Ms CATE FAEHRMANN (18:20): I speak on the Western City and Aerotropolis Authority Bill 2018, which is a bill for an Act to constitute and confer functions on the Western City and Aerotropolis Authority. This bill establishes a new government agency that will perform a master planning role for the development of not only the precinct around the Western Sydney Airport, but also a potentially vast area of Western Sydney. The Minister for Western Sydney has described the Western Sydney Aerotropolis, which includes the new Western Sydney Airport, as being a global employment centre attracting international investment and delivering jobs, education opportunities and enhanced livability for all Western City residents.

The bill before us stems from a deal struck between the then Turnbull Government and the Berejiklian Government and eight Western Sydney councils on 4 March 2018. The eight councils were: Blue Mountains, Camden, Campbelltown, Fairfield, Hawkesbury, Liverpool, Penrith and Wollondilly. The agreement reached was the Western Sydney City Deal, which included: a North South Rail Link from St Marys to Badgerys Creek Aerotropolis via Western Sydney Airport; an Investment Attraction Office to attract investment to the Western Parkland City; a new planning regime for Western Sydney to cut development costs and boost housing supply; a $150 million Western Parkland City Liveability Program to deliver community facilities; new science, technology, engineering and mathematics focused education facilities to train skilled workers needed for the aerotropolis; a plan to embed smart digital technology in the Western City; and a world-class aerotropolis including Commonwealth-owned land at North Bringelly. This was according to the Minister’s media release of 4 March 2018. During his second reading speech the Minister noted:

Over the next 20 years, the eight council areas will grow by more than 500,000 residents to create a city with a population of more than 1.5 million people. This is bigger than the current size of Adelaide. But existing residents of the Western City do not have access to the jobs that they need. The Greater Sydney Region Plan shows that just 49 per cent of Western City residents live and work locally, compared to 91 per cent of the east of the city.

A research report released in June this year by Ian Watson, a visiting fellow at the Social Policy Research Centre and University of New South Wales, for the Jobs for Western Sydney Working Group found:

Contrary to the claims of a ‘jobs bonanza’, only 120 construction jobs and 800 airport jobs would be targeted to Western Sydney workers in the first stages of the Western Sydney airport construction. The overall jobs claims—such as 8,700 aviation jobs by 2031—are also vastly exaggerated and comparable airports, such as Adelaide, support only 1.600 aviation jobs. Proposals for an adjacent business park and also for an aerotropolis appear unrealistic. Close examination of these proposals and a real world comparison with a number of other business parks in Sydney, shows that the job estimates are inflated.

The Jobs for Western Sydney Working Group report also states that between 2006 and 2016 15,000 manufacturing jobs were lost in the west and large numbers of jobs were lost as a result of the savage cutbacks by the New South Wales Government in the public rail system. If this Government were serious about jobs it would not continue to cut public sector jobs—for example, ripping the guts out of our public TAFE system. Many other airports around the world that are surrounded by economically productive areas—in other words, the associated jobs that the Government keeps spruiking—are as a result of another competing airport closing. In Sydney we have governments obsessed with privatisation and selling off our public assets, including Sydney Airport years ago. Even if relocating Sydney Airport was a good idea, it is simply not feasible because of the 99-year lease enjoyed by Sydney Airport Corporation.

While there is no doubt that new infrastructure projects, including the Badgerys Creek airport, will provide more jobs in the area, it is right to continue to question the modelling for the Government’s jobs figures considering so much is resting on them. The Greens have been warning for many years that building the Western Sydney Airport will be a massive boon to developers at the expense of the livability of surrounding areas and general amenity for many Western Sydney residents. This airport will have no noise curfew—apparently what is good for the people of the inner west of Sydney and the eastern suburbs is not good for the people of Western Sydney. Residents of Western Sydney will be forced to cope with high levels of noise and increasing air pollution as well as increased traffic congestion. To top it off, the Government continues to spruik overinflated jobs figures to help sell this proposal to the community and, in particular, to pressure the people of Western Sydney and the local councils to support the airport.

This bill is another bonanza for the Government’s mates in development and infrastructure companies, but the Government’s record on managing contracts with these companies and getting value for money for the people of New South Wales is there for all to see. Anyone walking down George Street or Devonshire Street, or driving along the M4 or Anzac Parade or indeed all over Sydney—anywhere—can see construction sites that have outstayed their welcome and infrastructure projects that have blown out by hundreds of millions, sometimes billions, of dollars.

The Hon. Dr Peter Phelps: What about the South West Rail Link—ahead of time and under budget?

Ms CATE FAEHRMANN: Exactly, the south-east rail link is what we are talking about. Anzac Parade—

The Hon. Dr Peter Phelps: The South West.

Ms CATE FAEHRMANN: Of course, we are talking about WestConnex when we talk about billions of dollars.

The Hon. Dr Peter Phelps: The South West Rail Link—ahead of time and under budget.

Ms CATE FAEHRMANN: Here we have the same Minister responsible asking us to put our faith in a massive new planning authority that will be all about deals with the big end of town at the expense of genuine community involvement in planning decisions that affect them. The Greens will not be supporting this bill. We should remember that the Sydney Airport Corporation ultimately decided to exercise its right of refusal to take on the project of building Badgerys Creek airport because it was too risky. So the Government has taken it on and has made the decision to sell it soon after completion, in 2026. Given this Government’s record on completion dates for major infrastructure projects, this will probably blow out to beyond 2030.

The Hon. Shaoquett Moselmane: More like 2050.

The Hon. Dr Peter Phelps: Ahead of time and under budget.

Ms CATE FAEHRMANN: The Hon. Shaoquett Moselmane says 2050—possibly. It is not just the airport that will be privatised. The Government’s media release from 4 March 2018 for the Western Sydney City Deal states:

The Turnbull and Berejiklian Governments have jointly committed to the first stage of the North South Rail Link from St Marys to Badgerys Creek Aerotropolis via Western Sydney Airport. The Turnbull and Berejiklian Governments have a joint objective of having rail connected to the Western Sydney Airport in time for the opening of the airport. A market sounding process will testprivate sector interest in station developments and explore innovative financing solutions.

We have seen the outcome of Sydney Airport Corporation controlling public transport options to the airport so it can reap the financial benefits. That is probably an innovative financing solution as well—

The Hon. Dr Peter Phelps: Which Government did that?

Ms CATE FAEHRMANN: —never mind the congestion, never mind the cost. I acknowledge the interjection by the Hon. Dr Peter Phelps, because, yes, it was a Labor Government. But the Liberal Government is intent on following the former Labor Government down that path.

The Hon. Dr Peter Phelps: I don’t think so.

Ms CATE FAEHRMANN: We have the media release here talking about private sector interests in our station development. It is clear that the rail link will be privatised.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (The Hon. Shayne Mallard): Order! Members will cease conversing across the Chamber. Ms Cate Faehrmann will direct her comments through the Chair.

Ms CATE FAEHRMANN: I apologise, Mr Deputy President. We have seen contracts that exclude buses from providing direct airport links from the central business district to the airport. We have also seen exorbitant train fares that drive people to catch taxis or Ubers together to save money. We have probably all experienced the frustration of being stuck in traffic jams and about to miss our flight. The object of the Act is to encourage the economic growth and development of the Western Sydney Aerotropolis and the rest of the Western City, in particular:

At d) by promoting development that accords with best practice environmental and planning standards, is environmentally sustainable and applies innovative environmental building and public domain design. Western Sydney is set to absorb 60 per cent of the overall population growth in the Greater Sydney area over the next 18 years. That will account for more than one million people and most—70 per cent of them—will be added to existing suburbs. With the planned expansion of existing suburbs in Western Sydney, an additional 400, 000  homes will need to be constructed in the Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils [WSROC] area to accommodate this population boom.

One of the biggest environmental challenges to face Western Sydney residents is the severe lack of green space and the loss of the Cumberland Plain Woodland. Unfortunately, the Government’s growth obsession in Western Sydney is seeing the loss of this bushland at an alarming rate. The Cumberland Plains are home to vital natural ecosystems and agricultural industry, which is at serious threat from poorly planned expansions to existing suburbs. The peri-urban agricultural industry of the Cumberland Plains contributes $1.5 billion to the economy per annum, and is further threatened by decreasing air quality from private vehicles and additional land clearing. Commitments from earlier governments to preserve the Western Sydney green belt have been seriously compromised by the current New South Wales Government’s obsession with selling off more land to developers than is being acquired for reservation and conservation. I ask the Minister to respond in his reply whether there are any requirements in this bill or associated instruments that will require the authority to protect Cumberland Plain Woodland and other ecological communities as part of the growth and development of the Western Sydney Aerotropolis and the rest of the Western City.

The safety of residents and workers living and working near the airport is another area of concern that has been raised with me. Members will recall the plane crash just outside Essendon Airport last year where four American tourists and pilot Max Quartermain died. The plane crashed into a Direct Factory Outlet warehouse building in close proximity to the airport. It was incredibly lucky that no-one on the ground also died in this tragic accident. State and local authorities originally expressed concern at the proposal to build that shopping centre so close to the airport; however, their concerns were ignored. Now it seems that airports are being considered as business destinations in their own right, and commercial precincts with thousands of workers right next door to the airport and the runways are the goal. I hope the interests of developers and other commercial interests have not been given higher priority than the safety considerations of local workers and residents.

The bill states that the aerotropolis is intended to create active, vibrant and sustainable communities and locations that support, and benefit from, the development of the Western Sydney Airport. It should be remembered that not all Western Sydney residents support the building of the airport. Some people, for example, have welcomed the vision for a Western Sydney fresh food precinct, which was referred to in a KPMG report released in November last year in conjunction with the NSW Farmers Association. That report talked about the potential of a fresh food precinct in Western Sydney, potentially as part of the aerotropolis precinct, creating 12,000 jobs and a world- leading food hub—that would be well and truly worth supporting. However, I have spoken with members of the community who are extremely sceptical that they will ever experience any benefits from the Western Sydney Airport.

A few weeks ago I had a tour of the parameters of the Badgerys Creek airport site. Whilst there I heard from a representative of the Luddenham Progress Association that the small Luddenham community, which is the closest village to the proposed airport site, is still on a septic system. The village of Luddenham has been asking for connection to town water and sewerage for many years. Villagers are certainly hoping that all the excitement and promises linked to the Western Sydney Aerotropolis will mean the basics of sewerage and town water for them. I also heard that many in the Luddenham community feel they are being ignored. Some people feel they have not received a fair valuation for their land and there has been a lack of consultation with the community. I heard the story of family members who were told they needed to vacate by the end of October, yet they still do not have an agreed payout figure. What has been offered is a pittance to what they believe their land is worth. No doubt that is not an isolated story.

Considering Luddenham is the closest town to the aerotropolis I hope that the object of the legislation—namely, to encourage economic growth and development of the aerotropolis and the rest of the Western City—extends to the community on its doorstop. Finally, clause 8 of the bill establishes a board of the authority, which will consist of seven members appointed by the Minister. Three of the members are to be nominated for appointment by the relevant Commonwealth Minister and the appointment of the chairperson of the board will require the concurrence of the Commonwealth Minister. I foreshadow that I will be moving an amendment to ensure that the majority of people on the board reside in the Western City, but I will speak more to that amendment during the Committee stage.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (The Hon. Shayne Mallard): I will now leave the chair and cause the bells to be rung at 8.00 p.m.

The Hon. DAVID CLARKE (20:00): On behalf of the Hon. Don Harwin: In reply: I thank the Hon. Peter Primrose, the Hon. Paul Green and Ms Cate Faehrmann for their contributions in debate on the Western City and Aerotropolis Authority Bill 2018. The bill, which will establish the Western City and Aerotropolis Authority as a New South Wales Government agency, will deliver on the New South Wales Government’s commitment under the Western Sydney City Deal to establish an entity to become a master planner and master developer of the aerotropolis. The authority, under the direction of a skilled board with members nominated equally by the Minister for Western Sydney and the Commonwealth Minister, will have a sole focus on delivering benefits. The authority is more than the master planner for the aerotropolis. Its scope is expandable to other areas within the Western City where coordinated efforts between the Government and private sectors will bring detailed land use and infrastructure plans to life.

In relation to the Opposition’s proposed amendment, I note that the bill includes a clause allowing the authority to form private subsidiary corporations with the approval of the Minister. This gives the authority a similar power to existing entities established under the New South Wales legislation such as the Barangaroo Delivery Authority 2009 and the Western Sydney Parkland Authority 2006. To deliver the aerotropolis, the authority will broker agreements between landowners and investors seeking to cooperate in the aerotropolis and enter into agreements to master plan and coordinate key strategic sites. Those agreements can be made on a commercial basis. By providing the authority with flexibility to form a private subsidiary corporation, the authority can create a private legal entity—either wholly owned or in a partnership—that could compete on a level playing field with the private sector in negotiating with landowners. Even if a corporation is not contemplated to be used at this point, this flexibility is important, particularly within a highly commercial context such as land use development.

At this stage, without knowing what functions might be exercised by any future private subsidiary corporation the authority may seek to form or participate in, it is difficult to say what public sector governance arrangements would be appropriate to impose on the corporation. As the authority can form or participate in or dispose of interests in a private subsidiary corporation only with the Minister’s consent that will be the appropriate time to determine those arrangements. When that time comes, it may be concluded that it is not appropriate for a private subsidiary corporation operating commercially on the market with other corporations to be subject to the Government Information (Public Access) Act. Not only would that give it a competitive disadvantage but it also would create an administrative burden for a corporation to comply with the Act when there would be strong public interest considerations against disclosing most of its information on the basis of commercial in confidence, competitive neutrality, prejudice to business, and commercial or financial interests. Just think of the result when the corporation’s competitors make a Government Information (Public Access) Act application for commercially sensitive information.

It is notable that no other hypothetical subsidiary corporations are automatically brought within the regime of the Government Information (Public Access) Act. Any subsidiaries of State owned corporations such as the Barangaroo Delivery Authority, the various transport authorities under the Transport Administration Act, the NSW Food Authority, Property NSW and Western Sydney Parkland Trust are not automatically subject to the Government Information (Public Access) Act. Members should consider whether automatically subjecting a hypothetical private subsidiary corporation to the Government Information (Public Access) Act sets a precedent for the future with unknown consequences.

Members should also remember that a private subsidiary corporation can be subscribed to be a public authority for the purposes of the Government Information (Public Access) Act at any time. It can be so prescribed for the purposes of the whole Act or for specific provisions. The extent of the authority’s ownership in the private subsidiary corporation may also be relevant to any decision about the application of public sector governance laws. A private subsidiary corporation by definition is one in which the authority will have a controlling interest. However, different considerations may apply depending on whether the corporation is wholly owned by the authority or the authority has a simple majority.

In relation to The Greens proposed amendment, I point out that the authority needs to be governed by professionals with diverse backgrounds and the skill set to deliver the aerotropolis and support growth of the Western City. Local knowledge of the Western City is a critical skill that will be reflected in the governance of the authority. When nominating board members, New South Wales and the Commonwealth will have regard to a skill set developed in collaboration between the three levels of government. Appointing board members based on skill will guide nominees and indicate where a skill is lacking and further expertise is needed. The eight local councils in the Western City were consulted on the types of skills that will be required. A skill set was then considered by the Western Sydney City Deal Leadership Group, including mayors of the Western City. The three levels of government have agreed the board will need to hold a specific skill for local knowledge, requiring direct background or experience in Western Sydney. Local government expertise will also be required.

Other skills considered reflect the broad skill set needed to master plan and deliver the aerotropolis. They include master planning and place-making, aerospace and aviation, economic development, industry attraction, environment and sustainability, and finance and commercial experience. The Government will undertake a search for suitable board members, including potential nominees residing in the Western City. Through this approach, the Government will ensure that the board has local knowledge and experience of the Western City. In relation to the question raised by Ms Cate Faehrmann about requirements placed on this authority to protect environmental assets, I can advise her that the authority will operate in the existing regulatory setting of strategic land use, planning and development and asset assessment laws including biodiversity laws which incorporate objects and requirements relating to environmental sustainability and consideration of Aboriginal cultural heritage. Neither the bill nor the authority will derogate from this framework in any way. This is a great bill. I commend it to the House.

The ASSISTANT PRESIDENT (Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile): The question is that this bill be now read a second time.

Motion agreed to.

In Committee

The CHAIR (The Hon. Trevor Khan): There being no objection, the Committee will deal with the bill as a whole. I have two sets of amendments: The Greens amendment on sheet C2018-120 and the Opposition amendment on sheet C2018-121. As The Greens amendment occurs earlier in the bill, I call on Ms Cate Faehrmann to move her amendment.

Ms CATE FAEHRMANN (20:10): I move The Greens amendment No. 1 on sheet C2018-120:

No. 1Members of Board

Page 4, clause 8. Insert after line 19:

(3)The Minister is to ensure that the majority of the persons appointed as members of the Board are persons who reside in the Western City.

I hope that this amendment will win the support of the Committee. The amendment is to clause 8 of the bill, which establishes a board of the authority. The current clause provides for seven members appointed by the Minister, three members nominated by the Minister under the Act and three by the Commonwealth Minister. The seventh person is appointed chair of the board. The Greens amendment simply seeks to ensure that a majority of people on the board reside in Western City. Western City means the local government areas of the Blue Mountains, Camden, Campbelltown, Fairfield, Hawkesbury, Liverpool, Penrith and Wollondilly.

Our planning decisions are increasingly being made by government appointees, not by the community. The genuine concern is that the interests of developers will dominate when the Minister appoints people to the board. This Chamber should ensure that the board is making decisions in the best interests of the people of Western Sydney and that will send good signal that the Government is serious about creating jobs in Western Sydney for the residents of Western Sydney. This amendment will demonstrate that the Government is prepared to walk the talk, by ensuring that at least four people on the Western City and Aerotropolis Authority board reside in the Western City.

I note that the Hon. David Clarke said that the board needs to be run by professionals. Surely a majority of at least four professionals who live in any of the eight local government areas comprise Western City could be on the board. In fact, there is no guarantee that anyone nominated by the Minister or the Commonwealth Minister will reside in Western City. Given its importance to residents and because the Minister spoke about how much he wanted to attract jobs to Western Sydney for people living in Western Sydney, surely we can start by ensuring that the majority of the board, which is at least four people, reside in the Western City precinct.

The Hon. DAVID CLARKE (20:13): For reasons given in my reply to the second reading debate, the Government opposes The Greens amendment No. 1.

The CHAIR (The Hon. Trevor Khan): Ms Cate Faehrmann has moved The Greens amendment No. 1 on sheet C2018-120. The question is that the amendment be agreed to.

Amendment negatived.

The Hon. PETER PRIMROSE (20:13): I move Opposition amendment No. 1 on sheet C2018-121.

No. 1Private subsidiary corporations subject to GIPA Act

Page 7, clause 18. Insert after line 42:

(4)However, a private subsidiary corporation is taken to be a public authority for the purposes of the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009.

I outlined in my contribution to the second reading debate why this amendment should be relatively uncontroversial. The Opposition supported the legislation. It has made clear that it supports Badgerys Creek airport and it supports what is happening in relation to jobs et cetera in the community. Given the magnitude of what is being proposed in the bill, the Opposition’s concern is that the private subsidiary corporation that is proposed in the legislation needs to be transparent. The decisions should be transparent and we all know where it leads to if they are not. We need to have the disinfectant of light shone on it otherwise people will think the worst. That is why the Opposition proposes that the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 should be applicable so people can see what is happening and know that what is happening is not behind closed doors.

The Hon. DAVID CLARKE (20:14): For reasons given in my in reply to the second reading debate, the Government does not support the Opposition’s amendment.

The CHAIR (The Hon. Trevor Khan): The Hon. Peter Primrose has moved Opposition No. 1 on sheet C2018-121. The question is that the amendment be agreed to.

The Committee divided.

Ayes14

Noes17

Majority3

AYES

Buckingham, Mr J

Donnelly, Mr G (teller)

Faehrmann, Ms C

Field, Mr J

Graham, Mr J

Mookhey, Mr D

Moselmane, Mr S (teller)

Primrose, Mr P

Searle, Mr A

Sharpe, Ms P

Shoebridge, Mr D

Veitch, Mr M

Voltz, Ms L

Walker, Ms D

 

NOES

Ajaka, Mr

Amato, Mr L

Clarke, Mr D

Colless, Mr R

Cusack, Ms C

Fang, Mr W (teller)

Farlow, Mr S

MacDonald, Mr S

Maclaren-Jones, Mrs (teller)

Mallard, Mr S

Martin, Mr T

Mason-Cox, Mr M

Mitchell, Mrs

Nile, Revd Mr

Phelps, Dr P

Taylor, Mrs

Ward, Mrs N

 

PAIRS

Houssos, Mrs C

Blair, Mr

Secord, Mr W

Franklin, Mr B

Wong, Mr E

Harwin, Mr D

Amendment negatived.

The CHAIR (The Hon. Trevor Khan): The question is that the bill as read be agreed to.

Motion agreed to.

The Hon. DAVID CLARKE: I move:

That the Chair do now leave the chair and report the bill to the House without amendment.

Adoption of Report

The Hon. DAVID CLARKE: On behalf of the Hon. Don Harwin: I move:

That the report be adopted.

Motion agreed to.

Third Reading

The Hon. DAVID CLARKE: On behalf of the Hon. Don Harwin: I move:

That this bill be now read a third time.

Motion agreed to.