Someone, anyone, make a decision

June 8, 2021 BY

Villawood Properties executive director Rory Costelloe says that lodging an application for just about anything is a long, long trip down the rabbit hole when dealing with local and state authorities.




Decision-making, or more accurately the lack of decision-making, has become a very vexed proposition in recent times.

People from all industries have lost the confidence to make a decision – ‘just in case’.

It’s affecting everyone across the business community, governments, state and local, and their agencies, authorities and regulatory bodies constantly throw up a wall of red tape at anything crossing their desks.

Big business, small business – the biggest employer in the country – entrepreneurs, family operators… no-one is immune to the failure of authorities to help them stay afloat let alone move ahead with new ideas and ventures.

Why is our whole society so bogged down with people frozen by fear or lacking the competence to make a decision?

Lack of decisions lead to a shortage of permitted land, creating inadequate land supply and excessive demand and driving up prices so that affordability can never be achieved.

I believe in the planning and engineering world we now have multiple staff, often 10 to 20 staff, on any project and all working collaboratively together – but collaboratively seems to means no decision is made.

Everyone fears some kind of legal consequences, or they feel they need a consultant’s report to back up something.

Then they want a peer review, it just snowballs and it’s never-ending.

In the early days of Melbourne Water as a planning authority, for instance, engineers basically made all the decisions but now it’s all been broken up into various agencies, state or local government, and then the professions have been broken into a multitude of posts and positions… to the point that lodging an application for just about anything is a long, long trip down the rabbit hole.

Obtaining compliance approvals is one area I think everyone in the property sector will agree has become a savage bottleneck to efficiency, timelines and budgets.

All because no-one seems willing to risk making decisions in anything resembling a timely fashion.

Rezonings are another area, we’ve been waiting five to 10 years for some rezonings by State Government and local councils.

It’s extraordinary that decisions like this can take so long.

A lack of decision-making, along with red tape and petty obstacles, have councils wrangling unnecessarily over matters as simple as public art and playgrounds.

If business is to function smoothly, if the bedrock of the economy – the property sector, which generates over half the State’s direct tax income – is to operate effectively, we need to instil confidence in individuals that they are empowered to make a decision.

Rory Costelloe is executive director of Villawood Properties.