Ballina Labor candidate Paul Spooner, with Cate Coorey of the Byron Residents Group, announces Labor will scrap the controversial West Byron development if Mr Spooner is elected and Labor wins government at next month's poll.
Ballina Labor candidate Paul Spooner, with Cate Coorey of the Byron Residents Group, announces Labor will scrap the controversial West Byron development if Mr Spooner is elected and Labor wins government at next month's poll.

OPINION: Labor making promises they don't expect to keep

THERE are some policies introduced in election campaigns that tell you the party making the promise doesn't expect to win.

A good example was the promise by Federal Labor during the 2004 Federal election campaign to return the XPT.

That promise helped get Justine Elliot into Parliament, but never actually had to be followed up because Labor failed to form government.

Another example might be Nationals leader Warren Truss's promise ahead of the 2010 election to upgrade the Lismore-Bangalow Road. While that election ended up being a tight contest, in the lead-up - before Federal Labor wrecked itself with leadership strife and its emissions trading scheme backdown - it had been widely expected to be easily return. In the end, the coalition lost the election and that was the last we heard of that issue.

However, the Feds look like amateurs compared to some of the stuff NSW Labor is coming out with.

In an environment where the bookies are offering long odds on an ALP win, we've had the promise to ban CSG on the Northern Rivers without any sort of policy framework to support that ban and we now have the promise, made by Ballina Labor candidate Paul Spooner yesterday, to scrap the West Byron development and return planning control of the site to Byron council.

I'm all for development planning controls staying in the hands of local councils.

The decision by the former NSW Labor Government to replace council control on large developments with Joint Regional Planning Panels and ministerial decisions was an abomination prevents communities deciding their own destinies when it counts most.

However, the promise made yesterday doesn't involve dissolving - or even reforming - the planning rules Labor introduced when last in government.

It makes a special case of the West Byron development and of returning planning controls for that site, and that site only, to Byron Shire Council (which is ironic given Byron's reluctance around development, including that particular development, was one of the things that led to the formation of the joint regional planning panels in the first place).

Like Labor's promised CSG ban before it, the West Byron promise is an example of policy so poor and so inconsistent one can only assume they expect to never have to keep it.


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