Inaction on planning takes cake 

AS THE year draws to a close, Tasmanians will reflect on the state government and its performance.

In many ways it will be a poor reflection, a year of underachievement.

Two of the Labor-Green government's biggest ticket items - same-sex marriage and a forest peace deal - failed to eventuate.

One of the main reasons was a lack of support at the final hurdle, the Legislative Council. But that lack of support in the upper house is actually another failure of government.

Threatening Legislative Councillors is not a path to success.

The IGA on forests was a two-year process for a group of non-government organisations that were not representative of everybody affected.

On-again-off-again talks finally landed in parliament with a few sitting days left in the year. It was rammed through the lower house with about 12 hours of debate on the final day and the upper house was expected to approve it in the final three sitting days or risk being "named and shamed".

This is not the way government should work. Federal governments should not be offering $100 million sweeteners to get legislation approved. It looked and smelled like a political bribe.

It was the same with same-sex marriage.

The Marriage Act is federal law and in the end it was this legal concern that tipped the scales, even though some of the dissenting councillors had no philosophical objections to same-sex marriage.

These legal concerns should have been discussed and addressed by the government with the upper house members. Instead they were politically abused by Greens leader Nick McKim for not dancing to the tune of his fiddle.

However, by far the biggest disappointment has been the failure of Bryan Green and the state government to deliver meaningful planning reform.

This has been promised for more than four years and has ended in spectacular failure, with tens of millions of dollars in developments stuck in limbo.

Premier Lara Giddings heralded her $24 million jobs package this week. Delivering the promised planning reform to elected local governments would have unleashed building activity and jobs growth that would have dwarfed her announcement.

This week we heard about $12 million of developments at Prospect that will not proceed in the Meander Valley municipality.

On the West Tamar, developers of the Greens Beach Golf Club and also the Craggy Ridge residential development were told two years ago to sit tight and wait for the new planning scheme and everything would be OK.

They are all still waiting as the building and construction industry grinds to a halt.

The Tasmanian Planning Commission either needs to be restructured or Mr Green needs to assert some authority over his portfolio to get this matter resolved. At the moment developers are taking their money away from Tasmania because of this planning uncertainty and who can blame them?

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