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Peak housing body excluded from Rau's planning team

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Planning Minister John Rau has conspicuously excluded the housing industry’s peak body from a powerful advisory committee that will negotiate on the implementation of the State Government’s planning reforms, InDaily can reveal.

Rau has invited the Property Council of Australia, the Master Builders’ Association, the Urban Development Institute of Australia and the Local Government Association – but not the Housing Industry Association – to be members of a “collaborative advisory team” to help design the next steps for the massive planning overhaul.

The advisory committee will work with the Government on amendments to related legislation affected by the reforms, the development of e-planning, a new Planning and Design Code, a community engagement charter and professional accreditation standards for Development Assessment Panel members, as well as the appointment of a State Planning Commission.

According to a communication from Rau to one of the invited parties, seen by InDaily, “the team may be asked to join other focus groups of round tables … [which] may include other relevant representative groups or interested parties”.

Despite the apparent snub, Housing Industry Association executive director Brenton Gardner told InDaily this morning he was “sure an invitation will be pending” and insisted Rau’s failure to invite the association must have been “inadvertent”.

Rau, who will chair the committee, told InDaily last month that the HIA had “marginalised itself and its membership to the point of virtual irrelevance” during lengthy negotiations over the planning reform Bill.

The HIA has consistently opposed an urban growth boundary, among other reforms in the planning Bill, passed by parliament last month.

Asked whether he believed the HIA’s negotiating tactics, described as “obstructionist” at the time by Property Council state executive Daniel Gannon, had prompted the State Government to exclude it from further involvement in planning reform, Gardner insisted the Government was “bigger than that”.

Gardner said he would have to speak to Rau to find out why the HIA was not invited.

A spokesperson for Rau, who is currently on leave, said that the invited groups had shown an “ongoing interest in the working with Government throughout the passage of the Bill”.

“As such [they] have been invited to help advise with the next step of the planning reforms,” the spokesperson said.

Gardner said the HIA had enjoyed “a very good working relationship on most aspects of the [planning] Bill” with Rau, who Gardner described as “a very proactive minister”.

“I’m sure the Premier would love to have HIA involvement as [it is] the leading industry association,” Gardner said.

He said the HIA had been working closely with the Government in recent months “to make South Australia great again”.

The association had had “a series of fabulous meetings with government ministers over the last couple of months” including with Housing and Urban Development Minister Stephen Mullighan and Education and Skills Minister Susan Close.

 

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