Question to the Planning Minister: Commit to 60 Day Feedback Period for Westconnex EIS

Today I asked whether the Planning Minister will give a commitment that the exhibition periods for all future environmental impact statements related to WestConnex will be not less than 60 days?


Ms JENNY LEONG: My question is directed to the Minister for Planning. Given the complexity and scale of the WestConnex project and the high level of public interest in it, will the Minister give a commitment that the exhibition periods for all future environmental impact statements related to WestConnex will be not less than 60 days?

Mr ROB STOKES: Hello again everyone. I thank the member for Newtown for her question and for her advocacy on behalf of her community. I appreciate that there is a lot of interest in this project in the Newtown community, as there is right across Sydney. Certainly there are many projects that the Baird-Grant Government is getting on with across Sydney and the regions—including WestConnex, Sydney Metro, Sydney light rail, Parramatta light rail and the Gosford Hospital upgrade. All those projects will involve some measure of disruption and dislocation, and it is important that the community can have its say in relation to them.

The current framework in relation to this project is set out under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act section 89F (1) (a). Regulation 83 of the Environment Planning and Assessment Regulation states clearly that the standard exhibition period for an environmental impact statement for a matter of State significant development or infrastructure or a designated development is 30 days. Given the complexity of these issues, I think what the member for Newtown has raised is worthy of further consideration—once, of course, the environmental impact statements are completed. It is a little difficult to say how long things can go on exhibition for before I have reflected upon the completed environmental impact statements.

However, what I can say in the meantime is that the original Secretary's environmental assessment requirements required the WestConnex Delivery Authority to engage in public consultation. That is why there is a public kiosk at Westfield Burwood, for example. Constituents of the member for Newtown and anyone else in Sydney can go and have a chat to the people there between the hours of 10.00 a.m. and 6.00 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. I encourage people to get involved and to have their say. In the meantime, when I receive the environmental impact statements I certainly will consider whether there should be an extension of the statutory standard period for the exhibition of these sorts of documents.

There is plenty of development going on across Sydney and we want to hear what people have to say—whether they are government projects or private projects. We know there is huge growth pressure on Sydney. The Baird-Grant Government has planned around $60 billion worth of infrastructure projects over the next four years. They will involve a level of dislocation but they are about transforming this city into tomorrow's Sydney and providing opportunities for people across the State by making Sydney and New South Wales more liveable and less congested. I conclude with the immortal words of the Village People: "Together we will make the plans." Together we will make a stand. We are going to make Sydney better and we are going to do it together.


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