Update on Ku-ring-gai Council Draft Housing Strategy to 2036

25 September 2020

Dear resident of the Ku-ring-gai State electorate,

I am pleased to report that after the intervention of Hon Jonathan O’Dea and myself on this issue, all of the Ku-ring-gai Councillors made it clear on Tuesday night that they oppose the flawed Housing Strategy that was previously put to them by Council staff to approve.

The decision of Council on Tuesday night (22/09) is unfortunately, still clouded in uncertainty.

I have never signed and given a blank cheque in my life and would never expect an elected representative to do so.

However, on Tuesday night the Mayor, exercising her casting vote with Councillors Greenfield, Smith, Clark and Szatow agreed to allow Council staff to make unidentified changes to the flawed Housing Strategy and to submit the changed Strategy to the NSW Planning Department without the Councillors or our community ever seeing them.

The local Housing Strategy is important to our community as many local residents have expressed to Councillors, now in large numbers following my email to you of 8 September and a speech that I delivered in Parliament last week on this issue.

I have learned in life that the devil is in the detail.

None of us (including our Councillors) can be sure whether all of the unacceptable parts of the original Strategy will be removed or remain in the amended Housing Strategy they have asked to be prepared and submitted to the Planning Department. 

A majority of our Councillors, should have required on Tuesday night that the proposed amendments to the Housing Strategy, be put in a written document for full and proper scrutiny by the community and our elected Councillors, before any final decision and submission to the Planning Department. 

It is because of this failure of transparency and good governance, that I understand Deputy Mayor Spencer and Councillors Ngai, Kay, Kelly and Pettett have moved to rescind the Council decision so that the amendments can be reduced to writing and be properly viewed by the community and scrutinised prior to the next Council meeting in October.

I urge that there be full transparency with regards to Council’s decision and I am concerned that the process to date seems to have concealed the details from easy public scrutiny at almost every step.

This is an issue of policy not personality and I urge our Mayor and Councillors to work together in the best interests of our community.

If you share these views and are able to do so, a further email to our Councillors expressing a similar sentiment would be of assistance in my attempts to guard the unique character of our area.

Regards,

Alister

Alister Henskens SC MP - Member for Ku-ring-gai