Developers have no place on local councils and the Parliament must move to not only ban them from standing at the 2016 elections, but also legislate for a comprehensive audit of every time a developer has voted in their own self-interest as a result of the Coalition’s corruption-ready 2012 legal changes.
As the Greens have said for well over a decade, there is an inherent conflict of interest in having councillors who are also local developers. The government is moving to repeal their legalised corruption laws of 2012, but any legislation must go much further to ban developers from being on council and undertake a full audit of every time this 2012 law change has been abused by developers in the past three years.
Greens MP and Local Government spokesperson David Shoebridge said:
“It was obvious to anyone with a brain that these changes were corruption ready when the NSW Coalition pushed these changes through Parliament in 2012.
“As the Greens said in the parliamentary debate when opposing this legalised corruption in Parliament:
“Councillors who have substantial landholdings within a commercial strip could vote to vastly increase the floor space ratio and therefore increase the value and development yield of their properties. All that councillors will have to do is simply declare the nature of their pecuniary interest by putting it on the record. Of 12 councillors four might stand up and say, “I just want to put on the public record that I am voting for this and I stand to gain a $4 million uplift in my property values. I have a direct pecuniary conflict. I just thought the community might like to know.” It is remarkable that any government would want to open the door to that kind of corruptive influence on local council.
“Despite being warned of the risk, the NSW Coalition pushed ahead with its legalised corruption for its new swag of Liberal dominated councils in NSW.
“We have now seen the results of these dreadful laws for three years and, finally, the government has been forced to act because of the embarrassment from one Auburn councillor.
“The government needs to do far more than just get rid of their corruption-ready legal change.
“Any new law must include an immediate audit of every rezoning across the State where the Coalition’s corruption-ready laws have allowed councillors to vote despite having a pecuniary interest.
“Wherever these dreadful laws have allowed a developer on council to make a private fortune at the expense of the public then those changes must be wound back.
“Of course, as the Greens have been saying for well over a decade, the root problem here is the fact that developers are allowed on council in the first place.
“It’s time to restrain the lot that were elected in 2012, but then for the elections in 2016 enact new laws that prevent local developers from getting a seat on council in the first place.
“Local government has been treated with disrespect by the NSW Coalition and the Greens continue to press for community need to be put ahead of developer greed at this most grassroots level of government,” Mr Shoebridge said.