The Planning Minister had threatened to keep the Upper House sitting indefinitely until the legislation was passed, which Greens MLC Mark Parnell likened to “naughty schoolchildren” being kept back in class “until some kid owns up”.
But the ringing of the recess bells tolled for Rau and his grand ambition to see his reform become law before Christmas.
“These things are sent to try us,” he told InDaily today.
“We’ll just have to start the process again next year … hopefully they (Legislative Councillors) will have turned their minds to what they actually want between now and February.”
Disappointed, but not surprised, to see only Labor MLCs prepared to keep working beyond today in #saparli on important planning legislation
— John Rau MP (@JohnRauMP) December 10, 2015
SA Liberals @MarkParnellMLC & other independents shut down debate on important planning bill that would create jobs and stimulate economy
— SA Labor (@alpsa) December 10, 2015
He accused the Liberals and other crossbenchers of “wrecking tactics”, arguing “some of the things they’ve done are massively contradictory.
“They don’t point to people having a comprehensive policy position… it’s just inconsistent, it’s almost vandalism really,” he said.
The bill is now doomed to languish until parliament resumes in February, when it must be ratified by both houses, with Rau warning it will be “a peculiar looking bill coming back from the Legislative Council”.
“It still means there’s room for argy bargy when it come back to the Lower House,” he said.
“I’ve certainly not given up on it… I’m still optimistic of getting most of it across the line.”
He said Upper House members had known the “concepts and plans” of the legislation “for at least a year” and it was “just a lack of commitment to the task of getting this important legislation through”.
“If, as I suspect, they were just filibustering for the last few days, it might start moving more quickly (in February),” he said.
He reserved particular scorn for Greens MLC Mark Parnell, who moved “the bulk of the amendments” and “has not attempted to engage in any way about it, despite me inviting him on multiple occasions”.
“You can make of that what you will,” he said.
But Parnell rejected the accusation, accusing the minister of a “dummy spit”.
“I’ve had three briefings with minister’s staff, including the people who wrote the bill, and one with Rau,” he said.
“I’m more than happy to sit down with him but he’s got to be a bit realistic about the time frame.”
He said the process was killed off not by the Upper House but by the minister’s “arrogance and lack of understanding of the democratic process”.
“John Rau had a dummy spit and tried to bully the Legislative Council, and he’s failed – that shows me democracy works,” he said.
He said the “process was absolutely appalling”, arguing the legislation was meant to be tabled in July but did not land until the second week of September.
“Having blown two months in the process, his view was the part of the process we need to condense was the Upper House,” he said.
“Rau has said the implementation of this will take three to five years (so) there’s no looming deadline… the Government had made over 100 amendments itself, and got some of them wrong… it was just diabolical and an indication it needs more work.”
Parnell said having been defeated on his push for an urban growth boundary to protect the Hills Face Zone, Rau had “already lost his big ticket item”.
“But it was an own goal, John Rau didn’t give himself the best chance of getting it through,” he said.
“He left no time for serious negotiation… he might have been able to salvage the urban growth boundary if he’d been prepared to talk turkey with other crossbenchers.”
Parnell says it was “inevitable that this bill wasn’t going to be completed this year”.
“It’s the single biggest, most complicated legislation of the year – a once in a generation reform of a really complex system,” he said.
“It’s hard to think of a more important legislation to shape the future of our cities, suburbs, regions and towns (so) I don’t apologise at all for the time it’s taken so far.
“We haven’t been lazy, we’ve been diligent.”
Local News Matters
Media diversity is under threat in Australia – nowhere more so than in South Australia. The state needs more than one voice to guide it forward and you can help with a donation of any size to InDaily. Your contribution goes directly to helping our journalists uncover the facts. Please click below to help InDaily continue to uncover the facts.