Former mayor Paul Hawker and councillor Paul Lake have defended their decision to approve a controversial 136,000-plot cemetery in Macarthur’s Scenic Hills.
The proposed cemetery had been strongly opposed by the majority of councillors, local MPs and nearby residents.
Mr Hawker said the council gave up the right to be the planning authority on the matter and handed the decision to the Joint Regional Planning Panel.
The panel consisted of five members – three government appointed and two Campbelltown Council appointed (Mr Hawker and Cr Lake).
“As the two councillors on the JRPP we could not take direction from council, we have to go into the JRPP with an independent mind,” Mr Hawker, who retired from council on Friday said.
“Once we are part of the panel we are seen as independent, that’s why we leave the chamber (during decisions relating to JRPP matters).
“We are not there to represent the council.”
Mr Hawker said the panel voted for the proposal as it deemed there was a need for the cemetery.
Cr Lake – who previously stated he was in favour of the cemetery – also defended his stance.
“I said from the beginning that it’s better than what could go there,” he said.
“A school, Buddhist temple, Catholic church and a masque are all permissible (under current zoning).
“(Now) nothing else will be able to be put there.
“This is an insurance policy because no one is going to build on top of a cemetery.
“We are still keeping the green hills – no one is trying to change that.”