Urban Democracy & Environment movement stops rotten DACs law - Victoria, Australia
"Dave the Developer" at the Restore Residents' Rights protest rally, June 10, Photo: Progress Leader
Development Assessment Committees' Legislation Stopped In Upper House
Ed. The following story is adapted from the MRRA Macedon Ranges' Residents Association site: It describes a really important battle in the ongoing war for democracy in Victoria which will probably be reported on in other articles at candobetter.
Where to from here?
'Where to from here' depends on whether government finds a way around needing parliament's consent to change the law
The day after the "Restore Residents Rights" rally at parliament house on June 10, which was attended by 600  people, Victoria's upper house rejected changes to the Planning and Environment Act that would have introduced Development Assessment Committees [DACs] to the State.
Initially proposed for a limited number of metropolitan areas, the government's aim is to have this system of decision-making apply more broadly. The DAC system takes planning powers off Councils and hands them to majority government-appointed committees which then make planning decisions in Council's place, while Councils and community carry the financial costs of having DACs make the decisions for them.
Lack of transparency key concern for democracy
Key concerns with DACs include a lack of clarity about accountability and transparency mechanisms, the breach of fundamental democratic principles and the community's right to know, and the potential for planning decisions to be driven by party politics, and implementing specific development agendas without any obvious ability by the community to express their views to the decision-makers.
In their present proposed form, DACs are vulnerable to being 'stacked' politically, while cutting off Councils and communities from decisions that affect them. Another concern is the inadequacy of the current planning system to produce outcomes that the community, as opposed to the developer, wants.
The whole DACs ideology captures and builds on a belief held at governmental level that all it takes to make a "good" planning decision is some 'tick boxes' and for applicants and decision-makers to settle it between themselves - no such thing as "no", just "whatever it takes". You get to know about it when it happens. So much for community ownership of decisions that affect the community! And they wonder why we are all getting peed off!
As "Dave The Developer" said at the RRR rally, this a fantastic government - when us developers go in with 12 storeys in a 5 storey area, all they say is, is 12 enough?!!
Chris Gaffney played the part of Dave the Developer and put on a great comedy act. The whole show was the idea of the Darebin Appropriate Development Association and they had working bees to make the little houses and garden that were knocked over by the Bobcat. In the photo you see the splendid high rise blocks called Brumby Towers and Villa de Maddening that rose in their place.
 A reestimation based on the known number of people carrying balloons (300) plus the number of people not carrying balloons, puts the total around 600 people, which is huge for the sprawling, socially disorganised and transport-disconnected city of Melbourne, where, although population is growing, democracy and communication are shrinking.