The contention around the proposed Smiths Beach development has unfolded again in Parliament, with personal politics and a slanging match between Labor and the Opposition taking centre stage. Planning Minister Rita Saffioti chided criticisms of the alleged “fast-track” State Development Assessment unit which was set to decide on the Adrian Fin-led project, reminding members the Liberal Party had supported the special legislation. As the Times reported earlier this year, a deadline for Smiths Beach — and the Gnarabup Westin Margaret River Spa & Resort — for January was offset by plans to bring in a Special Matters tribunal to continue adjudication of items deemed of State significance. Matters came to a head late last month when Liberal leader David Honey tabled a motion to “condemn” the planning minister for “implementing the State DAU process that routinely rushes through developer approvals that ignore the concerns of local communities”. The motion followed previously reported concerns from the City of Busselton and Smiths Beach Action Group that the exclusive development, which includes a resort and luxury homes on land previously earmarked for a national park, failed to consider past planning and community aspirations. “Members opposite were asking me to intervene in the SDAU process,” Ms Saffioti said in Parliament. “I will not do that because it would be improper for me to pull projects in and out, as if I can sit there and determine the processes. These are legal processes determined by the Parliament of WA. “I do not believe any community member should have the right of veto. I believe that.” Earlier in the debate, Vasse MLA Libby Mettam said there was “a lot of concern” around the Smiths Beach project. “It is worth pointing out that the community at large is very supportive of the development at Smiths Beach, but it wants the proposal to go through the standard planning framework given the contentious history of the area, the unique environmental values of that area of coastline, and the fact that it is certainly one of the jewels in the crown in the tourism value of the State’s coastline,” she said. SBAG spokesman David Mitchell reiterated those calls last week. The 4.2ha of land slated for luxury homes was identified for exclusion by the Environmental Protection Agency, Mr Mitchell noted, because it was of “high conservation value”. “We will support (the project) if it adheres to the established laws and the base requirement that the development area doesn’t exceed the 12.8ha as enshrined in current planning legislation and approvals,” Mr Mitchell told the Times. “Where you have a significant donor to the Government put in a position to potentially make tens of millions extra from developing the site through the SDAU process — a process that is not accountable or equitable, and disenfranchises the local community and council — then no wonder the community is highly sceptical.” Mr Mitchell said Ms Saffioti had the power to halt the project because of zoning conflicts. The COVID-19 pandemic, which sparked the special legislation had eased, with the construction industry busy, and Smiths Beach included a housing estate which was not “shovel-ready”, as required to qualify for SDAU assessment, Mr Mitchell said. The Government has previously rejected the term “fast track” to describe the SDAU process. “The SDAU process is actually a tough process that involves the State Design Review Panel,” Ms Saffioti said. “We have heard how tough it is to get plans through the State Design Review Panel because it makes sure that the designs are of quality.” The Smiths Beach and Westin resort developers have both stated the process is more complex than standard because of the need to assemble and co-ordinate documents prior to consideration, rather than piecemeal during a staged approval process.