Councillors on western plan panel

The Dubbo community has two new representatives on a board that deals with big-dollar developments.

Councillors Lyn Griffiths and Kevin Parker were nominated by Dubbo City Council to the NSW Western Joint Regional Planning Panel.

The council made its decision, but not before some questions and pointed comments about the system put in place by the previous NSW government were aired.

The panel, which also includes three state-appointed members, says yea or nay to regionally significant developments including projects of more than $20 million in value.

The two councillors were ultimately elected unopposed, but earlier there had been a hold-up because of an abundance of nominations.

Cr Ben Shields and Cr Tina Reynolds, whose three-year terms on the panel expire next month, were also nominated, making four contenders for two positions.

The meeting paused while Dubbo mayor Mathew Dickerson and council general manager Mark Riley tried to work out the number of votes each councillor could cast.

After more talk, Cr Shields said he would withdraw from the race to "make it easier".

Cr Reynolds came to the same decision, saying she was not selfish about holding a position.

"I've had a turn and I'd like to let others, especially Cr Parker, to have the opportunity," she said.

Cr Bill Kelly then questioned if it would be better to have external representatives with greater expertise in the fields listed.

Cr Shields opposed the suggestion, saying that with three state-appointed members the panels were already "undemocratic" enough.

"Councillors at least are accountable to the community," he said.

He then called for a five-minute adjournment and for his colleagues to meet him in the room next to the chamber.

Councillors Rod Towney, Allan Smith and Dickerson were the last to follow him behind closed doors.

The 10 leaders present re-emerged and councillors Griffiths and Parker were elected with no more fuss.

Panels were formed to enhance the "integrity of the decision-making process" by providing transparency, rigour, accountability and efficiency, according to a government fact sheet.

The western panel last met in August, when it approved the Riviera shopping centre development.


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