The Queensland Temporary State Planning Policy 2/12

TEMPORARY STATE PLANNING POLICY 2/12 PLANNING FOR PROSPERITY
(Note: this TSPP has now lapsed but has informed the single State planning policy in force since mid-2013 – see http://www.dsdip.qld.gov.au/resources/policy/state-planning/state-planning-policy.pdf)

With the introduction in August 2012 of Temporary State Planning Policy 2/12 Planning for Prosperity, the State government appears to be undermining a long-standing national commitment to ecologically sustainable development.

In my opinion, TSPP 2/12 works against the carefully constructed concept of ‘ecological sustainability’ in Queensland’s Sustainable Planning Act. This Act, which sets the broad ground rules for development in Queensland, defines ecological sustainability as a balance that integrates economic, social and environmental factors – that is, no one factor is more fundamental than any other.
Ecological sustainability is derived from the National Strategy for Ecologically Sustainable Development (NSESD) endorsed by the Council of Australian Governments (States, territories and the Commonwealth) in 1992. The goal of this Strategy is
‘Development that improves the total quality of life, both now and in the future, in a way that maintains the ecological processes on which life depends’.

The explanatory notes to the Sustainable Planning Bill debated by Parliament in 2009 make explicit the link from the NSESD to ecological sustainability.
Clause 8 (of the Bill) defines ecological sustainability as a balance that integrates three separate elements. This term has been defined for the purposes of this Bill, that is, with relevance to its planning and development assessment functions. It draws on the goal, core objectives and guiding principles of the national strategy for ecologically sustainable development endorsed by the Council of Australian Governments on 7 December 1992.

TSPP 2/12 implies that the government is dissatisfied with ecological sustainability and doesn’t value having a balance that integrates economic, social and environmental factors, preferring instead to assert that economic factors are more fundamental. What other reason could there be for introducing TSPP 2/12?

While creating prosperity is a laudable objective, unless economic, social and environmental factors are balanced in an integrated way, there may be no real increase in total quality of life – social and environmental costs may outweigh economic benefits.

October 2012

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