(4.29pm 13 October 2011, Parliament House Sydney)
... in reply:
I thank all members who have spoken on this bill. I commend the Minister for his support for the bill, for the Government's support for the bill and I commend the Opposition for its support. It is quite fantastic that we can have a bipartisan approach to a very important problem in the heart of our city. We are talking about Victoria Street. It is an inner city urban street. It is a very beautiful street, a tree-lined avenue. It is very densely populated. It has a business focus and a tourist focus and it is simply inappropriate it be used in the way it has been usedâ€”that is, as a vehicle sales yard and a backpackers' campsite with all the associated activities that have gone with that. It has caused enormous issues for the business and residential communities of that area. Up to 35 campervans can be parked there in the summer period with all the associated activity going on on the footpath. Not only has that had major impacts on limited parking but it has had major impacts on people's amenity and standard of living. The problem also has flowed down to Brougham Street in Woolloomooloo so we are looking at a very specific but important problem for the Potts Point, Kings Cross, Woolloomooloo area.
Council has tried to address the problem. It has had two full-time rangers patrolling both streets, spending in excess of 80 hours a week checking every parked vehicle to see if there was some way of being able to issue an infringement notice on them and they have conducted joint patrols with Kings Cross police. What the backpackers have been doing is not been illegal; it has been causing very serious problems because it has been inappropriate. This bill will give council the power to take necessary action. In concert with that, council has resolved its support of my mayoral minute to set up a backpacker vehicle market in a nearby Kings Cross car park. That will provide a safe and legal place for backpackers to sell their vehicles. It will be free of charge for the first three months to encourage our young overseas tourists who want to sell their campervans after their holidays are over, to use it. After the three months' period the fee will gradually increase from $30 to $60 a week to partially offset the cost of running the car market. Not only will these overseas backpackers be provided with secure parking and marketing services to sell their vehicles, they will also have access to advice on transfer of vehicle registration, travellers insurance, vehicle maintenance and access to car wash services. It will give them an alternative place to carry out this activity.
Under the bill the council will have the power to put up signs to ban the sale of vehicles on roads such as Victoria and Brougham streets. It will have the power to move the campervans on with the threat of infringement or tow them away to a designated tow-away zone and this will encourage the backpackers to use the car market. This bill is a huge win for the Kings Cross-Potts Point community. In addition to removing the campervans and camping from Victoria Street, the city is also proposing to allocate $1.4 million to beautify the street with new landscaping. That will be presented to residents for discussion next Monday night. We can look forward to a new life for this wonderful street in the most densely populated part of Australia and the backpackers will be able to look forward to a safe and well-supervised car market.
The success of the bill is the result of the hard work of the local community. They have lobbied hard for change because the situation had really become so terrible for them. They have sent emails, written letters, made phone calls and posted on Facebook and Twitter. I congratulate them for the hard work they have done and I thank them. I thank the Minister, the Government and the Opposition for listening to those concerns and supporting this action to make this enormous difference.
I support the Government's amendment to have this bill relate to the City of Sydney area. I acknowledge that if other councils have similar problems they will be able to approach the Minister and their local council area and it can be introduced by a regulation. I do not oppose the amendment given notice of by the Opposition about consultation. I probably have the longest record of consulting with the community of anyone in this Chamber. I do not believe it is necessary, butâ€”belt and bracesâ€”I do not oppose that either. Matters such as this would go before a traffic committee. We do not call it a traffic committeeâ€”we call it a PCTCâ€”which stands for Pedestrian Cycling and Traffic Calming Committee. We invite the community in to address it and local members sit on that committee. If there is an issue for those local residents the local member has the opportunity to tell them about it. It is not necessary but I certainly will not oppose it. Having had discussions with the Government about the exemption amendment, I am concerned it might undermine the very basis of the bill by providing a loophole. I know when we get to consider the bill in detail the Minister will talk about that. I think that will ring real alarm bells for the Potts Point community when they were just about to have a real victory. I express that concern, but I again thank everyone for their support and I commend the bill to the House.
View other Members' comments on the Bill HERE.
View speech to introduce the Bill HERE.