Moves to overhaul the NSW planning system have hit a wall, with Labor refusing to back one of the key reforms and the government describing amendments as a “bastardisation” of its vision.
After more than two-and-a-half years of community consultation, it took just two marathon days of debate in the upper house for MPs to strip the government’s proposed legislation of some of its key elements.
In an impassioned address on Thursday, Planning Minister Brad Hazzard told parliament the government would not accept Labor’s “bastardisation” of its laws.
Accusing Labor of coming down on the side of a “small, noisy minority”, he said the opposition had “made sure that the housing opportunity and growth for the economy is going to be damaged beyond repair”.
The government would consider each of the upper house amendments to the bill and come back after the Christmas break with plans on how to deal with the changes, Mr Hazzard said.
Among the major amendments was the removal of a provision that stated economic benefits should be the principal consideration when assessing mining developments.
Labor, the Greens and the Shooters and Fishers Party also voted against code assessable developments.
Under this system, if a development complied with a code agreed to upfront by the community, it would be fast-tracked with little to no consultation.
“For the first time entire precincts could have been planned upfront … it was looking at the big picture, something Labor is just not capable of doing,” Mr Hazzard said.
But Labor MP Luke Foley said the opposition wasn’t the only one to object to the bill’s “worst excesses”, saying the Shooters and Fishers and the Christian Democrats had all united to change the laws.
Describing Mr Hazzard as a champion for “suburban nimbyism” in opposition but a Donald Trump in government, Mr Foley said Labor would never budge on code assessment as it did nothing to hand back planning powers to the community.
He said Mr Hazzard was “temperamentally unsuited to negotiating with opposition and minor parties to secure a legislative majority”.
Property Council of Australia’s NSW executive director Glenn Byres said the bill had been “compromised beyond redemption”, with the destruction of the code assessable developments one of the main concerns.
Greens MP David Shoebridge said people should be watching to see what deals the government brokers in order to break the stalemate.
“Anyone who follows NSW politics would be deeply concerned that this government … might be willing to trade off unrelated matters, whether it is shooting in national parks … in order to get an amended planning bill through the NSW upper house,” he told reporters.