The Attorney-General Robert Clark announced today that developers may opt to pay to fast-track their multi-million dollar development VCAT hearings.
You could argue this is better than the previous Major Case List initiative where tax-payers funded developers fast-tracked hearings, but having any legal system (user paid or tax-payer paid) which favours powerful and affluent groups over everybody else is fundamentally unfair and disadvantageous to the general community.
How does this impact upon us in relation to the Timber Yard Development? If the timber yard developer (Peter Cahill) proposal is rejected by Council and he proceeds to VCAT, he can pay to fast-track the hearing. This leaves objectors and Council with less time to prepare cases opposing the development.
Have a read of the following articles about this issue.
The Age, Peter Munro, 18/09/2011. PDF copy here Rich jump planning queue.
The Age, Kellee Nolan, 18/09/2011. PDF copy here User-pay VCAT deemed unfair.
Interesting to note, the first article quotes John Cicero who is the Urban Development Institute of Australia’s state president. This is the same John Cicero who was the planning lawyer representing Peter Cahill regarding the Timber Yard Development at the last VCAT hearing, and offers the opinion that developers should have their fees paid for by the government and tax-payers. Maybe if developers were not so greedy and selfish they would not be clogging up VCAT with ridiculous proposals such as Cahill’s proposal for the Timber Yard site.