As we move toward the local government elections next weekend you will be asked to consider the claims of a range of contenders for local government office, but the system our newly elected councillors will administer on our behalf seems to barely rate a mention.
‘Individuals and markets are best placed to deliver diverse choices in all development outcomes including housing and local centres,’ is the claim made by the NSW coalition government in their recent discussion paper ‘A new planning system for NSW’ (p 69).
It’s a curious claim given that individuals and markets have a well-known tendency to look after themselves thank you very much and not the local community. Surely it is our democratic local government that should mediate planning matters in our local community toward the common or community interest away from self-interest?
If the Liberal/National Party coalition do bring in legislation in line with their discussion paper, the role of elected councillors in determining development applications is recommended to be removed. The real decisions will be left to a collection of private certifiers for so-called exempt and complying development, and decision-making panels appointed by the state government of the day for larger developments. You will have no say in what is built or mined, near you or next to you.
The Greens see this as a terribly unbalanced and developer-friendly set of planning laws that remove all community involvement in almost every development decision across NSW. Powers to local councils to certify development need to be strengthened, not removed, giving the community an equal say to developers in the assessment process.
The government’s plan also removes Ecologically Sustainable Development (ESD) as one of the key objectives of the NSW planning system.
In his address to city mayors at Rio+20, the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-Moon, declared that by ‘building sustainable towns and cities, you will build global sustainability’.
Ecosystems are the planet’s life support. Human health and survival are dependent on them. Cities must be planned, designed to protect both the health of the ecosystems and the health of people, not the interests of developers.
The kind of suburbs and rural areas we live in are about to be transformed, and we won’t have a say in it. The best we can hope for is a local council who will fight the state government tooth and nail to defend what little say we have over planning what happens in our neighbourhood.
Wouldn’t it be good if we had a real say and planning was based on community needs rather than greed? The Greens are committed to doing this.
Lismore Greens candidate, Nimbin