NSW state government stops councillors determining development approvals

As of 1 March, the NSW state government has stopped councillors in Canada Bay from determining the outcomes of any development approvals (DAs). The excuse is to stop corruption. The “solution” is to remove the democratic influence of councils on development across Canada Bay, with the NSW government grabbing control and planning laws made even more developer-friendly than before.

Until now, DAs which were controversial were passed from council staff to the councillors. The decisions were made in an open council meeting, where people for or against a development had the chance to speak. But now, because of new NSW state government law, our councillors will no longer have any role in these decisions. Instead, they will be made by planning panels called IHAPs (Independent Hearing and Assessment Panels) – all across Sydney and Wollongong.

In most cases, the outcome would be the same. But in some cases it would be different, because elected councillors are concerned not just about following planning rules, but representing the community’s best interest. Councillors are accountable to the community and can be later voted out of office if enough people disagree with them.

This legislation is the latest example of the NSW state government taking power away from democratically elected local councils, and imposing their own rules. The fees for the extra bureaucrats are paid for by the council. If a party appeals to the Land and Environment Court against an IHAP decision, the council (who had no say in the decision) has to foot the legal bill. I still don’t know if the IHAP will make decisions in public, and when their meetings will take place.

Who asked for this backward step? The real estate industry. The IHAPs are called independent, but they are effectively controlled by the state government.


Local people will continue to send me emails about their concerns about developments going on around them. Yes, I can send them to the IHAP. But I won’t be able to do much to help them. If you are concerned about this, learn about what the state government has done and continues to do about planning laws. Yes I know it’s complicated. That’s why they have gotten away with this – up until now.

See my later post with more on dealing with development approvals.

[The Inner West Courier published a modified form of this post on 6 March 2018 on their letters page.]

Candidates for Canada Bay Council election announced

Candidates for Canada Bay Council election announced
Candidates (l to r): Steve Maxwell, Alysha Hardy, Charles Jago, Pauline Tyrrell and James Okeby.

Candidates (l to r): Steve Maxwell, Alysha Hardy, Charles Jago, Pauline Tyrrell and James Okeby.

Canada Bay Greens are fielding a diverse team of candidates for the upcoming Council elections on 9 September.

Heading the team is Charles Jago who is also running as the Greens mayoral candidate.  He is supported Alysha Hardy, James Okeby, Pauline Tyrrell and Steve Maxwell.

During the 30 years Charles has lived in the Council area, his children were educated locally and competed in local sports teams.  As a long-time Greens member he has been involved in such campaigns as saving the foreshore walk around Concord Hospital, improving public transport services, preserving Cabarita Park and more recently in fighting against forced council mergers.

Reinforcing Charles is three-term Greens councillor Pauline Tyrrell who has championed residents’ rights by promoting the building of a new primary school in Concord West, expanding the bush care program and cleaning up the Parramatta River foreshore. Pauline is retiring as councillor but will still stand on the Canada Bay Greens ticket.

Charles commented, “I am really proud to be following on from Pauline who has done a great job in her twelve years as a councillor.”

Alysha Hardy and James Okeby have first-hand experience of affordable housing issues for young people as well as being passionate about providing more accessible services for elderly and disabled persons in our community.  The final candidate Steve Maxwell is a local resident who represented the Greens in the battle to stop the Clyde Waste-transfer dump in Auburn. Currently retired, his interests lie in supporting the Arts, local Greens campaigns and reviving ‘Speakers corner’ in the Sydney Domain.

As local residents, the Greens team oppose unsustainable residential overdevelopment and support maintaining open spaces and community buildings.  The Greens have consistently opposed any forced merger of Canada Bay with Strathfield and Burwood Councils because surveys have shown that the majority of residents do not want a merger.  Ensuring good public bus services also has a high priority and the Greens will fight to ensure that buses are not privatised, that existing services are not reduced and that local bus routes are improved to better suit residents’ needs.

More information: view the Greens campaign flyer.


Proposed changes to NSW’s strata title laws would see many elderly and vulnerable apartment owners turfed out of their homes to fatten up the profits of developers and other residents, according to Greens NSW MP John Kaye.

Innovation and Better Regulation Minister Victor Dominello released draft legislation yesterday that would allow a strata title to be terminated and the land and buildings sold or redeveloped even if up to 25 per cent of the owners objected.

Owners could have flats sold from under them if laws go ahead,’ Sydney Morning Herald, 16 July, p. 2

Collective sale and renewal reforms’ NSW Office of Fair Trading, July 2015

Dr Kaye said: “The long-awaited draft of the strata laws contains a massive gift for the greedy at the expense of the vulnerable and elderly.

“Politically powerful real estate developers have won the argument and are set to be gifted a much lower barrier to getting their hands on older unit blocks.

“The frail and the vulnerable will be forcibly evicted from out their homes to allow the big developers to get their hands on prime real estate.

“This is the law that the Property Council would have written to set their members up for windfall profits.

“Instead of having to win over all of the owners or prove that the block can no longer be reasonably repaired, the tyranny of the majority can evict the minority from their homes.

“Lucrative offers might appeal to some unit owners, but others will see their plans for their last days of independent living destroyed.

“The Baird-Grant government has once again proved that it is the powerful vested interests that call the shots, even when it is the frail, the vulnerable and the elderly who are being sacrificed.

“The promise of advice and advocacy services is window dressing. A determined and well-cashed-up developer will have no difficulty in winning over the necessary 75 percent of owners, leaving the others powerless and evicted, regardless of the advice and so-called support they receive.

“The legislation will be a test for Labor.

“We will be moving to strike out these provisions when the bills come before parliament.

“If Labor is still caught up in their old habits of being the puppets of the developer lobby they will work with the government to disenfranchise flat owners.

“With Labor and conservative cross-bench support for our amendment, every flat owner will be better protected from the well-oiled developer industry and the pressure it can bring to bear on owners’ corporations,” Dr Kaye said.

For more information: John Kaye 0407 195 455

Anglicare Australia’s Rental Affordability Snapshot

On 30th April 2012, Ms. Kasy Chambers  (executive director) released a report on how affordable it is to rent in Australia. The report, entitled: “Rental Affordability Snapshot” demonstrates how the private market has failed Australians from a low socio economic background.

On a weekend in April 2012, Anglicare agencies undertook research of rental properties that were being advertised. The purpose was to check how affordable these properties were for households solely on receipt of Government benefits and households that relied on the minimum wage.

‘Affordability’ is classed as spending up to 30% of a low household income on rent.

Here are some of the quotes from their media release:

“What the Snapshot shows is that people on the minimum wage need two incomes to rent a house. In many places even that is not enough,” Ms Chambers said.

“And for those trapped on the NewStart, supporting parent or youth allowance there is absolutely nothing suitable available at all.

“In our largest cities, Sydney and Melbourne, with over 20,000 properties advertised between them less than 40 properties were considered suitable across all of the household types.

“In our regional areas too, housing for families on a low income is virtually non-existent with results like 2% of available properties in the Southern Tablelands in New South Wales for a single parent on the minimum wage or 6% of properties in Gladstone for a family of four.

“Anglicare’s Snapshot gives an insight into the experience of housing stress, makes it clear how distant safe and secure housing is for hundreds of thousands, even millions, of Australians, and raises the question of why it isn’t a true national priority.