Speech: New South Wales Government
Senator RHIANNON (New South Wales) (19:37): On another matter, the Liberal Premier, Michael Baird, is seen as the fresh face of the can-do leader of Australia's biggest state. But when you look behind the smiles and the spin, this regime is looking more and more like another Liberal government that is rarely talked about in Liberal circles. Usually parties are proud of their history, but there is one part of Liberal party history that has been airbrushed away. The Askin government was in power in New South Wales from 1965 till 1975. It is now associated with a deeply corrupt era in our state. Developers at that time ruled Sydney and many other developing areas. Residents had no effective say in the destruction of housing, heritage, and urban bushland. I am not saying that the current Premier is corrupt, but he is the head of a government that has again put New South Wales in the hands of developers, with communities sidelined from being a part of planning for the future-and that certainly has a corrupting influence on our society.
Parramatta is the latest region to suffer under the harsh Liberal-National government's approach to planning. Parramatta is a beautiful area. It has the wonderful Parramatta River and it has a rich heritage. The exceptional heritage site has been a gathering place for the Darug people for thousands of years. This has long gone, but there is certainly an area there that we need to respect in terms of that rich history.
Then there is the heritage site from the colonial beginnings in 1788. There would be few other sites in Australia that have 200 years of continuous institutional use. I am referring here to the female factory that was built in 1888. A number of the associated buildings have quite a troubling history but, as part of our history, they are beautiful heritage buildings.
However, Urban Growth New South has its hands on Parramatta. Initially there was a Parramatta North Urban Renewal project that promised to deliver a great new mix, incorporating a revitalised heritage. There would be housing, employment and wonderful opportunities for the arts culture that is very rich in this area. But Urban Growth News South Wales has other ideas and it is certainly proving to be bad news for the area. The plan for the site, as set out under Urban Growth New South Wales, promises to deliver a devastating outcome for the people, history, culture and environment of Parramatta. The problems will impact on traffic congestion, city planning, the arts, cultural development and public amenity. I have seen the plans for it. They are putting high-rise buildings-huge buildings-right in the centre of this rich heritage precinct. Cultural relics will clearly be destroyed. I do congratulate the North Parramatta Residents Action Group and many other organisations that are working hard to ensure that this damage does not occur. A number of residents have spoken about their concerns. I will share one with you. Russo, aged 80, has lived in Parramatta for more than half a century. He is a former councillor. He said:
It's a very developer friendly council ... It just seems the grander the building the louder the cheers from council. I'm not a greenie, I'm not anti-development, I just think there should be a balance.
That is what people are saying to me and to many of the other people who are trying to save the beautiful heritage, the links with the Aboriginal past in this area and the local environment. They say that they need to get the balance right and, right now, the destruction is rampant.