Justice Iain Ross plans a major overhaul of the planning and development agency. Gemma Battenbough reports.
May 12th, 2010
Justice Iain Ross is planning a major overhaul of the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) in his new role as President.
The Supreme Court judge has promised to address speed and efficiency, along with the reliability of staff in reform proposals recently put out for discussion.
The three year strategic plan, called Transforming VCAT, could bring significant changes to the body governing planning disputes, speeding up what is a stressful and expensive process for many architects.
A year-long review of VCAT by outgoing President Kevin Bell found consistency and slowness to be major problems with the system and also criticised the reliability of decisions.
The discussion paper, which builds on the review, promises to improve these factors by introducing time benchmarks that could streamline a costly process.
“Cost effectiveness is fundamental because the tribunal was established to provide affordable access to justice for all Victorians,” Justice Iain Ross said.
Under the proposed reform, there will be greater accountability for VCAT officials, who currently include more than 100 non-lawyer members. Officials will be made to take an oath and given greater training.
Attorney General Rob Hulls welcomed the proposed changes.
“Significant building developments deliver critical economic benefits and jobs for Victoria, and the Government is committed to securing these opportunities by providing a streamlined and efficient approval process,” he said.
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