Section 32 Rigour

The decision-making process is part of the plan development process, and must follow the analytical rigour established by section 32 and 32AA evaluation reports (which require a robust analysis of proposed provisions when preparing plans) comparing alternative methods for achieving the same objectives and policies. There is no single recipe to achieving a robust evaluation of plan provisions in accordance with section 32 in a cost and time-effective manner. However, there are some good practice techniques: 

  • The requirements of section 32 and 32AA must be fully integrated with the process of making decisions on submissions - this requires careful and considered planning, particularly as to how to record the process. 
  • Preparation is essential as well as having decision-makers read all relevant material, briefing sessions before hearings are another good method for defining and analysing issues. 
  • A clear analysis of issues and options should be available to assist a focused and rigorous debate, particularly with the larger, controversial or more complex issues (a function usually served by reports). 
  • Minimise the time between hearings and decision-making. 
  • Some documentation of the decision-making process needs to be made, particularly over areas of controversy and/or disagreement with report recommendations. This could be achieved as minutes and/or as part of the written decision. 
  • Debate should be managed well, under a chair who can impose some rigour on the direction of debate and analysis. 

For more information, refer to the section 32 guidance.