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Communities Must Have Real Say on Council Reforms

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Wednesday, 19 April 2023

Tags: Local Government, Democracy, Planning

Rosalie Woodruff MP | Greens Local Government spokesperson

The Tasmanian community must have a genuine say in local government reform, and not be ignored for the sake of the Liberals' development agenda. 

The release of today's Stage 2 Interim Report on the local government reform process has given further clarity to the government's plans. The report flags the potential for widespread, significant changes to Tasmania's council map. 

The State Government is clearly enthusiastic about undertaking major reform to councils.  The onus is on Minister Street to ensure meaningful engagement occurs at a local level about proposed changes. Any changes must reflect the best interests of our state and its people.

We are pleased the Minister has committed to bring any recommended structural reform changes to Parliament for its consideration, rather than going straight to the Governor and bypassing this essential democratic process.

However, we are very concerned the Interim Report flags a last minute intervention by Planning Minister Michael Ferguson to take the issue of councils’ role as a planning authority out of the local government review process.

This is yet another example of the Liberal Government’s ongoing centralisation of development decision-making and removal of local communities having a real say.

Clearly, the open-ended reform options proposed in the Interim Report – which included just minor improvements on the existing model – were not acceptable to planning overlord Michael Ferguson.

This follows Minister Ferguson display of contempt for councils and local communities in his recent efforts to overturn Clarence Council’s planning decisions about Kangaroo Bay and Droughty Point. 

The Liberal Government has form in advancing the interests of private developers against local communities’ wishes – such as Chambroad at Kangaroo Bay and a cable car on kunanyi – by appealing council planning decisions and creating legislative work arounds.