26 Dec No Deals Done Yet but Negotiations Continue
The State Upper House Inquiry into Shack Sites in WA was expected to report before Xmas. The Environment and Public Affairs Standing Committee initiated a review of policy and regulation relating to shacks on public land as a result of the petitions submitted to the Legislative Council. Parliament is now in recess and not due to resume till mid February 2011, so the report, if available, cannot be released to the public until after it is tabled in parliament. Watch this space.
No Deals Done Yet but Negotiations Continue Negotiations with DEC
Several meetings with senior DEC staff have occurred to advance the development of a ‘compromise plan’ for Wedge and Grey following a direction by the former Environment Minister to do so. This action is running in parallel with the parliamentary inquiry but will eventually intersect. We are drafting Shack Standards that are based on relevant Building Code of Australia provisions, services requirements (eg electrical, gas, water, effluent etc) and addresses public health and safety issues. These will become a template for the transition of shacks from an unregulated settlement to a long term regulated site. Models for long term tenure are also being investigated. This is all preliminary work to develop a ‘co-existence model’ (DEC terminology) awaiting policy review to confirm the green light for ongoing settlement tenure.
However, with the resignation of Donna Faragher from Cabinet during November due to the birth of her first child, responsibility for the Environment portfolio has been handed to John Day, Minister for Planning, pending a Cabinet reshuffle expect by the end of the year. The reality is that this will slow the process even more as senior bureaucrats will await a direction from the incoming minister (or use the opportunity to lobby for change!). The work has only just begun and WIPA/GCCA members will be consulted at key points.
WIPA and GCCA are meeting again with the National Trust of WA (16/12) to commission the appointment of a Heritage Consultant to prepare a formal heritage submission and conservation plan to be lodged with the Heritage Council of WA. This will be based on the social value criterion within the Act. It will be an expensive exercise but is intended to protect the settlements as cultural heritage icons. If successful, any future commercial, tourism or recreational activity will need to take into account provisions of the conservation plan for the settlements, as is the case now with Aboriginal Heritage sites within the area. Heritage recognition was a key element of successful retention of eastern states shack communities.”