With the NSW election looming on March 25, there will no doubt soon be a government bonanza of promises to impress, you, the good-looking and articulate voter, into thinking that this or that party will govern with your interests at heart.
Politicians want to be taken seriously now? How cute!
State governments use your taxes to pay for health, education, police and roads, among many other services.
Other things they use your taxes for include throwing huge wads of cash at electorates they think they can win (called pork barrelling), or generously repaying their campaign donors.
That aside, another crucial role state governments have is with planning.
As we saw recently with the NSW planning minister’s intervention on Council’s holiday letting policy – local governments are merely a corporate arm of the state government, and will be reined in if they do not reflect the government’s views.
The views of the current NSW Liberal-Nationals government appears to deny local decision-making, renege on that promise, and undermine any chance to address the housing crisis.
And also, presumably, repay their campaign donor mates in the holiday letting industry.
The current government aren’t doing that well across the state, and with any luck there will be a much-needed change of direction after election day.
Or will NSW Labor act in the same way?
Moving on, a planning policy that is currently on the table from the NSW Department of Planning and Environment (DPE) is reforming the State Environmental Planning Policy (Housing) 2021, (or Housing SEPP).
The current Housing SEPP, as the peak body for local government, Local Government NSW (LGNSW), says, contains ‘blanket provisions that override local controls [and] undermine this framework for local strategic planning, by disrupting outcomes endorsed through councils’ local strategic planning processes’.
It’s widely known that affordable housing SEPPs don’t work as intended. Or as a cynic may say, they are working perfectly for the one per cent. Just not those who need affordable housing.
For example, LGNSW support affordable housing, developed under the Housing SEPP, to be in perpetuity, ‘not 15 years, as current provisions allow’.
Also, unlike the current government, LGNSW supports ‘locally-developed responses to short-term rental accommodation (STRA)’.
To have your say on the housing reforms, which are on exhibition until January 13, visit www.planning.nsw.gov.au/Policy-and-Legislation/Housing/Housing-SEPP.
Hans Lovejoy, editor
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