The Berejiklian government has official stripped Ministers for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government of all their responsibilities to manage the legislation in their portfolio areas. All legislative powers in these key portfolios have been centralised in either the Premier or the Minister for Planning.
The dramatic changes disempower these Ministers from having any official role in the administration of key legislation in their areas including under the Protection of the Environmental Acts, the Heritage Act and the Local Government Act.
Greens MP David Shoebridge said:
“This is not just a political take-over by the Planning Minister it’s now an official legal coup which has seen NSW Planning take over all of the environmental protections in NSW.
“NSW Planning has a history of abusing the environment, not protecting it, which makes these changes so dreadfully concerning.
“It’s not just the Planning Minister who has seized control, so has the Premier by taking over all responsibilities under the Heritage Act.
“What is the point of having a Heritage Minister who has no role in administering the Heritage Act?
“The Local Government Minister has also been stripped of power with the Planning Minister now exercised all the powers under the Local Government Act. This continues a trend of disrespecting Local Government.
“There need to be checks and balances in government, but these changes all go in one direction which is more development and less protections,” Mr Shoebridge said.
Greens MP Cate Faehrmann said:
“This is a disgraceful, unprecedented move and makes it clear that the Premier is going to ramp up her government’s wholesale destruction of the environment.
“We’ve gone from an Environment Minister asleep at the wheel to an Environment Minister in title only. All power now rests with the Planning Minister, so one can only assume that development will take priority over environmental considerations most of the time.
“This should have been an opportunity for the Berejiklian government to reset after four years of horrendous environmental performance. Instead its first act has been to abolish the office, and now the ministerial power, of the environment. We have just entered the dark ages when it comes to protecting our environment,” Ms Faehrmann said.