Greens oppose regional panel imposition as a ‘power grab’

3 June 2009

The Greens are opposing the imposition of a regional planning panel on Marrickville, describing it at last night’s Council meeting as a power grab that strips council of its powers and locks out the community from important development decisions.

“The regional planning panels are another step in the state Labor government’s policy of stripping power from locally elected councils and concentrating it in the hands of the Minister for Planning and unelected appointees of the Minister,” said Greens Deputy Mayor Fiona Byrne.

“Locally elected councillors who represent residents and are directly accountable to them through elections should be making development decisions. The community elected us to keep the public interest at the heart of all decisions. These panels will erode that involvement in the process.

“By placing power in the hands of unelected technocrats on regional panels, the Labor government is effectively abolishing democratic accountability on development decisions.

“Three out of five panel members will be appointed by the Minister, and they will have an inherent conflict of interest given they work in an industry that is largely employed by the very developers whose applications they will be assessing.

“Legislation currently before state parliament will give the regional planning panels extra powers to re-write Local Environment Plans, development controls and contribution plans – all the powers to completely replace the locally elected Council.

“The Local Government and Shires Association has written to councils requesting them not to appoint any members to the regional panels sighting unresolved concerns about conflicts of interest and the increasing power of these panels to replace councils.

“This current Labor state government is damaging local democracy without any real mandate from the community. Those who impose these laws on local communities will be held accountable by the electorate,” she said.

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