Candidates line up for new presidential role

Lets hope for strong resolution at the Local Government Conference this week. A resolution which states unambiguously that residents have a right to be consulted, councils have a right to represent our residents, and planning is about the good of the whole community, not just developers profits.

James Ryan

Candidates line up for new presidential role

by Harvey Grennan, Sydney Moring Herald, 1 october 2013

Wednesday’s election to the plum $100,000 a year job as first sole president of the newly amalgamated peak body Local Government NSW is shaping up as a referendum on proposed new planning laws.

The incumbent joint president and last president of the now-defunct Local Government Association, Keith Rhoades, from Coffs Harbour claims much of the credit for the recent backdown by Planning Minister Brad Hazzard on some of the reforms.

The Liberal Party candidate, Christine Forster, sister of Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Sydney City councillor, is doing the same. She is “delighted” with the amendments and promises to take concerns “directly to the heart of [Coalition] government”.

Other candidates say the changes don’t go far enough. Ashfield’s deputy mayor, Monica Wangmann, representing the new Community Councillors Network, says she is “the only candidate advocating for our local communities and our environment to be at the heart of our planning system and who is not prepared to accept the minister’s amendments.”

One of two Labor candidates, Lake Macquarie mayor Jodie Harrison, is more equivocal, saying it is difficult to comment until she sees the legislation. However she backs the concerns expressed in her council’s submission, among them that greenfield subdivisions, residential flat buildings, multiple dwelling housing and heritage items should be merit-, not code-, assessed.

The other Labor candidate, Leo Kelly, a veteran Blacktown councillor, did not respond to Fairfax Media’s inquiry.

Independent mayor of Pittwater, Jacqui Townsend, is not satisfied with the amendments. “The state government came to power on the platform of handing back planning powers to the community. In fact the opposite has occurred. I’m hoping Minister Hazzard has listened to the opposition raised by my council in requesting the changes be deferred for further review.”

Tamworth’s James Treloar said councils should retain the “more flexible” guidelines already in place.

Read more:

Concerns: ALP candidate Jodie Harrison.

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