The Queensland Government has passed legislation to change the way costs are imposed in the Planning and Environment Court.
Currently, anyone who appeals to the court has to cover their own expenses, even if they win.
The Government says the new laws will also prevent the Planning and Environment Court being used to unnecessarily delay development decisions.
Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney told Parliament last night the Bill has been amended since it was first introduced to ensure losing parties will only have to cover winners' costs when the court deems necessary.
"Amending the clause in this way will provide greater certainty and transparency for the community, for industry and local government when taking proceedings to the Planning and Environment Court," he said.
"This should ensure that parties, that take action in good faith, having prepared appropriately are not arbitrarily disadvantaged, simply by not being successful.
"The purpose of giving the court this discretion is to discourage the abuse of the appeals to the court, particularly by vexatious litigants and those looking to gain commercial advantage by delaying the development process through court action and or imposing court costs on a competitor." However, the Queensland Opposition voted against the legislation.
Deputy Opposition Leader Tim Mulherin told Parliament the laws give developers an unfair advantage.
"The refusal to listen to the genuine concern of local government, local community groups, environmental groups, legal community are symptomatic of an arrogant, out-of-touch Government that is drunk on power," he said.
"The Opposition will not support part of this legislation that strips away the legal rights of Queenslanders to favour those of wealthy developers." Opposition spokeswoman Jackie Trad told Parliament the laws may discourage residents from standing up to developers for fear of not being able to afford to lose their case.
"The Deputy Premier fails to recognise that removing the ability of local communities to oppose large-scale developments will result in outcomes that are against the public interest," she said.