Planning Panels Victoria (PPV) collects information from organisations and individuals. This information is contained in submissions that are to be addressed in a Panel’s recommendations to a planning authority or the Minister for Planning.
For the purposes of this guide, the term Panel can refer to a Panel, an Advisory Committee or an Environmental Effects Inquiry.
PPV receives submissions from:
- submissions referred from planning authorities (usually Local Government) for planning scheme amendments through section 23(1)(b) of the Planning and Environment Act 1987
- submissions referred by the Minister for Planning (such as for a permit called in through section 97E(1) of the Planning and Environment Act 1987 or other Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) business units
- submissions directly to an Advisory Committee through section 151 of the Planning and Environment Act 1987 or Environment Effects Inquiry through section 9 of the Environment Effects Act 1978.
Some submissions may cover a combination of proposal types. For example, for a combined Planning Scheme Amendment and Environment Effects Inquiry, submissions may be sent to the planning authority and to PPV separately.
Submissions may be hand written, electronic (both written and audio-visual) and often contain images, maps and plans. Submissions frequently contain personal information which at times may be sensitive for commercial, medical or other reasons.
A Panel tries to 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 through availability at the PPV office and in the hearing room.
Submitters will be advised at various stages that submissions used for hearings are public documents and treated as such. The need for transparency needs to be balanced with the need to respect an individual’s privacy. PPV is bound by the terms of the Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014 and the Health Records Act2001 when using submissions from individuals and other personal information. The Information Privacy Act 2000 requires that the ten Information Privacy Principles (‘the IPPs’) are complied with in the collecting, using, disclosing, securing and disposing of personal information.
Submissions are used to inform the Panel in making its recommendations to the planning authority or Minister for Planning including use in public Hearings. This is the primary use of the submission and any other uses cannot be allowed without the approval of the submitter. It is not the responsibility of PPV to obtain that approval.
When considering the primary use of information, the Panel:
- will generally provide copies of submissions to relevant parties (such as the proponent, relevant Government agencies and other submitters) to the Hearing.
- will remove submissions from the public domain once the matter has concluded.
- will securely destroy submissions used for public display once the matter has concluded.
The secondary use of information is when the information is used other than for the primary purpose for which it was obtained. There are occasionally requests to view submissions after a matter has concluded for research or other purposes.
When considering the secondary use of information, the Panel will not provide any submission or other private information collected at a Hearing to third parties (apart from DELWP or the planning authority) once the matter has concluded, without specific approval of the submitter.
PPV may receive submissions referred to it from the planning authority (for a planning scheme amendment) or from the Minister for Planning (managed by DELWP). PPV occasionally directly collects submissions for some Advisory Committees or Environment Effects Inquiries.
When a planning authority receives submissions for a Planning Scheme Amendment, it should have handled the submissions in compliance with the IPPs. This includes IPP 1.3 which requires that the planning authority provide a privacy collection notice that advises, amongst other items, that the submissions will be used and disclosed in the public process of a Panel Hearing if one is required.
Under section 21(2) of the Planning and Environment Act1987, the planning authority has a statutory obligation to allow viewing of submissions at its offices. This exempts the planning authority from the Information Privacy Act 2000 for this action. However, this does not exempt the Panel in a Panel Hearing, and therefore care must be taken with the management of submissions during the Hearing.
The Panel, therefore, 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.
DELWP and PPV must meet their obligations under the Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014 when collecting submissions directly. However, the same general guidelines as those for planning scheme amendments are followed.
When receiving submissions (either directly, from the planning authority or from DELWP) the Panel:
- will send all submitters a Privacy Collection Notice
- will ask the planning authority or DELWP to confirm that it has met its obligations under the Information Privacy Act 2000, specifically IPP 1.3
- will ask the planning authority or DELWP to advise whether there are any submissions where privacy issues need to be addressed. If there are any such submissions, advice should be sought from the planning authority or DELWP as to the limits on availability of the submission
- will consider any requests for privacy in the light of procedural fairness and natural justice for the parties to the Hearing
- will make submissions available for inspection in hard copy (for example on the public table in the Hearing room, on display at PPV, on display at another Government or Council office).
At times, PPV will publish information relating to major matters on the DELWP web site. This information may include expert witness reports, background information and other technical data. Documents published on the DELWP web site may be available online after the matter has concluded and thus can be accessed for other purposes.
When publishing information on the internet, the Panel:
- will generally not publish submissions on the internet unless specifically required (i.e in Terms of Reference)
- when required to do so, PPV 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
- may direct that Expert Witness reports be published on the DELWP website
- may direct the planning authority to publish Expert Witness reports on its website
- will publish an unedited version of its report on the internet.
The report records the considerations and recommendations of the Panel or Committee. The role of a report is to:
- record the outcome of the public consultation process involving exhibition, submissions and Hearing
- provide an independent assessment of the issues arising from that process
- provide recommendations about the decisions that should be made.
Once available to the public, the report is uploaded to the AustLII website where it remains permanently available for reading and searching.
To effectively respond to submissions and reflect the consideration of the Panel, its report may at times need to identify submitters and their properties. This should be undertaken with care and with identifying information of submitters minimised.
When writing reports the Panel:
- will generally include 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 submitters name and address as required.
Page last updated: 23/09/20