In brief

06 April 2010

The Sydney Morning Herald has, for the first time, editorialised in favour of greater planning powers for the state government, saying it is not quite the balance between individual rights and those of the community, but rather between the rights of local communities and those of the state, or a region such as Sydney, as a whole. … Fitting more people in [existing areas] will change the character of local districts.

If more control over planning was handed back to local councils, as the Opposition advocates, it is a reasonable bet that few would approve the changes necessary to fit in the necessary numbers. See the full editorial here.

The Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, has announced that NSW MP Tony Burke will be appointed as Australia’s first Population Minister. Mr Burke will be charged with preparing a Population Strategy over the next 12 months. The Population Strategy will apparently consider “the social and economic infrastructure Australia will need to support a growing population, including the roads, housing and service delivery network … and the strategy will also seek to address the challenges associated with population growth, including the impact on the environment, water, and urban congestion”. For more information on the government’s announcement click here. Our response is here.

The Federal Government has introduced the Telecommunications Legislation Amendment (Fibre Deployment) Bill 2010 into Parliament and the Senate Standing Committee on the Environment, Communications and the Arts will be conducting an inquiry. Submissions close on 6 April 2010. The Bill provides a legislative framework to require developers to install optical fibre and fibre-ready telecommunications infrastructure. More information is here.

Based on the 1 July start date for the (above) fibre deployment legislation, Telstra has announced a change in its policy regarding the installation of telecommunications network infrastructure in greenfields developments. For developments where the developer has not made arrangements to have fibre-to-the-premises infrastructure installed, Telstra will no longer deploy copper cable. Additionally, Telstra may require a developer to pay a contribution towards the cost of the installation of any telecommunications infrastructure in greenfields developments, including fibre. More information is here.

The Federal Government has published new disability standards for access to premises under the Disability Discrimination Act. The standards apply from 1 May 2011 and set performance requirements and provide references to technical specifications to ensure access to, and use of, buildings by people with a disability. A press release from the Federal Government is here. The new standards are available here.  The explanatory statement is available here.

The Federal Government recently announced that eight housing development projects will share in $50 million of funding under round two of the Housing Affordability Fund. The Government says that this funding will save home buyers an average of $20,000 for new homes and housing lots. Further details of this announcement can be accessed from here.

A NSW Parliamentary Committee has recommended that special rules prohibiting property developers from making political donations be revoked if/when a uniform cap on all political donations of $2,000 per person is imposed. This is consistent with our submission to the committee that property developers should not be treated differently from other people. More information is here.

The NSW Minister for Climate Change and the Environment, the Hon Frank Sartor, has released an exposure draft of the Coastal Protection and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2010. The provisions in this draft bill provide for emergency temporary coastal protection works, as well as managing the impacts of landowner-funded long term coastal protection works (eg. seawalls). More information is available here.

There are new arrangements for landowner’s consent and notification requirements in NSW relating to development applications where the land concerned is owned by a Local Aboriginal Land Council. More information is here.