Officers of the City of Cockburn have wider powers than the Police to enter your property if they have reason to believe that you are in contravention of Planning or Bush Fire legislation.
These are the 'rules of engagement':
The City’s standard procedure, following receipt of a formal written complaint of non-compliance with the Town Planning Scheme, is for one of the City’s planning compliance officers to inspect the property in question to ascertain whether the Scheme is being complied with.
The planning compliance officers are authorised employees and all carry photo identification cards that clearly identify them as such.
The planning compliance officers always use all reaonable endeavours when they attend the property to speak to the property owner or site supervisor and identify who they are and why they are there. If nobody is present and there is no obstruction then they will enter the property in relation to the allegation. If they cannot get entry to the property and they cannot see the area where the alleged breach is occurring then they will not attempt to enter the property or building. They will simply attend the property at another time.
The City has very rarely had a situation where its officers have been refused entry or access to a property but if that is the case and the potential breach is considered to be serious enough, then the City will call upon the police to assist in entering the property.
The sources of the City’s powers are as underlined:
Planning and Development Act 2005
69. General objects of schemes
(1) A local planning scheme may be made under this Act with respect to any land —
(a) with the general objects of making suitable provision for the improvement, development and use of land in the local planning scheme area; and
(b) making provision for all or any of the purposes, provisions, powers or works referred to in Schedule 7.
Schedule 7 — Matters which may be dealt with by planning scheme
(1) The extinguishment or variation of any restrictive covenant, easement or right of way.
(2) Powers of entry and inspection.
(3) Powers to remove, alter, or demolish any building which obstructs the observance or carrying out of the scheme.
(4) Powers to recover expenses incurred or to be incurred in implementing, enforcing and giving effect to the scheme.
Cockburn’s Town Planning Scheme says, with the relevant wording underlined:
PART 11 ENFORCEMENT AND ADMINISTRATION
11.1 Powers of the Local Government
11.1.2 An employee of the local government authorised by the local government may, at all reasonable times and with such assistance as may be required, enter any building or land for the purpose of ascertaining whether the provisions of the Scheme are being observed.
Note that the full force of the law can be invoked if entry is prevented:
11.1.3 The local government employee may by Warrant obtained pursuant to s3.33 of the Local Government Act enter any building or land, together with any other persons described in the Warrant, or a police officer using such force as is necessary where:-
(a) entry has been refused or is opposed or prevented;
(b) entry cannot be obtained; or
(c) notice cannot be given under s.3.32 of the Local Government Act without unreasonable difficulty or without unreasonably delaying entry.
Persons authorised under the Bush Fires Act may also enter a property, as underlined:
39. Special powers of bush fire control officers
(1) Subject to the provisions of this Act a bush fire control officer appointed under this Act by a local government may, in the exercise of his functions and the performance of his duties under this Act, do all or any of the following things —
(a) exercise any of the appropriate powers of the FES Commissioner under the Fire Brigades Act 1942, in so far as the same may be necessary or expedient, for extinguishing a bush fire or for preventing the spread or extension of the fire; and
(b) enter any land or building, whether private property or not; and
(c) pull down, cut, and remove fences on land, whether private property or not, if in his opinion it is necessary or expedient so to do for the purpose of taking effective measures for extinguishing a bush fire, or for preventing the spread or extension of the fire;