Centennial Park and Moore Park Trust Amendment (Car Parking) Bill 2023

Centennial Park and Moore Park Trust Amendment (Car Parking) Bill 2023

(Second Reading Debate & Consideration in Detail, 18 October 23023, Legislative Assembly, NSW Parliament)

The Centennial Park and Moore Trust Amendment (Car Parking) Bill is a continuation of the decades-long history of using public open green space for parking for major sporting events. The welcome difference this time is the Government's commitment to an integrated multi‑modal transport plan for the precinct to reduce demand for car parking and to help people get there in a cheaper, more efficient way. That has previously been ignored.

Public open green space is essential to urban density. Without it, communities become toxic, unhealthy wastelands. People living in apartments need space to get sunshine and fresh air, to exercise, to picnic, to have kids' parties, to walk their dogs and to sit in quiet contemplation. Governments are eager to talk up the benefits of urban density and profit from the stamp duty that it generates, but there always seem to be challenges when it comes to providing the infrastructure and services those densely populated areas need.

The adjacent residents of Moore Park, Paddington, Surry Hills, Centennial Park, Kensington and Redfern largely have little to no private open space and rely on the parklands for their recreational needs. Green Square, directly across from Moore Park, is growing rapidly. About 36,000 people have now moved into the area since redevelopment began, and the number will likely swell to around 70,000 by 2036. They are all in apartments with a small balcony at best. Those communities are lauded as fine examples of urban density, but they need the Government to fulfil its duty and provide them with open green space.

I will take the House through the history of some of the land grabs that have shrunk Moore Park over the past few decades, progressively sacrificing more and more of that rare inner-city parkland. When parts of Moore Park were used as a temporary tram shed, the community was promised they would be returned to the parklands. Instead, when the land was no longer needed for trams, it was sold off and turned into the Supa Centre retail complex. The Eastern Distributor, which opened in 1999, carved 2.2 hectares from Moore Park. To compensate for the huge loss, $4.5 million was set aside to find alternatives to on-grass car parking at Moore Park. Those 2.2 hectares are now forever lost, and Moore Park remains a car parking place for major events.

Swathes of land were also lost to the busway. In 2010 the sporting trust tried to grab Moore Park East to build a new stadium. The plan was only withdrawn following community outrage and a campaign led by Lord Mayor Clover Moore, the then member for Sydney; former Premier Neville Wran; former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, then member for Wentworth; and Greens Senator David Shoebridge, then member of the Legislative Council.

In 2014 the Tibby Cotter bridge subsumed large parts of grasslands. It continues to only be used by a small handful of people every day. The claims of it being for pedestrians coming from Central Station were at odds with its location and design. The Tibby Cotter bridge was part of yet another plan to annex Moore Park to the stadium. In 2015 those plans were leaked and included a new 65,000-seat stadium at Kippax Lake and an indoor tennis stadium. Parking would be relocated to Moore Park West, where patrons could access the new complex via the Tibby Cotter bridge. Again, the plans were only stopped by a concerted community campaign.

Moore Park lost large chunks of land to make way for the light rail and its associated infrastructure. The community accepted that loss because it provided real transport alternatives to get to the sporting grounds and therefore an opportunity to get cars off Moore Park. Light rail now connects the stadiums to Central Station, providing an easy way for most people in Sydney to get to a match without a car. After years of resistance, all sporting codes and concerts now provide integrated ticketing to their events. Integrated ticketing has been hugely successful and continues to grow in popularity, with record numbers of patrons catching public transport to games.

During the FIFA Women's World Cup, the stadium was full and 11 cars parked on the grass. Integrated ticketing will thrive even further when we solve the remaining teething issues with integrated ticketing, which see patrons unable to access station gates that are not attended, and when there is more publicity and information on the program. Behavioural change has begun, and it has been helped by not only the light rail integrated ticketing but also the staged removal of cars from the grasslands. Since parking was removed from Upper Kippax, the Lower Kippax and Showground Field areas have been full for fewer than half of the matches that have taken place.

Venues NSW is building a multistorey, 1,500-space car park on its land, and when it opens, even without the parking currently available at Lower Kippax and the Showground Field, there will be more parking than is currently available, and that excludes parking available at the school and Randwick Racecourse. Since Allianz Stadium opened, an average of 1,476 cars have needed on-grass parking. The Venues NSW car park will provide the stadium with ample car parking capacity.

Sporting bodies will always push for more car parking. History tells us this. But governments need to govern and make decisions in the best interests of the community. I acknowledge the strong leadership from the former Minister, Rob Stokes, who recognised the importance of expansive, public green space, and changed the long-running trend of bowing to the sporting codes' every ask. I worked with the former Minister to legislate appropriate dates to remove cars from Moore Park. The dates were not what I and the community called for, but they were fair, giving Venues NSW time to work on behavioural change and explore alternatives, while assuring us that cars would not be there forever.

Unfortunately, for many of my constituents, the bill would replace the guaranteed legislated dates to remove on-grass parking with government discretion. The Minister would only have the power to remove parking from Lower Kippax after the stadium car park is built, or from the Showground Field after the Minister is satisfied that the provision of on-grass parking is no longer required to meet demand. Conditions to get parking off the Showground Field are exceptionally broad as the legislation currently stands.

While I oppose the bill as presented, and oppose the potential return of parking, I thank the Government and the Minister for their willingness to negotiate on a transparent process for the extension of any parking on Moore Park. I foreshadow that I will move amendments to the bill to put in thresholds that must be met before parking can be extended. The amendments would require the removal of car parking on Lower Kippax by 1 July 2026, although the Minister would be able to extend that date until the Venues NSW car park is built and operating. The date for the removal of car parking from the Showground Field would be 1 July 2028; however, the Minister would be able to extend that date until there is an appropriate plan to address the transport and parking needs of the stadium. For every year that such an extension was made, the Minister would need to report the reasons to the Parliament.

The changes represent a fair and reasonable compromise. The stadium and sporting codes assure me they want to be a good neighbour. However, excessive car use harms the local community, and that is what the community has expressed to them. The intense gridlock before and after events makes it impossible for residents to access their homes, and pollutes the neighbourhood. Car use is also expensive and adds to the cost of living for people who want to attend the stadium. Greater Sydney Parklands cannot deliver the Moore Park Master Plan, because investing in new sports fields, biodiversity and recreation opportunities for the community is pointless when cars continue to damage the grass every weekend.

There is a huge shortage of sporting fields in the eastern suburbs, and we need to use every parkland we have to its full potential. It is in everyone's best interests that we work together to ensure alternatives to parking. Some people will always need to drive, but we can accommodate them at the Venues NSW parking station, the Entertainment Quarter, the school and Randwick Racecourse. Again, I thank the Government for its willingness to listen to the concerns of my community, negotiate, and finally begin implementing a transport plan that provides cheaper, faster and more environmentally friendly transport options for people attending events at the stadium.

Other Members contribution to debate > HERE

Consideration in Detail (Amendments): By leave: I move my amendments Nos 1 and 2 on sheet c2023-086J as circulated together:

No. 1 Restrictions on parking in Moore Park East

Page 3, Schedule 1[1] and [2], lines 4–8. Omit all words on the lines. Insert instead—

  • Omit section 20AA(1)(b) and (c). Insert instead
    (b) carpark 2, Lower Kippax—from the later of the following—
         (i)1 July 2026,
         (ii)a date prescribed by regulation,
    (c) non-parking grass areas that are not referred to in paragraph (b)—from the later of the following—
         (i)1 July 2028,
         (ii) a date prescribed by regulation.

No. 2 Restrictions on parking in Moore Park East

Page 3, Schedule 1[3], lines 12–18. Omit all words on the lines. Insert instead—

  • (1) (b)(ii) or (c)(ii) only if—
    (a) for subsection (1)(b)(ii)—a new car park on Venues NSW's land adjacent to the Sydney Football Stadium is not built and open to the public and operational, and
    (b) for subsection (1)(c)(ii)—the Minister is satisfied there is no appropriate plan to address transport needs, including parking, in relation to events at the Sydney Cricket Ground and Sydney Football Stadium.
  • (1B) Also, if a regulation is made under subsection (1)(c)(ii), the Minister must—
    (a) within 1 month after the making of the regulation, give a report to the Presiding Officer of each House of Parliament about why the Minister recommended the making of the regulation, and
    (b) while the regulation remains in force, give a report to the Presiding Officer of each House of Parliament at least once in each 12-month period about why the Minister considers the regulation remains necessary.
  • (1C) A report provided to the Presiding Officer of a House of Parliament under subsection (1B) must be laid before that House within five sitting days of that House after it is received by the Presiding Officer.

Since I was elected I have been working to get cars off Moore Park. As I explained in my contribution to the second reading debate, that has been a struggle. The community has achieved a lot in this space. I thank groups like the residents action group Saving Moore Park for their work in this space. I raised concerns with the Government that the bill as drafted would not provide clear enough processes and time lines for the removal of car parking at Moore Park, which it has identified as a priority for the Government.

My amendments will reinstate dates for the removal of cars on Moore Park, with the date set for Lower Kippax as 1 July 2026 and for the showground field as 1 July 2028. The Minister will have the power to extend those dates by regulation. For Lower Kippax, the regulation power can be used until the Venues NSW car park is built and operating. For the Showground Field, the regulation power can be used until there is an appropriate plan to address the transport and parking needs of the stadium and sporting grounds. In the case of the Showground Field, the Minister will have to provide a report to Parliament each year that an extension is in force explaining why it is necessary.

While the amendments do not set in stone a date for the removal of parking, they provide the Government with strong indications of the time frame it should work towards and ensure accountability to the Parliament in working towards those dates. The changes will support the transport Minister's work to get an integrated transport plan for events as soon as possible. I thank the Government, the Minister for Planning and Public Spaces and the Minister for Sport for their cooperation and negotiation to get the amendments right. I hope we have now established a transparent and clear process towards a time frame to remove car parking on Moore Park. I hope that we do not have to deal with legislation to deal with parking on Moore Park again, but we will see. I commend the amendments to the House.

Let's work together to celebrate and protect our great city!