Council fears the new Iconic Places Legislation will give the state government too much power over local government affairs.
Council fears the new Iconic Places Legislation will give the state government too much power over local government affairs.

Iconic rip off

By Grant Reynolds

Noosa council is sending a strong message to the Bligh government - proposed Iconic Places Legislation is not good enough.

At Thursday's Ordinary Meeting, councillors expressed in no uncertain terms their disappointment with formation of the bill.

The call follows Premier Anna Bligh's comments late last year that Noosa could "have whatever it wants included in iconic legislation".

Ms Bligh told parliament ahead of its first meeting last week that the bill "means in the future - no matter what council... is in power - specific designated areas will be protected".

But at the meeting, councillors said they feared the legislation gave the state government too much power over local government affairs.

Their concern centred on the bill's Development Assessment Panel, which will comprise a maximum of five people.

Deputy Premier Paul Lucas confirmed the legislation could include two councillors, but preferred an "independent" panel.

"The development application panel will not be a panel that is comprised of local people," Mr Lucas said.

The panel will measure the impact of developments on Noosa's iconic values but won't be able to use iconic values as a yardstick for judging applications - a point already causing community members to label it "ironic legislation".

The bill was scheduled for a second reading yesterday in parliament.

At the meeting, it was reported council received a total of 536 applications during the previous 12 months.

Councillors said the bill was yet another move by the Bligh government to take planning responsibility out of the hands of local government.

"As soon as you remove that responsibility from local government, you remove the ability of both elected officials and the community from having their say in what development occurs," councillor Russell Green said.

"Even before the council officers have an opportunity to make an assessment, they'll take whichever application they so choose and decide if they will assess it.

"If that's not open for flagrant cronyism being shown in the assessment process, what is going to happen?

"All the community and council is after is Iconic Legislation, and all we're getting is moronic legislation.

"We do not agree with what is being proposed, we need to send that message very clearly."

Mayor Bob Abbot said he supported the intent of the legislation but was disappointed with the outcome after spending a great deal of time developing the bill with the Bligh government.

"This is an illogical position to take to set up these boards in this way," he said.

"This is the third significant threat to local government in Queensland in this 12 month period.

"First water, then amalgamation, now planning."

Council officers also expressed their frustration at the consultation process, and councillor Lew Brennan said "the state is listening to Noosa but it's not hearing Noosa".

The final motion, moved by councillor Frank Wilkie and passed unanimously by councillors, included an amendment which read: "Request the state government to protect key Noosa town planning provisions as prescriptive, mandatory requirements in either a state planning policy or prescriptive legislation."

Meanwhile, the Noose Shire Residents and Ratepayers Association and Member for Noosa Glen Elmes also expressed their bewilderment with the legislation.

At a NSRRA meeting on Thursday, president Michael Taylor said the bill could be seen as ambiguous but stressed it was crucial to protect Noosa from over development.

"This (legislation) may be what protects us more than our elected representatives, depending on who gets elected," he said.

"It (the legislation) could be done a lot better but we need to have something in place."


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