Stoner admits planning system too complicated and needs to be fixed

November 27, 2014

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Former NSW Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner has admitted that the planning system has become more complicated and is calling on the state’s decision makers to develop and implement policy in the interests of the whole state and not appeal to populist ideas.
 
Speaking at the NSW Mining Industry & Suppliers Conference in Sydney, Mr Stoner highlighted the government’s commitment to a strong mining sector and highlighted achievements including the Resources for Regions program, which has injected around $210 million into mining regions over the past four years. 
 
It was a reflective speech where the former Deputy Premier looked back on his time in the role and some of the challenges, particularly balancing the needs of different industries and the community while trying to bring jobs and economic development to the state. 
 
He spoke about his disappointment at the government’s failure to “fix” the planning system and his frustration at the “green tape” embedded in the regulation from previous administrations which has been “difficult to unpick”.
 
Mr Stoner was a strong supporter of the minerals industry in opposition and in government. He chaired the Land Use and Resources Sub Committee of the NSW Cabinet to get the balance right between competing land uses. 
 
“I have to say in my 16 years of politics at a particular meeting of that [committee], I was involved in the biggest ‘ding dong’ battle of all time with another minister in support of your industry. I’m happy to say I won,” he said.
 
However he admitted the Strategic Regional Land Use Planning Policy, introduced in this recent term of government, had actually made things worse for project proponents. 
 
“It’s added more red tape. It was designed to deal with all of these opposing interests around land use and give some certainty to everyone. It’s been partially implemented but I’m sorry it’s added more complexity.”   
 
The Member for Oxley will retire in March after 16 years in the NSW Parliament and 12 years as leader of the NSW Nationals, including the past three and a half years as Deputy Premier following the Coalition’s election win in March 2011.
 
Mr Stoner reiterated comments he made in his valedictory speech to the Legislative Assembly, calling on decision makers to stick with the facts and the ‘triple bottom line’ of economy, environment and community.
 
“What I did was I made a plea to all of the members in this place, to put aside the base populism, to stick with the facts, look at the science, have the courage of their convictions and not take the opportunity to garner cheap votes by trying to exploit the ignorance of certain people. I made that plea then and I make it again today.”
 

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