New panel members must now turn NSW around

24 July 2009

The new joint regional planning panels will have their work cut out for them, but theres no questioning their independence or competence, according to the Urban Taskforce.

The chief executive of the Urban Taskforce, Aaron Gadiel, said the quality of the new panel members would improve community and industry confidence in the planning system. The new state government appointed members were announced by the NSW Planning Minister, Kristina Keneally, today.


Corruption inquires into Wollongong, Rockdale and Strathfield have made it clear that major development approvals cant be left in the hands of local politicians, Mr Gadiel said.


These panels will help re-build the credibility of local government.


For the first time, development of $10 million or more will routinely go to independent experts for decision-making, rather than local politicians.


Theres no arguing with the qualifications or independence of the new panel members.


Mr Gadiel said that transparent and consistent decision-making by the panels could bring much-needed investment back to NSW.


They will literally hold the states economic future in their hands, he said.


Mr Gadiel said, in the March quarter, work started on less new homes in NSW than ever previously recorded by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.


Property development in NSW is at record lows, he said.


Work started on only 5,200 homes in NSW, compared with 9,100 in Victoria, 5,300 in Queensland and 28,100 across Australia.


“NSW accounts for 33 per cent of Australias population, but it has only 19 per cent of new home construction.


The number of residential construction starts in NSW has nearly halved since 2002 from 48,000 new homes in 2002 to 26,900 homes in 2008.


Since 2001, the real value of non-residential NSW building activity has increased by 43 per cent, but in Victoria it has doubled.


In 2007, for the first time, the total real value of all building activity in Victoria exceeded that of NSW.


Mr Gadiel said that planning reforms have the potential to attract investment and help take the politics out of local council decision-making.


These changes could pave the way to an economic recovery in NSW.


The Urban Taskforce is a property development industry group, representing Australias most prominent property developers and equity financiers.


The construction activity made possible by property developers contributes $69 billion to the national economy each year and creates 709,000 direct jobs. For every $1 million in construction expenditure, 27 jobs are created throughout the broader economy. The construction industry is Australias third largest source of employment.


The joint regional planning panel State appointees are:

  • Sydney East: John Roseth (Chair), David Furlong and Mary-Lynne Taylor, with Julie Savet Ward and Timothy Moore as the alternates;
  • Sydney West: Janet Thompson (Chair), Bruce McDonald and Paul Mitchell, with Stuart McDonald and Lindsay Fletcher as alternates;
  • Hunter and Central Coast: Garry Fielding (Chair), Jason Perica and Kara Krason, with John Colvin and Bob McCotter as alternates;
  • Northern Region: Garry West (Chair), Pamela Westing and John Griffin, with Bruce Clarke as an alternate; and
  • Southern Region: Pam Allan (Chair), Alison McCabe and Allen Grimwood, with David McGowan as an alternate. A local council is also entitled to appoint two nominees to the panel when it is dealing with matters within that councils area.

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