Planning policies and book bans: NSW councils clash with state

The past week has seen NSW councils clash with the state government, with one council voting to take the state to court over a development policy and another council threatened with the loss of library funding over an attempted book ban.

Sam Ngai: council vows to fight

Kuringai Council voted unanimously on Wednesday to launch action in the Land and Environment Court against the NSW government’s transport-oriented development housing policy.

The vote was taken at an extraordinary meeting called by five councillors to consider the Council’s response to the policy, which impacts public transport precincts around the LGA.

Mayor Sam Ngai said after the Wednesday night meeting that Council had taken the decision to mount a legal case against the government because of ambiguity in the new planning controls, which the government says offer a solution to the state’s housing crisis.

The new planning controls, coming into effect this month, will rezone locations near tram and train lines across Sydney, the Illawarra, Hunter and Central Coast for residential development.

It targets eight transport hubs for accelerated rezoning including high rise development.

Mayor Ngai said the Councillors have received a briefing from legal advisors.

“We have not taken this decision lightly, but we owe it to residents to fight for our environment and quality of life. Based on our legal advice, we believe we have a strong case and the financial benefits to ratepayers far outweigh the cost.”

A Mayoral Minute says the TOD program will see new developments between 22 and 24 metres in height,  along with floor space ratios that ‘fatally’ weaken local controls on heritage, setbacks and urban canopy.

 “The TOD in its current form will lead to a Swiss cheese effect in our suburbs, with multiple high-rise buildings surrounding heritage properties,” Cr Ngai said.

The TOD will mean 20,000 new dwellings in Ku-ring-gai, he said.

 “We are keen to provide new homes, but they also need to be appropriately supported by infrastructure.”

Days of buck-passing over: Minns

Premier Chris Minns said he’s not concerned about other councils following suit.

“The government got a bad rap for coming in over the top of councils and not listening to them,” he told reporters on Thursday.

“I think the council’s got a bad rap for not wanting housing in their community.”

Other councils have recognised the need to solve the housing problems and come to the table, he said.

“As we move through the largest reform in housing in New South Wales’s history, in the shortest period of time ever, there was one holdout, Kuringai, which is their prerogative,” he said.

“I’m not going to get personal about it or try and launch an attack, but the days of passing the buck and saying we can’t do anything about housing reform or zoning are over.”

Book-ban vote sparks stern response

Meanwhile, Cumberland City Council found itself at the centre of controversy after voting to remove a book about same-sex parenting from library shelves.

Cr Steve Christou: wants same-sex books banned

Councillors voted 6-5 in favour of the motion “that Council take immediate action to rid same sex parents books/materials in Council’s library service.”

Councillor Steve Christou brought the motion during debate on Council’s library strategy saying had been contacted by “distraught local parents in regards to a same sex parents book that was gracing the shelves of the toddler section of this council.“

He argued it was appropriate for Council to have a policy that such books were not on the shelf, saying they sexualised children.

“We want to make it clear tonight that we hope to implement a policy that these kind of books, same sex parents books, do not find their way to our kids.

“This community is a very religious community it’s a very family orientated community…that don’t want such controversial issues going against their beliefs, indoctrinated into their libraries.”

A spokesman told Government News council was expected to make a statement regarding the matter shortly.

Contravention of library guidelines

Arts Minister John Graham said a book ban would be in contravention of guidelines for libraries across the state and the government was examining the consequences the decision may have for the council continuing to receive library funding.

“They are in breach of library guidelines across the state,” he told the ABC.

“Those guidelines are really clear, they state that public libraries should be an unbiased source of information and ideas and they make it clear that libraries should not have local councils excluding certain material on moral, political, racial, religious, sexist language or other grournds, that’s a condition of funding.”

Government MP Rose Jackson said book bans should not exist anywhere.

“Stop being weirdly obsessed with how other ppl (sic) live their private lives  and thinking you look tough punching down on minorities. It’s pathetic. Done like the books? Don’t read them,” she posted on the social media platform X.

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2 thoughts on “Planning policies and book bans: NSW councils clash with state

  1. Removing a book because the content is devisive within your community is not teaching your community that Australia is tolerant of all people regardless of their sexuality or ethnic backgrounds. Your council’s decision is only nurturing hatred and derision.

  2. Utilising American style religious bigotry to foster hatred and division is not Australian and we should remove any politician from any form of government who attempts to do so.
    The council is having an election in four months and there are six councilors who should be voted out of Cumberland City Council.
    Keep your religious bigotry out of our public libraries.

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