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You are here: Home / Our Community / Elections / State Election – March 24th 2007 / The State seat of Marrickville / Greens – Fiona Byrne / GREENS – Marrickville – Response to REDWatch questionnaire

GREENS – Marrickville – Response to REDWatch questionnaire

By Fiona Byrne Greens Candidate for Marrickville.

The Redfern Waterloo Authority

1)       Do you / your party support the continuation of the Redfern Waterloo Authority (RWA)? If so what changes (if any) would you like to see happen at the RWA? If not how should the RWA’s present responsibilities be addressed? (In your answer you may like to address the following related issues):

a.       Why should planning control over parts of RW be the responsibility of the RWA rather than the City of Sydney Council?

b.       What benefits / risks are there for the local community in the RWA also having responsibility for the implementation of the Human Services (HSP) and Employment and Enterprise Plans (EEP)?

Answer: While open to a place-specific agency, we oppose the current RWA model. If the RWA does continue at the very least the RWA must have its funding structure changed to ensure it is not reliant on land sales and rents. Its decision-making must change to ensure greater parliamentary oversight of the RW Plan, and ensure greater community input. Finally, we do not support the RWA taking planning controls away from the City of Sydney Council. Having the RWA as an overarching body, but ensuring other agencies have responsibility for particular services and planning instruments helps to minimise the risks of centralisation.

The Minister for Redfern Waterloo

2)       Do you / your party support a separate Minister for RW?

Answer: As above.

3)       Since he was appointed the present Minister has had just one public meeting restricted to public housing tenants. The Minister initially promised four a year. Will you / your party expect a future Minister for RW to attend regular community meetings to hear first hand concerns about what is needed in RW?

Answer: Yes. The Greens will move to make this a requirement of the Act, with an explanation to Parliament required where the condition cannot be met.

4)       RWA operates three Ministerial Advisory Committees, whose members are half government department representatives and half residents selected by the Minister. Do you / your party support this being the only community input option? The Minister does not attend Ministerial Advisory Committees – should s/he attend such meetings?

Answer: The Greens do not support the current model. Given the limited nature of the current community consultation process, there needs to be greater independence for the advisory committees. The committees must have some access to the Minister. There should also be a broader, formal consultation process, as was initially discussed by the Redfern Waterloo Partnership Project and the RWA, but not implemented. Ideally the entire structure of the RWA needs to change to reduce its focus on development and land sales, and re-focus it on community needs.

5)       Do you / your party support a representative community reference body for the Minister and the RWA to provide community input into the RWA?

Answer: If RWA continues, yes.

6)       The RW Act provides for the Minister for RW to deal with the Minister for Planning and with the heritage office. Should the Minister for RW also be responsible for departments or agencies from which s/he can receive delegated authority or on which s/he is reliant for independent advice?

Answer: No.

7)       In estimates hearings the Director General and then Minister for Aboriginal Affairs avoided questions concerning RW citing that they were the responsibility of the Minister for RW. Should the Minister for RW be the sole government spokesperson for RW?

Answer: No. The RWA’s role should be to coordinate and bring different agencies together, it should not be used by departments for abdicating their responsibility to the area.

8)       What role do you / your party see for a future Minister of Aboriginal Affairs in RW and for improving engagement between the NSW government and the local Aboriginal communities?

Answer: The DAA has a significant Indigenous staff and experience working with Indigenous communities. Under the Two Way Together program they also have responsibility and experience for coordinating whole of government approaches to Indigenous communities. The RWA should draw on this expertise in developing its approach to Indigenous communities.

Funding for Redfern Waterloo

9)       Do you / your party support the sale of government land in RW as a method of funding government initiatives in RW?

Answer: No. Redfern-Waterloo has one of the lowest open space to person ratios in Sydney. As population increases there are also increasing needs for public services, as well as increased need arising from the selection criteria for public housing. Land should only be sold to purchase other new public assets, where the new assets are more appropriate to the community’s changing needs.

10)   Do you / your party accept the current government view that existing unmet human service needs in RW can be addressed by reforming current human services without any additional government funding?

Answer: No. Needs for human services are increasing as the population increases and as the needs of the population increase, particularly due to new Department of Housing eligibility rules. Funding needs to recognise this.

11)   Do you / your party support increased human services funding for services in RW to meet the higher needs of new public housing tenants?

Answer: Yes.

12)   The RWA has plans for government departments to introduce early intervention strategies and other new initiatives detailed in the RWA HSP and EEP. Do you / your party support these changes? Is it feasible for NSW departments to operate these new early intervention strategies, in addition to maintaining existing human services, in RW without increased funding?

Answer: The Greens support the recommendations for early intervention but believe additional funding is required to implement these approaches. We believe in the medium term any increase in funding will produce equivalent or greater savings, and so should be viewed as an investment.

13)   Many government funded human services in RW operate from substandard premises. Should sufficient government funds be made available to ensure suitable accommodation for all?

Answer: Yes. This reflects a broader problem of government funding under-resourcing the ongoing capital costs of providing services. Ideally this funding should be provided to all services, but short of this, and in the context of the RWA, it is appropriate that the RWA play a role ensuring this funding is provided.

14)   Do you / your party support government funding to relocate the PCYC to the former Redfern School site or to fix the substandard accommodation on the existing site?

Answer: We are wary that relocating will be used as a justification to sell the current site, however, provided relocation does not lead to the loss of public land and infrastructure we are supportive of which ever option is chosen by the PCYC.

Transparency and Community Engagement

15)   The RWA has the potentially conflicting roles of land owner, developer, planner and consent authority. Do you / your party support local government style transparency in the RWA so that the community are properly notified of what decisions affecting the area are being considered, so they can see when and by whom they are made?

Answer: Yes. The Greens do not support the RWA taking away planning controls from the Council. Returning these powers to Council would largely solve this problem.

16)   The Upper House Inquiry into RW called for better engagement / partnership by government with the community. Do you / your party support a greater role for community in the various stages of the development of RW plan rather than only being able to make written submissions during the formal exhibition phase which is often after the plan have been accepted by cabinet?

Answer: Yes. The model of using outside consultants, who report to government, then leave the community, has not worked. There must be an ongoing relationship between those developing plans and the community to allow a flow of information in both directions and genuine involvement from community members.

17)   Do you / your party support the development of a vision for RW being developed jointly by the community and the government / RWA?

Answer: This might be better done by Council, but if the RWA is to continue, yes. There do need to be appropriate strategies and safeguards to ensure that the views of all residents, particularly the most vulnerable, are included in the development of a vision. In particular, there need to be specific strategies to engage the range of different views amongst public housing tenants, Indigenous people, the CALD communities and groups with a high turn over (such as students).

18)   Do you / your party support a fully integrated RW Plan where all the elements of the Plan are publicly available prior to implementation so the community can see that their concerns have been covered and not just those of the government?

Answer: Yes. The failure of the Redfern Waterloo Act to specify any requirement for a full Plan is a serious flaw. A timeline must be set for the full Plan to be made public.

19)   Do you / your party support a publicly released study of the education, health, aged care and other services that will be needed for the future expanded residential and working population of RW prior to any further sales of public land?

Answer: Yes. It is clear that the demographics of the area are changing as more young families remain in the area. There are already significant pressures on primary schools in parts of the electorate. There are not sufficient aged care facilities, and this shortfall is set to increase as the population ages. No public land or facility should be sold until a comprehensive study of future needs is completed.

20)   During implementation of the RW Plan do you / your party support community involvement in the evaluation and any necessary adjustments to the plan?

Answer: Yes. The Greens support making this a requirement under the Act.

21)   Are you prepared to work with the community to build a future for RW in which the most marginalised will have a place in the RW of tomorrow and not just those who can afford to live in a gentrified inner city of the future?

Answer: The Greens are strongly committed to ensuring Redfern Waterloo continues to be an affordable and diverse community. We are committed to the expansion of public housing and to a minimum 10% affordable housing quota in all new developments.

Questions on the RWA Plans

Under the legislation the RW Plan is made and changed by the Minister. It is proposed that it be made up of the three RWA Plans most of which are already public. These are the Human Services Plans, The Employment and Enterprise Plan and the Built Environment Plans (with the redevelopment of public housing and affordable housing outstanding). Some aspects of the Plans have raised concern and you / you party’s comments on few specific questions based on the plans would be appreciated.

Built Environment Plan

22)   Do you / your party support the planning controls to establish an 18 storey “commercial core” in Redfern?

Answer: No. Urban consolidation can be achieved without this scale of development.

23)   Do you / your party support the sale of parts of North Eveleigh to fund the redevelopment of Redfern Station or should this be covered from the state budget in the way proposed for the Town Hall Station upgrade?

Answer: No. The Redfern train station upgrade should be funded out of consolidated revenue as are other train station upgrades. The requirement to redirect funding from land sales to public works has placed increased pressure on the RWA to maximise profits from land sales, and thus reduce affordable housing requirements and compromise heritage, planning and environmental considerations.

24)   Do you / your party support the RWA’s proposal to fund measures to lessen the impact of main roads on the area surrounding Redfern Station from the developer levy rather than spend this contribution for community facilities to service the increased residential and working populations?

Answer: No. (See Q23).

25)   Should the cost of reducing the impact of main roads on the communities they pass through be met by the RTA and the state budget?

Answer: Yes. There should also be a focus on reducing traffic (not just the impact of traffic) and expanding public, pedestrian and cycle transport.

26)   Do you / your party support the government’s reduction of residential floor space on The Block?

Answer: No. For the government to reduce the floor space ratio on private land and then increase it on their own land in the same area is completely inequitable.

27)   Do you / your party support the 12 storey zoning gazetted over the area currently occupied by the Large Erecting Shop or do you / your party support some continued active heritage rail and associated tourism use of the Large Erecting Shop?

Answer: The Greens support the preservation of heritage in the Large Erecting Shop. We believe plans for a 12 story development are incompatible with maintaining the heritage of the site. There are a number of proposals for future use, these must be developed through a broader process of community consultation.

28)   Do you / your party support the inclusion of an interpretive tourist link of the heritage sites listed in the RWA’s gazetted heritage map to showcase the earlier use of the site and people who worked at Eveleigh?

Answer: Yes.

29)   Do you / your party support the sale of the former Rachel Foster site to pay for a new community health centre in the former court house and police station?

Answer: No. There needs to be a comprehensive analysis of current and future needs in the area before any further sales of public land. There is a genuine community concern that the Rachel Foster site would be better used as an aged care facility and/or a drug and alcohol treatment facility. There is also a need for the expansion of drug and alcohol services, as identified by the Aboriginal Medical Service.  The community health centre was announced prior to the sale of Rachel Foster. We are concerned the government is using the RWA to fund through land sales commitments ordinarily met by departmental budgets.

30)   RW currently has low public and open space per capita. The increased population proposed by the RWA would further decrease it. Should the RWA be required to provide the increased public and open space required for the expanded population? How will you / your party stop erosion of public amenity as population densities increase?

Answer: Yes. Redevelopment involves the release of land not currently open to the public. There is scope for increased public open space alongside urban consolidation as part of the redevelopment. This needs to be an explicit goal of the RWA. There are innovative alternative approaches, such as reclaiming airspace above the railway lines and/or above new developments. The Greens have and will continue to advocate for greater public open space.

31)   Do you / your party support the under grounding of all cabling in redevelopment areas and the provision of infrastructure for high speed internet for new and existing residents?
Answer: Yes. 

32)   Do you/your party, support:

a.       that the developers ensure any construction is environmentally sustainable with respect to electricity usage for lighting/climate control, storm water re-usage, etc.?

b.       the upgrade of the services infrastructure, electricity, water supply and sewage, to cope with the increase demand caused by the higher population densities?

c.       a repair fund by developers against building work that could potentially alter ground and ground water levels damaging surrounding existing structures?

Answer: Yes to a and b. The Greens are willing to examine a repair fund, but would prefer solutions that did not lead to the lowering of ground water tables, but allowed for greater retention of run off on site rather than through storm water (as well as recycling). The Greens support re-strengthening the BASIX rules that apply to new developments.

33)   At present RW has a low level of private car ownership and transport routes through it to the city. What measures will you / your party support to improve the use of public transport links for local people to the city and laterally to hospitals, shopping centres, parks and other public amenities?

Answer: The Greens support the extension of light rail to the harbour, through the inner west via Parramatta Rd and through Redfern to Randwick. We support the expansion of the new mini-bus service, currently funded by council, to operate everyday. We support the development of a comprehensive bike plan as part of the RW Plan, including multiple crossing points over the train line, bike paths linking the inner-city to the eastern suburbs, and all of Redfern-Waterloo to the city.

Public Housing (To be covered in BEP Stage 2)

34)   Do you / your party support public housing being housing of last resort with allocation and retention of tenancies dependant on the highest level of need?

Answer: The Greens support a substantial increase in public housing stock to allow for a transition from social housing to extend eligibility for public housing to low-income workers. We believe this is most effective and equitable way to address the current problems arising from the concentration of people with high needs in public housing. The Greens propose an additional $900 million for public housing and a mandatory 10% affordable housing quota in all new developments.

35)   How do you / your party propose to handle the service needs and social impacts of public housing estates being made up of higher needs tenants?

Answer: The Greens propose the expansion of public housing to reduce the concentration of high needs tenants. However, we recognise there are currently additional needs and these needs must be addressed through increased service provision, particularly the provision of mental health and drug and alcohol services, but also child care, dental and health care and transport services. This requires that the RWA and/or government to commit to increasing human services funding.

36)   Do you / your party want to see the number of public housing units maintained / increased or decreased? How will this impact on RW?

Answer: The Greens support an increase in public housing, not only in Redfern Waterloo, but across the state. We believe this is the most equitable and efficient mechanism for reducing the concentration of need in public housing whilst also providing all people with the right to a home. There must also be a dramatic expansion in the provision of affordable housing to ensure gentrification does not force low-income workers and students out of the area, and to ensure prevent polarisation of the area.

37)   Do you / your party support the current government position of reducing the proportion of the population in public housing in RW by doubling the RW population while maintaining the same number of public tenants. Do you support this being achieved by public private partnership redevelopment of existing public housing?

Answer: No. The Greens support an increase in public and affordable housing as part of any redevelopment. The Greens oppose public private partnerships which have proven inefficient and undemocratic. The public sector is better placed than the private sector to finance redevelopments and to properly manage the risks of redevelopment. There are also concerns over the conditions that must be met to attract private interest in redevelopment, something that has so far prevented planned private public partnerships in Elizabeth St.

38)   Do you / your party support public housing tenants being housed in the RW area during the redevelopment of the public housing estates?

Answer: Yes. This must be guaranteed before the election.

Affordable Housing (To be covered in BEP Stage 2)

39)   Do you / your party support affordable housing being developed in RW?

Answer: Yes. The Greens support a mandatory 10% affordable housing quota in all new developments, and support for cooperative and other affordable housing ventures.

40)   Do you / your party consider the RWA’s proposed 1.25% affordable housing levy sufficient?

Answer: No it is grossly inadequate. See above.

41)   Please detail how your party’s affordable housing policy would be implemented in RW and to whom affordable housing would be available?

Answer: The Greens currently have a private members bill before parliament to increase affordable housing in all redevelopments to 10%, This would apply to RW. Affordable housing must remain in public or cooperative ownership to ensure future residents continue to have access to affordable rents.

Human Services Plan

42)   RW has a large and increasing elderly population. Older people in RW can’t get access to many services as they are working at capacity. Dementia and frail aged services are particularly affected as there is no local residential facility available when independent living is no longer an option. How do you / your party propose to meet this unmet need?

Answer: The Greens believe that we should redirect funding from law and order to human service provision. NSW has the highest incarceration rate in the country and the highest recidivism rate. Prisons are far more expensive than other human service interventions, and demonstrably less effective. By targeting funding at preventative interventions, we believe we can improve community safety and save money that can be used to fund other health services such as frail aged services.

43)   How do you / your party propose to address both the crisis and long term health needs of drug users in the area, as well as the social disruption and crime associated with the drug trade in the area?

Answer: The Greens support harm minimisation as the most effective way of dealing with drug and alcohol use. We support the provision of wet centres, injecting rooms, along with a prescription trial for heroin use and the decriminalisation of personal drug use. We believe this will help to undercut the black market provision of drugs, and much of the associated crime. The costs of the law enforcement approach to drug use are substantial, and a move towards harm minimisation would release funds for reinvestment in treatment services and other human services. Any move towards harm minimisation must be evidenced based and implemented through initiating and expanding properly evaluated trials.

44)   Alcohol related street and domestic violence are major issues in the area. What steps do you / your party propose to address this issue? Do you support the establishment of wet centres and increased funding for culturally specific drug and alcohol detox facilities?

Answer: Yes. As mentioned above we believe a shift from the law and order approach to a harm minimisation and evidenced based approach to alcohol and drug related crime will both save money and improve community safety. These services must be culturally appropriate.

45)   People with mental health or dual diagnosis issues are often unable to access services that cater to all their needs. How do you / your party propose to address their problems?

Answer: As above – we currently spend billions of dollars policing and imprisoning the mentally ill. Redirecting this funding to mental health services would be a more just and effective way of addressing mental health needs, and reducing associated anti-social behaviour.

Employment and Enterprise Plan

46)   What ongoing employment and enterprise services would you / your party provide for the increasing needs of public tenants in RW?

Answer: The RWA has provided some short term apprenticeships in the construction industry and a small pilot project in catering, both aimed at the Indigenous community. We welcome both these initiatives and commit to supporting and expanding them. However, the broader EEP focuses on building office space. It does not provide any detail on job creation, other than building space for offices, nor does it explain why office jobs are likely to meet the needs of a community already within walking distance of the CBD. There is no plan for job creation, only for development. The Greens support the retention of some light industrial zones to the south of the RWA area. In addition, the Greens support the retention of CDEP programs and job training and creation programs that specifically cater for both Indigenous and public housing residents. We will substantially increase funding to TAFEs and to public education.

47)   What policies does your party have to assist the most marginalised in our community become job ready so they can take advantage of the improved job market?

Answer: The Greens strongly support increased funding for public education, including TAFE, the provision of 200 additional Teaching English as a Second or Other Language (TESOL) teachers and greater funding for students with special needs. Access to TAFE is key to ensuring that unemployed and marginally employed people gain the skills they need to gain well paid employment. The Greens support the retention of the Community Development Employment Program (CDEP) in Redfern-Waterloo.

48)   Is there anything else your would like to add about your policies and RW which has not been covered?


Answers submitted by By Fiona Byrne Greens Candidate for Marrickville.