Your rights as a residents to object to obnoxious over-development are is now at risk. The NSW Minister for Planning, Brad Hazzard, announced last week that the government would be confining the public’s right to have a say to “strategic planning”. From then on, he said, it would be “full steam ahead” for developers.
Apparently the rights of residents and Councils to challenge and reject particular developments – and if necessary fight them in the courts – are to be stripped away.
Mr Hazzard told a breakfast meeting of the developerfriendly Housing Industry Association in Sydney on Tuesday, June 26, that he would soon release the proposed changes. He admitted that the inquiry undertaken by Tim Moore and Ron Dyer – both appointed by him – into reform of the planning process had not come up with the right answers.
He said the government’s proposals would be “daring and will make a difference”. As the Sydney Morning Herald report noted, “developers welcomed Mr Hazzard’s plan” although they noted there would be difficulties implementing it.
The point about “strategic plans” is that they are entirely in the hands of unelected bureaucrats. Sure, they allow formal public comment on the jargon-ridden documents that they draw up.
This latest announcement from the minister representsa fundamental attack on the central core of the one great reform of the Wran Labor government of the 1970s. Paul Landa, the then planning minister, introduced the Environmental Planning & Assessment Act, whose aims enshrined the public’s right to a say in what was built in this state, whether it was next door or in the CBD. It also gave Councils the right to reject particular developments and the right to fight them in the courts on behalf of residents if necessary.
In making this reform, Landa was recognising the long fight, which began in the 1960s, of residents and communities to have a say in their living environment. Those were the days when insurgent councils like Leichhardt’s and North Sydney’s defied state governments and party machines, when mayors like Nick Origlass and Ted Mack became household names, when scores of resident action groups were formed, and when Jack Mundey and the Builders Labourers’ Federation saved much of our city with their Green Bans.
Now the Coalition government proposes to turn back the clock to the bad old days of the notorious Askin government. Whether they will succeed is another question entirely. Local elections are to be held on September 8 and they represent a chance for communities to rebuff the state government and its local supporters. Meanwhile, the Greens’ spokesman for planning, David Shoebridge MLC, has announced that the Greens will be attempting to defeat these changes when they become before the Upper House of the NSW parliament.
Follow development at