(12 October, Parliament House Sydney)
Ms CLOVER MOORE: My question is directed to the Minister for Local Government. What action will the Government take in relation to the serious problem of backpackers turning Victoria Street, Potts Point into a car sales yard and camp site, which has serious impacts on this densely populated urban area?
Mr DONALD PAGE: I warn members that my answer will contrast markedly with those given by the two previous local government Ministers.
The SPEAKER: Order! I call the member for Toongabbie to order for the second time.
Mr DONALD PAGE: First, I thank the member for Sydney for her question and acknowledge her keen interest in local government matters as well as her interest in this particular issue. I am advised that the City of Sydney council has spent considerable funds and used significant resources to address the problem outlined by the member for Sydney. Although it seemed initially that councils have sufficient powers to act in the circumstances outlined by the member for Sydney, the processes involved make the task very challenging. I believe that clarification of councils' powers is required.
Last month I met with community representatives from Potts Point to hear about their frustrations over the number of tourists who are using residents' on-street parking spaces as basic camping grounds, living in parked vans until they can sell them, and using residents' bins and taps. Understandably local residents are upset because that prevents them from accessing local parking and makes it extremely difficult for delivery vans to park while they service local businesses. I spoke with the residents and business owners and witnessed firsthand the issues they are facing. The issue appears to be a unique problem. Potts Point has become known in the backpacker community throughout the world as a site for selling vans. There was once a local car park from which backpackers could sell their vehicles, but unfortunately that facility was removed three years ago.
Unlike the previous Government, this Government is listening to the local community. This Government supports giving the City of Sydney council power to erect signs prohibiting the roadside parking of vehicles for the purpose of sale. However, it is important to note that any action taken by our Government will not impact on everyday mum and dad car sellers, who happen to park their car in a street outside their home or elsewhere. This Government also supports tourism. That is why any action taken by our Government will take into account the needs of tourists while they are holidaying in New South Wales. This Government wants to strike the balance between solving the problems facing residents and encouraging and supporting our tourism industry. That is why any action the Government takes will complement the City of Sydney's decision to reinstate a section of a local car park as a designated park-and-sell point for backpacker vehicles. The provision of an alternative park-and-sell location is important to our Government. In this year's budget, the Government increased funding for tourism to $45 million to develop and promote tourism in Sydney and across the State.
It is interesting that previous Labor Ministers for Local Government failed to listen to the concerns of Sydney residents who have been crying out for action on this issue. It is clear to me that the residents are very distressed about this problem, which has become steadily worse in the three years since the car park formerly used to park and sell the campervans closed. This Government has listened to the residents of Sydney and the member for Sydney and supports moves that will assist them in their plight. The Government will also assist backpackers by providing a safe and appropriate selling location in a local car park as an alternative to parking in the street. I thank the member for Sydney for her question.