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Planning fracas: Rau's push to ban councillors set to fail

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The state’s Local Government Association has lashed John Rau’s proposed planning changes with debate on the bill to recommence when parliament resumes on Tuesday, praising the Liberal Opposition for “renewing its commitment to protect councils’ role in development decisions”.

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Rau wants to bar councillors from sitting on Development Assessment Panels, telling InDaily this week: “I’ve no intention of changing my position on that”.

“If it has to come to a vote – look, so be it [but] I believe absolutely from the point of view of both public integrity and planning policy that it’s essential.”

But it appears doomed, with LGA CEO Matt Pinnegar enthusing that a majority of voting Upper House members, comprised of the Liberals, Greens and Dignity for Disability MLC Kelly Vincent, would not support removing councillors from DAPs.

Pinnegar said Rau’s position “ignored the wishes of the community”, reflected in its own consultation process late last year, and “we are pleased by consistent positions from both the Liberal Party and the Greens to remove restrictions on elected members being on DAPs, creating the voluntary option for elected members to continue… on account of their experience in local government”.

“We are also pleased the Dignity for Disability party has also confirmed with the LGA that they will be supporting these amendments,” said Pinnegar, who once worked as Chief of Staff to Labor’s former Infrastructure Minister Pat Conlon.

In a statement, the LGA says it has “reviewed and provided comment on more than 200 amendments to the Bill since it was introduced without consultation… in September”.

“While these amendments have made some significant improvements, the LGA remains concerned South Australian communities will be let down by any changes to the planning system that reduce local involvement,” it says.

“The LGA has been diligent, transparent and consistent throughout this process… everyone wants a better planning system,” said Pinnegar.

“If the State Government and parliament ignores our genuine offer to participate in a better planning system, it is to the detriment of all SA communities.”

Kelly Vincent’s office confirmed that while “we certainly wouldn’t agree to there being a majority of councillors on DAPs”, Dignity for Disability would not support removing them completely.

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