20 August 2013
(Private Member's Statement, Legislative Assembly, NSW Parliament)
The Centennial Parklands provide inner-city residents with a peaceful and therapeutic refuge away from our busy and sometimes stressful lives. They are part of Governor Macquarie's 1811 Sydney Common bequest, which set aside 405 hectares of land for the outdoor recreational needs of present and future Sydney generations. Only one-third of this bequest remains open public land and it is now more vital than ever that we protect what is left.
The parklands are facing increasing pressures with significant residential growth happening in surrounding suburbs. The Green Square redevelopment alone will see 40,000 new residents adjacent to the parklands living in apartments with no private open space. Older adjacent suburbs such as Paddington and Surry Hills also have lower ratios of open space compared with the rest of Sydney and they face increasing populations. Urban consolidation is only sustainable if ample open space is available. The primary role of the parklands is to provide the long-term passive recreational needs of the surrounding residential communities. Fundamental to this objective is the provision of open green space. There are limited and diminishing opportunities to provide new space for passive recreation in the inner city and it is essential that what is left is preserved.
Sydney's inner east, inner south and the city population use the Centennial Parklands for picnics, children's parties, to soak up the sunshine and to take walks without the intrusion of traffic, chaos and noise. The Centennial Park and Moore Park Trust is developing a master plan for Centennial Park this year and Moore Park next year after it releases its strategic vision for the entire parklands. I congratulate the trust on this process, which will help it achieve a long-term vision for the park. However, dwindling budgets could see the park further rely on commercialisation and alienation of green open public land to raise funds. While some proposals—including the shared cycle and pedestrian path along Oxford Street—are essential and will contribute to the park's core recreational purpose, some are clearly aimed at generating funds that could damage the parklands and reduce scarce open space.
Of most concern is the proposal for a massive car park under Moore Park west. Car parking was removed from Moore Park west to compensate for the lost parklands as a result of the development of the Eastern Distributor. Despite commitments in the 1992 Moore Park plan of management, car parking is allowed to continue on Moore Park east. The new light rail service provides the opportunity to rid the area of damaging parking and traffic gridlock, but an underground car park will undermine its viability by encouraging more people to drive to events. Integrated ticketing and car pool parking should be investigated as alternatives. Also, the proposed car park would seriously risk old-growth trees, stymie the growth of existing and future trees and reduce green open space to provide for access points and ventilation stacks. New development proposals for Moore Park, such as the E. S. Marks Athletics Field and Fox Studios, will alienate more green and open space. It is time the Government recognised the value of green open space and injected funds into its maintenance instead of forcing the responsible trust to find revenue-raising opportunities.
Adjacent residents already are concerned about events on the parklands because they alienate public space for passive recreation, diminish park ambience and create neighbourhood noise and traffic impacts. Residents feel they are frequently prevented from accessing significant parts of the parklands because these areas are fenced off for major or corporate events. Other venues have been specifically built to manage large crowds and provide for major events and their transport needs. The parklands have suffered from decades of encroachments. The temporary tram sheds of Moore Park were sold to create the Supa Centa, and 2.2 hectares of Moore Park were removed to make way for the Eastern Distributor. The Fox Studios lease of the old showground site was onsold and now the Entertainment Quarter continues to build outside the area initially approved for film-related purposes.
It is worth reminding the House that the sporting stadia are part of Governor Macquarie's bequest. In 2006 public land that was held in the Sydney Cricket and Sports Ground Trust was rezoned for commercial and residential development. New buildings have already been built, including the National Rugby League headquarters. The 2010 proposal to annex Moore Park east to the sporting trust thankfully was withdrawn as a result of the community's outrage. I will fiercely oppose any future proposal to expand the sporting trust onto the parklands. Adjacent communities—particularly in Centennial Park, Paddington and Surry Hills, but also in Redfern and Randwick—have defended the parklands. Public green open space is essential for healthy communities. I call on the House and future parliaments to protect the parklands for present and future generations.