In brief

26 May 2010

The Productivity Commission is carrying out a benchmarking study into planning, zoning and development assessments. They are looking at the operations of the states and territories’ planning and zoning systems, particularly as to how they impact on business compliance costs, competition and the overall efficiency and effectiveness of the functioning of cities.

An Issues paper has now been released and submissions are due by 16 July 2010 More information can be accessed from here.

The Trade Practices Amendment (Australian Consumer Law) Bill 2009 will take effect from 1 July 2010 (see the proclamation here). This law affects almost all consumer contracts, including contracts for the sale or rent of residential property. Under the new law, a term in a consumer contract may be held as “unfair”. If a court concludes that a term is “unfair” it is void and unenforceable. We expect this law will become a central issue in most litigation where purchasers are seeking to escape their contract to complete an off-the-plan purchase arrangement.

The Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) is reviewing the regulatory arrangements for lobbying in NSW. The Commission is looking at systems issues rather than specific allegations of corrupt conduct. An issues paper on the nature and management of lobbying in NSW has been released. The paper aims to generate community and agency response on whether changes need to be made to the current regulatory system. Submissions will be received until 23 June 2010. Please contact us if you have any suggestions for an Urban Taskforce submission. The issues paper and further information can be accessed here.

NSW Primary Industries Minister, Steve Whan, has backed a push to protect Sydney basin agricultural land from urban development. The NSW Government has established an interagency working group, which involves staff from Industry and Investment NSW (a NSW government agency), the Department of Planning and staff from Wollondilly, Penrith and Hawkesbury Councils. This working party will draft an options paper to require the Department of Planning’s Metropolitan Strategy, to place a greater focus on the protection of agriculture. This includes the possibility of having designated areas for agriculture within the Sydney Basin. For example, the working group is looking at new planning rules to encourage “agri-business parks” or “farming clusters”. Mr Whan’s media release is available here.  Our response is available here.

The Minister for Lands, Tony Kelly, has confirmed that the government wants the new ad valorem levy on land transfers to begin on July 1. The levy will require new legislation which is not yet available. Mr Kelly’s comments were published here.  Background information on the levy is available here.

The Department of Planning has placed draft NSW Best Practice Odour Guideline – Sewerage Systems on exhibition until 25 May 2010. The draft guidelines covers sewage treatment plants, water recycling facilities, sewage reticulation systems and sewer mining. While the guidelines are targeted towards those authorities who will be required to construct and operate sewerage systems, they do place an expectation on local planning authorities to use local environmental plans, particularly zoning, to seek appropriate locations for these facilities when required. Further information can be accessed here.

The Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government is conducting a targeted consultation on draft guidelines prepared to assist the community in establishing, running and participating in Community Aviation Consultation Groups for leased federal airports. Submissions must be lodged by 28 May 2010. A copy of the draft guidelines may be accessed from here.

The Federal Government has now changed the law to implement its recent announcement, which withdrew the exemption of temporary residents from the foreign ownership laws. A statement explaining the change in the law is here.

The NSW Government has introduced the Liquor Legislation Amendments Bill 2010. Under the bill, the Director-General of Communities NSW (a NSW Government agency) will be given very broad powers to make decisions affecting the business of licences premises. More information is available here.