House debates

Tuesday, 16 February 2021


Kingsford Smith Electorate

7:50 pm

Photo of Matt ThistlethwaiteMatt Thistlethwaite (Kingsford Smith, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for the Republic) Share this | | Hansard source

In New South Wales, under the Berejiklian Liberal government, big developers can bypass local councils and have their massive projects approved, even if local residents object and the local council has said no. This is despite the New South Wales Liberal Party having previously promised to return local planning powers to local communities through their councils. How did we end up with unelected planning panels overriding local councils and local communities with overdevelopment and overcrowding? It's wrong and it needs to change.

Our community in Little Bay continues to fight the big developer Meriton and their disgraceful plans to impose high-rise towers on the local area. Their plan ignores the already approved master plan for the site which permits lower density, low-rise residential development. Instead, Meriton want to increase the allowable building heights by four times what's in the master plan. Their plan translates to nearly 2,000 more units in blocks of up to 22 storeys, along with the addition of a hotel. But the Randwick Local Planning Panel unanimously rejected the Meriton proposal. The planning panel handed down clear advice to Randwick City Council. They recommended the planning proposal should be rejected.

The case against this reckless plan is clear. Randwick council's own planners previously released their assessment report of Meriton's plans. The planners recommended that the Randwick Local Planning Panel not support the planning proposal and that it not proceed as it fails to meet both the strategic merits test and the site-specific test. The panel said that the approved master plan should not be changed saying, 'There are no changed circumstances which warrant changes to the existing planning controls for the site.' Of course the existing master plan was put in place when Meriton bought that land back in 2017. They knew what they were buying. Yet they still want to push the limits with this Liberal government to increase the heights by four times. Meriton want to double the population in an area that is already struggling with traffic congestion and poor public transport. The developer is now ignoring the council decision and, instead, calling for the New South Wales planning department to greenlight the development. Why is the New South Wales Liberal government allowing a back door for developers to override local communities, councils and even their own planning panels? It's just not right. That is why over 10,000 locals have already signed a petition against this outrageous case of overdevelopment. I will continue to fight on behalf of our community to stop Meriton's outrageous overdevelopment at Little Bay.

We have already seen Meriton lodge a development application for the second stage of its sprawling $3 billion residential development at Eastgardens, with towers up to 17 storeys high. The completed project will see more than 4,000 units over a 16½-hectare site. They already have congested roads in that area and inadequate public transport. How much of this overdevelopment can our community take? Enough is enough.

Opal packaging and SUEZ recycling are planning to build a massive incinerator in Matraville in our community. Port Botany is already one of the most polluted areas in Australia and we don't need a massive incinerator in Matraville spewing even more damaging emissions over our community. That's why I am proud to be part of the community campaign to stop the Matraville incinerator. The proposal for the incinerator at the site on the corner of Bunnerong Road and Botany Road will involve the construction of a facility that will burn 165,000 tonnes of non-organic, non-recyclable waste, including wood, textiles and plastics.

In November, I and community representatives met with SUEZ and expressed the community's opposition to this proposal and asked them to dump the ridiculous proposal. But they indicated that they're proceeding. The hypocrisy in their argument is they can't even tell us what is going to be emitted from the 60-metre stack that they're planning on the site. They couldn't tell us what the emissions would be. That stack is just 130 metres from homes in our community and will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The plan will also result in an estimated additional 54 trucks and 100 car movements per day. I'm strongly opposed to the Matraville incinerator, and I fear that they will use the planning panel and bypass the council, just as Meriton has done, to have this project approved under this Liberal government's planning laws. Enough is enough! Our community has had enough of unelected planning panels overriding local councils and local residents with overdevelopment. I will fight the Matraville incinerator, as will members of our community.