23 September 2020
[Second Reading Debate, 23 September 2020, Legislative Assembly, NSW Parliament]
The Sporting Venues Authorities Amendment (Venues NSW) Bill 2020 will ensure management of the State's large sporting venues will be coordinated and cease to compete against each other. The bill will dissolve the Sydney Cricket and Sports Ground Trust and reconstitute its members into an advisory body for the grounds, with Venues NSW to become the new governing body. In my electorate of Sydney, the Sydney Cricket and Sports Ground Trust has often worked at cross‑purposes with the local community. It has developed its land and destroyed trees without any engagement with neighbours and has staged a number of attempted land grabs of Moore Park. The trust continues to see Moore Park as its very own events car park, despite the introduction of light rail directly to the grounds, and prevents the region from thriving as a public recreation space. The new stadium under construction is a large and imposing built structure adjacent to the environmentally sensitive Kippax Lake.
For too long the trust's agenda has been given priority over community good because it has had unchecked powers and disproportionate access to influence. It will be critical to the success of the new governing regime that this power structure is not carried over and management is underpinned by a respect for adjacent communities. I strongly welcome the step towards transparency and accountability with the removal of exemptions from planning and local government laws on Sydney Cricket and Sports Ground's land. It is an outrage that the trust can build on its land with a tick of approval behind closed doors from the sports Minister and no requirement to submit a development application, environmental impact statement, heritage assessment or traffic report, or even to consult with the local community. The exemptions apply uniquely to these lands and do not apply to home owners, schools, universities, hospitals, aged care facilities or churches.
In 2016 I introduced a private member's bill to remove these exemptions and the former member for Bligh, Michael Yabsley, opposed them when they were first introduced in 1985. I am sure Mr Yabsley will be pleased to know that some 25 years later the exemptions have been rightly removed. The new oversight of development proposals on this land will be more likely to produce better planning outcomes. However, I am concerned that there will be a 12 month period before the exemptions are lifted. The Government confirms that this will allow time to establish a new State environmental planning policy while allowing urgent minor works, like marquees during matches, to proceed. There is a long history of adjacent residents finding out about development on the sporting grounds only when construction begins, and that includes large multistorey buildings.
During the Minister's reply to the second reading debate, I ask the Government to provide strong assurances that only very minor development, which will not impact on local amenity or the parklands, will proceed. I do not support new powers in the bill that enable the Minister to change the definition of "controlled" or "designated" land by order. These definitions identify where residential or tourist and visitor accommodation could be permitted and currently they can be changed only by Parliament. The proposed powers could potentially expand where the Sydney Cricket and Sports Ground Trust land tourist and visitor accommodation could be permitted. These purposes are completely inappropriate in that precinct. I understand that Labor will move an amendment to remove the Minister's powers to change controlled and designated land, thereby ensuring that any proposal to allow residential or tourist and visitor accommodation other than where the Act already permits is subject to the scrutiny of Parliament. I will support that amendment.
The most important challenge for Venues NSW in its new role managing the Sydney Cricket and Sports Ground Trust land is to work with the new parklands trust to remove event-related, on-grass parking. Moore Park provides rare public open recreation space to booming adjacent residential populations who live with little or no private open space but who are regularly eliminated from public use by car parking for patrons attending sporting matches. Even when matches are not taking place the parklands potential as a public recreation service is inhibited because the grass is damaged and landscaping is limited. An objective of the 2040 Moore Park Master Plan is to remove on-grass parking during events. Light rail is now operating, demand for public open space is increasing and events at the grounds will be at capacity for some time. The time is now to end this disgraceful practice. I will support the bill with the amendment as discussed. I look forward to establishing a productive relationship with Venues NSW over the stadium grounds, including advancing removal of on-grass parking at Moore Park.