Disappointment over powers

The Local Government Association of South Australia (LGASA) has expressed its disappointment over recent changes to the powers of Local Government.

Liberal Members of the Legislative Council sided with Government Legislative Councillors recently to vote down a Green's Motion to 'disallow' changes to Development Regulations, which removed the power for inner metropolitan Councils to assess development applications for buildings greater than four storeys.

Family First and the Xenophon Group also voted against the disallowance motion.

"This is a surprising move from the Opposition, who made much of a pre-election commitment to return planning powers back to inner metro Councils for development up to eight storeys, and had publicly criticised the Government for the introduction of these Regulations," LGASA President Mayor David O’Loughlin said.

"I am advised that as recently as 14 February, this year, the Deputy Liberal Leader, Ms Vickie Chapman, released the statement ‘A Marshall Liberal Government will return planning powers to inner metropolitan councils after they were ripped away by the Weatherill Labor Government at the end of 2013’, and she went on to recognise the important role of Councils in the planning process saying ‘we want them to continue to be involved’.

"Last night in the Legislative Council, the Liberals walked away from that pre-election commitment."

Mayor O’Loughlin said that Local Government supports planning reform and has been a strong contributor to the Expert Panel on Planning Reform’s review of the system, providing a detailed submission promoting better integration, accessibility, accountability and local involvement.

"The Government introduced these regulations, without consultation and without any expressed justification or evidence of a problem.

“Furthermore, they did so in the middle of their own reform process, without referral to their own expert panel.” Mayor O’Loughlin said.

“No rhyme or reason given, just a power grab by the State and a thumbs down for local involvement.

“Just the simple act of getting around the table with the LGA, elucidating their concerns and exploring viable alternatives would have been appreciated.”

The LGASA also said that the Government’s recent announcement about the Coordinator General’s ‘call in’ power for developments of over $3 million is another blow to local communities, who will need to wait for an invitation to stand in front of the State’s Development Assessment Commission to be heard on local issues.

“As it now stands, local Councils will be sorely tempted to put up a sign outside every inner metro development over four levels and every project over $3 million called in by the Coordinator General to say ‘don’t call us, call your local member, here is their name, phone number and address’."