As far as we can tell it will be business as usual if the Baird Government is re-elected, for example:
- Communities are still being ignored as development is fast tracked as occurred with the withdrawal of information sessions for the development along Parramatta Road.
- In February a highly controversial new open-cut coal mining project near Gunnedah was given approval by the NSW Planning Assessment Commission, a move the NSW Farmers Association has condemned as ‘a complete policy failure by the NSW Government to protect any of the state’s high value agricultural land and water’. It also will destroy a large area of koala habitat.
- Expansion of the Moolarben Mine near Mudgee has also been approved, breaking a promise to add the nearby iconic Drip Gorge to Goulburn River National Park before approval was given.
The only recent positive news has been the decision to proceed with a container deposit scheme although details are still uncertain. Also the government has joined The Climate Group, a global group of countries and states (including Tasmania and South Australia) that are committed to phasing out coal and carbon emissions and facilitating methods of accelerating the transition to a low carbon economy. This decision is at odds with the continuing expansion of coal mining.
The Labor Party under new leader, Luke Foley, shows some promising signs of an improvement in environment policies. Recent announcements of proposals if elected include:
- The creation of a Great Koala National Park. If established, the new national park would protect 20% of NSW’s remaining wild koalas in a reserve stretching over 315,000 ha in the Coffs Harbour region.
- Establishment of a Sydney Harbour Marine Park.
- Endorsed the Planning for People Community Charter.
This Charter has been created in response to widespread community disillusionment with recent planning and development that has occurred in this State. It follows the failure of the Planning Bill to pass both houses of parliament in 2014.The Charter has been drafted by several state-wide community groups such as the Better Planning Network, National Trust and NPA. It sets out the principles to achieve a more balanced, fairer and more accountable planning system in NSW. It is not anti-development but aims to deliver sustainable, sympathetic and more relevant housing solutions for NSW residents.