By-election battle draws more attention to Shire LEP and favours allegations

QUESTIONS over Sutherland Shire's flawed draft Local Environmental Plan (LEP) have dominated the final days of the campaign for the Miranda by-election this Saturday.

A community cabinet meeting in the shire and the resumption of State Parliament this week put the spotlight back on allegations of property development favours being done by the Liberal-controlled council.

Planning and Infrastructure Minister Brad Hazzard met two groups of residents to discuss the matters at the community cabinet meeting and faced questions at a public forum at Kareela Golf Club attended by about 130 people.

Mr Hazzard was asked to loud applause if he would delay approving the LEP until the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) had completed its inquiries.

He replied he would not approve the plan until it was "reviewed appropriately and transparently".

"Certainly, what I will be doing is taking away that message and asking how we go about making sure this [LEP] is actually reviewed appropriately and transparently to make sure that whatever is in there should be there," he said.

"We can't always get everyone's agreement for what is done in planning; that's not possible.

"But what we can get is a sense of integrity about the process and I intend to make sure that happens."

Mr Hazzard said he would talk to the director-general of his department.

"I have no intention of approving anything until I have ticked off on all those boxes, I promise you that," Mr Hazzard said.

He said he would look at whether the Planning Assessment Commission was the best body to review the LEP, as requested by the council.

The commission had never undertaken such a task, he said.

In Parliament the next day, the Opposition quizzed Local Government Minister Don Page over the allegations.

Mr Page urged anyone with information to contact the Division of Local Government and the ICAC.

Allegations in relation to code of conduct matters at the council should be referred to the general manager, he said.

Labor by-election candidate Barry Collier said the draft LEP should be scrapped and the process restarted.

"Unless we begin with a clean sheet shire residents cannot have any confidence that the LEP is not tainted," he said.

Mr Collier said the removal of the council ombudsman by the Liberals and "the appointment of hand-picked individuals to their planning panels" showed the community had no real say in the formulation of the LEP.

He called on Mr Hazzard to himself refer the allegations to the ICAC, sack the council and appoint an administrator pending the outcome of the inquiry.

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