Sydney Electorate Achievements
(Private Members Statement, 20 November 2014, Legislative Assembly, NSW Parliament)
I became the member for Sydney at the October 2012 by-election and today I speak about my work to progress a number of inner-city issues. There have been a number of important wins for my electorate and the wider community.
My bill to remove private school exemptions from anti-discrimination laws lead to the Board of Studies, Teaching and Educational Standards NSW introducing a process to investigate complaints and deregister schools that are not safe and inclusive for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex [LGBTI] students. Mardi Gras policing improved after I worked with LGBTI advocates, the Ombudsman, police, the former police Minister and the member for Coogee to address the heavy-handed approach taken in 2013.
Thanks to my recent bill, same-sex couples who marry overseas will be able to register their relationships in New South Wales. I have been inspired by the dedication to equality of members across the political spectrum, especially my colleagues in the Cross Party Marriage Equality Working Group, whom I worked with on a constitutionally sound same-sex marriage bill. I have worked with members on other reforms, including removing trans* forced divorce provisions and historic criminal records for committing consensual homosexual sex acts.
More families are living in the inner city but the Sydney electorate has no high school and primary schools are filling up. The Minister for Education set up the Inner City Schools Working Party in response to my first question in Parliament. A new primary school is planned for Pyrmont Ultimo and high school options are being considered. I received support in this House for motions to support community legal centres, asylum seekers, judicial independence, the Government's central business district transport blueprint and equality, and motions to recognise South Sea Islanders and oppose reparative therapy, or ex-gay therapy. I supported strong community campaigns that resulted in the Government initiating a tender process for the Elizabeth Bay marina and referring the Paddington Bowling Club lease transfer to the Independent Commission Against Corruption.
I worked with environment groups to pressure the Government to withdraw plans to allow recreational hunting in national parks. A limited trial of hunting is now permitted under the control of the National Parks and Wildlife Service. Funding was restored to inner city refuges following a strong community campaign. We argued that people escaping violence or trauma come to the city for anonymity, where they need services so they do not end up on the street. In response to my question the Minister committed the Marine Estate Management Authority to explore Sydney Harbour conservation. A Sydney marine park has widespread support, including from members in this House.
Not all of my campaigns have been successful, but I have been honoured to work with local communities to fight against unfair and damaging policies. All social housing in Millers Point, Dawes Point and The Rocks, including basic properties without views or maintenance problems, are being sold. I will push to have the proceeds reinvested into new housing, and for affordable housing on-site and in new inner-city developments. Meanwhile next door, the Government bent over backwards to accommodate James Packer's second Sydney casino, changing rules for unsolicited proposals, rushing in legislation and excluding community involvement, social impact considerations and competition. Given its bipartisan support, my role in exposing the process highlights the important role of independents.
This Government's obsession with manipulating City of Sydney democracy must end. Inner-city residents lost their elected State representative, had their votes halved and could lose options around how they vote in local government elections. I will oppose any council amalgamation proposals that do not have community and council support. I pushed for action on climate change. While I welcome the Government's Renewable Energy Action Plan, we need targets for local generation and greenhouse gas reduction. I called for container deposit levy legislation. Climate change puts at risk our way of life. I hope the next Parliament takes bold action to green the economy.
Industries of the past, such as racing and mining, get too much Government attention over growth industries. I called for a select committee on the digital economy, and pushed the Government to ensure coding and programming is taught in schools. Importantly, I continued Clover Moore's role as a voice for animal welfare, opposing factory farming, supporting humane management of introduced species and calling for better treatment of companion animals. My question in Parliament led to pet friendly default strata bylaws. I hope the next Parliament will support more humane laws.
Opportunities to expand recreation space are diminishing while growing population densities make public open space vital. I called for government funding of inner-city parklands and opposed alienations such as the Anzac Parade bridge, the proposed Domain sound shell and Mrs Macquarie's Chair viewing platform. Strata reform is a major focus of my work and it is needed urgently to ensure apartment living remains an attractive choice. Owners lose large sums from defects, and amenity and costs are impacted by overcrowding and short-term letting. These issues must be addressed next year.
Although I had the liquor freeze extended on Oxford Street, I remain concerned that the lockout laws are killing inner-city night life. Young people continue to report that live music and entertainment scenes are moving to the inner west. Parliament must achieve a balance that provides Sydney with a safe and vibrant nightlife. My achievements for Sydney would not have been possible without the support of my staff Tammie Nardone, Roy Bishop and Leanne Abbott as well as my many volunteers, interns, friends, family and especially my husband, Victor.