Friday, June 14, 2024

The man trying to knock NIMBYs off your council

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“The biggest divide … is not in political parties, but the areas, the populations, that people have to cater to, and who the loudest people in those areas are,” he said. “If you’re looking at Woollahra, you’re going to find that the most pro-development person there is probably going to be worse than the median councillor in somewhere like Canterbury-Bankstown.”

Housing is emerging as a key battleground for councils across the city with elections four months away. But while the city has witnessed some resistance – rallies against development have made their way to state parliament – an anti-development attitude has emerged only in pockets.

Some groups, such as the Blue Mountains Conservation Society, have placed advertisements in the papers, declaring the Blue Mountains “not just another suburb of Sydney”.

“We request that you exclude the Blue Mountains Local Government Area from these proposed reforms,” the open letter – signed by nine of the 12 councillors – read earlier this month.

Housing Now chair David Borger said his advocacy group would begin attempting to convince people to “vote for housing”.

“In the past people have faced the choice of having anti-development candidates or pro-development candidates connected to the real-estate industry. What we need is pro-housing and pro-future candidates that are willing to change things through ethical ways.”

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Chris Rath, a pro-development Liberal who has previously critiqued his own party’s attitude to housing, expects a swing against Labor, as is common against incumbent state and federal governments in local elections.

“But some people in the Liberal party will say, ‘Look how well we did, therefore NIMBY is the winning path’. It’s important not to conflate the protest vote against the state government of the day with NIMBY sentiment.”

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