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.’
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.