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Save Our Sydney Suburbs (NSW) Inc.
News Release June 2004


Hi SOS Members

SOS member Jean Posen had this thoughtful letter published in pole position in the Daily Telegraph, under a colour photograph of a development sign on a busy road.

Unfair Criticism of Councils

Once again some Local Councils are being criticized for their perceived tardiness in processing development applications “Councils Develop Poor Reputation,” (Daily Telegraph, June 22, 2004). Indeed, suggestions are continuously being made that powers to approve or reject such applications be removed from local authorities altogether. Time limits have already been imposed for the assessment of proposals.

This frenzied drive for “efficiency” fails to take into account that every development application has the potential to create an adversarial situation. Regardless of whether the applicant is the owner of a cottage, which is to be extended, or the builder of a multi-storey block of units, which may alter the character of an entire precinct, one or more persons may have valid objections. It is generally accepted, in democratic countries, that both sides should be heard, and that an impartial body ought to make the final decision. In Australia, the decision-making process is generally in the hands of elected Councillors.

The process is complicated by several factors. (1) Councillors are not masters in their own house. The State Government exercises a great deal of direct and indirect power so that justice gets mixed up with politics. (2) Development applications, by their nature, are a recipe for corruption. (3) The process involves the opposing principles of freedom to do as one likes with one's property and the restrictions necessary to protect the neighbours and the environment.

The current system, while not perfect, best reflects the concerns of the community. It should not be undermined by unfair criticisms concerning “dysfunctional” or “inefficient” Councils. Justice and undue speed are, in general, not compatible.

Jean Katie Posen

Planning Foresight

With mounting terrorist threats, forcing people to live in high concentrations makes less and less sense. SOS member Jeanette Tsoulos writes:

It strikes me that in the case of a massive disruption to electricity, assuming a planned attack were to succeed (thinking of the Willy Brigitte job that didn't) - people in single houses would be better off than those in high-rise. Lifts and automatic doors would be a real trap. If infrastructure was ever severely disrupted - rail, roads, petrol supplies, electricity etc, for any length of time, at least those with gardens have an opportunity to plant vegetables or keep chooks. Food storage and distribution could be a problem. I'm looking a long way into the future, but we can't assume our present charmed existence will continue unabated for ever.

Jeannette Tsoulos

Tony Recsei
Save Our Suburbs (SOS)

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