Thursday, October 23, 2008

Conflicts of interest in environmental planning

Andrew Norton has an interesting article on some unintended consequences of proposed reforms to Victoria's local government legislation. Reforms desgined to reduce the potential for conflicts of interest could undermine, rather than strengthen, the rights of residents to partcipate in the planning process:

In the future, local councillors may be prevented from voting on the very motions before council they may have been elected to support or oppose.

For example, they will be held to have become an ‘interested party’ if they have lodged an appeal in relation to a council decision, or have made an objection or submission. Say the Council wants to cut down the trees in your street, or redirect its traffic, or let someone build a house that overshadows your garden. You go through the normal proceses to protect your interests, by making an objection. This fails.

So you run for election on one of these issues, win a mandate to act on them, and then because of your earlier steps to protect your interests you cannot vote on the matter. Not only are you deprived of your right to vote, but the democratic will of the people who supported you is also frustrated.

6 comments:

KerrieAnne said...

Good comments on victorian councillor legislation - conflict of interest is a very vexed issue

KerrieAnne
http://kerrieannesfridgedoor.blogspot.com/

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