Shadow Environment Minister Tjorn Sibma has expressed disappointment with the Government’s lack of performance in approvals reform despite Mark McGowan’s State Budget announcement last year to spend $120 million to recruit 150 frontline officers to speed up project approvals.
“Despite Mr McGowan making the original commitment in his role as Treasurer, he has made absolutely no effort to ensure his commitment is being met, nor does he enjoy being asked any questions in relation to the matter.
“Where are all these officers who have been promised? Few people in government seem to know where they are, and if they do know, they are not saying.
“With approvals timelines blowing out to thousands of days on key projects there are no answers on the location of this missing red tape reduction squad,” said Mr Sibma.
Western Australia is already a difficult and expensive place to do business. The approvals system is spread across various government agencies who each have different priorities and procedures which leads to confusion and duplication.
These problems have been exacerbated by a pronounced shortage of competent frontline officers in regulatory agencies.
“Industry therefore welcomed the commitment to hire more staff to tackle the backlog of development proposals, but they were doubtful these new people would be found,” said Mr Sibma.
“Clearly the McGowan Government overestimated its ability to attract staff and is now understood to be reassigning inexperienced officers from other parts of the bureaucracy and hiring external contractors.
“This means that key decisions on project approvals will take longer under the second term McGowan Government.”
Mr Sibma said that recognising the challenges posed by the labour market means that additional focus needs to be on improving the policies and systems within the bureaucracy and getting stalled projects such as Environment Online, back on track.