The entire process for the release of precincts for property development over the next 20 years in Greater Parramatta, released by the Greater Sydney Commission late last year, has been shrouded in secrecy and that raises serious questions regarding the independence of the GSC said Tom Forrest, Chief Executive of the Urban Taskforce today.
The Urban Taskforce has written to the GSC expressing its concerns. While Urban Taskforce supports the GSC rhetoric regarding the alignment of infrastructure and new housing and the linking of precincts for residential growth to the marginal cost of infrastructure, all costs and assumptions must be transparent and open.
The information, methodology and the data used to develop the actions and draft precinct sequence release plan in the GSC’s Draft Greater Parramatta Plan have been hidden from all scrutiny and the process of developing the Greater Parramatta Olympic park Place Infrastructure Compact (the GPOP PIC) has been veiled in secrecy.
“The GSC has advised that Government agencies were only prepared to co-operate if information provided was deemed to be ‘Cabinet in Confidence’. This represents a gross miss-use of the Cabinet process and renders the entire GPOP PIC process effectively worthless”, Mr Forrest said.
“The GSC seems unprepared to use its powers to direct Government agencies and as a result is now part of the problem of secrecy in Government administration.
“The GSC should publicly release the reports and information used as the basis for their decisions regarding what infrastructure is required for the release of each precinct, and what costs are attributed to each infrastructure asset.
“Refusing to provide this information undermines the GSC’s credibility and casts significant doubt on the recommendations and actions outlined in the draft PIC. The GSC must be transparent, clear and accountable in its decision making.
“Until this information is made available, the Urban Taskforce cannot support the Draft GPOP PIC, or any other PIC prepared in this manner”, Mr Forrest said.
The GSC has effectively written off the redevelopment of Camellia, but its analysis of infrastructure requirements is entirely without any consultation with Industry or with Parramatta Council. Parramatta Council is known to be furious with the GSC.
The problem with the approach taken by the GSC through the GPOP PIC is the GSC has concealed what infrastructure they say is required for the release of each precinct and what costs they have attributed to each infrastructure asset. Urban Taskforce demanded this information be made public prior to Christmas.
“The GSC has developed a 20-year plan for the development of Sydney’s second city. But the infrastructure apportioned to each precinct is a secret. The costs are a secret. The timing is a secret.
“So why should the public have any faith in the GSC to determine which precinct should be released and in what order?” Mr Forrest said.
“The GSC has developed the order for precinct releases without any industry input and they have flatly rejected the views of both Parramatta Council staff and Parramatta Councillors.
“There has been no active consultation with industry, yet they expect us to blindly support the GPOP assumptions and conclusions.
“Transparency allows for scrutiny and ultimately trust”, Mr Forrest said.
By contrast, the process established by Infrastructure Australia mandates scrutiny of any infrastructure funding allocation to establish if the infrastructure is required, if the “problem” that is being solved by the infrastructure can be solved any other way, if all non-infrastructure solutions have been considered and the costs and benefits of all the above.
The reason the GSC must consult with Councils and with industry is to allow for their scrutiny.
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