By Rob O'Brien
The president of the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) has issued a terse warning to developers and state planning officials in a speech to the National Press Club in Canberra.
In his address ALGA president Geoff Lake warned governments to expect a 'Your Rights at Home' campaign at the ballot box if they continued to disregard community involvement in planning.
“To the development industry and state government planning officials who believe planning can be done by the application of a simple checklist or a statewide set of principles – I say you are in la la land," Cr Lake said.
“The problem when developers and other levels of government talk about planning reform is that they always start from a position that community involvement in planning decisions and local variance is bad and it ought to be curtailed.
“State governments have been captured by a development industry which has for months been running an orchestrated smear campaign against community involvement in planning.
Cr Lake said that local government refused to “lie down and let clumsy state governments acting in concert with big developers strip out community involvement from the planning process”.
“We strongly believe that communities have a fundamental right to have a say in how their neighbourhood develops. And we will be unapologetic in defending that right.”
Cr Lake also flatly rejected attempts by the other levels of government to equate planning reform as action on affordable housing.
“In the past few months we have seen all sorts of nonsense about planning process reform being mixed into debates on affordable housing.
“It may suit governments to talk about action on affordable housing through reform of planning processes – as the Treasurers did in their meeting last week – but it is the biggest fraud going around in Australian politics and they should be called to account on it.”
Cr Lake is the first ALGA president to be invited to talk at the National Press Club.
Cr Lake also discussed the changing role for local government in service delivery and highlighted the need for funding and constitutional reform to put local government on a more sustainable footing.
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