Disdain and belittling of citizens by Clrs Nathan and Tait was appalling and disrespectful

Hello fellow Shire residents,

Yesterday for the first time I took up my courage and spoke (presentation below) to Councillors in the public forum on a matter before Council. Along with other concerned residents we spoke about our concern for the way that the trees on Turnbulls Lane in Moruya can be destroyed under a current DA and about Council’s process.

I was appalled to view the Council discussion later that morning. The disdain and belittling of citizens by Councillors Maureen Nathan and Jack Tait was appalling and disrespectful. Here is the link: http://webcast.esc.nsw.gov.au/archive/video21-1026.php see from 18.27-30.22. To be called a NIMBY, “wondering” if we dismissed the complaints of neighbours and cut down trees when we built, opposing affordable housing, misrepresenting our position or saying we could crowd fund and give land to be put aside for public use is an attack on people who have the temerity to ask questions and plead a case that is different to their view. Councillor Tait displayed his total disinterest in being a representative of the community when he objected to people writing to him from the same area and expecting him and other Councillors to take care of their interests. Sorry Councillors that is your job. Please remember these Councillors and any ticket on which they sit at the next elections and vote against them. Well done Councillors Anthony Mayne and Pat McGinlay for supporting the right of local people to speak and the be heard!!! Terence Corkin Presentation To Public Forum October 26th 2021 Comments in relation to the development adjoining land west of Turnbulls Lane, Moruya Thank you for the opportunity to speak on this proposed development. I am addressing process and governance issues. The response from the Council staff to Councillor Mayne’s questions raise more questions for me than they answer. I hope that Councillors will consider the importance of these questions and seek answers before this DA is finally resolved. Comments on the questions and responses. 1. The first three questions raise concerns about the destruction of the EEC along Turnbulls Lane which is inevitable if the DA as presented is approved. With respect, the response to Question 1, ie that the applicant’s BDAR says that there is no impact on threatened species or EEC is inadequate. What would one expect from a Developer’s BDAR? The response notes “BDARs can only be prepared by an ‘accredited assessor’ and the accreditation process is administered by the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment.” Was the BDAR submitted by such an accredited assessor and how has the accreditation been verified? 2. Responses to questions two and three indicate the considerations that need to be considered when assessing an application that involves removal of significant vegetation, which clearly the tree corridor on Turnbull’s Lane is. The staff response identifies two considerations – the needs of the development and the needs of the Biodiversity Conservation Act. From a legal perspective the needs of the development must bend to the requirements of the legislation. The response to question 4 says that “Council is currently still assessing the application.” The questions that come to mind are:  Which staff or department is doing this assessment?  Is there an objective checklist against which the needs of the environment are assessed or is it subjective and how are the competing interests weighed?  Is it the same person or Department that assesses the BDAR which also gives the approval for the DA? If the answer is “yes”, are Councillors satisfied that these internal processes allow for a robust and objective evaluation of the application? 3. Question 4 asks what work can be done with the Developer to seek a setback. The answer notes that the development is consistent with previous approvals. There is only one such approval of a driveway in Turnbulls Lane within the relevant zoning. One swallow does not make a summer. From a process perspective the proper answer to Councillor Mayne’s question is a definite “yes further engagement with the developer is possible.” Responses from Council have already resulted in material changes to the development. Further engagement is always possible if Council has the will to do so. 4. Question 7 asks “What traffic management assessment will be undertaken?” The answer provided is that the developer provided one. That response begs the question – is this the only traffic assessment that will be done? A developer is always going to present traffic numbers that support their case. The numbers were challenged in a submission about the proposal. Surely Council is not suggesting that developers can self-assess their traffic impact. Many Councils have Council appointed Traffic Committees which comprise Councillors, local community members and police. Orange City Council is one such Council. I have attached a copy of one of its agendas to indicate the significant matters that are addressed by such Committees. I do not believe that Councils should delegate decisions on traffic impact for significant developments. Absent such a committee, the questions that remain unanswered include:  Which staff will be undertaking the traffic assessment?  What objective source of data will they be using to assess traffic impact?  Will the staff report on their process and weight given to different factors, or just bring a recommendation? 5. From a governance perspective the final question about who is the determining body is the most important. The staff response is, “The application can be determined by Council staff under delegation.” That a multimillion dollar, community significant development can be decided on a delegation is a huge delegation of power from elected officials to paid staff. I note that the answer does not say that it must be but can be determined by staff. I encourage Councillors to suspend whatever delegation is being relied upon here and ensure that the Council is fully engaged in fulfilling its oversight of this DA process. At the very least Council should follow best practice and do as most other Councils have done and have a Development Review Panel to make such decisions if it is not to be done by the whole Council. 6. Relevant to Councillors when thinking of delegations is the Centro Case. While it was a commercial case it has set the standard for community expectations of Directors, to which Councillors are equivalent in their space (http://theconversation.com/the-lessons-for-not-forprofits-in-the-centro-judgement-2123). In short, the Directors approved the financial statements with a major error in the allocation of current liabilities. The company then traded while insolvent. ASIC took the Directors to court where their defence was that they relied on staff and the auditor and were not experts in financial matters. The court rejected this defence. Key points to take away:  Responsibility stays with Directors even when they act with honesty in carrying out their duties.  The directors’ error came in an over-reliance placed on internal processes, management, and their external advisers.  The judge specifically noted that “no director stood back, armed with his own knowledge, and looked at and considered for himself the financial statements”. The problem therefore lay in the lack of review and a total reliance on others. The judge made note that while it is fine to delegate, the ultimate responsibility sits with the directors who must “take a diligent and intelligent interest in the information available” and “apply an enquiring mind”. Conclusions to draw from the CENTRO case It is important to recognise that delegations cannot be a “blind” delegation. You might not have special expertise in an area, but you are expected to stand back and consider whether the decision makes sense to you. If you have a question, you must ask it. Be careful of relying on advice that appears to be wrong. Ask the “dumb” questions rather than making assumptions. In the case of the DA before Council, Councillors cannot delegate away their responsibility. It is perfectly within your role to:  challenge the decisions made by staff in relation to BDAR assessments if you think they do not comply with the requirements of the Act.  insist on a demonstrably objective traffic assessment and to understand how it was done.  challenge the claim that a DA for 99 blocks complies with the LEP when the 2007 DA on the same land was reduced from 80 plus blocks to 60 something during the assessment against the LEP requirements. Thank you for the opportunity to contribute and I hope that this has supported Councillors in the exercise of their important responsibilities. Terence Corkin BA, BTh, BLegS, Grad DipFDR, GAICD, NMAS Moruya


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