Now it?s really a secret inquiry

THE NSW Government has thrown a veil of secrecy over its latest investigation into Tweed Shire Council's handling of planning matters.

The move to keep the newest inquiry strictly behind closed doors comes hard on the heels of weekend protests by Tweed Mayor Warren Polglase that his Council's planning decisions have always been open, accountable and transparent.

The Daily News was blocked from speaking with the investigator, Local Government Department deputy director general Ross Woodward.

Instead inquiries were directed to the office of Local Government Minister Tony Kelly.

NSW Planning Minister Craig Knowles announced the latest inquiry last Thursday, citing concerns from commissioner of the public inquiry into the Council's conduct, Prof Maurice Daly, about the handling of planning matters.

A spokesperson for Mr Kelly, answering questions which would have been put to Mr Woodward, said the inquiry would start immediately.

But, she said, it was "not possible to say at this time" how long it would last.

Would Mr Woodward be visiting Tweed? She answered: "Yes".

Council general manager Dr John Griffin had better access.

He said he spoke to Mr Woodward yesterday morning offering him full support in the inquiry.

Dr Griffin said he "had been saying for quite a while" that a so-called 'Section 430' departmental investigation "needs to be done because it can go into greater detail than the public inquiry".

"If you want to find anything the best way to find out anything is a Section 430 inquiry," he said.

"I'm sure this inquiry will get to the nub of the issues the government is seeking information about".

Dr Griffin said estimating how long the inquiry would take was the same as guessing "how long is a piece of string" but he hoped it would take far less time than the near-18months of the Bulford investigation.

Mr Kelly's spokesperson, asked for background on Mr Woodward, said he had a Masters Degree in Town Planning from the University of NSW and "a career in the NSW public service spanning almost 30 years, having worked in Planning, Housing, Sydney Water and Local Government".

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