingements on private property rights without parliamentary scrutiny, and by a mere “wave of the environment Minister’s pen”, including the controversial Koala Habitat Protection SEPP which commenced on 17 March 2021.
If passed, the Land Decisions Bill would introduce three significant changes to the NSW planning framework:
The above proposals in their current form raise at least the following issues:
It is likely further debate on the Land Decisions Bill will await the outcome of the Regulation Committee’s Inquiry into the disallowance of SEPPs and related matters. The closing date for public submissions to the Committee is 19 May 2021 and the Committee is due to report to Parliament by the first sitting day in August 2021.
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