Vincent councillors will be required to disclose all contact with developers

An inner city council appears set to become the first in WA to require its councillors to disclose all their contact with developers on a public register.

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Vincent Mayor John Carey has been pushing the plan for some time and council looks likely to adopt the proposal at a meeting next week.

Mr Carey said it would include any email, face-to-face, or phone contact councillors and the mayor had with developers over any decisions coming to council and proposed developments.

“It will require councillors within seven days to declare but not just that there’s been contact, but also the nature and reason,” he said.

“It will all be listed on a public online register.

“For us it’s pretty simple, it’s about open, transparent and accountable decision making.

“I think what it does is it rules out any speculation, any perception of bias because it puts everything clearly on the public record and I think if you are acting in a manner that’s with the greatest integrity and honesty then you have nothing to worry about this kind of system.”

Mr Carey said the council had an increasing number of major high-density developments occurring within its boundaries.

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Penalties tied to code of conduct

Asked what penalties would apply if a councillor failed to disclose contact with developers, Mr Carey said the register would be tied to the council’s code of conduct policy.

“I think that, quite frankly, the Department of Local Government and the WA Government have been asleep at the wheel … this is real reform about transparent decision making and not about tinkering with boundaries of local councils,” he said.

Some senior local government and industry figures, who declined to be named, raised concerns the move would merely create another layer of bureaucracy.

But Mr Carey disputed those claims, saying it was about the local government sector “lifting its game”.

“We only have to look at New South Wales to see where things can go horribly wrong,” he said.

“Now we are not there at the moment, and I’m not suggesting that, but it’s about lifting the standard, lifting transparency in decision making and how can anybody actually argue against that.”

Mr Carey today refused to comment on increasing speculation he plans to run for Perth Lord Mayor when Lisa Scaffidi’s term expires in October.

Local Government Minister Tony Simpson is on leave but Planning Minister John Day said there may well be merit to the City of Vincent’s register idea.

“In the State Government arena of course we practise and believe in transparency in decision making,” Mr Day said.

“Meetings that ministers have with individuals, whoever they may be, they are recorded in ministerial diaries and they are made available ….we answer questions in Parliament.”

He said there was already a code of conduct in place for the State Government’s Development Assessment Panels which assess planning approvals for higher value development applications in place of local governments.

 

 

thanks ABC News Perth