(Contribution to Debate, 21 February 2017, Legislative Assembly, NSW Parliament)
I will make a brief contribution to debate on the Motor Racing Legislation Amendment (Newcastle 500) Bill, which will facilitate the Supercar 500 race in Newcastle.
A number of Newcastle east residents who will be directly impacted by the race, have asked me to oppose the bill. While they are not my constituents, I sympathise and am concerned about the broader principle that such a commercial and intense activity can be inappropriately imposed on such a sensitive location without the normal environmental checks and balances.
The proposed race would run through a densely populated area and homes and businesses will be as close as three metres to the track. Residential amenity will significantly suffer from car noise, poisonous exhaust, vibrations, massive crowds and litter. Impacts will start when construction begins and I understand that will commence six weeks before the race, with dismantling of the track to continue for three weeks after.
An entire suburb will be enclosed by the race; it will be extremely difficult for anyone to travel in and out of the area during racing with ongoing challenges during bump-in and bump-out periods. I understand there are three public housing aged care complexes enclosed by the tracks and these residents will have very few options to escape the impacts. Enjoyment of the beautiful adjacent beaches will be impossible with associated noise, fumes and crowds.
The track would run through two local heritage conservation areas and the state heritage listed Coal River Precinct. The race will run through narrow streets of sandstone curbs and gutters and cobblestones. Heritage values will be impacted by commercialisation of the space and the over 100-year old houses risk damage from major vibrations.
The area is home to established trees and I understand trees will have to be removed for the track, with which ones identified after the detailed planning of the exact route is complete, which will not happen until after this bill is passed. The bill applies provisions in the Homebush Motor Racing Act to the Newcastle east region which means that environmental planning laws that protect environment, local heritage and neighbourhood amenity will be turned off and there will be limited opportunities for review of the minister’s decisions.
Unlike decisions for the supercar race in Homebush, there will not be an independent body overseeing decisions and impacts.
I am told that there is a more appropriate alternative site for a car race in the Hunter region at Raymond Terrace that would result in fewer impacts. This should be investigated instead.
Residential amenity, opportunities for public recreation, heritage, the environment and proper planning processes should not be sacrificed for a private ticketed race and I oppose the bill.