Framework needed to stop developer favours

Council Administrator Rik Hart

Forum –

Mr Hart’s concern about the draft Bill on developer contributions (“Hart backs backlash over daft developer funding Bill”, Chronicle p24 Aug 25) seems to be very narrowly focussed on his determination to get the three-year IPART rate increase made permanent.

Mr Hart isn’t going to be with us in three years’ time (we hope), so why is he so obsessed with raising our rates long after he is gone and when we shall (again, we hope) have a properly elected Council to take whatever permanent measures are required.

His job is to put the council back on an operating basis as quickly as possible and to bow out, leaving a working administration on which an incoming Council can rely, something our Administrator Mark 1 patently failed to do.

His comment that Council shouldn’t be responsible for maintenance of facilities provided with state grants is absurd.

Repairs and maintenance have always been the responsibility of ratepayers, and this should be built into any evaluation of possible projects.

If someone gives you a telephone, he isn’t supposed to be responsible for your telephone bills ever after: if you can’t afford the bills, don’t take the telephone.

Of course, developer contributions are a bit more complicated, and there should be clear guidelines on those.

However, as far as the draft legislation itself is concerned, it isn’t at all unusual for a Bill to rely on the later introduction of regulations and ordinances for implementation, although there should be some indication, at the formulation stage, of the direction these measures are headed in.

In this respect, the Local Government Association is quite right to be concerned about a lack of transparency in the draft.

The whole question of developer contributions has been a vexed one for decades, and the state government’s arbitrary tinkering with the provisions hasn’t helped to make clear the principles that ought to apply.

However, Council’s application of the provisions has been even more arbitrary, so a statewide framework is definitely desirable.

Without that, there will always be the suspicion that some developers are receiving favoured treatment or that developers are being favoured at the expense of the community at large.

Perhaps, that is where Mr Hart should be concentrating his attention.

Email, Aug 28
Bruce Hyland, Woy Woy