Members at Wagga Wagga vindicated as Minister rejects calls for a planning administrator

This is what is called an "I told you so" moment. The 2010 campaign by builders and developers in Wagga Wagga, unwilling to comply with normal planning rules, has now been shown to be a beat-up and a farce.

Yesterday, Minister for Planning Brad Hazzard announced that despite the calls by the self-seekers, the boofheads, the flouters of planning laws and the scurrilous yellow press Dirty Advertiser and it's partial, sub-professional and conflicted "journalists", he would not appoint a planning administrator to Wagga Wagga City Council.

This was clearly a beat-up all along. We said as much in depaNews when we said we were confident that the complaints, like that of Peter Hurst, would be dismissed when investigated. Now they have been. And while the Sydney Morning Herald printed that quote in full, the Dirty Advertiser, as part of its partial and complicitous role in backing these miscreants, chose to remove any reference to Mr Hurst. Shame on them, obviously one Press Council finding against them wasn't enough.

It’s good to see belligerent people get their comeuppance. The Dirty Advertiser described local hotmix provider Bill Casley as an "outspoken leader" on 10 September last year and it was Casley who spear-headed the complaints by dissidents against planning decisions by WWCC.

Ordinarily we wouldn't care about a small developer who ignored advice from a Council that his plan to build a hotmix plant in a rural area was contrary to the zoning, who ignored offers of assistance from the Council to find an alternative site in an industrial zoning, who built it anyway and then refused to file a development application to even try and legitimise the illegal development. What a stupid thing to do. The whole purpose of planning is to make sure that particular types of development are only built in areas where those types of development are allowable.

But on this occasion this story needs to be told. Described by the Wagga Wagga Dirty Advertiser on 14 September 2010 as "the outspoken leader of one of Wagga’s biggest asphalt companies", Casley got nailed by the Land and Environment Court when he appealed the action the Council had taken against his illegal works. On 6 April the Court dismissed his appeal.

This was reported in the Sydney Morning Herald in the Local Government section on 19 April but, of course, true to their partial reporting on this issue in Wagga Wagga, the Dirty Advertiser didn’t report it at all.

The Herald described Casley as "a protagonist in the campaign waged by developers" and ABC Riverina claimed his dispute "sparked months of complaints about the council’s planning department, and resulted in the Planning Minister threatening to take away the Council's planning powers", and now his complaints have been found to be baseless (just like Peter Hurst’s) by the Land and Environment Court and, along with everyone else's, have also been rejected by the Minister for Planning.

Why the former Minister for Planning Tony Kelly and his office provided oxygen to such an unworthy group remains to be explained. Don’t hold your breath on that one.

We are thrilled at the upholding of the integrity of the work done by our members at Wagga Wagga and congratulate the new Minister for Planning.

(As an aside, a diplomatic e-mail from our office, couched in the sweetest of terms, highlighted the failure of the Dirty Advertiser to report the Casley decision and resulted in them publishing an edited version of Harvey Grennan’s Herald story.

And for anyone alarmed about an "Opinion" piece in that yellow rag over Easter by "journalist" Patrick Wood that reported he had a short conversation with me where I called him a d-head and hung up, this is clearly untrue. (Don’t worry, I was not that polite.)

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