Cr Ian Petersen
Cr Ian Petersen

Red tape an issue for our council

RED tape, preventing Gympie Regional Council from being flexible with planning regulations, has been blamed for halting small business development in the region.

Council’s Planning and Development chairman Cr Ian Petersen said the State Government kept creating policy that was supposed to reduce red tape, but their initiatives only seemed to have the opposite effect.

Southern Cross University School of Tourism and Hospitality Management extension officer Rose Wright, who gave a presentation along with Jason Keating from the Department of Employment Economic Development and Innovation and John Sereni from Tourism Queensland, to councillors last week, suggested council needed to relax some of its planning conditions.

Ms Wright said current planning regulations meant farmers who wanted to start farm tours or other small businesses had to lodge an application with council and the costs were too high to encourage them to have a go, but if they could test their ideas first it would be easier for them to spend the money knowing the venture was going to be a success.

The idea was welcomed by councillors but they were not convinced the State Government would follow through with supporting the idea.

Cr Ian Petersen said any idea to help farmers diversify would be endorsed by council but the State Government had tied council’s hands.

“The State Government is taking more and more control of the planning process with the Statutory Regional Plan. On the same day (as the presentation) we received 12 new State Planning Instruments (SPI),” he said.

Even though the SPIs did not yet apply, Cr Petersen said they would eventually become separate laws council had to adhere to in the planning process.

“I think we’ve demonstrated a desire to assist businesses to establish in the region, rather than impose hurdles. The biggest proportion of what is imposed comes from the state. There’s no flexibility with the statutory regional plan.”

Cr Petersen said council had been working with the regional offices of the Department of Infrastructure and Planning and formed a dialogue to try and negotiate to get the “best possible” outcome, but the whole State Government needed to be on the same page.

Ms Wright was preaching to the converted, he said, as council had allocated a lot of effort and funding to try and cut red tape.

“Here we have a State Government consultant and representatives from two State Government departments taking a commendable approach to business development via red tape reduction and flexibility while another State Government department is doing the opposite.”

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