I firstly acknowledge the Gadigal people of the Eora nation, the traditional custodians of this land, and I pay my respects to the Elders, both past and present.
Barangaroo is an important site. It’s on our harbour, adjacent to the city. It’s a unique opportunity for foreshore parks and walkways. It provides space to expand the CBD and provide new housing, shops and cultural venues. It is Sydney’s chance to lead the world in creating a sustainable, low carbon community.
But the site's potential is not reflected in the development process or any meaningful consultation.
I joined the Barangaroo Delivery Authority Board so that I could represent City communities and use the City of Sydney's expertise to get the best outcome for the project including integration with the existing Central Business District.
I resigned because of the secrecy shrouding the public contract, the lack of consultation and the failure to address expert and community concerns about the development. Increasingly the project was being railroaded and proper process was being ignored.
Basic financial information was hidden under commercial-in-confidence excuses, and the Premier refused my requests for a full contract exposure.
As an Independent, your right to know is important to me. It was my legislation that required the publication of all signed government contracts, following the Cross City Tunnel debacle, and the government failed to comply with the spirit of my legislation.
And the abuse of proper process continues.
Earlier this year, the Minister transferred control of Hickson Road to the BDA, removing Council oversight of the clean up of contamination on our land. This month, he changed the law to overturn the court challenge. And as the Government went into caretaker mode, he signed off on more Barangaroo development.
A project of this significance needs a considered and open process of planning and assessment.
Public consultation has been utterly ineffective. Meetings were held while the Minister was making regular changes to the approved concept plan with proposals released to the community quickly becoming out of date. When a final proposal was released for comment, no notice was taken of experts' advice on potential problems like overshadowing, wind tunnels, contamination, and inadequate transport.
The City of Sydney has taken a strong position on Barangaroo—on transport, urban design, sustainability, connection with the CBD, active waterfront, and site remediation.
We used the expertise of our planning staff to make detailed submissions every step of the way. We developed an alternative proposal that received strong community support and that would fix many of the problems with the site – particularly relocating the hotel from the water to the shore and making provision for the return of the cruise passenger terminal.
But, it was virtually ignored by the Planning Minister.
With the State election approaching I again call on all parties to commit to an urgent inquiry to get Barangaroo back on track—with transparency; accountability; public engagement; quality urban design and leading environmental standards.