AUDITOR-GENERAL'S REPORT

April 16, 2012

Mrs ARMITAGE (Launceston) - I will not go on too long, Madam President, as the honourable member for Windermere has used all the figures that I had, so I will stand here without notes and just make a few comments regarding the Launceston City Council.

 

Mr Harriss - You two make a good team.

 

Mrs ARMITAGE - We do, we all work together down here.

 

Mr Harriss - Up there.

 

Mrs ARMITAGE - The honourable member is no longer an alderman, so I do not actually see him in council.

 

Mr Dean - You don't have to be an alderman to be on the council.

 

Mrs ARMITAGE - No, no, but he said we work together up there.

 

Mr Mulder - Down here there's a common enemy that unites.

 

Madam PRESIDENT - Order. The honourable member has the Floor.

 

Mrs ARMITAGE - Thank you, Madam President. I am just going to make the comment that the Launceston City Council were very grateful to be included in the audit because sometimes you can have problems that you are not actually aware of. The audit certainly identified some issues that are there and that are being addressed, as the honourable member for Windermere has mentioned. Planning is always a difficult issue and I am quite sure every councillor finds - I know I certainly do - with all the areas that you have, planning is the one area that no-one really can agree on and it is very difficult. It is often difficult for the staff to get things through in the required period.

 

As elected representatives as well you have people who might want something approved, and as the honourable member for Rumney said, sometimes they do not realise that what they want is not a stock-standard house on a stock-standard block even though they think it is and cannot quite understand why it has to be advertised, why there are issues, why there are representations or why it has to come to council. I am quite sure every elected representative realises sometimes when things come to council that you really do not want to approve, and I am sure the honourable member for Windermere will remember, it might be something as simple as someone that has a lovely view at the moment, like an elderly couple that may have a wonderful view over the river and all of a sudden the house in front is going to totally block out their view. I think we all know that a view is not a right under our planning scheme and, as much as you do not want to approve the house in front and take away the view from the elderly residents, it is not a ground for a planning appeal. So there are a lot of issues like that which come up in local government and I am sure that we will always have areas that are difficult.

 

All I really wanted to say was that the issues are being addressed. I provided a copy of the Auditor-General's report to the aldermen in the aldermen's rooms too so that they could read it, apart from the General Manager and Mayor, so that everyone could access it and just see where our deficiencies were because I think it is always important to know your deficiencies and try to address them. At the Launceston City Council, we now have, and we have had for about the last 18 months, someone regularly in customer service, which is something we did not have before - people had to come in between certain times but now there is someone that people can come to at any stage, find out about planning, ask questions before they put their applications in, which I think is really good and it has really helped; they can go in and say 'This is what I would like to do, how do I address it, how do I do it?' and to give them advice before they go down that track of putting something in that might need amendment and just to get some advice.

 

So council has taken the concerns on board and we thank the Auditor-General for choosing Launceston City Council as one of the areas.

 

 

 

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