The NSW Opposition welcomes the Baird government’s backflip on Section 451 of the Local Government Act – a disastrous law which allowed councillors to vote on planning decisions from which they could benefit financially.
Labor said Section 451 was a bad idea when the then O’Farrell Government first proposed it – we opposed it then as we do now.
This law made no sense: it defies logic that property developers can vote on matters which could deliver them major financial windfalls.
I welcome the fact that Premier Mike Baird has listened to NSW Labor’s calls for Section 451 to be scrapped.
It is the first step towards restoring integrity and transparency at the local government level.
Now, the government should consider my three-point plan for local government reform, which includes:
· Banning property developers and real estate agents from holding office at the local government level;
· A cap on political donations and campaign spending during council elections, with state level caps to serve as a starting point for the re-examination of caps on ward level expenditure; and
· Popularly elected mayors for four years to end horse-trading between parties for the position and give local communities a say.
Luke Foley, NSW Labor leader