08 May 2013
(Local Government Amendment (Early Intervention) Bill 2013, third reading, Legislative Assembly, NSW Parliament)
I too acknowledge the Minister, the Opposition, my fellow Independent, the member for Lake Macquarie, and The Greens member, Jamie Parker, in this process. I acknowledge that the Government has listened to all our concerns and addressed many of them in the amendments. I support the Government's amendments. They address some of my concerns, namely, restoring the provisions in the Act to make councils directly accountable to residents and ratepayers. This removes potential conflicts of interest and conflicts of duties. Councils should always remain accountable to their communities over and above the government of the day.
They should be able to advocate for their communities against State Government decisions or policies without fearing potential ministerial influence. I understand Government amendments also will ensure suspension of a council and that extension of a suspension will not occur without prior notice. I acknowledge the member for Heffron, the member for Lake Macquarie, The Greens and, indeed, the Government for dealing with those concerns appropriately. I remain concerned that a performance improvement order can be issued at the same time as a suspension, or that councils may not be given an opportunity to comply with an order for suspension. I am concerned that the guidelines are not to be included in the law and can be changed without parliamentary scrutiny. I have reached agreement with The Greens and will work them in the upper House, and with the Minister and his office, to address those concerns. Indeed, The Greens may move amendments to that effect in the upper House.