Should property developers be prohibited from standing for local government?
This is the question that Bayside Council will take to the 2021 Local Government NSW Annual Conference, to be held Sydney 28 February to 2 March, 2022.
Under NSW Planning legislation councillors are removed from the decision-making process for development applications.
Back in 2017 a Bill seeking to ban developers from being elected to council was defeated in NSW Parliament.
But a similar Bill was introduced to the NSW Upper House in June, 2021 and has yet to be debated.
Although there is currently no prohibition on property developers being elected as Councillors, the NSW Electoral Funding Act, 2018 prohibits property developers from making political donations.
The Act is the only legislation containing a definition of a 'property developer' and the current BIll takes on the same definition.
This defines a property developer as:
an individual or a corporation carrying on a business concerned with the residential or commercial development; or a close associate including a director or officer of the corporation or their spouse.
But Cr Tarek Ibrahim felt any prohibition should be expanded to include anyone on a planning panel,and council officers who make decisions on development applications.
Cr Tarek Ibrahim said planning decisions had been taken away from the councillors and are handled by local and regional planning panels or council officers.
"We need them to also be held to the same high standards," he said.
"This needs to be expanded to include local planning panels and council officers than make decisions on development applications," he said.
Cr Liz Barlow said that the definition of what is a development needs to be quantified.
"I think of a developer as someone who builds villas, townhouses or high rise. There's a big difference between them and a granny flat builder," she said.
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