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Independent Hearing and Assessment Panels (IHAP) are now mandatory for all councils in Greater Sydney and Wollongong after the Bill passed the NSW Parliament.

The NSW Government introduced the Environmental Planning and Assessment and Electoral Legislation Bill, it says, as a safeguard against corruption.

The Bill only passed in its amended version, which means that property developers and real estate agents will not be able to sit on the panels.

Minister for Planning and Housing Anthony Roberts welcomed the passing of the legislation in the Legislative Assembly after a late-night sitting in the Upper House passed the Bill.

 “This is a fantastic outcome for ratepayers as IHAP bring transparency, integrity and a high degree of probity to the development application (DA) assessment process.

“These panels, which will consider applications valued at between $5 million and $30 million as well as a range of high-risk development types, will give communities and ratepayers greater certainty about planning decisions.

“Most importantly, local councils will be able to focus on preparing the strategic plans and development controls that will identify the range and location of development types for their local area.”

The Bill sets a standard model for IHAP, comprising three independent expert members and a community member.
  • The community member, to be selected by the council, will represent the geographical area within the LGA of the proposed development, to provide local perspective.
  • IHAP members, who will be chosen by councils from a pool managed by the Department of Planning and Environment, will have to be expert in one or more of the following fields: planning, architecture, heritage, the environment, urban design, economics, traffic and transport, law, engineering, tourism, or government and public administration.
  • The chairperson must also have expertise in law or government and public administration.
  • The panel members themselves will be subject to statutory rules such as a compulsory code of conduct and operational procedures for the panels.
Local councils will still process most applications for individual houses or alterations to existing houses. Existing independent hearing and assessment panels will continue to operate after the upcoming council elections on 9 September.

At least developers have been excluded: Labor

The NSW Labor Opposition says it has secured vital amendments to the new law, ensuring developers and real estate agents are unable to sit on new planning panels that will determine major development proposals. Labor’s amendments, which it says were unanimously agreed to by the government and the crossbench, ensure that developers, real estate agents, and serving councillors cannot sit on any local planning panel. Decisions will also be made publicly available. They also guarantee that members of the local planning panels will be scrutinised by ICAC, much like MPs and councillors are. Labor has been calling for developers and real estate agents to be banned altogether from sitting on councils. Shadow Minister for Planning and Infrastructure Michael Daley said: “It begs the question: if the Government is happy to admit that developers should not sit on local planning panels, why should they be allowed on councils? “Labor calls on the Government to immediately rectify this issue – before September’s council elections.”

The Council is not happy…

Liverpool City Council has expressed its frustration at the decision by the NSW Planning Minister to strip Sydney and Wollongong councils of powers to determine developments over $5 million. “This is a naked power grab by the NSW Government – taking the decision-making authority to shape how our communities grow and develop away from elected representatives,” Liverpool Mayor Wendy Waller said. Mayor Waller said Liverpool was one of the first of 15 councils in the Sydney basin to establish an IHAP. Council has used this independent expert advice to improve decision-making on major planning proposals for 20 years. “We have long understood the importance of independent assessment when it comes to planning, but Council always had the option to bring matters of significant public interest back into the hands of elected representatives,” Mayor Waller said. “We had the checks and balances in place and they were working well. “The only thing this power grab by the State Government achieves is that it takes decisions further away from the community at the very time when Liverpool is growing fast and residents need to have a stake in this rapid expansion.

… but developers are

The announcement by the NSW Government that independent planning panels will determine all development applications with a value of between more than $5 million but less than $30 million in value in Sydney and Wollongong will streamline planning in metropolitan Sydney, said the developers’ union the Urban Taskforce. “The announcement that all local councils in Sydney and Wollongong must establish independent planning panels will make the planning process much more efficient,” said Urban Taskforce CEO Chris Johnson “The role of the elected councillors is in setting the strategic planning framework and the assessment of compliance with the framework is best undertaken by experts in the field.” “The Urban Taskforce agrees with the Minister that mandating the Independent Planning and Assessment Panels (IHAP) will ensure a level playing field for everyone. Having a central pool of experts will also ensure effective use of resources and that all panel members have up to date knowledge of the planning rules.” “The quality of panel members will be important to ensure they are assessing against the rules rather than becoming arbitrators trying to balance community concerns with the viability of the applicant’s proposal. Panel members must be supportive of growth that complies with the strategic plans approved by council or the state government. Having one member of the 4-person panel from the local area ensures an understanding of local issues.” [post_title] => Councils lose development control [post_excerpt] => IHAP are now mandatory for all councils in Greater Sydney and Wollongong. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => councils-lose-development-control [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-08-11 12:55:40 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-08-11 02:55:40 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://governmentnews.com.au/?p=27800 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [1] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27700 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-07-24 17:43:49 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-07-24 07:43:49 [post_content] => Patrick Hunn The Planning Institute of Victoria has taken issue with the Victorian government’s plans to connect central Melbourne to the city’s west via a major road and cross-river tunnel. The Victorian chapter of the Planning Institute Australia has criticised the Victorian government’s West Gate Tunnel Project for failing to follow its own planning guidelines. The project would connect central Melbourne to the city’s west via a new tunnel and an 18-lane, partially elevated toll road. In a submission made in response to the West Gate Tunnel Environmental Effects Statement (EES) and the Planning Scheme Amendment (PSA) associated with the development, Victoria chapter president Laura Murray described the project as lacking “strategic justification” and argued that “alternate approaches to addressing the identified land use and transport issues have not been considered or rigorously tested”. “The proposal as it stands is a retrograde, traffic-engineering-focused solution which is entirely at odds with any appreciation for good place-making and contemporary urban planning,” Ms Murray said. “The proposed 18 lanes of traffic on and above Footscray Road are completely out of proportion with an inner-city location, which will be subject to regeneration and will permanently blight the area.” The submission also expressed concerns of “inappropriate methodology and inadequate extent of traffic modelling” which did not go beyond 2031; the “significant detriment” to traffic and future development opportunities likely to be caused by the city exits; and “entrenched inequality for those in the outer suburbs without access to a private motor vehicle.” This article first appeared in ArchitectureAU. To read the full article click here. [post_title] => ‘Retrograde solution’: West Gate Tunnel Project a ‘permanent blight,’ says PIA [post_excerpt] => The Victorian government’s plans to connect central Melbourne to the city’s west have been called into question. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => retrograde-solution-west-gate-tunnel-project-permanent-blight-says-pia [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-07-26 12:22:55 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-07-26 02:22:55 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27700 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [2] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27335 [post_author] => 658 [post_date] => 2017-06-08 12:08:16 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-06-08 02:08:16 [post_content] =>

Pastures new in Camden, south-west Sydney. Pic: Facebook.
By Josh Harris
This story first appeared in ArchitectureAU and appears here by kind permission.
The New South Wales government has unveiled a plan to increase housing supply by making it easier to build in new development areas. The proposed new Greenfield Housing Code would see homes in new release areas approved in 20 days compared to the 71 days it currently takes on average. Minister for Housing and Planning Anthony Roberts said the government was committed to speeding up the delivery of new homes in greenfield areas to meet the needs of the state’s growing population and improve housing affordability. “This type of streamlined approval not only speeds up the delivery of new housing, but makes it easier and cheaper for people to build homes to suit their lifestyles and incomes,” he said. NSW opposition leader Luke Foley said the government was not doing enough to tackle housing affordability. “This Government has had six years to act on housing affordability but has done nothing,” he said. “Labor will take to the next state election a comprehensive plan to level the playing field in favour of home buyers and help those on modest incomes get a roof over their heads.” Following the release of the proposed Greenfield Housing Code, the opposition unveiled its plan to mandate a target for the provision of affordable housing. Read more here
[post_title] => We’re not in the 1950s anymore’: NSW greenfield housing plan ‘not sustainable,’ Institute says [post_excerpt] => Cautions expanding urban sprawl. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => not-1950s-anymore-nsw-greenfield-housing-plan-not-sustainable-institute-says [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-06-09 10:01:12 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-06-09 00:01:12 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27335 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [3] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27279 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-06-01 16:17:52 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-06-01 06:17:52 [post_content] => NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian will introduce new housing affordability measures from July 1 that will wallop foreign property investors with higher duties and taxes and give first home buyers a lift by expanding stamp duty concessions. Ms Berejiklian announced the changes today [Thursday] to double the stamp duty paid by foreign investors from 4 per cent to 8 per cent and increase the annual land tax surcharge on foreign buyers from 0.75 to 2 per cent. The forecast proceeds of $2 billion over the next four years are expected to be funnelled into more generous stamp duty concessions for first home buyers. The government will exempt first-home buyers from paying stamp duty on existing properties costing up to $650,000, not just new properties, and offer stamp duty discounts up to $800,000. It is good news for those saving for their first pad, with the government claiming this initiative alon could save first homebuyers up to $24,720. It is a significant jump. Current stamp duty exemptions for first home buyers apply only to new homes up to $550,000 and vacant land valued up to $350,000. At the moment, stamp duty concessions for first home buyers kick in for new properties valued between $550,000 and $650,000 and for vacant land valued between $350,000 and $450,000. Other measures in the housing affordability package include:
  • Removing stamp duty concessions for investors purchasing off the plan
  • Infrastructure funding of $3 billion from the state government, councils and developers to accelerate new housing
  • Abolishing the 9 per cent stamp duty charged on lenders’ mortgage insurance, which banks often demand when they lend to first homebuyers with smaller deposits
  • Fast-tracking approvals for well-designed terraces, townhouses, manor homes and dual occupancy by including them under complying exempt development
  • Greater use of independent panels for Sydney councils and in some regional areas to speed up development applications and ensure the integrity of the planning process
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said that taken together, the changes could save first homebuyers up to $34,360. “I want to ensure that owning a home is not out of reach for people in NSW,” Ms Berejiklian said. “These measures focus on supporting first homebuyers with new and better targeted grants and concessions, turbocharging housing supply to put downward pressure on prices and delivering more infrastructure to support the faster construction of new homes. “This is a complex challenge and there is no single or overnight solution. I am confident these measures will make a difference and allow us to meet the housing challenge for our growing state.” NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said the government would use its strong Budget position to ‘give a leg up’ to prospective first homebuyers while simultaneously targeting infrastructure investment to stimulate housing growth in Sydney and parts of regional NSW. “As a government, we have always focused on supporting first homebuyers and this package takes it to the next level,” Mr Perrottet said. “We know how challenging it can be to enter the property market and are pleased to be providing even more financial support for people wanting to make their first purchase.” NSW Planning Minister Anthony Roberts said the government would simplify complying development rules for greenfield areas and establishing specialist teams to help speed up rezoning residential development, where appropriate. “While we have done well to release an unprecedented amount of land over the last six years, we need to do better with our development application process to ensure we are keeping up with demand,” Mr Roberts said. [post_title] => NSW housing affordability reforms clobber foreign investors, help first home buyers [post_excerpt] => Stamp duty concessions expanded. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => nsw-housing-affordability-reform-clobbers-foreign-investors-helps-first-home-buyers [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-06-02 11:31:13 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-06-02 01:31:13 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27279 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [4] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27259 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-05-30 12:38:43 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-05-30 02:38:43 [post_content] => NSW Planning Minister Anthony Roberts. Pic: Facebook     The Greens have come out swinging against the NSW government’s proposal to devolve local council’s planning powers on big projects to independent panels. The reforms, which Planning Minister Anthony Roberts will take to Cabinet on Thursday, state that development applications over a certain [as yet unspecified] value will be taken out of the hands of metropolitan councils and given to Independent Hearing and Assessment Panels (IHAPs). Cabinet will also decide on the value of DAs to be decided by IHAPs. However, there is talk that smaller regional councils may be able to choose whether to use IHAPs or not. The IHAPs are currently optional but are used by larger metro councils, such as Canterbury Bankstown. NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian will be hoping the move – touted as a probity measure - will allow the government to outwit Opposition Leader Luke Foley, who has been pushing hard for developers and real estate agents to be banned from standing for local council election, sparked by former Auburn Deputy Mayor and property developer Salim Mehajer’s windfall from DA decisions he voted on while on council. Labor banned property developers from standing for pre-selection at any level of government in 2013, precipitated by then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s intervention in the NSW branch to stamp out corruption. Last year NSW Premier Mike Baird banned councillors from voting on DAs where they could benefit financially, reverting to how the situation had been before 2012. But Greens MP and Planning spokesperson David Shoebridge said stripping councils of their planning powers would ‘do nothing to restore integrity or accountability to the NSW planning system’ and was ‘a real step backwards’. “Councillors are elected by their local community to make the tough decisions about their local area in a way that is transparent and accountable. This is directly contrary to that,” Mr Shoebridge said.  “This is yet another example of the Coalition government stripping democratically elected councils of their decision-making and authority.” He said that the changes would give the government the chance to handpick people from the property industry to make decisions on DAs. Instead, he said the government should ban property developers and real estate agents from standing for office. Local Government NSW, the peak body for councils in the state, is opposed to IHAPs being mandatory for councils. LGNSW President Keith Rhoades said in January this year that he was concerned they would create another layer of administration and decision-making.  “We’re concerned about the Planning Minister being given powers to impose local planning panels on councils, and about excluding councillors from those panels, because being the voice of the community is what they were elected to do,” Mr Rhoades said.  “We are opposed to any persistent erosion of the rights of communities and councils to have a real say in the future of their neighbourhoods via local planning powers.  “It is not clear what the criteria for replacing councillors with a local planning panel would be, and this needs clarification so there is no risk of arbitrary decisions.” [post_title] => NSW metro councils set to lose planning powers on big DAs [post_excerpt] => Cabinet decides on Thursday. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => 27259 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-05-31 11:23:08 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-05-31 01:23:08 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27259 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [5] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26947 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-04-20 04:00:25 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-04-19 18:00:25 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_26950" align="alignnone" width="350"] Is the party over for Airbnb in NSW before it even began? NSW government says slow down. [/caption]     After three public hearings, 212 submissions and a parliamentary report the NSW government has announced it is not yet ready to make a decision about how to regulate short-term holiday letting through online booking services like Airbnb and Stayz. Instead, the NSW government will conduct a ‘broad consultation’ with the public and the short-term accommodation industry, including bed and breakfasts and hotels, before publishing an options paper next month. The options paper, which the Departments of Planning and Environment and Fair Trading will also contribute to, will explore land use and planning issues and strata management concerns, including the impact on the lives and safety of existing residents. This morning’s announcement (Thursday) was in response to an October 2016 report by the NSW Parliamentary Legislative Assembly Committee on Environment on the best way to regulate the explosion of short-term accommodation letting and the continued rise of Airbnb in the state. The report recommended the government make it easier for homeowners to rent out a whole or part of their house and for it to adopt a light regulatory touch. This approach included relaxing state planning laws so that local councils could class short-term letting as exempt development, providing it did not have excessive impact on other residents. But the government offered only ‘qualified support’ to the committee’s recommendations, stating they needed further consideration and more public consultation. It has been slow going. After submissions closed in November 2015 there were three public hearings between March and May 2016 followed by the final report on October 19, 2016 and the government’s response six months later. NSW Planning Minister Anthony Roberts said it was too complicated and divisive an issue to rush. “It’s no surprise that NSW and Sydney are highly sought after destinations for international and domestic visitors, however, we must find a balance between providing options for accommodation and residents being able to go about their daily lives. This will support the best environment for residents and visitors so that it is a great destination,” Mr Roberts said.  “The inquiry recommendations make sense, but the regulation of short-term letting needs broader engagement with the industry and the community to establish a model that enables it to continue to flourish and innovate whilst ensuring the amenity and safety of users and the wider community are protected.   “It's sensible to take time on a complex issue like this, which is why we are releasing an options paper next month.” The government supported the report’s recommendations around communicating with councils and residents any changes and that councils take the lead on informing landowners about their rights and duties. Also supported was giving owners’ corporations more powers to respond to any negative consequences of short-term lets in their buildings, through amending strata regulations. NSW Better Regulation Minister Matt Kean said the government would concentrate on finding common ground to address the concerns of everyone involved. “We need to find what will work best for the people of NSW, which is why we’re issuing an options paper for discussion with relevant stakeholders,” Mr Kean said.  “We don’t want a holiday accommodation market that’s so over-regulated it puts people off coming here but the rights of residents who live near these properties must be considered too.    “While short-term holiday letting, if properly managed and respected by all parties, can be a boost to the local economy, the need to protect people’s rights to the quiet enjoyment of their own homes is equally important.”     Meanwhile, Airbnb Australia Country Manager Sam McDonagh called the government's response a 'strong, positive step towards ensuring fair and progressive rules and regulation for residents and visitors to NSW'. “We appreciate that these things take time and that it’s important to get the balance right," Mr McDonagh said. "We’re confident that Premier Berejiklian and the NSW government will join the state governments in Tasmania and South Australia, in embracing home sharing, and introduce fair regulations that allow more people in NSW to share their extra space.”   Want the latest public sector news delivered straight to your inbox? Click here to sign up the Government News newsletter.         [post_title] => NSW government delays Airbnb decision [post_excerpt] => Options paper by next month. 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  By Darragh O'Keefe   The lack of a clear national policy could stymie the future growth of the retirement living sector in Australia, a new analysis concludes. The analysis by researchers at the Queensland University of Technology and the University of Adelaide found the absence of nationally consistent policies and regulations will challenge the future development of the sector. The study’s authors call for the Commonwealth Government to enact policies that actively support the growth of the retirement village sector. “The Australian retirement village sector is not a national industry priority or receiving direct and clear policy support,” they found. The researchers pointed to the barriers facing developers around state-based planning policies and regulations as an example where government could better support the sector.
  Read more here.   This story first appeared in Australian Ageing Agenda.  [post_title] => Government inaction hindering retirement villages: experts [post_excerpt] => State planning policies need a shake-up. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => government-inaction-hindering-retirement-villages-experts [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-03-21 10:49:19 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-03-20 23:49:19 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26585 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [7] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26334 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-02-24 17:21:52 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-02-24 06:21:52 [post_content] =>   The Corkman Irish pub after demolition. Pic: Jenny Zhou, Melbourne Law School student.        Two shonky developers and their company faced 16 charges today (Friday) and up to $2 million in fines for demolishing a landmark, heritage Irish pub in Melbourne. Melbourne City Council and the state’s building authority Victorian Building Authority (VBA), laid 16 charges in Melbourne Magistrates Court against the pair and their company for illegally demolishing the 159-year-old Corkman Irish pub in Carlton during October last year. The council and the VBA spent three months investigating the illegal knock down, which was in a heritage overlay area, before laying charges against cowboy developers Stefce Kutlesovski and Raman Shaqiri and their company that owned the land, 160 Leicester Pty Ltd. The two men, who bought the pub in 2015 for $4.76 million, were charged with demolishing the Leicester Street building without a permit; refusing to obey a stop work order; not giving the council 48 hours written notice of the demolition and doing the work outside permissible hours. Mr Kutlesovski was also charged with being an unregistered demolisher. Meanwhile, 160 Leicester Pty Ltd, was charged with allowing the demolition without a permit; failing to observe a stop building work order, contravening planning legislation, carrying out demolition work outside permitted hours and not giving the council 48 hours’ notice of demolition.   The maximum penalty for each charge ranges from $3,109 to $388,650 so the two men and their company could owe up to $2 million. Melbourne Lord Mayor Robert Doyle said he hoped the charges against the developers would lead to the pub being rebuilt. He told a media conference this afternoon: “These are very serious charges carrying very serious fines”. “Everything from demolishing a building, to being without a permit, to failing to observe a stop work order, and everything in between. “It’s not that we want to go into court to punish people as a consequence of what they have done, what we’d really like to see is The Corkman reinstated and that is possible.” Waste from the site, including dangerous asbestos, was later found dumped on a site the two man own in Cairnlea. They were understood to be planning a 12-storey apartment block on the flattened site.   [post_title] => They came in with a wrecking ball: Council lays charges over demolition of Melbourne Irish pub [post_excerpt] => Fines could hit $2 million. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => came-wrecking-ball-council-lays-charges-demolition-melbourne-irish-pub [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-02-27 10:44:33 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-02-26 23:44:33 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26334 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [8] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26117 [post_author] => 658 [post_date] => 2017-01-31 10:49:24 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-01-30 23:49:24 [post_content] => Port Augusta City Council has sold its two nursing homes.      Local government agencies throughout Australia are asking if aged care is their core business, writes Cam Ansell. While many community projects for older people originated from municipalities, the reform process is creating a highly competitive and attractive market for the private sector. Given the broad set of responsibilities already managed by local government, many are concerned that these services create a disproportionate burden and draw on ratepayer resources. If the private sector can do it better and more efficiently, why continue? Over the past 12 months, our firm has supported the City of West Torrens in South Australia with their nursing home divestment, and similar processes are now taking place in the Cities of Bayswater and Canning in Western Australia. In October, the Port Augusta City Council in South Australia announced the sale of its two nursing homes by public tender. All of these organisations did some serious soul searching and concluded that the market had changed and so should their role. Under the Living Longer, Living Better reforms introduced in 2012, consumers will be in a position to demand more responsive, cost effective and innovative services. In this environment, organisations that are created to deliver on this objective will be better placed than those which must manage a myriad of services. As a result, we can expect the representation of local government in the aged care sector to decline further in future years. However, the role of local government in planning facilitation is absolutely critical. The Georges River Council in New South Wales recognised the importance of promoting aged care development in their communities. They have preserved a prime piece of real estate in Oatley for the provision of aged care services. The City of Swan in Western Australia has made similar allocations, recognising the need for greater services levels in their municipality. Our consultation with aged care and retirement village operators revealed a high level of frustration in relation to the planning approval process for new and expanded developments. The importance placed on seniors’ accommodation and aged care services varies substantially between local government agencies and planning authorities. Across Australia, seniors’ housing and aged care projects have been stalled or terminated because of misunderstanding and prejudices among community members. While some of this sentiment can be attributed to a natural fear of ageing, others misconceive that the expansion of seniors’ accommodation results in an influx of ageing people in their community. In fact, the opposite is true. The provision of age appropriate accommodation makes larger homes available for young families, while helping the elderly remain in their own community.  By 2020, around eight million Australians will be aged over 70 years. This cohort currently owns around 21 per cent of all residences and almost 90 per cent of these seniors have surplus capacity within their homes. In the absence of appropriate planning and investment in suitable housing and community infrastructure for seniors, this demographic shift will have a major negative impact on housing affordability and the wider economy. The local government participation and facilitation of the planning process will be critical to addressing this emerging issue. Australia’s not-for-profit aged care peak bodies have outlined nine principles that should underpin the new financial model being developed as an alternative to the existing Aged Care Funding Instrument. As Australian Ageing Agenda reported first reported in October, the Department of Health has commissioned the University of Wollongong to identify alternatives to ACFI. The university’s work will include a review of international models, as well as methods used in related sectors such as the health and hospital system. The seven NFP peak bodies said that the recent funding changes and court challenges have “highlighted the urgent need for a more sustainable, efficient and effective model to fund aged care services.” The new funding model should be underpinned by principles that enable equitable access to high quality care, support consumer choice and control, maximise health and wellbeing and support reablement and preventative approaches, the groups said. “Funding should support all consumers based on their assessed needs, and ensure that all consumer groups, including CALD, LGBTI, indigenous Australians, older people living with disability, people suffering mental ill health or those who may be socially or geographically isolated, have access to appropriate support, care and services as they require them. “The model should also be flexible and adaptable across the continuum of care (home care and support through to residential care). It should be efficient, transparent and financially sustainable. It should encourage, not stifle, innovation, investment and growth,” the peaks said. NFP aged care providers deliver about 60 per cent of residential aged care services and 85 per cent of all community aged care services in Australia.   This story first appeared in Australian Ageing Agenda.  [post_title] => Councils sell aged care facilities but keep planning role    [post_excerpt] => Private sector moves in. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => councils-sell-aged-care-facilities-keep-planning-role [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-01-31 10:54:50 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-01-30 23:54:50 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26117 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [9] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 25947 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-01-09 16:14:28 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-01-09 05:14:28 [post_content] => gladys-berejiklian-and-mike-baird2_opt Berejiklian and Baird: Free marketeers or affordable housing warriors? Pic: Facebook.      The NSW Opposition has accused Premier Mike Baird and Treasurer Gladys Berejiklian of being ‘free marketeers’ who don’t care about affordable housing after proposals to overhaul the state’s planning laws were announced yesterday (Sunday). NSW Planning Minister Rob Stokes put a raft of proposals out to public consultation, which he said would help speed up development applications (DAs) and tackle the state’s serious housing shortage. But NSW Labor says the changes represent only minor tinkering with the planning system and ignore the major policy levers that need to be pulled to address housing affordability. The changes put forward for public consultation involve amending the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979. Changes include: • New powers for the Planning Minister to impose independent planning panels on councils that stall on big DAs • Widening the definition of ‘complying development’ to include greenfield development and terrace housing, not just one or two-storey dwellings • New powers for the Planning Department to intervene if a government agency is dithering over residential approvals • Standardising the format of councils’ development control plans so they’re easier to read and navigate • Giving developers incentives to address objections from communities before lodging DAs • Simplifying building provisions for developers • Making planning agreements between developers and councils more consistent and transparent • Council planning staff or local planning panels to decide more DAs, councillors to concentrate more on strategic planning • Making community participation plans compulsory for planning authorities   Shadow Planning Minister Michael Daley disparaged the proposed planning amendments today as “modest measures” dressed up as help for first home buyers and called them inoffensive but bland. “There’s nothing in these provisions that will ease the housing affordability crisis,” Mr Daley said. “There’s no provision in any of these amendments that will give joy or hope to first home buyers in NSW. What they aim to do is to ease some of the red tape.” He said the amendments would not help developers convert development approvals into completions and the Baird government should concentrate instead on agitating for negative gearing to be wound back federally while introducing rezoning and affordable housing targets at state level to prevent first home buyers from being consistently outgunned by cashed-up investors. “Malcolm Turnbull is wrong when he says that it’s red tape at the council level that’s holding housing affordability up,” Mr Daley said. He also accused Premier Mike Baird and Treasurer Gladys Berejiklian of being “free marketeers” and not genuinely caring about affordable housing. “We’re calling on Mike Baird to get on the phone today and to scream at Malcolm Turnbull and demand some reform to negative gearing,” Mr Daley said. “It’s the big lever at the federal level and at the state level inclusion rezoning [targets] and affordable rental housing targets. They’re the things we’re screaming about.” He said that last year 75,000 DAs were approved but just over 30,000 were built and quoted Mr Stokes as saying that 40,000 new homes needed to be built every year, just to keep up with domestic demand. The NSW government’s planning law shake-up has also drawn fire from the peak body for the state’s local councils, Local Government NSW (LGNSW), which said that widening the definition of complying development could clear the way for medium density development without community input, leaving it in the hands of private certifiers. LGNSW President Keith Rhoades said the state was “crying out for major planning reform” but feared some of the government’s reforms would give developers carte blanche to replace single houses with multiple townhouses. “Local government is concerned about the proposal to expand complying development to riskier, larger-scale development which could completely change the character of a local area,” Mr Rhoades said. “We welcome the government’s plans to address some existing issues with complying development, like requiring developers to pay a compliance levy and strengthening enforcement powers to manage illegal work, but we don’t support expanding this model to larger-scale development.” Mr Rhoades said there would be too much power concentrated in the hands of private certifiers. “We’re concerned because certification doesn’t allow neighbours to have any real say. They find out the hard way: they get two letters before the bulldozers turn up next door,” he said. The NSW government was originally intending to mandate local planning panels, a move vociferously opposed by NSW councils. Although, the government has backed away from this, it wants to retain the power to impose local panels on councils where necessary, something LGNSW is concerned about because it views the criteria for intervention as unclear. Mr Rhoades said councils supported having more community consultation at the front end of strategic planning but cautioned that this should not come at the cost of community input on a practical level, where local developments affected neighbours. “We would like to see an independent process that respects the importance of local plans in giving life to the community and government’s big picture, with less interference on local details that are so important to communities, such as the protection of local amenity and character,” he said. “The Planning Minister has been very good on the consultation front with councils so far, and we welcome his commitment to work with us on the details.” Meanwhile Mr Stokes said the proposed amendments would increase local participation in planning and make it easier to build new homes. He said NSW Treasury had estimated that there was pent up demand for up to 100,000 new homes. The NSW government has forecast that 725,000 new homes will be needed by 2036 to house an extra 1.7 million residents. “The NSW government is determined to do everything it can, including making the planning system more efficient to ensure housing supply gets to homebuyers fast,” Mr Stokes said. The proposals are on public exhibition until March 10. [post_title] => Baird and Berejiklian: ‘Free marketeers who don’t care about affordable housing’? [post_excerpt] => Rebuilding the NSW planning system. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => baird-berejiklian-free-marketeers-dont-care-affordable-housing [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-01-10 11:42:31 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-01-10 00:42:31 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=25947 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 1 [filter] => raw ) [10] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 25916 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2016-12-21 09:42:21 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-12-20 22:42:21 [post_content] => emu-plains-correctional-centre-supplied Emu Plains Correctional Centre.    The Baird government has backed down on building a pop-up prison for maximum security inmates in Western Sydney, after strong local opposition to the plans. NSW Corrections Minister David Elliott announced today (Wednesday) that the new quick-build prison for 400 inmates, which was to be built next to the 200-bed women’s prison at Emu Plains Correctional Centre, would not be going ahead. The NSW prison population is at record levels and the government is scrambling to deal with the crisis. A spokesperson for Mr Elliott said the NSW government had received a hydrologist’s report which indicated that the site, which is on a flood plain, was at risk of flooding. Mr Elliott said: “I have heard community concerns about the proposed expansion and updated flood modelling provided to Justice Infrastructure shows that the flooding risk with the proposed increase in capacity could not be fully addressed at the site. “We are continuing to look at additional sites to increase capacity in the NSW correctional system.” He said Emu Plains was chosen for expansion because it was a large open site within the Sydney metropolitan region and would have brought more than 400 new jobs to the local economy. Mr Elliott said the NSW Government would invest $3.8 billion over four years to provide about 7,000 additional beds across the state to cope with NSW’s increasing prisoner population. Shadow Minister for Corrections Guy Zangari said the government had been forced into an “embarrassing backflip” because it had failed to consult properly with residents or with its own planning department. Mr Zangari said the prison would have been built close to an area surrounded by houses, schools and a train station. “The community is outraged that they were never consulted about this pop-up prison. Now Minister Elliott has been forced into back-flipping on a flimsy plan that lacked detail about keeping nearby residents safe,” Mr Zangari said. “It took a community backlash to make the minister see sense and ditch this idea. It just goes to show how out of touch he is.” Mr Zangari blamed the Baird Government for creating “the worst prison bed crisis” in the state's history. He said 1700 inmates were expected to come into prison corrections next year but only 900 new beds.   [post_title] => NSW government shelves pop-up prison after community backlash [post_excerpt] => Emu Plains site a no-go. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => nsw-government-shelves-pop-prison-community-backlash [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-05-02 15:11:08 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-05-02 05:11:08 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=25916 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [11] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 23907 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2016-12-20 16:29:07 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-12-20 05:29:07 [post_content] => Baird_Hospital_construction   There are some giant question marks hanging over NSW newly-created councils; one of the biggest unknowns is what happens to development applications and planning while administrators are running the show. NSW Local Government Minister Paul Toole has insisted it's business as usual for council planners and that administrators will be able to decide any development applications (DAs) that can't be dealt with by council officers. Will planning rules change? Mr Toole has promised that administrators at the state’s 19 new councils will not tinker with local environment plans (LEPs), leaving them static until mayors and councillors are elected at the September 2017 local government elections. LEPs are critical to guiding planning decisions and because they regulate land use and development, for example land zonings. The plans are written by local councils but subject to state government approval. However, there is no specific mention of not touching LEPs in the Local Government (Council Amalgamations) Proclamation 2016 that accompanied the announcement of new councils last week. The Proclamation says former council areas will keep their development control and contributions plans but adds: “To avoid doubt, nothing in this clause prevents the new council from amending a development control plan or contributions plan.” Development control plans provide detailed planning and design guidelines to support LEP planning controls. Associate Professor Roberta Ryan, from the Centre for Local Government at the University of Technology Sydney, said the Proclamation Amalgamation was silent on LEPs, other than to say all plans, strategies and codes of former councils remained in force as they were prior to amalgamation. But she said that although the technical documents informing decisions, such as LEPs, DCPs and the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act, would not change administrators might interpret them differently from councillors. “All planning instruments of the pre-amalgamated entities remain in force until they are repealed (i.e. new ones prepared by the post-merger entities),” Dr Ryan said. “However, nothing in the Amalgamation Proclamation prohibits the Council (i.e. the administrator until new elections are held) from amending DCPs or development contribution plans.” She said experience had shown that one of the biggest challenges ahead for councils that merge was developing land use planning instruments for entirely new councils. This had taken a substantial amount of time to update following the 2008 Queensland mergers. “NSW’s recent lengthy experience with the standard instrument process (which took about seven years to transition all councils) underscores just how extensive and time consuming this task will be,” A/Prof Ryan said. Councils would also need to wrestle with integration of computer systems development application which allocate application numbers. There is also a question of whether planning officers would stick to DAs from their former council areas because they know the LEP/DCP provisions or if they would also make decisions on other locations too. Planning during the administrator phase: different camps, different worries Property developers Parts of the property industry are fearful that administrators will be gun-shy and either disallow DAs, or put them on ice for 16 months. Chris Johnson from Urban Taskforce said: “We’re very concerned that the administrators may well feel as though they need to be very community sensitive under the circumstances of councils being sacked and in a caretaker mode and not be willing to make big decisions.” Mr Johnson said this could exacerbate housing shortages, particularly in Metropolitan Sydney, and hold up the voluntary planning agreements and rezoning needed for bigger developments to go ahead. He said: “A lot depends on what instructions are given to administrators in relation to planning matters.” Some council LEPs are four or five years out-of-date and did not include new rail lines and metros, where more density is now expected to occur. He suggested the Department of Planning and Environment or the Greater Sydney Commission could make final decisions on larger developments. “We need some confidence that the administrators are not going to be too risk averse.” NSW Executive Director of the Property Council, Jane Fitzgerald, said she was not panicking about planning under the new councils, but was keeping a watchful eye. “We would be concerned if there is evidence of delays in the DA process, for instance, but given that this was announced a week ago and administrators are just getting their feet under their desks I think it’s a little early to get hysterical about it." She said there were DA timelines in place and administrators would be applying the same rules as councillors used. “We need to keep in mind the broader objectives in what we’re dealing [and] what’s intended: less red tape, larger council areas being able to deliver more and better services because of economies of scale.” Community groups, councillors and residents While the property industry is worried the planning process will be held up by having administrators in charge, some mayors, councillors and community groups are worried that the reverse is true and that unpopular developments could be rubber stamped. There is also anxiety that there will be no community voice at the table during discussions on major projects such as WestConnex, the Bays Precinct or North Parramatta Urban Renewal Project. Former Leichhardt Mayor Darcy Byrne – whose inner-west Sydney council merged with Ashfield and Marrickville to create Inner West Council last week – said he feared that sacking councillors and mayors would give NSW Planning Minister Rob Stokes carte blanche to push through controversial developments like WestConnex. “[They could] rush through high-rise development in the Bays Precinct, Parramatta Road and the Sydenham to Bankstown rail line corridor without any opposition,” Mr Byrne said. “I expect that these things will be speeded up. The administrators were handpicked by Mike Baird and won’t properly investigate state government proposals. They will just take the view of Mike Baird at face value.” He said sacking councillors and appointing administrators was “an extreme concentration of power that’s ripe for improper decision making". “Local residents and former councillors are all feeling fearful and I think they’re right to be.” The new City of Parramatta Council is the consent authority for some state significant developments, including the proposal to build around 3,000 apartments on a large heritage site in North Parramatta, which contains the Parramatta Female Factory and Roman Catholic Orphan School. North Parramatta Residents Action Group President Suzette Meade, who is also on the Parramatta City Council Heritage Advisory Committee, said council sackings meant residents had “lost the ability to lobby councillors". “We are extremely concerned that local residents will not be heard or listened to,” she said. “We’re saying, just slow down and let the site form the development into a tourism and culture site. It’s a bit of a faux tourism and culture site at the moment.” Ms Meade said the state government had pursued forced amalgamations in order to “administer key development programs in key areas” and that Parramatta was becoming a super council along the key urban growth development corridor. Meanwhile, UrbanGrowth NSW, the lead government agency on the Parramatta North Urban Renewal Program, said it would work with the new council to ensure further consultation on the site. “We held three community information sessions this year where we sought feedback from the local community,” an agency spokesperson said. “Our development applications will be subject to statutory exhibition periods where the community can examine the plans and make formal submissions. In addition, we are looking forward to working with the local community on ensuring the significant heritage buildings have an ongoing, viable use.” “It has always been the intention of UrbanGrowth NSW to lodge future development applications with Parramatta Council.” Parramatta North was rezoned by the planning minister in November 2015.   A statement provided to Government News by the NSW Department of Planning and Environment said: The Department of Planning and Environment is developing a guide for new councils to help transition their planning processes. The Department will provide support to new councils during this period so that they can continue to provide key planning and assessment services to their communities. New Councils will continue to process development applications and other planning activities. Joint Regional Planning Panels will continue to make decisions based on council assessment planning reports. Individuals and businesses should continue to deal with their councils and submit applications for assessment as they would normally. This is an opportunity for new councils to improve their delivery of planning services and the Department will support them to make these improvements.   [post_title] => Best of 2016: Planning under NSW forced council mergers, confusion reigns [post_excerpt] => Administrators to decide development applications. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => planning-nsw-forced-council-mergers-confusion-reigns [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-12-20 16:32:46 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-12-20 05:32:46 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=23907 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 3 [filter] => raw ) [12] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 23184 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2016-12-20 16:27:27 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-12-20 05:27:27 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_23188" align="alignnone" width="491"]Salim3 Auburn councillors, including Deputy Mayor Salim Mehajer have been suspended while a public inquiry investigates planning and development decisions. Photo: Facebook.[/caption]   The NSW government has been too soft on local government fraud, corruption and bad behaviour, says a researcher specialising in governance and political structures. Nicole Campbell, Associate at the University Technology of Sydney’s (UTS) Centre for Local Government, has spent years researching governance– including examining the scale of fraud and corruption in councils – and said processes need to be tightened up, dodgy councillors brought to book and councillors made more aware of unacceptable behaviour. She said it was difficult to ascertain the extent of fraud and corruption in NSW local government. “The short answer is, we don’t know,” Ms Campbell said. “I think there is a lot of corruption that’s occurring that is not being reported and I don’t say that lightly because I’m passionate about local government.” It’s an area that has attracted a great deal of scrutiny in the midst of some recent high profile cases of local government chicanery. The biggest circus has been that surrounding Auburn Council. It was the story that had it all: limos, helicopters, ambitious developers, flamboyant councillors, dubious planning decisions and a few whistleblowing councillors risking their necks to speak out. NSW Local Government Minister Paul Toole suspended every Auburn councillor in February and has appointed an administrator while a public inquiry investigates allegations that some councillors made planning and development decisions for their own benefit. The news isn’t much better at Hurstville or North Sydney Councils. The Office of Local Government (OLG) is currently pursuing property developer and former Hurstville Mayor Con Hindi  for alleged misconduct. Mr Toole ordered a public inquiry into allegations of conflict and dysfunction North Sydney in January after infighting paralysed decision making in the council chamber, while over at Rockdale Council, Liberal councillors have stage numerous walkouts to stymie a vote on selling a car park to fund a new aquatic centre and library. The fault lines Director of the Australian Centre of Excellence for Local Government at the University of Technology Sydney, Associate Professor Roberta Ryan, said procurement and decision making, particularly around planning and development, offered the greatest opportunity for duplicitousness and self interest. A/Prof Ryan said another fault line in local government could be the relationship between council general managers and the mayor or CEO. “The mayor holds the key to the general manager/CEO’s job and pressure can be put on general managers to do things that they shouldn't,” she said. “All jurisdictions, through the state government local government departments and the professional associations, have systems in place to support senior officials when they face this situation but it can get tricky. “The more worrying aspect is probably corruption - if it is systematic across organisations – [it] means there are a number of people involved and there is a lack of process and systems for proper transparency.” She added, “I would say there is not any evidence that fraud and corruption is widespread in NSW – [no] worse than in other jurisdictions or in other levels of government. We have seen isolated examples across the public sector in Australia. Tightening the system Ms Campbell said current local council processes were not capturing corruption effectively and action was not taken where it was identified. She said one of the biggest mistakes in recent years was passing the Local Government Amendment Act 2011, which allowed councillors who were also property developers to vote on decisions where they had a vested interest, providing they declared it. “I really think it’s an example of state-sanctioned corruption; where the state government has a law that allows property developers or those with a pecuniary interest to vote on a decision and that gives them a clear benefit. This is a massive problem,” Ms Campbell said. “Evidence of councillor misconduct by councillors with pecuniary interests will have increased because they can say they were acting within the law but not ethically or morally. It’s extraordinary that the government felt the need pass that in the first place.” She said it was also important to examine how many complaints about councillor conduct were made to the OLG and how many were substantiated. “I’m dismayed that the government has not taken the opportunity to pursue many of these.” Few cases of councillor misconduct appeared to have reached the Pecuniary Interest and Disciplinary Tribunal or the Administrative Affairs Tribunal. “I think it’s because the process is so unwieldy, people give up.” A former councillor herself, Ms Campbell has lived through some of “the trouble” at Ryde Council between 2011 and 2014. Former Ryde Mayor Ivan Petch is currently being prosecuted for misconduct in public office, blackmail and giving false or misleading evidence to a corruption inquiry. The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) have also recommended that several former Ryde councillors face charges for breaching electoral funding laws after accepting free advertising from a local newspaper. She said the councillors got off scot-free because the Electoral Funding Authority said it was not worth taking it any further because of cost but also lack of evidence, despite the recommendations of the DPP and ICAC. “There was no follow up action and that sends a message to councillors they can get away with it.” She pointed to a “clunky” code of conduct, where complaints against councillors are investigated internally by the General Manager. Even where complaints are upheld, councillors can still vote to take no action. “If the numbers sit with the person that has done the wrong thing [or they have the casting vote] the report has to go back to council for investigation. Council staff see the note which says “no further action”.” It would be better to have an independent inquiry which made recommendations to the OLG. “I don’t think it’s appropriate for councillors to be sitting in judgement on one of their own.” Another major improvement would be to make it harder councillors to remove general managers. At the moment, councillors can sack general managers without even having to give a reason and the process is not transparent. “There are so many examples of general managers being sacked on a whim by councillors because a particular decision hasn’t gone their way. Paying out GMs is also very expensive. The OLG should have acted many years ago.” But Ms Campbell said Mr Toole had been too blunt in suspending every Auburn councillor when some had spoken out against poor planning and development decisions. She said it punished all of the councillors and deprived ratepayers of their elected representatives. It was likely that the appointed administrator would hand straight over to the new council – Auburn is slated to merge with Holroyd and parts of Parramatta – and suspended councillors may never return. “You should remove those councillors whose conduct is unworthy of holding public office but those councillors that are doing the right thing should be able carry on their roles as elected representatives,” she said. An amendment to the Councillor Misconduct Bill, which went through in December 2015, gave Mr Toole the power to suspend individual councillors, not just the whole council. Ms Campbell said: “The vast majority of elected representatives work very, very hard for their local communities. It’s a few rotten apples that spoil the barrel and that’s a shame because local government is an important sector.” Will fraud and corruption grow under larger, merged councils? Both women take the view that there is no reason that larger councils with more power and bigger budgets should equate to an increase in fraud or corruption. A/Prof Ryan said: “[It’s] not likely to be worse - bigger councils can have more complex systems of accountability - it goes to the legislative frameworks and the codes of conduct - they will either stay the same or it will be strengthened. “Regarding councillors - their role is strategic leadership - not operational management. There are checks and balances in the system to ensure accountability - and a focus on training to ensure councillors understand not just the codes of conduct but how to behave ethically. “Public sector rules for officers are very clear on how to make transparent decisions and there are layers of sign offs - delegations etc.” Ms Campbell agreed that good governance was critical to running a tight ship. “If you’ve got an executive management team and a group of councillors that are aware of the rules and their responsibilities and which work together within a strong governance framework, I don’t think it matters how big the council is.” Possible solutions Both agreed that compulsory training on the code of conduct and ethics was the best way to guard against wrongdoing. Mentoring using alliances between several councils could help too. Ms Campbell said: “Councillors are responsible for multi-million dollar budgets. It’s critical to get councillors and people who want to be councillors aware of the rules and responsibilities of their positions and ethical decision making processes before they get elected. [At the moment] they learn as they go along.” The most common misunderstandings, she said, were around donations towards election campaigns - including in-kind donations - and more education was needed from the Electoral Commission and the OLG to counter these. Bullying, hectoring and noisy behaviour should be clamped down on too, Ms Campbell said. “Behaviour in chambers is appalling and the bullying that goes on has no place in any level of government I think councillors take their cues from noisy Question Time. They think this is how to behave. Well, it most certainly is not.” She said the government needed to take a much stronger role in addressing rude and hectoring behaviour, including sanctioning councillors that rendered meetings inquorate to delay decisions. “Ministers can regulate that behaviour and it’s a shame there hasn’t been more focus on improving the governance of councils,” Ms Campbell said. ACELG runs an elected members program which looks at ethics, governance and the theory behind administrative processes. A/Prof Ryan said: “You can only regulate people's behaviour up to a point. People have to be constantly engaged in process to help them understand what corrupt behaviour looks like and what they can do to guard against it. There should also be strong enforceable protections for whistle blowers.” [post_title] => Best of 2016: Corruption allegations at Sydney councils tip of the iceberg, says researcher [post_excerpt] => Developers voting on councils “state-sanctioned corruption.” [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => corruption-investigations-at-auburn-hurstville-and-rockdale-councils-the-tip-of-the-iceberg-says-researcher [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-12-20 16:32:04 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-12-20 05:32:04 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=23184 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 9 [filter] => raw ) [13] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 25721 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2016-12-02 10:13:41 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-12-01 23:13:41 [post_content] => emu-plains-correctional-centre-supplied Aerial view of Emu Plains Correctional Centre. Photo: Supplied.         NSW Premier Mike Baird’s plans to build a pop-up prison at Emu Plains housing 400 maximum security inmates in demountables will be built on some of the most dangerous flood plains in NSW, the Opposition has said. NSW Shadow Minister for Corrections Guy Zangari argued that the state government was aware that developing the Western Sydney site, which already houses a 200-bed women’s prison Emu Correctional Centre, would present “a risk to human life”. Mr Zangari said that a leaked letter from the Department of Planning to Penrith City Council showed that the government had stepped in to halt an earlier council proposal to develop land adjacent to the pop-up prison site. “The Baird government’s own planning department recognises that any further development in Emu Plains is dangerous, yet tough talking Minister for Corrections David Elliott is pushing ahead anyway,” Mr Zangari said. He said Penrith Council wanted to rezone land near the prison for 60 houses but the Department of Planning rejected the planning proposal. “Given the current evacuation capacity constraints and consequent risk to life, further development of flood prone land in Emu Plains is not supported,” said the Department’s letter to the council. “Consideration was given to the complex nature of flood evacuation around Emu Plains and that any development of this nature would adversely add to the regional evacuation capacity constraints.” But a Corrective Services NSW spokeswoman denied lives would be at risk. “Corrective Services NSW is aware of concerns about the proposed expansion, which includes a 240-bed facility for women and a facility for men,” she said. “If any risk could not be fully addressed then the project would not go ahead.” Hydrologists will ensure the proposal would have no impact on flooding and evacuation routes will be considered during site investigations. She said the prison’s expansion would follow state environmental planning legislation, which included exploring potential environmental impacts and taking into account geotechnical information, stormwater and waste management. The Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley area is well documented as being vulnerable to flooding. The 2014 Hawkesbury-Nepean Flood Management Review Stage One said that during heavy rain water entered the floodplain much faster than it could escape. Flood waters can rise rapidly and create a ‘bathtub effect caused by natural choke points’. “A combination of large upstream catchments and narrow downstream sandstone gorges results in floodwaters backing up behind these natural ‘choke points’,” said the review. “Floodwaters rise rapidly causing significant flooding both in terms of area and depth.” But while the vulnerability of the area to flooding is established the likelihood of a catastrophic flood is up for debate. The last major one was in 1897 when flood waters hit 19.5 metres. Local flood plain and environmental expert Steven Molino told news.com in 2012 that there was a one in 200 chance of the 1867 flood occurring. "These things do happen. They don't always happen where there's people or houses, but when they do we have a major catastrophe,” Mr Molino said. The NSW government has also been criticised for a dearth of community consultation about the new prison. Mr Zangari said: “The government didn’t even have the decency to tell the community about its pop-up prison plans when they first emerged, now they’re learning that their lives are at risk too.” A NSW Corrections spokeswoman said Justice NSW would commence a targeted community consultation once the development of the concept plan was complete, which would be in the coming weeks. [post_title] => Pop-up prison could flood: Labor [post_excerpt] => Flood plain risk. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => emu-plains-pop-prison-flood-labor [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-12-02 10:29:53 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-12-01 23:29:53 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=25721 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) ) [post_count] => 14 [current_post] => -1 [in_the_loop] => [post] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27800 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-08-10 17:23:52 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-08-10 07:23:52 [post_content] => Independent Hearing and Assessment Panels (IHAP) are now mandatory for all councils in Greater Sydney and Wollongong after the Bill passed the NSW Parliament. The NSW Government introduced the Environmental Planning and Assessment and Electoral Legislation Bill, it says, as a safeguard against corruption. The Bill only passed in its amended version, which means that property developers and real estate agents will not be able to sit on the panels. Minister for Planning and Housing Anthony Roberts welcomed the passing of the legislation in the Legislative Assembly after a late-night sitting in the Upper House passed the Bill.  “This is a fantastic outcome for ratepayers as IHAP bring transparency, integrity and a high degree of probity to the development application (DA) assessment process. “These panels, which will consider applications valued at between $5 million and $30 million as well as a range of high-risk development types, will give communities and ratepayers greater certainty about planning decisions. “Most importantly, local councils will be able to focus on preparing the strategic plans and development controls that will identify the range and location of development types for their local area.” The Bill sets a standard model for IHAP, comprising three independent expert members and a community member.
  • The community member, to be selected by the council, will represent the geographical area within the LGA of the proposed development, to provide local perspective.
  • IHAP members, who will be chosen by councils from a pool managed by the Department of Planning and Environment, will have to be expert in one or more of the following fields: planning, architecture, heritage, the environment, urban design, economics, traffic and transport, law, engineering, tourism, or government and public administration.
  • The chairperson must also have expertise in law or government and public administration.
  • The panel members themselves will be subject to statutory rules such as a compulsory code of conduct and operational procedures for the panels.
Local councils will still process most applications for individual houses or alterations to existing houses. Existing independent hearing and assessment panels will continue to operate after the upcoming council elections on 9 September.

At least developers have been excluded: Labor

The NSW Labor Opposition says it has secured vital amendments to the new law, ensuring developers and real estate agents are unable to sit on new planning panels that will determine major development proposals. Labor’s amendments, which it says were unanimously agreed to by the government and the crossbench, ensure that developers, real estate agents, and serving councillors cannot sit on any local planning panel. Decisions will also be made publicly available. They also guarantee that members of the local planning panels will be scrutinised by ICAC, much like MPs and councillors are. Labor has been calling for developers and real estate agents to be banned altogether from sitting on councils. Shadow Minister for Planning and Infrastructure Michael Daley said: “It begs the question: if the Government is happy to admit that developers should not sit on local planning panels, why should they be allowed on councils? “Labor calls on the Government to immediately rectify this issue – before September’s council elections.”

The Council is not happy…

Liverpool City Council has expressed its frustration at the decision by the NSW Planning Minister to strip Sydney and Wollongong councils of powers to determine developments over $5 million. “This is a naked power grab by the NSW Government – taking the decision-making authority to shape how our communities grow and develop away from elected representatives,” Liverpool Mayor Wendy Waller said. Mayor Waller said Liverpool was one of the first of 15 councils in the Sydney basin to establish an IHAP. Council has used this independent expert advice to improve decision-making on major planning proposals for 20 years. “We have long understood the importance of independent assessment when it comes to planning, but Council always had the option to bring matters of significant public interest back into the hands of elected representatives,” Mayor Waller said. “We had the checks and balances in place and they were working well. “The only thing this power grab by the State Government achieves is that it takes decisions further away from the community at the very time when Liverpool is growing fast and residents need to have a stake in this rapid expansion.

… but developers are

The announcement by the NSW Government that independent planning panels will determine all development applications with a value of between more than $5 million but less than $30 million in value in Sydney and Wollongong will streamline planning in metropolitan Sydney, said the developers’ union the Urban Taskforce. “The announcement that all local councils in Sydney and Wollongong must establish independent planning panels will make the planning process much more efficient,” said Urban Taskforce CEO Chris Johnson “The role of the elected councillors is in setting the strategic planning framework and the assessment of compliance with the framework is best undertaken by experts in the field.” “The Urban Taskforce agrees with the Minister that mandating the Independent Planning and Assessment Panels (IHAP) will ensure a level playing field for everyone. Having a central pool of experts will also ensure effective use of resources and that all panel members have up to date knowledge of the planning rules.” “The quality of panel members will be important to ensure they are assessing against the rules rather than becoming arbitrators trying to balance community concerns with the viability of the applicant’s proposal. Panel members must be supportive of growth that complies with the strategic plans approved by council or the state government. Having one member of the 4-person panel from the local area ensures an understanding of local issues.” [post_title] => Councils lose development control [post_excerpt] => IHAP are now mandatory for all councils in Greater Sydney and Wollongong. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => councils-lose-development-control [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-08-11 12:55:40 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-08-11 02:55:40 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://governmentnews.com.au/?p=27800 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [comment_count] => 0 [current_comment] => -1 [found_posts] => 104 [max_num_pages] => 8 [max_num_comment_pages] => 0 [is_single] => [is_preview] => [is_page] => [is_archive] => 1 [is_date] => [is_year] => [is_month] => [is_day] => [is_time] => [is_author] => [is_category] => [is_tag] => 1 [is_tax] => [is_search] => [is_feed] => [is_comment_feed] => [is_trackback] => [is_home] => [is_404] => [is_embed] => [is_paged] => [is_admin] => [is_attachment] => [is_singular] => [is_robots] => [is_posts_page] => [is_post_type_archive] => [query_vars_hash:WP_Query:private] => 2c3093ed3def439381220f0a70215ce8 [query_vars_changed:WP_Query:private] => 1 [thumbnails_cached] => [stopwords:WP_Query:private] => [compat_fields:WP_Query:private] => Array ( [0] => query_vars_hash [1] => query_vars_changed ) [compat_methods:WP_Query:private] => Array ( [0] => init_query_flags [1] => parse_tax_query ) )

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