A landmark policy governing the role of councillors in development matters has been adopted by Moreton Bay Regional Council.
The policy clearly sets out how councillors can interact with developers, lobbyists and submitters to ensure such interactions are conducted transparently and in the public interest.
The policy provides a structured and consistent approach for councillors to conducting meetings and record-keeping.
The processes aim to reduce the risk of misconduct or perceived misconduct and enhance community confidence.
A Queensland first
Moreton Bay chief executive officer Greg Chemello told the November 12 meeting at which the policy was adopted that, to his knowledge, no other council in Queensland had adopted a similar policy.
“But I think it is imperative that we have a policy that makes it clear for the (development) industry, for ourselves, for the community how interactions should occur,” Mr Chemello said.
“There’s been a lot of legislative change in the last couple of years that has caused some consternation in some circles and I think this policy is our attempt to collectively define this as clearly as we can.”
Mr Chemello said council officers had discussed the formation of the policy with the development industry and he had spoken with the Queensland Office of the Independent Assessor about its creation.
“There’s strong interest across Queensland in this policy.
“I think it’s a very good document – I won’t pretend it’s perfect - you could expect that we could come back to this room at some point in time after months or years of experience and say we need to tweak it here and there.
“But it does balance out as best we can (councillor) responsibilities to the community to convey their concerns and views and interests to staff and to developers, with what your responsibilities are under the Local Government Act.”
Councillors a conduit for communication
Councillor Brooke Savige (Div 1) expressed concern about how to deal with residents or developers who approached councillors seeking clarification after decisions were made, but was assured the policy allowed councillors to continue to convey community or developer concerns to council staff without creating a perception of bias or undue influence.
Mayor Peter Flannery congratulated Mr Chemello and council staff for developing the policy.
“We want to get that clarity and engagement, with both developers and the community knowing where we stand.
“It’s been an area in the past that’s been a grey area in the past with very broad guidelines.”
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