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09 December 2004 b

Redfern Waterloo Authority Bill 2004 Passes Upper House

Redfern Waterloo Authority Bill 2004 Passes Upper House

The Redfern Waterloo Authority Bill 2004 passed the upper house with only government accepted amendments and would expect to go through the lower house without any further amendment and be enacted. The amendments accepted were as per the proposed Government amendments circulated a couple of days ago with the addition of one from the Liberals and two from Rev. Fred Nile.

The Liberal amendment was to limit the expansion of the area by regulation to a total of 5% of the area. Any greater expansion will need to go back to Parliament. The Rev Fred Nile amendments were to give some effect to the letter read into Parliament yesterday regarding Aboriginal participation on committees and regarding the AHC.

Of the 9 issues put up by REDWatch in their briefing paper which they thought possible to get changed in the Upper House, there has been movement on four areas.

The placing of Objects (different from those proposed by REDWatch but Objects none the less) in the bill and the 5% limit on expansion both firmly focus the Authority on Redfern Waterloo. The Objects will enable the rest of the bill to be interpreted in the case of any ambiguity. These were important legislative wins.

The strengthening of the mechanism the Minister needs to go through to get around the Heritage Act was also in the direction proposed by REDWatch, even thought the crucial step of letting the public know that the Minister wished to get around the Act and providing time for community comment was missing. The inclusion of a requirement for the Authority to make an Annual Report (without the requirements suggested by REDWatch) is also important.

What is missing from the Act are all the things REDWatch asked for to strengthen mechanisms for community involvement in the Act. Clearly residents do not have the same clout as the developer lobby that was able to have issues relating to their concerns on development levies addressed by the Government, while residents were unable to get their concerns addressed.

In discussions with community groups and parliamentarians the Minister and those from the Premier’s Department have said that there will be community consultation in the making of the plan, that there will be advisory committees including something like the current community council. Hopefully these processes can be put in place in a manner acceptable to the communities and the lack of legislative surety will not be missed.

The Redfern Waterloo Plan will be the basis of what will come out of the Authority over the next ten years and community involvement will be crucial for it to ensure the process works for the benefit of the community.

Liberal whip Don Harwin reminded the upper house today that the Liberals had played a very important part in the process by calling for documents. Hopefully these will enable the community to get an understanding as to what has gone before. Don also pointed out that the Legislative Council’s General purpose committees were able to self reference and should there be any problem with how the Authority goes about consultation or if other issues of concern arise these Council committees would be able to inquire into the matter.

In short we probably got as much as we were going to. We would have hoped the Government would have come forward and spelt out processes for community participation. They were given another opportunity by the Liberals to read something on this into the Parliamentary record in the committee stage but persisted with the usual vague assurances.

One of those in the public gallery yesterday suggested that we all needed to all get t-shirts made up with the word “widely” printed on them to ensure that, in line with government promises to consult widely, we would actually get consulted! Now there is a gift suggestion for Frank – widely t-shirts for all residents!

We will send around hansard extract of today’s debate when we see it tomorrow.