The Greater Sydney Commission bill has been cheered through Parliament by the Labor “Opposition” tonight despite serious concerns being raised about its deeply undemocratic and unaccountable form.
The Greater Sydney Commission Bill creates a new planning body which is able to its planning decisions on local areas across greater Sydney and re-write local environment plans with no democratic constraints on this power. But the bill also contains a hidden kicker for rural and regional areas of NSW, by allowing regulations to designate a new planning authority for that area, with no system of accountability.
The Greens put forward a number of amendments to try and ensure some democratic accountability in this state’s planning but they were voted down by both Liberal and Labor in the Upper House.
“Sydney’s need for sustainable, coordinated and strategic planning will not be satisfied by the top down bureaucratic approach of the Greater Sydney Commission.
“Given Labor’s history of supporting grossly undemocratic planning laws, it should come as no surprise that they’re cheering the Greater Sydney Commission home.
“The largest and most controversial planning decisions will now be made by an undemocratic body populated entirely by appointees of the Planning Minister.
“The unelected Commissioners will have no responsibility to engage with local communities or councils and are not in any way accountable to anyone as to how they exercise their powers.
“This was a missed opportunity to implement a model where regional planning is undertaken by joint organisations of councils backed up with fresh statutory powers to ensure democratically accountability.
“Instead local councils will be stripped of their planning powers, community consultation will be bypassed and development will be fast-tracked.
“There should be no mistake that, despite its name, this is not just a Sydney bill. This is a cut price quick and dirty solution for the entire state.
“By regulation, and without any legislative restrictions, the Minster can appoint anyone he wants to take over regional planning in NSW.
“The Greater Sydney Commission is an extremely long way from the Coalition’s promise of returning planning powers to communities.
“This bill will go down in history as the moment that the Coalition and Labor joined teams and officially ended democratic planning in this state.” Mr Shoebridge said.