Your guide to planning and local government changes

The NSW Government wants to make changes to planning laws and local government, which together will have an impact on local democracy, communities and your neighbourhood.

If you haven't heard about these changes, it's vital you get informed and talk about them with your friends and family so everyone can understand how serious the situation is - before it's too late.

Below is some more information on these changes, as well as steps you can take to have your say before it's too late.

The work of these different reviews, reports and taskforces is often contradictory and risks squandering a rare opportunity for positive reform.

For many people, the details are difficult to understand. However, the effects would be felt by us all. Your right to have a say in development proposals in your neighbourhood is at risk.

We only have until the end of June to make submissions on each of these reports and reviews.

Local Government (Early Intervention) Bill

The Government's Local Government (Early Intervention) Bill gives the Minister for Local Government power to suspend a Council without giving a reason.

The Bill has been passed by the Legislative Assembly and is now before the Legislative Council.

There are no limits on how and when the Minister could exercise these sweeping powers, and without proper safeguards these powers could be used for political or corrupt purposes.

The Bill was sent to Parliament without consultation with Councils or residents.

Take action:

This Bill is now before the Legislative Council in State Parliament. Contact the parties in the Legislative Council and tell them you want this Bill withdrawn:

Robert Brown, Shooters and Fishers Party, (02) 9230 3059, robert.brown@parliament.nsw.gov.au

Paul Green, Christian Democratic Party, (02) 9230 3484, paul.green@parliament.nsw.gov.au

John Robertson, Australian Labor Party, Opposition Leader, (02) 9230 2080, sophie.cotsis@parliament.nsw.gov.au

David Shoebridge, The Greens, (02) 9230 3030, david.shoebridge@parliament.nsw.gov.au

The Planning White Paper

The Government proposes removing your say on development applications in your neighbourhood. Your involvement would be limited to up-front strategic plans. 80% of all development applications would go through 'tick-a-box' approvals.

The planning changes will remove Councils' ability to protect diversity, quality design and heritage.

Environmental considerations and preparing for climate change, which should be the basis of a 21st century planning system, are not mentioned!

Take action:

Make a submission on the White Paper here http://www.planning.nsw.gov.au/a-new-planning-system-for-nsw

Contact Premier Barry O'Farrell and Planning Minister Brad Hazzard and tell them you oppose the Government taking away your right to have a say in development applications in your neighbourhood.

Barry O'Farrell, (02) 9228 5239, office@premier.nsw.gov.au

Brad Hazzard, (02) 9228 5258, office@hazzard.minister.nsw.gov.au

The draft Metropolitan Strategy for Sydney

The City of Sydney, as the heart of the global city, is in a unique position and currently operates as its own planning sub-region.

The Government's proposed revision of the Metropolitan Plan would subsume the City into an enormous 'Global Sydney' region covering 18 councils - from the CBD to north of the Bridge, east to the sea and as far west as Ryde.

A Sub-Regional Planning Board, appointed by the State Government, would oversee this 'Global Sydney' region. It would set plans to reach Government targets, and local councils would be forced to follow suit.

We already have a Sub-Regional Planning Board in place - the Central Sydney Planning Committee. It is a model that works well and should be allowed to continue.

Take action:

Tell the Government you oppose merging the City of Sydney with 17 other councils and creating a new 'Sub Regional Planning Board' which would put our great work at risk.

Make a submission on the draft Metro Strategy here http://strategies.planning.nsw.gov.au/MetropolitanStrategyforSydney/Haveyoursay.aspx

Independent Local Government Review

The Sansom Review proposes amalgamating local government across NSW.

It puts all the City's plans at risk by calling for a greatly expanded "Super Sydney Council" with no compelling, evidence-based case for change.

It points to local council mergers in Auckland as a model for NSW. But since 2010 Auckland has reportedly spent $100,000,000 on merging seven councils. It is struggling with a massive debt forecast to grow to $12,500,000,000 over the next decade.

The report also proposes creating local boards within much bigger councils. In Auckland 21 new local boards were established, each with its own elected members. The result was 170 politicians: 149 elected local board members, plus the mayor and 20 councillors.

The Sansom Review's changes will put local democracy beyond the reach of independent community voices. Only big political parties with developer support will have the resources to campaign in this huge area with 800,000 residents.

A proper reform process would focus on the functions of local government in the 21st century and develop a comprehensive blueprint for the future.

Take action:

Tell the Sansom Review panel you oppose drastic and unjustified changes to local government. Email your submission to info@localgovernmentreview.nsw.gov.au

Contact Local Government Minister Don Page on (02) 9228 3403 or at office@page.minister.nsw.gov.au and tell him you don't support amalgamating councils.

Referendum on Local Government funding

The Federal Government collects more than 80% of all tax revenue in Australia, and it currently gives around $2.7 billion in funding to local governments each year

This funding helps provide essential local projects like roads, footpaths, childcare centres, libraries, pools, parks as well as services and programs for the community.

The City of Sydney recently received $5.4 million in Federal Government funding for our water reuse project in Sydney Park - a great example of local communities benefiting from Federal funding.

To make sure that this kind of funding can continue, a referendum will be held on the same day as the next federal election - September 14.

This referendum is about a necessary but non-contentious change. Voting 'yes' will benefit your community.

Take action:

On Saturday September 14, make sure you vote 'Yes' in the referendum.

 

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