Log in

Forgot your password?
You are here: Home / UrbanGrowth, SMDA & RWA Plans & Activities / Government, UG, SMDA & RWA Statements / 2011 / RWA Repeal Bill 2011 - Lower House Speaches

RWA Repeal Bill 2011 - Lower House Speaches

Following the Minister's introduction of the Redfern-Waterloo Authority Repeal Bill 2011 on 18 October 2011 a number of members debated the bill in the transcript below. Speakers included Linda Burney; Bart Bassett; Kristina Keneally; Mark Speakman; Clover Moore; Craig Baumann.
Page: 6593

Debate resumed from an earlier hour.

Ms LINDA BURNEY (Canterbury) [5.23 p.m.]: I speak on behalf of the Opposition on the Redfern-Waterloo Authority Repeal Bill 2011. The proposed amendments to the Growth Centres (Development Corporations) Act 1974 are welcomed by the Opposition because they continue the strategy and good work of the previous Labor Government in encouraging urban renewal, including by way of transport reform. I know the member for Heffron will address that point so I will not dwell on it. I do not make a political point but this was commenced by the previous Government and this bill continues that work.

The amendments deal with repealing the Redfern-Waterloo Authority Act 2004 and amending the Growth Centres Act to allow the transfer of assets, rights, liabilities and certain functions of the Redfern-Waterloo Authority to the Sydney Metropolitan Development Authority. On 21 February 2010 the Labor Government announced the setting up of the new Sydney Metropolitan Development Authority as part of the wider Metropolitan Transport Plan: Connecting the City of Cities reforms, which built on the success of the Redfern-Waterloo Authority model.

I watched with great interest the creation and development of the Redfern-Waterloo Authority, partly because it was such a new thing to do and partly because it focused on particular urban areas in Sydney. Redfern, which is an extraordinary part of Sydney, has a history of industrialisation. Aboriginal communities settled there in the 1930s and migrant people moved there when they arrived in Australia, particularly post-World War I and World War II. Redfern has a colourful history for many reasons. The Eveleigh Street railway yards are also located at Redfern, and the redevelopment of that site under the Redfern-Waterloo Authority has been wonderful to behold. It has added markets and cultural developments in that part of the world and it has added cultural developments for the whole city.

The authority has created a new precinct in a part of the city that was not being used. When one goes down to the Eveleigh Street railway yards and sees the magnificent way in which the railway yards are being used to create urban spaces it makes one very proud. It was always our intention in government to incorporate the Redfern-Waterloo Authority within the Sydney Metropolitan Development Authority to expand on its capacity to deliver meaningful urban developments, particularly in the area of transport. The Redfern-Waterloo Authority brings with it to the Sydney Metropolitan Development Authority a number of key assets that are of Sydney, regional and state-wide significance.

Those assets include the now iconic Australian Technology Park, which continues to be a source of innovation excellence for the community and business. The New South Wales Labor Opposition is watching Australian Technology Park carefully to see how it progresses under the new Government. The Australian Technology Park acts as a catalyst for the development and funding of new intellectual property. This activity lies at the very heart of long-term job creation momentum in New South Wales by raising the growth potential of the economy. Indeed, as the global financial crisis continues to linger into its fourth year the Australian Technology Park remains crucial in supporting and creating new jobs and business opportunities.

The Redfern-Waterloo Authority also maintains its jurisdiction over key development sites at Redfern, Waterloo and the former Carlton United Brewery site at Broadway. Driving down Broadway one can see the changing of the brewery site and the development that is going on in that part of Sydney. Those sites provide the potential to demonstrate the benefits of medium- and high-density housing in solving Sydney's well-documented housing supply problems. The Labor Opposition, which has taken into account the early October Reserve Bank of Australia research paper on urban structure, believes it is imperative for policy development to take account of the strong linkages between the planning process, zoning regulations and housing supply. Of course, that is one of the great challenges in relation to planning and infrastructure development in New South Wales, particularly in Sydney.

Without labouring the point, housing supply is a challenge that cannot be solved by just popping more houses onto the outskirts of Sydney. A discussion must be had about the culture of housing in our community. The incorporation of the Redfern-Waterloo Authority into the Sydney Metropolitan Development Authority importantly maintains key provisions in relation to the Aboriginal Housing Company. This has been an ongoing issue in the area known as The Block, but the Aboriginal Housing Company in Redfern has a lot more stock than just that area; it provides housing across the inner city. It is important that the key provisions of the Redfern-Waterloo Authority are contained in the new arrangement proposed by this bill. It is important for these amendments to ensure that this body and other relevant representatives of the Aboriginal community are consulted in all developments in the area bounded by Eveleigh, Caroline, Lewis and Vine streets in Redfern.

The transfer of the Redfern-Waterloo Authority into the Sydney Metropolitan Development Authority allows the positive innovation in residential and cultural developments in the Redfern-Waterloo area to promote similar advances in the Sydney area. This will allow the Sydney Metropolitan Development Authority to further enhance its ability to promote urban renewal through developments such as the remaining lots of land at the iconic Australian Technology Park site. That will give this innovative precinct greater critical mass. Against this background we see the proposed amendments as endorsing and continuing the good work and planning already put in place by the previous Labor Government.

We support the amendments of the Growth Centres (Development Corporations) Act 1974 and the repeal of the existing Redfern-Waterloo Authority Act 2004 to transfer its assets and the majority of its functions to the Sydney Metropolitan Development Authority. As I lead in debate for the Opposition I reiterate that the Opposition supports this bill. It is continuing the work that Labor began in government. It was always our intention to move the Redfern-Waterloo Authority into the Sydney Metropolitan Development Authority.

Mr BART BASSETT (Londonderry) [5.32 p.m.]: I support this bill which will repeal the Redfern-Waterloo Authority Act 2004 and amend the Growth Centres (Development Corporations) Act 1974 to transfer the responsibilities and assets of the authority to the Sydney Metropolitan Development Authority. As a former mayor, I have firsthand experience of the Growth Centres (Development Corporations) Act and endorse the provisions in that Act. During my time as the Mayor of Hawkesbury City Council I sat on the local government advisory panel for the Northwest Growth Centres Commission that was formed under the Act. While that commission had a mandate different from the mandate for Redfern-Waterloo—it dealt mainly with land planning issues and greenfields sites—the fundamentals and planning mechanisms were the same as the Redfern-Waterloo Authority that was established to guide urban renewal of the precinct.

The Growth Centres Commission was a mixed bag that could be best described as good in parts but an overall failure because it was only a bandaid solution to a bigger and deeper problem—the planning framework in New South Wales. The standalone statutory bodies were not properly resourced and did not get the support and leadership from government and the administrative instrumentalities through the different Acts and regulations that were required to fulfil its mandate. It was a good idea with some outcomes but, like most things, it ended up an overall failure and was consigned to the planning reform graveyard.

The former Government set up the administrative architecture to implement the metropolitan strategy. The North West Growth Centres Commission and the South West Growth Centres Commission were established as part of this structure, as well as the Sydney Metropolitan Development Authority, which was established in 2010 and which started to assume responsibility for the Redfern-Waterloo Authority. This was meant to cut through the labyrinth of red tape and bring about a coordinated approach between multiple stakeholders, government agencies, local government, the development industry and landowners to ensure that effective management, proper consultation and communications of the strategy were done in a comprehensive yet timely and efficient manner so new release areas could be rolled out in a realistic time frame. At the time these reforms were seen as a step in the right direction. To be fair, there were some improvements in coordination and communication between the Department of Planning and stakeholders and progress was made.

However, like anything without leadership—from the elected government through to the responsible Ministers and a planning framework that backed up reforms with the tools and resources needed to do the job properly—the reforms ended up, like a lot of others that preceded it, as nothing other than add-ons that got in the way and that defeated the original charter and objectives by causing added delays. It was a case of a good idea with poor implementation. The Redfern-Waterloo Authority was established in 2004 by the former Minister Frank Sartor and reported directly to the Minister. To be fair, in my opinion the idea was well intentioned. It was intended to provide the leadership necessary to cut through red tape and achieve a realistic outcome that allowed for increased densities as part of the renewal of a historic precinct while respecting and protecting the environment and heritage components in the precinct.

Like the North West Growth Centres Commission and the South West Growth Centres Commission, the Redfern-Waterloo Authority sounded like a good idea that would achieve a balanced outcome in a realistic time frame. I know from my experience with the north-west growth centres and from dealing with applications that there is too much red tape, buck passing and indecision that results in unnecessary delay and poor planning outcomes that do not take key issues into consideration, such as transport, infrastructure, open space and access. For new South Wales to become the economic driver of Australia we must ensure there is a proper rollout of new residential, industrial, commercial and employment developments, and supporting infrastructure.

In creating bodies such as the Redfern-Waterloo Authority and the North West Growth Centres Commission and South West Growth Centres Commission the Government tried to bypass the malaise created by the existing planning framework, but it did not work. The former Government had already abolished those commissions. I endorse the action to abolish the Redfern-Waterloo Authority and to transfer its responsibility to the Sydney Metropolitan Development Authority. This action is necessary as the new Government has embarked on a full and comprehensive review of the planning framework, and all aspects should be considered as part of this review. For the reasons that I have outlined, I congratulate the Minister on his work and commend the bill to the House.

Ms KRISTINA KENEALLY (Heffron) [5.36 p.m.]: I support the Redfern-Waterloo Authority Repeal Bill 2011. Unlike the member for Londonderry, I have been to Redfern and Waterloo. In fact, I represent that area in this Chamber. I will speak about this bill not only as the local member but also as someone who has held the portfolio of Redfern and Waterloo in Cabinet. It might seem a bit odd for a local member to support a bill repealing an authority that was designed specifically to provide services and urban renewal to an area within her electorate. Indeed, in 2004 I spoke strongly in support of the Redfern-Waterloo Authority Bill and I note that the bill received bipartisan support. But we are now repealing this authority, as was always our intention. The Redfern-Waterloo Authority was never intended to be a permanent government bureaucracy. It was not set up to live forever; it was set up to drive urban renewal, employment, education and environmental planning for Redfern and Waterloo.

The Labor Government announced in February last year that it would create the Sydney Metropolitan Development Authority and it created that body. It announced then that the Redfern-Waterloo Authority, which had been a successful example of driving urban renewal in those two suburbs, would be expanded to become the broader focused Sydney Metropolitan Development Authority. The new authority was created and the new board was established under the previous Labor Government. It was always intended that the Redfern-Waterloo Authority would evolve and enlarge into the Sydney Metropolitan Development Authority. As was intended by the previous Labor Government, and as will happen under this legislation, the Sydney Metropolitan Development Authority will continue to play the key role of driving renewal within Redfern and Waterloo. A number of projects that are extremely important for the area are still on the boil.

I want to look back to 2004 and highlight some matters. At that time I was the member for Heffron but the electorate only covered the suburb of Waterloo; it expanded to cover the suburb of Redfern after the 2007 redistribution. In 2004 when I spoke in this Parliament 95 per cent of public housing residents in Waterloo received income support from the Government. That means 95 per cent of people did not get up and go to work every day. Fifty-one per cent of households in Waterloo earned less than $399 per week compared with 20 per cent for the rest of Sydney. The unemployment rate in 2004 was 16.6 per cent, almost triple the figure for the rest of Sydney at the time. Indeed, there were 2,000 units of public housing in Waterloo then, which represented 67 per cent of dwellings in the suburb. Waterloo had been ranked in 2003 in the top 5 per cent of the most disadvantaged postcodes in New South Wales in a report entitled "Communities of Advantage and Disadvantage" prepared by Professor Tony Vinson.

In recounting those statistics I do not mean to portray Waterloo as a difficult or indeed a dangerous place. There was a resilience and a strong community spirit in that suburb. As someone who regularly visits the high-rise public housing towers, stands on street corners holding mobile offices and doorknocks the area I can say I have never felt threatened; I have always felt welcomed. The people of Waterloo face enormous daily challenges. In 2004 they wanted a healthier and safer community and a better social mix. That indeed was what the Redfern-Waterloo Authority was designed to deliver.

The authority was designed to promote the economic and social development of its operational area. It was required to prepare and implement a Redfern-Waterloo plan and it was specifically required to promote and coordinate the orderly economic development and use of the operational area, including the development and management of land, provision of infrastructure and the establishment of public areas. It was to provide and promote housing choices in Redfern and Waterloo as well as provide and promote employment opportunities for local residents. Importantly, it was to promote and coordinate cultural, educational, commercial, recreational, entertainment and transport activities and facilities in Redfern-Waterloo. It was also to have development and management control over sites deemed to be of State significance by the Minister for Infrastructure and Planning.

Having recounted those original aims of the Redfern-Waterloo Authority Bill, I turn to some of the things that have occurred in Redfern and Waterloo since 2004. Many members may have visited the Redfern and Waterloo premier markets, the Eveleigh Farmers Market, which won the Sydney Morning Herald 2010 Foodies Guide Award for best markets in Sydney, having been operating for only seven months at the time. Of course, at The Block the Pemulwuy project received approval for its development in July 2009, something I was proud to do as Minister for Planning. In March 2010 my Government provided the Aboriginal Housing Company with a $2 million grant to kick off the development of that project.

The National Centre of Indigenous Excellence was established at the former Redfern Public School site. It is worth noting that one of the first things that occurred under the previous Labor Government was the closure of several schools in South Sydney and the establishment of the Alexandria Park Community School, a K-12 school, which has seen enrolment and attendance in education in South Sydney rise significantly. There have been some remarkable outcomes from Alexandria Park Community School. The Redfern Public School site was sold to the Indigenous Land Corporation and the Natural Centre of Indigenous Excellence opened there.

A specialist health centre for Redfern opened at the former courthouse site. That was funded through the sale of the Rachel Forster Hospital. That centre, which is run by Sydney South West Area Health Service, provides a range of services including mental health, drug and alcohol, HIV services and others to the local community. Channel 7 has relocated to Eveleigh along with Pacific Publishing, bringing some 2,000 jobs to the area. We have also seen movies being made at CarriageWorks as a result of the work that has been done by the Redfern-Waterloo Authority, again bringing job opportunities and economic activity.

I particularly mention two services—Yaama Dhiyaan, which is a hospitality training course specialising in Indigenous food and culture, which has had remarkable success. More than 129 graduates have gone through that program, 79 graduates have been employed and another nine have gone on to further education. That program, which is run by Aunty Beryl Van-Oploo, does a remarkable job. Another service that has been set up as a result of the work of the Redfern-Waterloo Authority and its focus on employment is the Les Tobler apprentice centre, which is run by Rowan Tobler, who has won a number of awards. Again, they have had a remarkable success rate placing many Aboriginal apprentices in jobs.

By consent, General Business Notices of Motions (General Notices) postponed to permit the conclusion of the current debate.

Ms KRISTINA KENEALLY: The Les Tobler centre has had remarkable success in placing Aboriginal construction apprentices in jobs, particularly with the Channel 7 development and the redevelopment of housing on Elizabeth Street, Redfern, which is providing 100 new units of public housing. It is a beautiful housing development. I was there recently to rename the community centre after Betty Makin, an elder who is well known for her support of young people in the area. The redevelopment of the Elizabeth Street site is another commitment by the Government to the revitalisation of Redfern and Waterloo.

We also have seen a commitment to the Waterloo Green Neighbourhood Project, which is a $12 million three-year program providing concierge-style front desk staff, on-the-ground maintenance teams and extra security measures for six Waterloo high-rise public housing buildings. My constituents are quite pleased with the success of that project. They are also very pleased that, through collaborative work between the Redfern-Waterloo Authority and the Department of Housing, we have been able to implement alcohol-free zones in public housing land in Waterloo and tackle what has been a difficult problem for residents for many years.

The Roll Up Redfern group, which brings together the City of Sydney—I acknowledge the Lord Mayor is in the Chamber today—and the Redfern-Waterloo Chamber of Commerce, Redwatch and Souths Cares, an organisation on whose board I sit, are doing terrific work to change the perception of Redfern, launching Brand Redfern and working in particular to ensure that Redfern sheds its reputation as a suburb where the shutters come down at night. Anyone who has been on Redfern Street or Regent Street at night knows what I mean. Indeed, if you go down those streets now you see a much more vibrant Redfern.

The Heritage Taskforce that has been set up by the Redfern-Waterloo Authority is looking in particular at protecting heritage in the Eveleigh rail yards areas. I could go on and on talking about youth services such as the wonderful South Sydney Youth Services, which does excellent work and has run a number of successful programs, and the midnight basketball program, which has worked well. The police have done remarkable work particularly with Mundine's boxing gym. Last year we saw a significant drop in crime in Redfern and Waterloo and a significant rise in housing prices. Indeed, housing prices in the area rose by 38 per cent between 2005 and 2009, having climbed by 12 per cent in 2009 alone despite the global financial crisis.

I mentioned that the Sydney Metropolitan Development Authority needs to continue its work in Redfern and Waterloo, particularly around Redfern town centre and the redevelopment of Redfern station, as well as its long-term plans for the revitalisation and rezoning of public housing estates in Redfern and Waterloo. I encourage the Government to maintain the commitment made by the Labor Government to sustain the levels of public, social, community and affordable housing in those two suburbs. Significant work still needs to be done, and I look forward to that work being done by the Sydney Metropolitan Development Authority.

I commenced this speech by remarking that the Sydney Metropolitan Development Authority is an initiative of the former Labor Government. It was announced in February as part of the Metropolitan Transport Plan. Subsequently it was incorporated into the Sydney Metropolitan Plan. The Sydney Metropolitan Development Authority will assume the Redfern-Waterloo Authority's functions and use that authority as a model for all of Sydney. On this point I acknowledge that the Minister for Planning, the Hon. Brad Hazzard, has taken up an initiative of the Keneally Government, particularly when it comes to the development of Sydney and urban planning. He has taken up that initiative in retaining the Sydney Metropolitan Development Authority, and maintaining the successful model of the Redfern-Waterloo Authority and taking that forward.

It should be acknowledge that the Minister has picked up and run with the Labor Government's vision on how Sydney should be developed, particularly in respect of urban renewal and transport-orientated development. I look forward to seeing how the Sydney Metropolitan Development Authority in particular incorporates the Premier's commitment to a 50:50 split between infill and urban development, a move away from the previous Labor Government's policy of 70 per cent infill and 30 per cent greenfields. That will be a challenge for the Sydney Metropolitan Development Authority, and I look forward to seeing how it meets that challenge. I look forward also to the Minister visiting Redfern and Waterloo. I know he did so in June 2011, because it was breathlessly announced by the Factory Community Centre that the Minister was given a tour of Redfern and Waterloo. It is both remarkable and wonderful that the Minister has chosen to visit those suburbs. We look forward to his coming back.

Mr MARK SPEAKMAN (Cronulla) [5.51 p.m.]: I support the Redfern-Waterloo Authority Repeal Bill 2011. The bill will repeal the Redfern-Waterloo Authority Act 2004 and amend the Growth Centres (Development Corporations) Act 1974. The Sydney Metropolitan Development Authority was established last year to drive the development of high-quality urban precincts, the initial precincts being Redfern-Waterloo, which includes the Australian Technology Park, and Granville. But, in the meantime, the Redfern-Waterloo Authority has continued to carry out its functions. This continued operation has disadvantages, including a requirement to perform duplicate administrative functions, with overheads and reporting obligations.

This bill will dissolve the Redfern-Waterloo Authority. Its assets, rights, liabilities and some of its functions will be transferred to the Sydney Metropolitan Development Authority. Sole membership of Australian Technology Park Sydney Limited will transfer from the Redfern-Waterloo Authority to the Sydney Metropolitan Development Authority, so the Sydney Metropolitan Development Authority can undertake immediate urban renewal on remaining development lots of the Australian Technology Park. The Redfern-Waterloo Authority Fund will be transferred to the Sydney Metropolitan Development Authority. Provisions of the Redfern-Waterloo Authority Act which relate to the levying of development contributions for development at sites in Redfern and Waterloo and at the former Carlton United Breweries site at Broadway will continue.

The Aboriginal Housing Company and representatives of the Aboriginal community will continue to be consulted in relation to the area known as The Block. The bill will end the switching off of the Heritage Act provisions within the Redfern-Waterloo area. The bill provides for transitional arrangements for the Redfern-Waterloo Plan as an approved scheme under the Growth Centres Act, and this will allow the Sydney Metropolitan Development Authority to undertake the key renewal strategies outlined in the plan. I commend the bill to the House.

Ms CLOVER MOORE (Sydney) [5.54 p.m.]: I will make a brief contribution on the Redfern-Waterloo Authority Repeal Bill 2011: a more comprehensive contribution is not possible given the bill was introduced only this afternoon. When the Redfern-Waterloo Authority legislation was introduced in this House I represented Redfern, which was in the electorate of Bligh. Both Redfern and Waterloo are in the City of Sydney local government area. At the time I opposed the legislation because it gave the Minister unfettered power to approve development with the accountability and normal checks and balances that apply with local government assessments removed. The local community was alarmed that the legislation was only about ensuring land development and not about urban renewal or addressing social issues in the Redfern-Waterloo area or The Block.

There was widespread concern that the community would have little say in how their neighbourhood was changed. The City of Sydney has long been committed to working with the State Government to address the urban renewal and social issues in Redfern-Waterloo. I welcome changes this month that handed to the city approvals for developments valued at less than $10 million. This will ensure that the majority of development proposals will be subject to the city's rigorous assessment processes and community consultation. Indeed, all development should be able to be assessed by the city because the Central Sydney Planning Committee deals with development worth over $50 million and has a greater number of State government appointees than it does city appointees. I maintain that developments above $10 million should go to the city instead of the Minister for Planning.

The city's submission to the recent draft Built Environment Plan No. 2 broadly supported the latest proposed rezoning with the recommendation that development only occur if a train station is built in Waterloo, which of course would provide public transport for the proposed increase in population that is possible given the route of the city to the airport railway runs directly underneath. I understand that the Sydney Metropolitan Development Authority will be required to report to the Minister for Planning, who will determine what instrument is the most appropriate for rezoning the area. Plan-making should be done through the comprehensive City Plan process, which will assess the area holistically as part of the entire inner city and with the city consulting closely with the local community.

The Central Sydney Planning Committee has the capacity and expertise to establish the most appropriate zoning for the inner city, and creating new bodies to take on this role is wasteful duplication. I have long opposed areas of the city being excised from the city, the creation of qangos, and the divvying up of the City of Sydney to various bodies, such as the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority. There should be an integrated and coordinated approach to the city, and I will make that case to the Minister when the Sydney Metropolitan Development Authority provides a report for Redfern-Waterloo plan making. The city will continue to work with the Minister and the Government on this very important urban renewal area.

Mr CRAIG BAUMANN (Port Stephens—Parliamentary Secretary) [5.56 p.m.], in reply: I thank the members for Canterbury, Londonderry, Cronulla and Sydney for their contributions. I particularly thank the member for Heffron, who made her third contribution in this Parliament and her second today. That is good because it enables the new backbenchers to see the former Premier in action. As indicated, the Redfern-Waterloo Authority Repeal Bill is an important step in the ongoing renewal of the Redfern-Waterloo area. Through this bill the Government is ensuring the ongoing commitment to the renewal of this important area of Sydney and New South Wales. The bill reflects the ongoing reforms that this Government has introduced to the New South Wales planning system. I commend the bill to the House.

Question—That this bill be now agreed to in principle—put and resolved in the affirmative.

Motion agreed to.

Bill agreed to in principle.

Passing of the Bill

Bill declared passed and transmitted to the Legislative Council with a message seeking its concurrence in the bill.

Source: http://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/prod/parlment/hansart.nsf/V3Key/LA20111018035?open&refNavID=HA8_1

See Minister Hazzards Speech: http://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/prod/parlment/hansart.nsf/V3Key/LA20111018032?open&refNavID=HA8_1