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Must and May - was this an intended error ?

At the Council meeting on 12th July 2016, Lindsay Usher - Director, Planning and Sustainability Services, in his report, says:


"Council is not proposing to ‘change’ the classification of the former bowling club land from

Community land to Operational land. It presently has no classification, as it has been privately owned and under the Local Government Act MUST BE CLASSIFIED as either community or operational land within three months of acquisition. That is the reason for classification."

To the wider community and even to councillors being asked to vote the use of the word MUST has an authority to it insinuating that there MUST be compliance and that there is NO alternate.  The fact is that there is nothing in the Act that says Council MUST CLASSIFY LAND.  If land is not 'classified' within 3 months from the date of acquisition, then the land is automatically classified as COMMUNITY LAND.  


Councillor Nathan is continually reminding presenters at Council Public Forums of the pednatics of the English language. All too often Councillors and Council staff have been let off from Code of Conduct complaints lodged by the community when it has been deemed by a Council employed reviewer that the Guidance or Policy uses words such as "Should" and "May"and therefore they can not be held to account. In this case however, there is a major difference between MUST and MAY

Above: Lindsay Usher - Director, Planning and Sustainability Services clearly uses the word MUST. Making direct reference to the Local Government Act the author of this report has clearly substituted the word "may" for "must". The only reason could be ineptitude, a failure to verify the Local Government Act or intended coercion to sway the councillors to take a hurried action. In this case the action would be to see the site become community which was clearly not the intention of staff who had plans for leasing. This intent was contrary to the understanding of the community who had encouraged to provide input by way of submission to what such a facility might offer the community by way of pool, arts space and community initiatives.


LOCAL GOVERNMENT ACT 1993 - SECT 31

31 Classification of land acquired after 1 July 1993 clearly states....


(2) Before a council acquires land, or within 3 months after it acquires land, a council MAY resolve (in accordance with this Part) that the land be classified as community land or operational land.

(2A) Any land acquired by a council that is not classified under subsection (2) is, at the end of the period of 3 months referred to in that subsection, taken to have been classified under a local environmental plan as community land. The above example is NOT the first time that Councillors (and the public) have been incorrectly advised on the Local Government Act by Council staff. There is now evidence of a litany of mis-interpretations, intended or otherwise; along with statements and actions by Council staff that are more than questionable. Yet when questioned they deny as a first response, only to then be found wanting. The many Code of Conduct complaints and their findings simply wash off with a shrug knowing there are no consequences if found guilty. The penalties dealt out against NSW councillors for breaches under the Local Government Act are more often for one-on-one training in the case of misogyny, outbursts, social media blunders, Sadly our councillors are either under the spell of staff and ever trusting to their every word and gullible enough to believe it without question or; too damn lazy to bother to look beyond what is put in front of them. The above example alone shows that none of them questioned the MUST. It doesn't take much to scratch below the surface to discover that there are many layers of coercion, manipulation, deceit met with laziness, indifference or ineptitude and the need for our own community to step in when they see it is critical. Alas there are all too few who are prepared to be what we expect of our politicians, our watchdogs, our champions. There are some but their numbers are few. Even then, if the above was taken to the Office Of Local Government as a Code of Conduct complaint for their determination nothing would come of it. The complaint and its findings would remain secret. There would be no consequence. And to wave it all aside with a "Get out of Jail" card our councillors announce "we voted in good faith on the information we were provided". Just twelve and a bit months to go to the next Council election.

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