City Gets Another Traffic Committee

City of Sydney Amendment (Central Sydney Traffic and Transport Committee) Bill 2012 - Debate, click HERE to read in full.

Read Clover's contrinubtion to the debate below.

(3.22pm 14 June 2012, Parliament House Sydney)

The City of Sydney Amendment (Central Sydney Traffic and Transport Committee) Bill 2012 sets up a joint State and city committee that will make decisions about traffic and transport in the city's central business district. I heard about the proposal after a late night phone call from a journalist and I expressed support for the committee because I believe that partnerships between the city and the State are essential for the future of Australia's most important city. At the time of his media announcement, the Premier said that the new committee would be:

"Modelled on the successful Central Sydney Planning Committee for major developments in the City."

The Urban Taskforce congratulated him on his announcement, saying:

"The Central Sydney Planning Committee has been a successful model for combining State and local interests and it can be replicated in other areas."

However, the bill in its original form was not modelled on the Central Sydney Planning Committee because meetings would not be public and I welcome the Government's amendment to make them open to the public. When he made his announcement, the Premier promised greater integration and coordination between the city and the State. However, all city transport projects already require support from the State Government's Traffic Committee and the Roads and Maritime Services, which must approve various stages of development of a project. While these approvals will still be required this legislation will require additional approval from the proposed Transport Committee, thus creating a new layer of bureaucracy that could further delay a project indefinitely. The cooperation between the city and the Roads and Maritime Services during project development will provide no guarantee to the city because the bill explicitly states that the committee can override any approval provided by the Roads and Maritime Services to the city. This does nothing to promote State and city cooperation or to achieve outcomes on transport projects and traffic initiatives. In his second reading speech, the Premier said:

"The committee will also oversee the many councillor State-run committees and working groups that are currently working on specific transport issues or precincts within the Sydney central business district."

I move amendment No. 1:
No. 1 Page 9, Schedule 1 [6], proposed section 51K (1). Insert at the end of line 20:
, or
(g) in the nature of routine operational maintenance of infrastructure, including, but not limited to, maintenance of roads and road related areas, and the installation or maintenance of water or utility pipes, bus shelters, seating, lighting or street furniture.
The City of Sydney Amendment (Central Sydney Traffic and Transport Committee) Bill 2012 in its current form does not allow for routine maintenance work that is necessary to manage the city effectively and efficiently without the approval of the Central Sydney Traffic and Transport Committee. My amendment excludes such minor routine maintenance work, ensuring it can proceed without delay and without unnecessary red tape. The exclusion in my amendment will not apply to construction work such as the construction of separated cycleways. I commend the amendment to the House.

In response to the Government amendment, I point out that the Central Sydney Planning Committee is a successful public model and a positive partnership. It works well because it operates openly, transparently and with accountability. Meetings are open to the public and the Central Sydney Planning Committee can hold public hearings. Minutes are published and the conduct of the meetings and of members is governed by law. Public accountability is essential to good governance and it is in the public interest. Important decisions about the future of traffic and transport in the central business district should not be made behind closed doors. I welcome this amendment and the move to make meetings open to the public. I note that under this amendment the Central Sydney Traffic and Transport Committee will be able to exclude the public for any reason, which is not possible for the Central Sydney Planning Committee. The committee should establish a transparent code to indicate when the public can be excluded. The criteria in the Local Government Act apply commercial in confidence provisions in addition to a public interest test. I support the amendment.