Media Release, Thursday 20 June 2002

Coastal planning broken: Ministerial Taskforce doesn�t go far enough

The Ministerial Taskforce Report on coastal planning issues, released yesterday by Alannah MacTiernan, fails to go far enough, the Coastal Planning Coalition (CPC) claimed today.

The Taskforce was set up by the Minister in response to calls from the CPC, which represents all WA coastal �hotspots,� including Leighton, Ningaloo, Gnarabup, Port Catherine, Moore River and Smiths Beach.

�We commend Minister Alannah MacTiernan for acknowledging that the planning system is fundamentally flawed and for establishing the Taskforce,� said Mr Andrew Sullivan, spokesperson for the CPC.

�Unfortunately the Taskforce limited itself to a narrow terms of reference and was of the view that there were only minor problems with the existing system. The recommendations contained in the report fail to adequately address the majority of the concerns originally expressed by the CPC. The community and the Minister expected a wave of reforms, and all we have is a ripple.�

The majority of the Taskforce membership was drawn from agencies and groups actively participating within the existing system.

Mr Sullivan said, �We don�t have confidence that the proposed reforms would address the problems of the current hotspots or similar future problems.�

Recognising the deficiencies of the Taskforce, the CPC teamed up with the Conservation Council to commission a prominent QC to prepare a report to examine mistakes made in WA and lessons from other states.

The QC�s report was written to highlight the magnitude of the problem but its contents were not considered in any detail by the Taskforce.

�It has been demonstrated that within Government there is a need for an independent coastal planning watchdog,� Mr Sullivan said.

�Coastal policies are designed to protect the coast. Changes must be made so they are not ignored by decision makers. There is a clear need for someone in the many Government agencies to assume the role of a strong advocate for the coast.�

�No longer should the community be locked out of planning decisions. The community deserves the right to challenge or appeal against developments within the planning system rather than having to rely on drawn-out political battles.�

The CPC was surprised by the early public release of the taskforce report. The CPC will be seeking an urgent meeting with the Minister to discuss its concerns and is presently preparing a report, which will include the QC�s findings, for public release soon.

Conservation Council of WA Australian Wildlife Consevancy The Wilderness Society Australian Marine Conservation Society

Contact: Andrew Sullivan


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