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Scrap the DAP System in Western Australia

This petition had 613 supporters

Please help us end this developers' free-for-all!

We, the DAP-Affected Communities of WA, are seeking your support to end a long and ever-growing list of bad development approvals being made by the government's system of unelected, unrepresentative, and unaccountable Development Assessment Panels (DAPs). These five-person panels are completely biased in favour of the development industry. They consist of three government-appointed development industry "experts", and two "local government members" who are explicitly directed by the DAP regulations not to represent the views of their own councils, and thereby their constituents. How incredible is that?!  Our elected members are stripped of the right to represent their electorates.

Yet even if the two councillors ignore that regulation and vote with the people, they are still outnumbered 3-2 by development industry representatives. 

It's important to realise that this is not an anti-development petition. We, the organisers, absolutely support development. We also understand and accept that more homes need to be built to cater for a growing population. But that development needs to happen in a way that respects proper town-planning rules and the rights of the current tax-payers and rate-payers. And that is simply not happening.

These panels have shown again and again - from Stirling to Subiaco, from Broome to Mandurah, from South Perth to Applecross - a complete disdain for the opinions of local residents and rate-payers, approving instead developments that are grossly inconsistent with their surroundings, regularly bypassing all the normal rules councils abide by, disregarding the long-term social impact of placing liquor stores and fast-food outlets close to schools, bringing massive traffic and parking issues to quiet areas, destroying the amenity of suburb after suburb after suburb.  And yet this system is not only set to continue; it’s going to be expanded!

The system also gives developers the right of appeal, whereas residents and communities get none. So, if the developers don't get their own way the first time, they appeal, and appeal, and appeal until they do get what they want, where they want it, regardless of the rules that govern the rest of us. And there is no limit to the number of times developers can appeal.  For residents and communities, however, the limit is precisely “zero”. Which means that wherever you choose to buy, set up home, bring up your family, retire to – you’ll have no chance of stopping this happening to your community.

Here are just three of the many examples:

The DAP recently approved a 29-storey building in South Perth, in a maximum 8-storey zoned area – that’s nearly 4 times the height limit! And they approved that building with zero road setback, thus destroying the amenity of the openness of the area with its 100-year-old trees. The DAP called this building "consistent with the existing built form of the locality."

In Maylands, in a designated "protected" heritage precinct, consisting of homes all more than 100 years old, restored by their owners at great expense and effort, preserving the recent history of our State, the DAP approved the demolition of a 100+ year heritage home and the construction of a 10-unit apartment block in its place, with flat white roof, flat black walls and bright yellow balconies. The DAP calls this "consistent with the existing built form of the locality."

In Alfred Cove, in a designated low-density suburb, an R40 block, which could have a maximum of 24 dwellings put on it,  was given approval by the DAP to have 84 dwellings built on it, bypassing the regulations of five levels of zoning codes. At more than 23% above maximum height allowable, and three times the number of dwellings, the approved building is nowhere near the R40 requirements, but weighs in at over R100. Yet, once again, the unelected, unrepresentative and unaccountable DAP called it "consistent with the existing built form of the locality."

What an astonishing insult that is to our collective intelligence! 

"Consistency with the existing built environment" is one of the key requirements of the R-Codes that these DAPs are supposed to be observing, yet time and again, they treat it with disdain.

And when we, the residents and rate-payers, question these outrageous decisions, we are stonewalled. The panels themselves refuse to explain, and their meeting minutes leave you none the wiser.

To date, the Planning Minister has stuck avidly to the line that "due process was followed". Well, we say, if that is “due process”, then we have no choice but to seek to have this “due process” completely scrapped. 

But the Minister wants to expand it.

We say that approvals for new developments must be orderly, rule-abiding, and accountable, based on decisions made by people who are answerable to the people. These DAPs have proven themselves clearly answerable to no one.  

So, on 29 July this year, the DAP-Affected Communities group held a public meeting at the Como Bowling Club, to hear from more than a dozen different communities about how this system had treated them – all of them badly. Approximately 120 people attended from Alfred Cove, Como, Cottesloe, South Perth, Subiaco, Mt Hawthorn, Vincent, Maylands, Mandurah, Karawara, Karrinyup, Point Peron, Claremont, Mt Lawley, Swanbourne, Wembley, West Leederville, Dalkeith, Mosman Park, Willagee and Serpentine-Jarrahdale. 

We voted unanimously to work to have this system scrapped, and to have decision-making returned to those whom we, the people, can hold responsible for the planning decisions they make: our elected local government representatives, as is befitting of a modern democracy.

With this petition, therefore, our growing coalition of communities is saying to both State Labor and Liberal parties (they both currently support the DAPs) that we have had enough of a system that delivers poor and improper planning decisions that favour no one but the developers concerned. 

We have had enough of having our rights ripped away from our democratically elected local representatives and trampled on. 

We have had enough of "behind-closed-doors" mediation sessions that the people are not allowed to attend, let alone participate in. 

We have had enough of “so-called” experts using their discretionary powers to run roughshod over the rules that everyone else has to comply with.

In short, we have had enough of this system's utter disdain and dismissiveness of the people of this State.

Australia is a modern liberal democracy, and, as we all know, democracy is based on "government of the people, by the people, for the people", not “government of the people, by an unelected few, for the benefit of a chosen few.”   

As the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) said of the same system there in 2013, it's "an easy target for those prepared to use corrupt means to obtain a favourable result."

Having seen it in action now for four years, we see no reason to think WA’s version is any different.

We therefore ask you to join us in signing this petition demanding both the Planning Minister and the Shadow Planning Minister move to immediately “Scrap the DAP” and restore proper order and accountability to our planning system. 

Thank you for your support.


Today: DAP-Affected Communities WA is counting on you

DAP-Affected Communities WA needs your help with “The Hon Planning Minister (WA), John Day, and the Hon Shadow Planning Minister (WA), Rita Saffioti: Scrap the DAP System in Western Australia”. Join DAP-Affected Communities WA and 612 supporters today.