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Labor pushes to ban agents from local councils

27 February 2020 Lyall Russell
Labor pushes to ban agents from local councils

The REINSW president believes Labor’s push to ban agents from being councillors is out of line.

The NSW Labor opposition is set to bring back a bill that would ban real estate agents and property developers from serving as councillors.

A similar bill was last introduced into the state government in 2017, but it was voted down by the upper house.

The opposition party hopes to win over enough Liberal MPs, who are split on the issue, to get the bill enacted before the September local government elections.

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The bill was drafted by Campbelltown MP and opposition spokesman for local government Greg Warren, and he said it had been Labor policy for years, the Wollondilly Advertiser reported.

“Labor partnered with the local government sector and we even tried to work with the Liberals and Nationals to get it done, but in 2017 [Gladys] Berejiklian directed her Liberal and National mates to vote against these draft laws,” Mr Warren said.

“These changes must be enforced well before the September local government elections; otherwise, it proves these mooted changes are nothing but a desperate publicity stunt from a government with zero conviction.”

REINSW president Leanne Pilkington told REB being a local councillor should be about conflict of interest, not about what you do for a living.

“Anyone can have a conflict of interest depending on what is before the council,” she said.

It should not matter who the councillor is, but if they have a conflict of interest on a particular matter, they should step aside and not be part of that vote.

“To suggest only real estate and every agent has a conflict of interest is outrageous,” she said.

Ms Pilkington pointed out that real estate agents can be great councillors.

“Agents, by virtue of their job, are very well connected and can be fantastic members of council.”

The Liberal MP for Camden, Peter Sidgreaves, is split on the issue and he does not think developers should be councillors, but he sees room for real estate agents.

“I do support real estate agents standing for or being elected as councillors so long as they excuse themselves from the debate and from voting where they have a non-pecuniary or pecuniary interest on items before council,” Mr Sidgreaves said.

He reflected on his time as a councillor and the benefit that came from a colleague who was a real estate agent.

“During my time on Camden Council, there has been a real estate agent elected as a councillor who proved to be a real asset for the community as they had extensive experience in many other matters before council.”

Labor pushes to ban agents from local councils
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