In response to your article in Friday’s Echonetdaily the changes to the Local Government Act give greater transparency to the disclosure of pecuniary interests, not less. This government provides greater transparency and accountability. The issue arises because most councillors will have a pecuniary interest when the council’s LEP is being considered under the new template LEP.
The Greens are misleading the community with inaccurate information.
The fact is that councillors who have a pecuniary interest now need to document those interests, declare them and must fully minute those interests at the meeting . This provision applies to Local Environment Plans for a whole or a significant part of the local government area (not small rezonings) that determine the future land use of the council area.
Previously it was the case that councillors would seek an exemption from the minister for local government, which allowed councillors to vote when they had a pecuniary interest and merely advising that they had an exemption. This amendment will now require there to be a more transparent and accountable mechanism.
So, councillors must disclose their interests. Other safeguards are in place. The process is oversighted by the Department of Planning and Infrastructure, and planning instruments are approved by the minister for planning, not the Council.
I trust this clarifies the matter.
Don Page MP
Minister for local government