Tweed Shire Councillors have rejected a proposal by the NSW government that would reduce the ability of local councils to collect infrastructure contributions from developers.
A late Mayoral Minute was passed at last weeks council meeting (16 September) asking the NSW government to withdraw the NSW Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment (Infrastructure Contributions) Bill 2021. The bill intends to take developer contributions that are currently collected by councils and put them into regional funds directed by the State government.
‘The changes that are being proposed are being strongly opposed by many local councils,’ explained Tweed Shire Mayor Chris Cherry (independent).
‘The ramifications from this proposed legislation is enormous and would mean developer contributions collected for development in the Tweed could be used anywhere else in the state,’ she said.
‘It totally ignores the nexus between the impacts being created by the development and the need to improve infrastructure such as roads, parks, sewerage systems and could leave Councils, and therefore ratepayers, having to cover costs that are currently covered by these contributions.’
The motion was expanded to include letters being written to ‘independent and minor party members of the NSW Upper House’ when Councillor Warren Polglase (conservative) said ‘I think council has to play the game a lot harder to get our voice across. We should send to the upper house members.’
Councillor Katie Milne(Green) told the meeting that ‘This is a really drastic situation. The whole concept of pooling infrastructure like this – especially with the [State and Federal government] controversies regarding allocation of grants means there is concern about weather funds will be equally distributed.
‘I think there is a significant amount of community interest about where the money goes and who the money goes to. Council’s certainly can’t afford to have money disappear,’ she said.
Mayor Cherry emphasised that ‘We as a Council totally reject this legislation and request it is withdrawn and consultation with local government is done.
‘This is about looking after the people we represent, they want footpaths, bikeways, skateparks and libraries. These are essential services and we cannot be left going cap in hand begging to the state to get the funds for these works and perhaps being dependent on the political process occurring at that time.’
The Mayoral Minute – Draft Infrastructure Contributions Legislation was supported by all the councillors and resolved that Council:
‘1. Writes to the NSW Treasurer and Minister for Planning and Public Spaces (and copy the letter to the State Local Members) calling on the NSW Government to:
- a) Withdraw the Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment (Infrastructure Contributions) Bill 2021 (the Bill) from NSW Parliament; and
- b) Undertake further consultation with the local government sector on any proposed reform to the infrastructure contributions system.
- Writes a letter to independent and minor party members of the NSW Upper House informing them of Council’s concern in relation to this Bill.’