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First Breifing Note on RWA Bill

REDWatch produced this Breifing Note on 16th November 2004 when the wording of the Bill initially became available.

REDFERN-WATERLOO AUTHORITY BILL 2004

Briefing Note 16th November 2004

Background: The Redfern Waterloo Authority (RWA) appears to take up part of the role of the existing Redfern Waterloo Partnership Project (RWPP). Its primary function is to implement a Plan for the area, similar to the plan being devised by the RWPP as part of the Redfern Everleigh Darlington (RED) scheme. Unfortunately, the RED scheme has not yet been released, and nor has the Redfern Waterloo Plan, so we do not yet know the precise purpose of the RWA or how it will work with the RWPP.

Key recommendation: We have concerns that the Authority’s goals are not properly defined, too much power is vested in both the Authority and the Minister, there is little provision for local involvement or consultation and there is a lack of transparency. We recommend that the Bill be referred to committee for further investigation.

1.      While the RWA is supposed to implement the Redfern-Waterloo Plan, the plan has not yet been released, and in its absence it is difficult to assess the appropriateness of the RWA.

The Redfern Waterloo Authority (RWA) has as its principal objective “the achievement of the outcomes of the Redfern-Waterloo Plan” (RWP) 14(2).

The Redfern-Waterloo Plan (RWP) s26 is to be prepared by the Minister for the operational area s26(1). This plan currently does not exist although Premier Carr has said what might result from it in his announcement of the Authority on October 26, 2004. 

In the absence of the detail of the Plan it is difficult to decide how the Redfern Waterloo Authority (RWA) would be best constituted and hence care is required. Ideally the Government should have undertaken the process it started with the Redfern Waterloo community and established the Draft RED Strategy which could have become the RWP for a new authority.

2.       The legislation vests too much power in the Minister and does not properly specify the objectives of the Authority.

The legislation gives the Minister complete authority to make and change the Plan (the Minister “may amend or replace the Redfern Waterloo Plan” 26 (5)). It does stipulate that the Plan be “publically available” 26 (4) and that public be able to make submissions 26(4). However, it does not set out a process for making submissions, considering submissions, proposing change or allowing public consultation. A change to the Plan changes the principal objective of the Authority under 14(2).

A consultation process, with appropriate notification periods and opportunity for making submissions, needs to be stipulated.  

Also, while the Bill Explanatory Note on clause 26 says of the RWP that it “will deal with matters such as …” where as in the Bill the “Plan may make provision for …” 26(2). Thus, the legislation does not give any certainty over the matters the Authority will deal with, for example it does not have to have a “strategic vision for the improvement of the area” or for any of the other listed areas  26 (2) (a) – (i).

3.       The legislation leaves unstated a number of key objectives of the Plan, and the functions of the Authority do not necessarily include all of the aims of the Authority.

Rather than possibly be included under any other matters the Minister considers essential for the plan 26 (2)(i) some items should be required to be covered in the plan. This should include clearer objectives in regard to sustainable planning and development, community consultation, public and affordable housing, Aboriginal housing and services, public transport, walking and cycling.

As the principal objective of the RWA is to achieve the outcomes of the Plan the functions (14) should reflect what is necessary to implement the Plan. It follows that the following amendments could usefully be added to “Functions – generally”

  • Amend (14) 1a) to “… the social, environmental and economic development and use …”
  • Amend (14) 1e) to “ … entertainment and transport (especially public transport, walking and cycling) activities and facilities …“
  • Add new 14 (4) – “The Authority is to undertake meaningful community consultation during the establishment, acceptance and review of the objectives and processes of the RWA, consistent with the NSW Government’s published material on Community Engagement in the NSW Planning System”
  • Add – a clearer definition of objectives in regard to public services, affordable housing and Aboriginal services

4.      The legislation allows for unilateral changes to the area covered by the Authority, and the Authority is to be funded in part by sites outside its area.

The area is defined in Schedule 1 and it mirrors the area currently being served by the Premiers Department Redfern Waterloo Partnership Project (RWPP). The Bill proposes that this area can be changed by regulation (45). The inclusion of a clause in the Growth Centres (Development Corporations) Act 1974 No49 (Schedule 3.2), effectively excludes areas within the operational area of the Redfern-Waterloo Authority Act 2004 from the South Sydney Development Corporation. The effect of this is that by regulation the area covered by the RWA could be expanded to cover Green Square and make South Sydney Development Corporation redundant.

It is also of concern that the Bill makes legislates that the development contributions for affordable housing from the CUB site at Broadway will come to the RWA. The CUB site is outside the boundary of the RWA and its inclusion has created concern that the Authority may have plans to expand into Chippendale.

5.      The legislation does not require local representation on the Board of the Authority and does not give the Board real autonomy.

The Bill proposes that one of the Board of Directors is an Aboriginal Person 8 (4) but no other provision is made to provide for Board diversity. The Aboriginal Person does not have to come from within the area or be associated with it.

The composition of the Board is totally up to the Minister (3) & (4). This is of concern as there may be no provision for any local representation on the board.

Of equal concern given the interdepartmental nature of the RWA is that the board could be overly made up of State Government employees. To ensure a variety of inputs the number of State Government employees should be limited to say 4 including the CEO.

6.       Provisions for advisory committees are inadequate.

The Minister may appoint 11(1) or dissolve 11(9) advisory committees as the Minister considers appropriate. There is no provision for an ongoing broad based Community Consultative Committee. Such a committee should meet as regularly as the board and provide broad community input to the Authority, The Minister, the Plan and the Board.

There are also key areas where advisory committees should be established to ensure community input on decisions relating to Aboriginal Issues, Public Housing, Social Services and Public Land and Spaces.

The board and all advisory committees should have representation from the community including service providers and service users.

7.       Requirements for transparency of meetings and documents are inadequate.

As with local government, all meetings should be open to the community to observe unless moved into closed session for a particular agenda item. All agendas, minutes and findings of the RWA Board and advisory committees should be publicly available.

The Minister and RWA Board must also take due consideration and/or publish reasons for not considering the advice of advisory committees

8.       There is no requirement for performance indicators.

RWA performance indicators are to be developed in consultation with the community as part of the RWP, and reported upon annually along with a report by the authority to the community.

9.      The legislation gives the Authority a blanket exemption from the Heritage Act

There are a number of heritage items in Redfern Waterloo and there is concern at the Bill’s proposal to diapply The Heritage Act 1977 to Redfern Waterloo. (28) The normal provisions of the Heritage Act should apply.

10.   A number of issues remain unclear

There are questions about how a number of aspects of the Bill will operate and further investigation is needed into these questions. Below are some of the areas identified:

Consent Authority – The Minister can be the consent authority for State significant developments in the area (27). It is not clear how other areas that may be covered by the RWP will operate as far as consent is concerned. There is the ability for the Minisiter to have Planning and Development instruments drawn up but it is not clear if these will only be limited to State significant developments and if not how consent will operate under these plans.

We are of the view that all processes under the authority should contain similar provisions for the establishment of environmental and development plans as would happen if they were made under council and that the same provisions as Council should also apply for notification, objection and appeal as would be allowed under council.

Management of public Spaces – It is not clear how public spaces are to be administered and how this will interact with the councils existing management of public spaces eg 14 (d) 46 (2) (h). Any provisions for management of public spaces by the RWA should follow the same procedures as that for areas administered by Council.

Fund for provision of Services – The Bill proposes a fund “into which money is paid by persons who carry on business within the operational area” 35(1). It is not clear what is intended for such a fund. It is important however not to provide a disincentive to businesses coming into the area especially as business growth is important in supplying employment in the area which is a prime focus of the RWA.


This Briefing Note has been prepared by REDWatch.

REDwatch is a residents group covering Redfern Eveleigh Darlington and Waterloo (the same area covered by the Premiers’ Department Redfern Waterloo Partnership Project). REDwatch monitors the activities of the RWPP, the RED strategy and its other programs and seeks to ensure community involvement in all decisions made about the area. REDwatch meets on the 4th Sunday of the month at the Redfern Community Centre at 2:00pm

Further Information Contact:
Geoff Turnbull 02 9318 0824                    Email: turnbullfamily@stassen.com.au

REDwatch

C/- PO Box 1567

Strawberry Hills NSW 2012

Ph Wk: 9318 0824