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Byron Shire
June 18, 2024

Ethical and affordable: Byron’s voice heard at council conference

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Byron Shire ALP councillor Paul Spooner. Photo supplied
Byron Shire ALP councillor Paul Spooner. Photo supplied

Hans Lovejoy

Both ethical investing and affordable housing motions by Byron Shire councillor Paul Spooner were adopted at the Local Government NSW Conference, which is currently being held in Wollongong.

Newly elected councillors Cate Coorey and Jeannette Martin also attended, and Cr Spooner told Echonetdaily there are hundreds of delegates voting from councils from around the state.

Local Government NSW (LGNSW) is the peak body that represents all NSW councils, and Cr Spooner said there was ‘huge support’ for his motion to seek ways for councils to ethically invest.

In the last term of council, he initiated a policy that seeks Byron Shire Council to invest ethically where possible.

Cr Spooner says that Byron shire’s policy ‘puts an impost on staff to seek out ethical investment options and this motion seeks to centralise the decision making at the state level, making the process more efficient.’

While it had support of the delegates, the minutes of the meeting read that the LGNSW executive have ‘concerns regarding the potentially major cost, staff resourcing and potential legal liability implications’.

‘Specific criteria would be needed,’ says LGNSW, as would regular independent audits and ongoing maintenance.

LGNSW also says staff and financial resources would needed to be taken away ‘from identified priorities to provide this service if it were to be prepared and maintained in-house, or meet the costs of an external provider if it were to be outsourced.’

Affordable housing

As for affordable housing, delegates voted for LGNSW to request the state government ‘set targets for NSW planning instruments that specify minimum levels of affordable housing for residential development to encourage a higher proportion of affordable housing across the sector.’

Cr Spooner’s call for a 30 per cent target for affordable housing provisions into NSW planning instruments was defeated during debate, he said.

He claims the current Affordable Housing provision in the State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) is ‘inadequate’ and told Echonetdaily the Affordable Housing SEPP is limited to just ten years.

Cr Spooner noted, ‘the rapid increase of house prices and rents has left many people on low and moderate incomes struggling to find housing that is both affordable and appropriate for their needs.’

‘Housing affordability is an issue that appears to be an issue across the state,’ he said.



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  1. Affordable housing is an oxymoron that has been debated over and over without achieving anything. IMHO, councils should NOT be getting involved. How is a council going to make available affordable housing unless it subsidies the projects. Councils, being a part of Govt. are also notoriously inefficient and often extremely wasteful of money and until far more significant underlying issues are dealt with the above suggestions are a just another misguided sideshow.

    When are we going to wake up and call the bloody spade what it is.
    GREED is to blame and in Australia as in some other countries, real-estate has become a speculative commodity driving the price of real estate into a massive bubble.

    It must be one of the most stupid concepts that we are wealthy because of the resale value of our homes. Dumb! What is the point of all that capital being tied up in unproductive assets that will certainly fall from the sky soon enough.

    This country could change the affordability issue overnight. There is no shortage of land but there is a chronic shortage of land that can be legally built on – so change that equation and keep out the typical Australian bureaucrat who is trained to find reasons why not.
    For most us Australians, as long as there is beer in the fridge and a sausage in the freezer “we are OK mate” – let apathy rule.

    Ask yourself, how greedy are you, how much is enough, do you realise that you cant take it with you, are you comfortable with so many 10’s of thousand of people in Australia living in cars and on the street. Millions around the world in desperate need.

    Are we so unconscious of human kindness. Have we forgotten we are all in the same boat.


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