Victorians owed full inquiry into broken planning system


The Victorian Greens have said the state’s planning system is broken and in urgent need of an overhaul, and will be pushing for a full parliamentary inquiry in the next term.

An initial inquiry into Victoria’s planning framework began earlier this year but failed to conduct a proper investigation because the Committee decided to shelve any public hearings.

This meant the Committee was unable to directly hear from the community and experts, resulting in a weak report released today.

Leader of the Victorian Greens, Samantha Ratnam, said it had taken a long time to establish such a significant and broad-ranging inquiry, and that it was unfair that many Victorians who made submissions to the inquiry were denied the opportunity to speak directly to the Committee.

She added that after years of campaigning for reform, local community groups and planning advocates had been let down by a watered-down process that would not lead to real reform.

A full inquiry could have responded to the great body of evidence that was submitted to the inquiry, which included that:

  • Victoria’s land use and planning system is delivering unaffordable, unsustainable and poor quality urban development and is not meeting the challenges posed by climate change.
  • The system is experienced by many in the community as overly complex and frustrating with decreasing transparency and accountability.
  • There are mechanisms available to the Government to increase the availability of affordable housing in Victoria, including mandatory inclusionary zoning.
  • Aboriginal cultural heritage and built form heritage is poorly protected.
  • For too long the planning system in Victoria has favoured the facilitation of profits for developers more so than it has achieved good social and environmental outcomes.
  • Many local government councils expressed concern about the impact of the Victorian Government’s ‘streamlining’ planning processes that bypass formal council and community involvement and assessment against local planning provisions.

The planning system in Victoria has not been holistically reformed for decades, with successive state governments choosing instead to opt for piecemeal reforms and centralising power into the hands of the Planning Minister.

The system has also been left vulnerable to being exploited by developers who have fought against meaningful reform.

By conducting a full inquiry in the next term of Parliament, we can overhaul the planning system so that the community is put first, and we can deliver more affordable, sustainable and liveable homes - while protecting Aboriginal heritage and strengthening overall heritage protections.

Quotes attributable to Leader of the Victorian Greens, Samantha Ratnam MLC:  

“Victoria’s planning system is broken in many ways and without a full-scale inquiry we won’t even scratch the surface of what needs to be done to fix it.

“I was disappointed by the committee’s decision to not hold public hearings for our planning system inquiry - a significant issue like this deserves a significant inquiry, not something watered down.

“The Greens will be pushing for a full inquiry in the next term of Parliament so we can adequately address our planning system and fix it so that communities are put first.”