Approving “exclusive, modern outhouses” may be all Campbelltown councillors are good for following the state government’s decision to dramatically reduce councils’ planning powers.
Yesterday Planning Minister Anthony Roberts and Local Government Minister Gabrielle Upton announced all development applications worth $5 million or more would be approved by an Independent Hearing Assessment Panel, not community-appointed councillors.
This means the councillors who live in the area and were elected by the community will have no say on major developments.
Campbelltown councillor Paul Lake (independent) said the councillors were running out of things to do.
“A lot of things are delegated to planners or directors already. With these changes, I’m not sure what we (councillors) will do,” he said.
“We will just approve exclusive, modern outhouses.
“We came on this council to help develop and grow the community but all that enthusiasm to grow the city has been taken out of our hands.
“Someone who lives in Newcastle or Edgecliffe will end up making decisions for Campbelltown but they don’t even live here.
“I don’t know what the state government want us to do – maybe we will just pick up rubbish, mow sporting fields and fill potholes.”
Prior to the 2011 state election, former Premier Barry O’Farrell made an election promise to return planning powers to councils.
Cr Lake said clearly that was a broken promise.
“They’d said they’d give planning powers back but they’ve gone the other way,” he said.
“The way I see it, this government wants to control all the planning.”
Cr Karen Hunt (Labor) said the decision was “absolutely appalling”.
“What does that leave councillors to do? We were elected by the community to be their spokespeople,” she said.
“Local people are being shoved aside and it’s not fair.”