A consultancy firm called Bang the Table is offering its services to councils across NSW and has already reached financial agreements to work for Hornsby and Shoalhaven Councils.

The idea is simple: Bang the Table is a community forum website which offers a venue for ratepayers, activists, residents and community groups to argue, debate, deplore and generally sound off about current development activities in their neighbourhood.

Bang the Table is the brainchild of Matthew Crozier and Dr Crispin Butteriss though their names don’t appear on the webpage.

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Crozier and Butteriss are the directors of Bang the Table Pty Ltd which was registered with ASIC last August. The business’s registered office is given as The Junction, NSW 2291.

Crozier and Butteriss are also directors of Duo Consulting Pty Ltd registered in October 2006 which operates from the same address as Bang the Table.

Before becoming a private lobbyist, Crozier worked for the NSW Labor Government in the Hunter region managing planning and infrastructure projects and in the coordinator general’s division of the Premier’s Department.

Since privatising himself Crozier’s clients have included Bob Rose’s Rosecorp, Hardie Holdings, Stockland, Rio Tinto Coal, Crighton Properties and Astonfields.

His website blurb boasts:

Among his many projects, Matthew has assisted Rosecorp to gain consent for an 1189 dwelling development at Breakfast Point, and is currently providing advice on a 600 dwelling development at Catherine Hill Bay and 300 dwelling development at Gwandalan. He has also worked closely with the Hardie Holdings team on Sweetwater, an 8000 lot development proposed to lie between Cessnock, Maitland and Singleton.

Butteriss also did his apprenticeship in the bureaucracy of the Labor Government. He worked for two years in the Premier’s Department and with the Minister for the Illawarra, the Planning Department and the Environment Protection Authority.

“This equipped Crispin with a thorough understanding of the State’s planning and development processes,” his resume says.

Duo Consulting tells potential clients: “We utilise our insiders’ knowledge of government priorities and policies to work with your team to develop the best approach to ensure a fast and smooth approval pathway through local and State Government for your project.”

By way of background it adds: “Crispin and Matthew first worked together running an intelligence unit in the Department of Planning looking ahead 50 years to the future of the State and its regions and key centres.”

With Crozier an expert on the Hunter and Butteriss specialising in the Illawarra, they make this hard sell: “Duo’s long established networks, particularly in the Illawarra and Hunter regions, allow us to efficiently manage your relationships with government agency and council staff … Both directors have been employed at a senior level in both NSW Premier’s Department and the NSW Department of Planning and have extensive state and local government networks.”

So the dynamic duo wear two hats: on one hand they work directly for big developers and on the other they offer a platform for online community consultation for councils through Bang the Table.

Answering a customer inquiry, Crozier said in an email this week: “We are a new and small business so it is natural people will be a little suspicious as they get used to us. However we are genuiniely (sic) committed to improving the commimitys (sic) say in government decision making processes.”

Today’s Sydney Morning Herald reports that Planning Minister Frank Sartor is about to decide whether to approve — against strenuous local opposition — Rosecorp’s plan to build 600 luxury apartments at Catherine Hill Bay, 100 km north of Sydney, a project on Duo Consulting’s client list. It will be interesting to see whether Sartor supports Rosecorp or the local community.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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