With a 9 to 2 vote, the new Unley Council’s climate credentials have been stamped in just its second meeting. This is by way of a motion on notice bought by new member Cr Jack Gaffey.
The motion on notice seconded by me focused on our tree canopy rate offset policy. It is a motion that consolidates the work of the previous two councils. A motion that allows this council to take charge and own the agenda.
It clarifies and identifies the essence of verbal discussions of the previous council. Discussions that were perhaps only loosely confirmed by way of motions.
To date, our focus was centred on receiving at least tacit approval from the Minister to allow us to see the input of our community. Something we must do before we can determine it as our policy. As it is a question of applying rates we are legislating required to go out to public consultation.
Unfortunately, our work has been delayed while we have witnessed a revolving door of Planning Ministers. Three from the previous Government and now the 4th courtesy of a change in Government.
Having some form of receptivity from the Minister would have given us the confidence to go out to our public without the fear of him not approving it even if we had “buy-in” from our community. Given the current Minister’s recent public statements this is no longer an option. Maybe the best we can do is to start by reaffirming our position to the Expert Panel. This means stating a position BEFORE going out to public consultation.
This motion does this.
What we are proposing is a pragmatic approach to addressing climate change.
Pragmatic solutions rather than ideological solutions are, in my opinion, Councils’ best way of contributing to the climate challenges facing us.
If we were not to pass this motion our tree canopy work would end abruptly. As I have explained before this would prevent us from achieving the canopy cover, we and the Government want us to achieve. It would also put to bed any influence we may have on the wider debate.
That all said, my understanding of the motion is it does not direct our administration to conduct a community consultation on using rate offsets to improve tree canopy cover on private property. It merely provides the opportunity to consider it.
I would therefore be seeking in the new year to take this to the next logical step. That would be to repeat the motion on notice I put in February of this year but aimed only at sites being developed. This would further confirm Unley Council’s climate credentials.