Date: Wed, 5 Sep 2012 12:22:17 +1000
Changes made to the Local Government Act by the O'Farrell government earlier this year give the current crop of council candidates a unique, and troubling, new potential power - if elected they can vote to rezone their own land.
Greens MP and Local Government Spokesperson, David Shoebridge said:
"This law allows large land owners and property developers in NSW to run
for local office so that they can use their own vote to increase the value
of their land holdings.
"The incoming crop of councillors will be able to vote on planning
proposals, including changes to local environment plans, development
control plans and other broad planning matters, that impact on land that
they own, opening the door to wide-scale and legal corruption at a local
"This law allows local councillors to vote on planning proposals even where
they have a direct pecuniary interest.
"Gone are the days when property developers had to buy off local
councillors to get their land rezoned, now they can get elected and do the
"In council elections where the large scale property holdings of certain
candidates is in issue, this law change takes on particular significance.
"As every voter knows there is no effective mechanism to hold any elected
councillor to bare promises they make about their behaviour once elected.
"Residents need to have their eyes open to these new, and unprincipled,
powers that the NSW government has given local councillors when they are
voting this Saturday," Mr Shoebridge said.
What's at Stake? This new law will allow:
* Councillors who own shops in commercial precincts, or other land
holdings, to increase the FSR on that land and thereby greatly
increase its development potential and substantially increase its
* Rural and regional councillors, particularly in growing towns
such as Dubbo, Orange, Albury, Wagga Wagga and the like, to vote to
rezone land they own on the outskirts of town from 'rural' to
'industrial' or 'residential' and reap potentially very, very large
* Councillors who own commercial or industrial land to vote to, for
example, water down contribution requirements in Council wide parking
Development Control Plans where there is a change of use, (such as
changing from low off street parking use of industrial to higher of
commercial) thereby delivering them hundreds of thousands of dollars
in savings if they change from a less to a more intense use;
* It will also encourage property owners and property developers to
put up their hand to run for Council in September knowing that, if
elected, they can vote to improve the development yield on their own
land and personally enrich themselves. In other words it is an
invitation to carpet baggers to run for Council.
Media Contact: David Shoebridge on 0408 113 952