On March 30, 2009, the New South Wales government brought into force a new Local Government Filming Protocol. You can access this protocol here … http://www.dlg.nsw.gov.au/Files/Information/Local_Government_Filming_Protocol_-_2009.pdf
This protocol was part of a process that was intended to make New South Wales “film friendly.” Or as the St George & Sutherland Shire Leader noted in an article dated May 27, 2009 (http://www.theleader.com.au/news/local/news/general/protocol-curbs-filming-fees/1523434.aspx), it was a means to curb filming fees that were being charged by local councils.
However somewhere in the creation of this new filming protocol the bureaucrats who put it together forgot about the ongoing gouging of small-scale “commercial” photographers by some local councils within the Sydney area.
I have been intrigued about the “legality” of this extortion racket by both Manly Council and Waverley Council for some time, as my reading of the relevant section of the Local Government Filming Protocol of 2009 strongly suggested that in imposing fees and permit requirements upon small-scale photographers that these two councils were both operating against the spirit of the filming protocol.
You can see my post where I discussed this matter at … https://rossbmedia.wordpress.com/2010/08/15/are-sydney-councils-that-require-photography-permits-acting-illegally/
However I have today received an email from the Chief Executive, Local Government in New South Wales, telling me that I am wrong. And as his first name is Ross also, I just have to bow down to that superior advice.
Anyway, this is what that other Ross has told me:
“I can confirm that stills photography is excluded from the Local Government Filming Protocol. However, commercial stills photography and associated fees continue to fall within the following provisions of the Local Government Act 1993:
- Section 68 (D)(1) – approval to engage in trade or business on community land
- Sections 35 and 36 – plans of management for community land
- Sections 80, 608, 610D and 610F – council fees
- Sections 124-153 – orders
- Section 626 – failure to obtain approval.
The provisions should be considered in the context of the Act as a whole. You may wish to obtain independent legal advice on their interpretation. You can access the Local Government Act online at: http://www.legislation.nsw.gov.au/maintop/view/inforce/act+30+1993+cd+0+N
I have noted the additional issues you have raised regarding the definition of commercial photography, low impact stills photography and aerial photography. As previously advised, councils are established as autonomous bodies with rights and powers under the Local Government Act. The Act does not give the Minister for Local Government, or the Division of Local Government, [or the] Department of Premier and Cabinet, the power to direct councils in matters such as these.
However, given the apparent inconsistencies between the fees charged by some councils for stills photography and the provisions of the Local Government Filming Protocol, the Division will be considering these issues further in conjunction with a review of the Protocol that is currently underway.”
So there you have it. Local councils can act like complete prats – they can impose ridiculous charges upon small-scale photographers and can ride roughshod over concepts of freedom of expression – and the various state government departments will turn a blind eye to it.