New Opposition policy document

27 September 2010

Last week the NSW Liberals and the Nationals (i.e. the Coalition) have released a new 68 page policy document Start The Change: Make NSW Number One Again. The document largely consolidates and re-states policies they have previously announced, although some further detail is provided.

The policy document declares that Labor’s “planning policies over 15 years have failed thousands of homebuyers”.

The policy document asserts that the Coalition have “detailed positive policies to address Sydney’s home affordability crisis, accelerate the release of housing and employment land and put downward pressure on government imposed infrastructure charges for housing and employment land, by injecting transparency and opening it to contestability”.

Incidentally, Shadow Treasurer, Mike Baird, has just told the Weekend Australian that Coalition planning reforms will be about defining the projects that fall under 3A and that much larger planning reforms are on the cards.

The full policy document that has been released is available here.

Policies that are relevant to urban development are briefly summarised below.

Returning power to local communities

The Coalition say they “are committed to returning local planning powers to local communities (through their councils)”.

“We believe that local residents – through councils – are best placed to make local planning decisions affecting their suburbs.

“After all, it is local residents – not Macquarie Street planners – who have to live with the results of these planning decisions.

“We will scrap ‘Part 3A’ – one of the wide-ranging powers NSW Labor has given its Planning Minister to override local communities and a factor that ICAC noted had contributed to corruption risks in the planning process.

“The NSW Liberals & Nationals will commence an overhaul of the planning system soon after March 2011.

“We will remove the politics from planning decisions.”

The Coalition says its reforms will:

  • ensure our planning system centres on merit and the public interest and re-empowers local communities on local planning issues;
  • create a system that enjoys public support – with a state government that respects people;
  • create a system that is “modern, takes into account sustainability, gives certainty to investors and makes NSW competitive again”, including “a reserve power for genuinely state significant developments”; and
  • deliver “certainty” about planning rules and decision making processes that are made transparently and in a timely way.

The review will be conducted by an independent expert panel, with the aim of enacting legislation “around the middle” of the Coalition’s first term (which would be March 2013).

Compulsory acquisition powers

The Coalition say they “will strongly oppose NSW Labor’s plan to forcibly seize people’s homes to make up for their failures on Sydney’s new housing needs”. The Coalition have separately launched a “hands off our homes” campaign, with a petition, media campaign and website.

Heritage

The Coalition say they are committed to giving heritage conservation “an independent advocate within government”.

They’re critical of the fact that the Minister for Planning is also the minister responsible for the protection of heritage and that the Heritage Office is located within the Department of Planning.
There will be a separate Heritage Minister who must make public any recommendation from his/her department “as to the heritage conservation priority of any item that may be subject to development proposals”.

Oddly the Coalition also say that “excessive red tape in decision-making impedes heritage conservation and frustrates the economic development of the State”.