The NSW Government’s Greater Sydney Parklands Draft Exposure Bill has been largely opposed throughout the state, with public parkland representatives fearing that the approval of the Bill may result in over-commercialisation and development across the National Parks and Nature Reserves of the city.
The State has been seeking community feedback on the Bill since the start of October, before being finalised and tabled in Parliament.
Alliance for Public Parklands spokesperson Suzette Meade urged Sydneysiders to voice their concerns about the Bill to the State Government.
“Parks are for the people, not privatisation and developer greed,” Ms Meade told City Hub.
“The proposed legislation will allow business parks and other developments on verdant park bushland, destroying the peace and quiet and natural habitat of parklands.”
In the State Government’s Greater Sydney Parklands ‘What we heard report’, prior community feedback about the suppression of local voices and potential over-commercialisation was identified.
In response, the State has said the legislation will “establish community trustee boards for parks to ensure the special qualities of individual parks are clearly understood”, while have also promised transparency in board operations, requiring the Greater Sydney Parklands Trust (GSPT) to “listen to advice provided by community trustee boards.”
Ms Meade believes that suitable expansion of parklands cannot go ahead without additional measures to protect the longevity of the land.
“The proposed legislation gives unbridled power to the agency to convert public spaces into private enterprises at the taxpayer’s expense,” Ms Meade said. “Safeguarding through Acts and Trusts, appropriately formulated, ensures parklands remain intact through successive governments and unspoilt for enduring public enjoyment.”
Parklands under immediate threat from the Bill include Centennial Parklands, Parramatta Park, Western Sydney Parklands, Callan Park and Fernhill Estate.
In the Callan Park Act, leases longer than 10 years must be shown to parliament and can be rejected if the lease is seen to be against the public interest. Under the proposed legislation, commercial development leases for up to 50 years may be awarded to parklands across Sydney.
“These provisions of the Callan Park Act should be extended to all Sydney’s major parks, not eliminated from the Callan Park Act as the government now proposes,” Friends of Callan Park President and APP spokesperson Hall Greenland told City Hub.
“Callan Park is a green oasis in a hectic, overdeveloped city and the community needs every square inch of it. There’s no room for the major commercial development that the government has in mind with this Bill.
“If major commercial tenants like reception centres and business parks are allowed on to the site – and this is what the Bill opens the door to – then we can kiss Callan Park goodbye as a place committed to mental health services and wellbeing.”
The Draft Exposure Bill will be open for feedback until the 29th of October.