Council contender says real estate agents should be banned
COFFS Harbour City Councillor John Arkan rejects Labor's call to ban real estate agents from being elected to NSW councils.
Cr Arkan, who holds a real estate licence, says people should be encouraged to run for council no matter what their profession is.
"Real estate agents are human beings and just like any other people in the community," Cr Arkan said.
"Banning a particular occupation is not appropriate."
Cr Arkan has not decided if he will run again at the September elections but rejects Labor candidate Tony Judge's call for a ban on property developers and real estate agents being elected to NSW councils.
Tony Judge recently put his hand up to run for Coffs Harbour City Council. He leads the Labor ticket with Julie Hendy and Patrick McCarthy supporting him.
Julie Hendy is a retired clinical neuropsychologist and Patrick McCarthy has recently retired from a long career in public transport.
Mr Judge is backing the Labor bill which is the second attempt in three years at pursuing such a ban, after the government voted down a similar bill in the upper house in May 2017.
"The legislation is an important step in ensuring that residents and ratepayers can trust that important Council decisions are made impartially and without conflict of interest," Mr Judge said.
"Councillors are in a position of trust where they must decide on proposals for re-zoning, development applications and major local works.
"It is not hard to see how a developer or agent could benefit either directly or indirectly from having advance knowledge of those proposals."
Mr Judge says that no matter how strict the rules are it is almost impossible to avoid the situation where a developer or real estate agent on Council could benefit or find themselves with a conflict of interest.
"There are already so many examples where councillors in other parts of NSW and their families have been shown to have benefited financially from their vote on a key development proposal. In many cases they have also lobbied other councillors to vote in a particular way for a financial benefit."
The bill will be introduced into the Upper House some time this week. It's understood Labor will be hoping to capitalise on a divide in the NSW Liberal Party on the matter to get the bill through.
"So it's a case of convincing Emma Hurst from the Animal Justice Party and a couple of One Nation MLCs, including Mark Latham, to support the Labor legislation," Mr Judge explained.