James Levinson, Principal, Botten Levinson Lawyers joined Ashleigh Tesluk of Legalwise Seminars to discuss the infrastructure schemes under the the Planning, Development
and Infrastructure Act 2016 and Future Reforms.
You can hear from James directly at The New Planning, Development and
Infrastructure Act 2016 seminar on Wednesday 28 June 2017 at the Stamford Plaza
Could you tell us a little bit about yourself, James (experience, your practice, what you’re working on. etc)?
I have a law degree and an arts degree majoring in geography. I have practised exclusively in the field of property development, environmental and natural resources regulation and infrastructure law for over 20 years. My day to day work involves advisory and strategic advice to the development industry and to other sectors such as mining, petroleum, energy, agriculture, waste etc on development, environmental and project approvals, litigation and negotiating and drafting project and infrastructure agreements.
The seminar will examine the key aspects of the new Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act 2016. Can you broadly explain the significance of the new Act, and in particular, how Local Councils across the state will be affected?
The new Act brings in a new regime. There are some elements that take their DNA from the present legislation, but there is much that is new. For State and Local Government that will mean another 2 years of intense policy development and administrative establishment to build the policies and systems from the ground up. For the private sector it means waiting around for all of this to happen in the hope that in the meantime, the present system is not neglected.
Your topic will examine ‘Infrastructure Schemes Under the Act’. Can you explain how infrastructure schemes have changed?
These schemes are new. We have not had any statutory system like it before this legislation. The key change is that these schemes provide a platform for funding and for the co-ordination of the delivery of infrastructure across some sectors (but sadly, not all). With the right attitude and vision these schemes could make the delivery of larger and more fragmented infrastructure projects possible.
If there were 3 critical areas that Local Councils (or others affected by the Act) need to be aware of (or avoid) what would they be?
Firstly, no matter what the new regime, the fundamentals remain. Good policy is still good policy. The new regime should be seen as an opportunity to re-set the policy and Local Government is at the coal face of that process.
Secondly, the new regime presents an opportunity for Local Government to spare itself the cost and burden of needless regulation. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Embrace delegations and simplified assessments for the things that aren’t contentious and focus time and effort on the difficult issues.
Thirdly, infrastructure schemes will need initiative and leadership. Local Government should develop its political and leadership skills to take up that opportunity to deliver real gains for the State.
What are some of the trends and developments you see ahead as a result of the new Act coming into effect?
Frankly I expect it will be same stuff, different bucket. I hope I am wrong. The reality of such a scale of legislative change is that it will take 3-5 years for the private and public sectors to get the system up and running. The key is to be able to hang on for that period to see if the new order is worth it.
You can hear from James directly at The New Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act 2016 seminar on Wednesday 28 June 2017 at the Stamford Plaza Adelaide.