Democracy stolen

Letter to the Editor, Post Newspapers, by Cr Andrew Mangano of Nedlands

11 April 2020

The recent flood of development applications into the City of Nedlands has highlighted just how undemocratic is the development application process for large developments using  development assessment panels (DAPs).

Firstly, a DAP is made of up of two elected members of a council and three non-elected people selected by the state government. It is obvious the government appointees effectively decide the outcome of any DAP development application. This is exactly what happened last week for the 135 Broadway development, and will happen again and again in the future.

Secondly, the responsible authority report (RAR) to the DAP is written by a council’s administration, is not approved by the elected members, and in many cases is not even presented to the elected members. The elected members have virtually no influence on what is written in the RAR and it often does not reflect the views of the elected members or the community.

Thirdly, the concept of design review panels being thrust upon councils by the Office of the Government Architect allows unelected, unaccountable people to give opinions on a large-scale development that may contradict the community or elected members’ views on a development, as happened in Subiaco.

Fourthly, the Planning Minister can decide the outcome of a development application contrary to the community, or even the DAP itself. Finally, with the advent of online DAP meetings as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the community is now excluded from all meetings. It is no wonder that communities across WA have no faith in the DAP system, created by the last Liberal government and being used by the current Labor government, more often than not, against the wishes of the community that is affected by a development.


One thought on “Democracy stolen

  1. Congratulations Cr Mangano for telling it as it is

    Further points are:-

    The DAP enters the planning approval process at a crucial stage then vacates it with its all-care, no responsibility role. Responsibility for administration and enforcement of the DAP decisions remains with the local government.

    Minutes of DAP meetings are prepared by the local government so there is potential scope for editing, manipulation and redaction to advantage the local government.

    The approval is by the DAP – not the local government – so should the public react,  the local government can always claim the decision is beyond its control and out of its jurisdiction.

    The DAP decisions are “planning approvals” only – a right to develop as specified – so the developer still has to negotiate through the local government’s minefield of policy and regulatory requirements to obtain a building license and construction policy and codes compliance.

    Throughout this process both DAP and Local Government officials seem to like to impose their pet agendas, such as appearance, landscaping, lighting, parking, extra features etc upon the applicant. The DAP participants operate like a secret society where decisions may be made in advance behind closed doors, remaining only to be ratified by the formal meeting.

    Although formal DAP meetings are “public”, the public has no statutory right of representation in the public interest to support or oppose the development.

    A person may not question or address the DAP except by leave of the Chairperson and any submission will be time limited, preventing exploration and investigation and the issues involved.

    A DAP is not required to investigate the legitimacy of claims or representations made to it by the local government, or worse, omissions of fact.

    A DAP is not required to consider impact of a proposed development upon adjoining or surrounding properties yet can impose conditions or restrictions based upon its notion of the “general amenity” of the area.

    A DAP is not required to determine the degree of conformance with the Local Government Town Planning Scheme or Structure Plans

    DAP agenda and pro-forma decision minutes are pre-prepared by the local government and in general require only final approval of the DAP to be validated. The DAP Agenda Report is essentially a report of negotiations between the applicant developer and the local government so may be structured and focused in any way the local government determines.

    The non-local government DAP Members may not fully understand the implications of their DAP decision on the detailed requirements and conditions contained in the approval of the development, allowing the local government to impose its will and bias under the authority of the DAP.

    Some DAP decisions are open-ended insofaras certain conditions may be left open to further negotiation with the local government after formal DAP approval is granted.

    Some professional DAP members declare a direct interest in the subject or associated application, or indirectly via employment by applicant parties, yet do not stand aside from the decision making process.

    When taken together, all of the above attributes of the DAP process create fertile ground for corruption or bias to be present, but detecting such is more or less impossible because there is no evidence of who controls what in the process.


    The entire DAP process is a sham, designed to present a facade of independence to local government when it is simply more of the same unaccountable executive government performed by many of the same participants behind closed doors with no public accountability or involvement.

    The process is biased to favour large-scale developments because large companies have the resources to accommodate the whims of the DAP and costs involved.

    Local government representatives in a DAP are not required to represent their local government or the public interest – just their own personal view of the world.


    Those who watch TV will know there is no city in the western world that when seen from above is not a jumbled mess of twisted, curvy, disjointed narrow streets that results in an inefficient society.

    Urban sprawl is considered evil so we are being forced to live in high rise apartment blocks that deny social interaction, increase stress and violence, create social disintegration and have destroyed the Australian dream of owning a house on a quarter acre with free space between. High rise results in strata-title ownership that denies a person wholly owning and controlling their lifetime commitment and economic slavery to housing their family.

    The current experience of cruise liner passengers held captive on their ships and suspected CV19 cases being locked in hotel rooms for weeks demonstrate the emotional and psychological effects from the high rise high density living experience.

    Our local governments and DAPs are doing their best to continue this mindless way of life for us all by allowing housing block sizes to be reduced to slice of bread size so the children will be permanently locked into prison like conditions during their development. Close quarter living carries with it many dangers.

    One of the most peculiar effects of the planning system is that the terrace house, a product of poverty in the UK and Europe, is being introduced into Perth as a fashionable approach to living. It is a mark of the trend to conformity in all things in our society and defeats human need for diversity.

    Is time to SCRAP THE DAP

    PS: To suggest local government is “democratic” is to further continue the illusion.

    Evidence to the current Legislative Council Select Committee Enquiry into Local Government by CEO’s claim it is they who run local government. It is clear from their evidence that Councils are subservient to CEO’s and are required to comply with and support the decisions of CEO’s – a position supported by numerous Standards Panel decisions..

    Public election of Councillors is merely tokenism to calm a restless public.


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