At 4am this morning the NSW Liberal Government snuck through legislation making it easier to sell our parks and public assets to developers. This underhanded behavior represents a new low for a Government hell bent on privatisation at all costs.
Ms JENNY LEONG ( Newtown ) ( 18:09 :20 ): At the outset of my contribution to debate on the Crown Land Management Bill 2016 on behalf of The Greens, I express concern that members of this House received the bill for debate after it was considered in the other place and passed in the dark of night.
Mr Jamie Parker: It was four o'clock in the morning.
Ms JENNY LEONG: Indeed. It was 4.00 a.m. This bill represents a threat to our public space and parkland. These actions are consistently being done in the middle of the night by the Baird Government. In recent light rail discussions it was pointed out that it was probably wise to carry out future tree removal in the middle of the night so that the community could not engage and observe what was happening. Residents have had to camp out 24 hours a day, seven days a week to ensure protection of the trees in their much‑loved Sydney Park. With the passing of this legislation, we will witness the removal of protections of Crown lands—again, in the middle of the night. The community is sick of the approach by the Baird Government that seeks to attack our public assets, our valuable public land, and, in this case, our Crown land, hand over large swathes of it to the control of councils, and subject it to the risk of being sold off to developers for profit, leased or overdeveloped, despite protestations of the community. Let me examine Crown land in the Newtown electorate.
TEMPORARY SPEAKER ( Ms Anna Watson ): Order! The member for Newtown will be heard in silence.
Ms JENNY LEONG: A number of parks and reserves are Crown land in the Newtown electorate: Hollis Park in Newtown; Prince Alfred Park in Surry Hills; Shannon Reserve in Surry Hills; and Victoria Park in Camperdown. Currently those parks are well looked after by the elected councillors and administration of the Council of the City of Sydney. But let us not forget that recently in the lead-up to the council elections the Baird Government introduced legislation to try to gain control of the Council of the City of Sydney by giving businesses two votes. We know that successive New South Wales governments of both political persuasions have attempted to grab control of the Council of the City of Sydney by amalgamations or through stealth by giving businesses two votes.
Clearly, in the 2016 local government elections that backfired and there was overwhelming support for the re-election of the Lord Mayor of Sydney, Clover Moore. But let us not think that the Baird Government will stop in its efforts to gain control over the Council of the City of Sydney. Let us imagine in the future Liberal control over the Council of the City of Sydney against the background of its track record in relation to Sydney Park. Currently we are seeing a well-prized and much-loved Sydney Park under threat from the WestConnex Motorway. We are seeing the Baird Government being willing to carve off metres of Sydney Park.
Mr John Sidoti: Metres?
Ms JENNY LEONG: It will carve off metres of Sydney Park. Metres are being taken from multiple sides of the park.
Mr John Sidoti: To get rid of congestion around your area.
Ms JENNY LEONG: That is being done to construct WestConnex and to get rid of Sydney Park. We have seen the Baird Government get rid of endangered areas of forest as a result of delivering motorways. Let us just imagine what will happen to the beloved Prince Alfred Park in many years time when the Liberals gain control of the Council of the City of Sydney and after Crown land in Prince Alfred Park has been handed over to the council's control. What happens then? Do we say, "Oh, maybe there is a bit too much congestion on Cleveland Street. Maybe we want to build some more roads just along that area." That will be when we start to look at the issue seriously.
Mr John Sidoti: More bikeways.
Ms JENNY LEONG: The member for Drummoyne laughs. The member mocks these suggestions, but we know that in the initial plans around WestConnex that Victoria Park in Camperdown was under threat from a potential portal or stack being put in Victoria Park as a result of WestConnex.
TEMPORARY SPEAKER ( Ms Anna Watson ): Order! The member for Drummoyne will come to order. The member for Newtown will be heard in silence.
Ms JENNY LEONG: As a result of the community's outrage that was stopped it. While we might say that the risks of this change to the inner-city areas and the people who live in the Newtown electorate is limited, The Greens know that the Baird Government will stop at nothing to try to gain control of the Council of the City of Sydney. We also know that there will then be a risk to all of the parks and all of the green space that we feel is currently so protected in the area and that must continue to be protected. It is clear that the community is concerned by what the Baird Liberal-Nationals Government is doing and its lack of respect for our public assets. The Government's lack of respect for our open space and green space is of serious concern. It is a matter that causes concern for communities not only across my electorate of Newtown but also across the entirety of the State. It is causing them to stand together and raise their voices, to express their concerns and say that it is not for this Government to sell off, hand over or overdevelop our precious green space.