LIST OF ISSUES
Australia has one of the highest rates of population growth in the developed world. This is driven by an unsustainably high rate of migration. The official migrant intake in the 2018 financial year was 264,000 of whom 104,000 settled in Sydney (2,000 people per week). On top of this 300,000 education and temporary work visa holders entered the country most of whom were granted permanent residency (Gratton Institute Sydney Morning Herald November 2018). If this current rate of migration is maintained Australia will reach a population of 80 to 100 million by the end of the century or sooner. A migration target of 70,000 per year would stabilise Australia’s population at between 25 to 30 million. Migrants should be selected on their ability to contribute not on their race or religion.
Case History: The former Bankstown Council approved plans for massive over development in May 2016, the night before they were sacked and amalgamated with Canterbury. These plans involve the up zoning of residential streets and sell-off of 20 community parks and Padstow and Panania libraries, and were supported by both Labor and Liberal councilors. They include the construction of 13,250 apartments in tower blocks up to 12 stories between East Hills and Padstow, housing targets dictated by the New South Wales Liberal Government as a result of high rates of population growth. These plans are currently on hold.
All development should be carried out within the framework of strategic and integrated planning management plans and include clearly defined community benefits. Planning management plans should be prepared by local communities through their local councils and be based on the principles of ecological sustainability such passive solar design. These plans should include genuine and extensive community consultation and take into account all aspects of life that contribute to happiness and a sense of purpose such as access to public transport, secure employment and open space. Planning management plans should provide for affordable and social housing and aim to enhance positive social interactions and economic prosperity by catering to the needs of both older and younger community members and local businesses.
Case History: The old Riverlands Golf Course in Milperra occupies an area of approximately 80 Hectares and is the Jewel in the Crown of the Georges River Open Space Corridor. Despite being recognised by Council as Regionally Significant Conservation Land it was rezoned for housing in June 2015. This rezoning conferred considerable financial benefit to the developer at the community’s expense and was supported by both Labor and Liberal councilors. A development application seeking approval for the destruction of 1,300 remnant pre-european bushland trees and burial of the site under millions of cubic meters of fill is currently being disputed in the Land and Environment Court. This development is opposed by local residents who want Riverlands protected as public open space in perpetuity.
Good reliable public transport is an essential basis for an economically and socially vibrant community. Governments should invest in mass transit public transport such as heavy rail as an integral component of any plans for growth. While Western Sydney is currently being subjected to unprecedented population growth, there are no plans for, or investment in, mass transit public transport. This has resulted in increasing pressure on existing transport links such as the East Hills line and greater congestion on the M5.
Case History: The Sydney Metro has been promoted by the NSW Government as an improvement to city’s public transport system. It will involve the closure of the Bankstown line to convert it from heavy rail to an inferior cattle class, single story, standing room only, driverless train. There is considerable community suspicion that the Metro represents the first stage in the privatisation of Sydney’s rail network and is designed to facilitate property development. MTR Corporation, the company awarded the contract to operate stage 1 of the Metro in the Hills district, is a Hong Kong based property developer wholly owned by the Chinese Government.
NSW Transport Minister Mr. Andrew Constance has stated that the NSW Liberals do not believe that it is the role of government to provide public transport (SMH 18th August 2017). The Metro will involve the removal of the existing rail infrastructure including tracks, signals, troughing and overhead power lines and replacement with new infrastructure completely incompatible with Sydney’s current rail network. Construction is likely to take up to a decade during which time thousands of extra commuters will travel to the East Hills line to catch a train to work.
Currently education in Australia from early childhood to the Tertiary sector is underfunded. This acts as a brake on economic prosperity. The Gonski recommendation that school funding should be based on need has yet to be fully implemented. University students are charged substantial tuition fees which are essentially a tax and act as a disincentive to study. This also occurs within the NSW TAFE system. Finland the third wealthiest country in the world has acknowledged this link. Public universities in Finland are divided into universities and universities of applied sciences, and they are all tuition-free.
Funding to Australian universities has fallen to the point that they are reliant on fees from foreign students on education visas. Many are granted permanent residency once they have completed their studies. Some universities have turned to China for funding notably the University of Adelaide where Chinese military scientists are working with Australian researchers on militarising artificial intelligence, (Silent Invasion China’s Influence in Australia Clive Hamilton).
Case History: Governments should abolish all TAFE and University fees, fully implement the recommendations of the Gonski report and continue to increase funding to all our public educational institutions such as Padstow TAFE.
Approximately $12 Billion per year is spent on roads and rail projects in Australia alone. Many of these projects are funded using Public Private Partnerships where private companies borrow money which governments agree to pay off often at high rates of interest. This way the taxpayer is still responsible for the debt but it doesn’t appear on the governments’ books. These private companies are often gifted rights which confer considerable financial benefits such as the right to levy tolls for 30 years (Game of Mates K Murray and Paul Frijters).
Sometimes the Government uses taxpayer money to fund a project that is designed to facilitate private profit such as building a rail line to a mine owned by a private company. When this happens the government in question will promote the public benefits of the project.
Case History: In June 2018 the NSW Liberal Government announced that it was allocating $100 Million of taxpayers money to widen Henry Lawson Drive between the M5 and Milperra Rd. At the time they marketed this as a congestion busting measure however Roads Minister Melinda Pavey was quoted as saying “The project will play a key role in facilitating growth along the corridor including redevelopment of the Bankstown Airport Precinct”. Less than 3 months later Bankstown Airport announced plans for a 40 hectare intermodal and logistics hub. A less costly solution to the congestion of HLD would be to have it declared a local road which would remove all heavy vehicles at the stroke of a pen.
Planning should aim to enhance opportunities for secure, well paid and permanent local jobs, and acknowledge the role small businesses play in creating local employment. To ensure our community has the skills and experience required in an increasingly competitive jobs market, governments should be investing in education and training in both our University and TAFE sectors.
Case History: The University of Western Sydney has begun to close its’ Milperra campus. The University has stated that future uses would be for “non-educational purposes”. This statement would seem to open the door for housing development. University Trustees have signed a secret Memorandum of Understanding with Canterbury Bankstown Council which has not been publicly released. The Milperra campus represents a world class educational institute and is a source of well paid, quality local jobs. It also supports local businesses at Milperra and Panania. It should not be allowed to close.
Access to open space is essential to maintain both our physical and mental wellbeing. Even light exercise such as walking can have positive health benefits such as reducing blood pressure, tackling obesity and increasing muscle tone. These benefits can be greatly enhanced by riding a bicycle. A proactive personal approach to health focusing on a diet low in sugar with an emphasis on fresh rather than processed foods combined with plenty of exercise can prevent complications later in life particularly in children.
Case History: With its’ relatively flat terrain the East Hills district is ideal for bike riding. There are many pleasant bike paths where one can ride, away from the hazards posed by cars and trucks. My favorite runs along the Georges River from Milperra through to Mirambeena Regional Park and the Meccano Set. The NSW Liberal Government has announced plans to widen Henry Lawson Drive between the Hume Highway and the M5. This would destroy the HLD / Mirambeena Regional Park bike path and associated parkland.
Australia has the fourth-highest level of animal species extinction in the world (International Union for Conservation of Nature). The conservation of bushland is critical for protecting our unique native plants and animals, soils and water, and ultimately us. More than 60,000 hectares of bushland are cleared every year in NSW, causing massive land degradation and loss of habitat. Rates of clearing accelerated in 2017 after the NSW Liberal Government repealed the Threatened Species Conservation Act and the Native Vegetation Act.
Case History: Koalas were once common throughout Sydney but are now locally extinct with the exception of a small population of approximately 1,000 animals centered around Campbelltown and Wollondilly. They have also been recorded at Picnic Point and it is likely that these Bankstown Koalas are derived from the Campbelltown population at risk due to plans develop up to 50,000 new homes in South West Sydney including 10,000 at Mt Gilead outside of Appin.
"In the past five years, we have seen the population of Koalas in Australia go from about 100,000 to 40,000. At this rate, they will be extinct by 2040." (Ian Darbyshire, CEO of the Foundation for National Parks & Wildlife)
Protection of our natural and built heritage should be a matter of priority however heritage is currently often overlooked during the planning process. We should celebrate our heritage not knock it down.
Case History: Bankstown Library represents one of the finest existing examples of 1970’s civic architecture. It currently remains in public ownership. Council wish to sell the site to the developer who owns the land bounded by North Terrace, The Appian Way and The Mall. The height limit for this area was increased in the 2015 from 41 to 83 metres to allow for four 20 storey plus tower blocks.