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Faulty Local Government Consultation Needs Fixing

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Thursday, 16 February 2023

Tags: Local Government, Governance, Planning

Rosalie Woodruff MP | Greens Local Government spokesperson

The Greens urge Local Government Minister Nic Street listen to calls for extension of the consultation process around the Future of Local Government Review. With options to remove planning decisions from councils and forced amalgamations being considered, the Tasmanian community needs as much time as possible to have their say.

The consultation opened just before Christmas, and has run through summer when most Tasmanians are on break. The online submission process is opaque, time consuming, complex, and looks designed to deliver narrowly targeted comments.

While some workshops have been held around the state, there’s currently no public record of the concerns participants have raised. Given the scale of the changes proposed, we hope the government will make that available.

We share the concerns of community groups that the rushed consultation may be designed to facilitate the Liberal and development lobby dream – centralised planning decisions, that remove the voice of democratically elected local representatives.

The Liberals have form on influencing and intervening in the planning system. The Attorney General did not appoint members to TASCAT recommended by the selection panel last year, preferring instead to pick her own favourites.

The Liberals’ desire to remove local voices and planning impediments around controversial developments is well known. We only have to look at proposals like the kunanyi cable car or the luxury heli-tourim development at Lake Malbena to see the evidence.

Reforms to local government to make it sustainable and to best serve communities into the future are important. That should not mean working to a predetermined finding around development decisions and amalgamations.

Without a longer, fairer and much more transparent process, the Review Committee can’t claim to have heard everyone’s views on the massive changes to local government. If Minister Street is genuine about this reform better serving communities, he must genuinely listen to Tasmanians.