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We collect information from organisations and individuals. This information is in submissions that are addressed in recommendations to a planning authority or the Minister for Planning.
We receive submissions from:
- planning authorities (usually local government) for planning scheme amendments through section 23(1)(b) of the Planning and Environment Act 1987
- the Minister for Planning (such as for a permit called in through section 97E(1) of the Planning and Environment Act) or other Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) business units
- advisory committees through section 151 of the Planning and Environment Act
- environment effects inquiries through section 9 of the Environment Effects Act 1978.
Submissions can cover different proposal types – for example, a combined planning scheme amendment and environment effects inquiry may have submissions sent to us and the planning authority separately.
Submissions are generally electronic (both written and audio-visual) and often contain images, maps and plans but can be handwritten. Submissions can contain personal information which may be sensitive for commercial, medical or other reasons.
How we make submissions available
A panel must meet its responsibilities and obligations in a transparent manner and in accordance with the principles of natural justice. This includes placing submissions in the public domain at our office and in the hearing room.
Submitters will be advised at various stages that submissions used for a hearing are public documents and treated as such. The need for transparency needs to be balanced with the need to respect an individual’s privacy. When using personal information or submissions from individuals we are bound by the following acts:
Submissions made to a planning authority
When a planning authority receives and manages submissions, it should comply with the Information Privacy Act's 10 Information Privacy Principles (IPP's). This includes providing a privacy collection notice advising that submissions will be used and disclosed in the public process of a panel hearing if one is required.
The planning authority is required to allow viewing of submissions at its offices. This exempts the planning authority from the IPP's for this action.
This does not exempt the panel in a hearing, and care must be taken with managing submissions during a hearing.
The panel must take reasonable steps to ensure that submitters have been made aware of why their submissions were collected, that the submissions may be disclosed to panels, possible uses or disclosures of the submissions by the panel and the other matters listed in IPP 1.3.
Submissions made directly to a panel
We must meet obligations under the Privacy and Data Protection Act when collecting submissions directly. The same general guidelines as those for planning scheme amendments are followed.
When receiving submissions, the panel will:
- send all submitters a privacy collection notice
- ask the planning authority or DELWP to confirm that it has met its obligations under the Information Privacy Act, specifically IPP 1.3
- ask the planning authority or DELWP to advise whether there are any submissions where privacy issues need to be addressed
- if a privacy issue is raised, seek advice from the planning authority or DELWP about the limits on availability of the submission
- consider any requests for privacy in the light of procedural fairness and natural justice for the parties to the hearing
- make a paper version of the submissions available for inspection, for example on the public table in the hearing room or on at another government or council office.
Publishing submissions on the internet
At times, we will publish information relating to major matters on our website. This information may include expert witness reports, background information and other technical data.
Documents published on the website may be available online after the matter has concluded.
When publishing information on the internet, the panel:
- will generally not publish submissions on the internet unless specifically required in the terms of reference
- when required to do so, we will gain permission from the submitter before submissions being published on the internet
- will direct that any report of an expert witness should not refer to any individual submitter by name and if necessary, submitters should be referred to by submission number
- can direct that expert witness reports be published online such as the planning authority’s website
- will publish an unedited version of its report on the internet.
Secondary use of information
Secondary use of information is when information is used other than for the primary purpose for which it was obtained.
We occasionally receive requests to view submissions after a matter has concluded for research or other purposes.
We will not provide a submission or private information collected at a hearing to a third party after the matter has concluded, without specific approval of the submitter.
The report records the considerations and recommendations of the panel or committee. The report:
- records the outcome of the public consultation process involving exhibition, submissions and the hearing
- provides an independent assessment of the issues arising from that process
- provides recommendations about the decisions that should be made
- generally includes a list of submitters and a list of those who appeared at the hearing
- may quote some submissions as part of the discussion
- may include each submitter’s name and address, though care is taken to not associate one with the other.
Once available to the public, the report is uploaded to the Australasian Legal Information Institute where it remains permanently available for reading and searching.
Page last updated: 13/10/22