Gympie councillor Dan Stewart says business and development red and green tape is vital to keeping people and places from being harmed.
Gympie councillor Dan Stewart says business and development red and green tape is vital to keeping people and places from being harmed.

‘Some people will never be happy with development'

A piece by Gympie Regional Councillor Dan Stewart

A COUPLE of years ago I wanted to put eaves over one wall of my house. It would have triggered the need for a development application and cost several hundred dollars in fees. But I could put awnings over each of the windows no bigger than 2sq m. That is what I built.

There are good reasons for the need for development applications. I do not want a roof that flies off and damages property or harms a life.

Cr. Dan Stewart.
Cr. Dan Stewart.

Wrens and finches would fly between my place and the long grass and bushes on my neighbour's place. My neighbour decided to do some clearing to put cattle in their paddock. While it makes life more difficult for the birds, it is a rural area. But if someone decided to build a factory next to my place I trust there is a rigorous planning process that can ensure I am not adversely affected.

When is government or business regulation appropriate, when should there be red tape or green tape?

What harm is being caused by an action? Does is matter whether two woman marry each other? Their marriage does not affect me or my relationship with my wife.

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If we are causing harm to another person, or to the environment, then there may need to be regulation. But what is harm? When does opposing someone or attacking their views cross over to being verbal abuse?

Harms to the environment can be kept at bay through green tape.
Harms to the environment can be kept at bay through green tape.

Do we trust people to be responsible? I trust that most women will be responsible in making decisions about whether or not to carry a fertilised egg to full-term. I trust people in great pain and nearing the end of their life to make decisions about how they will die with dignity. After all, their life has already been extended artificially by modern medicine.

As a councillor, when it comes to planning decisions, my questions centre on how a development affects the neighbours, the wider community and the environment. How much growth do we want and will it change our community for the better?

Some people will never be pleased with an outcome.

Calls to cut red tape can be fraught with more nuance than people believe.
Calls to cut red tape can be fraught with more nuance than people believe.

In regard to the Forest Wind project one lady complained that she had not been consulted and had been told to go to the company website for answers. But then she finished up by saying the no matter what Forest Wind said or did, she would oppose the wind farm. It is then very difficult to have a reasonable debate.

Whether we propose or oppose a development, we need to honestly consider the issues and the potential harms. As a councillor I need to acknowledge the passion, but also take a cold hard look at the potential harms and benefits. How can the harms be mitigated and the community benefits be enhanced?

Simple calls to reduce red and green tape become rather difficult.