You are here: Home / Media / Iemma's push for business - 08.10.2005

Iemma's push for business - 08.10.2005

NSW Premier Morris Iemma has signalled a pro-development push by his Government after conceding that mistakes by predecessor Bob Carr stunted economic growth. Report by Brad Brad Norington and Turi Condon for The Australian.
Changes to his planning ministry were the key to avoiding "legitimate criticism about blockages and delays" that had frustrated building projects, he said yesterday.

Declaring that "NSW is open for business", Mr Iemma foreshadowed a push to speed up development approvals.

He said he also wanted to encourage private investment and take the fight to Queensland and Victoria, which had exploited unpopular NSW government measures, such as the now abolished vendor property tax on investment properties.

"We want to make it easier to do business and focus on the costs of doing business," Mr Iemma said in an interview with The Weekend Australian.

His comments come two months after his appointment and a frontbench reshuffle that put Frank Sartor in charge of a streamlined planning ministry.

His pro-development push contrasts with Mr Carr's former image as the leading "green" premier, with emphasis on the need for more national parks.

Mr Carr also opposed higher immigration, saying it put increased pressure on Sydney's infrastructure.

Next week, Mr Iemma is planning to announce a $500million ports redevelopment at Port Botany and Port Kembla that he argues will show that the Government is being more responsive.

He said an environmental impact study for a planned desalination plant at Kurnell in southern Sydney would soon be completed.

Mr Sartor's main task, he said, was to release a 30-year "full metro strategy" by the end of the year for the expansion of Sydney.

Mr Iemma contested the view of the Sustainability Commission that Sydney would be "closed", predicting plenty of development for affordable housing. He said the Government planned to release additional land.

Signs Mr Sartor was achieving success included approvals for 35 big development applications and 50 local environment plans.

A delay in releasing the Sydney metro plan, according to Mr Iemma, was a significant reason behind inertia for similar plans for the Hunter.

Business had been positive about his pro-development stance, he said. "This is the nation's only global city. There are already 500 companies that have their regional headquarters based in Sydney."

The managing director of Developer Mirvac Group, Greg Paramor, welcomed Mr Iemma's stance on development.

And Property Council of Australia NSW executive director Ken Morrison said the Premier's abolition of vendor duty on the sale of investment property was an excellent first step.

"He is certainly making different noises (from the Carr government), particularly with his first act in abolishing vendor duty."

Mr Morrison said the big question was the implementation of a long-term planning strategy for NSW, and it was an "embarrassment" not to have one.

Stockland Group chief executive development division Denis Hickey said the property industry was waiting for a sign that planning would be overhauled.