Topic: nsw govt
[Friday 9th October 2009, crikey ezine]
Politics, The Universe, Etc
Canberra correspondent Bernard Keane writes:
Frank Sartor has called for the complete depoliticisation of all planning decisions right up to the Commonwealth level and urged a new approach to COAG that would enable the States to better handle the political risks of reform.
The controversial former NSW Minister has confirmed his reputation as one of the few substantial thinkers in NSW Labor in a wide-ranging discussion with Crikey.
Sartor, a veteran of Sydney’s planning wars from his time as Sydney Lord Mayor and later as Morris Iemma’s Planning Minister, has urged that NSW’s crippled planning system be overhauled with a new approach that entirely removes politicians at all levels from planning decisions. He also believes the Commonwealth should adopt the same approach. “Peter Garrett shouldn’t be making major planning decisions as Environment Minister,” Sartor believes.
Instead, he has proposed a system partially adopted by the NSW Government during his time as Planning Minister, of giving independent panels full responsibility for planning decisions at local, state and even Commonwealth level.
However, Sartor was critical his successor as Planning Minister, Kristina Keneally, for the process of appointments to panels. Keneally is currently mired in a dispute with eight NSW local councils who are refusing to appoint representatives to regional planning panels because of concerns council-appointed representatives will be outvoted by State-appointed representatives. Sartor believes local councils alone should appoint members, albeit from a State Government-developed list of accredited experts.
In Sartor’s view, politicians at all levels are ill-equipped to make planning decisions, and are inevitably accused of corruption by aggrieved parties regardless of checks and balances. Sartor’s concerns extend beyond the normal claims of developers influencing Labor politicians via donations. “Local councillors go along to meetings about developments and get screamed at by residents and put on the spot to oppose them. I’d be pushing my kid around the supermarket and have people come up to me and tell me things had to be blocked. Developers would bail me up at functions. Politicians are lobbied everywhere. Just get the politicians out of the process.”
Trouble is you can't "Read the full story on our website" even if you are a subscriber because what you get is the "embarrassing" graphic above:
So what did we write that sort of crueled big Frank posturing via feisty Crikey?
Well we will try and rewrite it from memory now given the censorship:
Oh dear where to start to get some balance in this story:
1. Sartor (FS) was under the shadow of Clover Moore community independent at Sydney CC and then also as MP for the seat of inner city Bligh. He was getting frustrated by that.
2. Eventually Sartor got to be Mayor of Sydney, and his big challenge was various holes in the ground like World Square. People were grateful when he got those built on and back into usage.
3. But even so FS was still being sledged as independent mayor by such as Olympic Minister Michael Knight who didn't even organise a ticket to Olympic social events in 2000 leaving FS famously peeved.
4. But FS was learning how to play with the big boys all the same. He was meeting luminaries like Harry Triguboff, aka Mr Meriton, about how to fill those city holes. And they also got to like him too. A mutual love in of development you might say. Sartor is known to have met this developer as reported in the Sydney Morning Herald quoting Big Harry direct.
5. But where to next for FS? He decided to jump out of community politics to a state ALP Govt seat - Rockdale, a right wing den for the ALP in the gift of Premier Bob Carr. (Knight had bailed from NSW Govt too so no friction there.)
6. In the political values makeover from Indy to ALP, Frank also chucked his first marriage along the way (soon to remarry), and now he was planning minister. He lay down on the proverbial tracks for the ALP seeking to pump prime the economy with fast track development, including repeal of swathes of the iconic Environmental Planning & Assessment Act 1979 with an infamous section called Part 3A. This is the time honoured price of promotion in the money politics of NSW: Sell your honour for career advantage.
7. In 2005 a Planning Commission of Inquiry (Kevin Cleland) decided effectively to reject the ALP Right maximalist expansion of Port Botany. In turn intended to drive [!] a $5 billion truck tunnel to a new M5 East tollway expansion through inner west sydney. Trouble for ALP is that tunnel needs cancer causing smog stacks in marginal seats like Marrickville.
8. Sartor's assistant Dept of Planning director Haddad refused an Freedom of Information request for 5 weeks prior to a sensitive byelection in Marrickville, releasing it only 3 weeks later rejecting BEST EXPERT PLANNING ADVICE of the Inquiry. Rather Sartor decided to promote the maximalist expansion of Port Botany. Haddad is thus implicated in a political FoI refusal to avoid lost votes for the government party in the byelection, a seat now held by the current deputy premier Tebbutt.
9. So for Sartor to go around in Sept October 2009 saying politicians shouldn't be involved in direct liaison with developers is weird. It's contrary to his own political career as Mayor of Sydney. He has also said recently govt planning staff shouldn't be meeting developer/lobbyists so much which appears grossly hypocritical given his/his govt previous bias over Port Botany CoI report.
10. Sartor may well want to redeem himself today only any expertise or wisdom he has to offer is of no credibility coming from him. If he wants to redeem himself he should first quit parliament.
And now since the Crikey take down of their webpage as above - including my comment similar to above - we see Sartor in even more trouble with this front page blowtorch, following a warning editorial late last week suggesting all bets are off regarding the stink around NSW planning decisions (second half here).
Well the Crikey graphic above might say 'sorry we took you to the wrong place' regarding Frank 'honest broker' Sartor. Indeed they did, and their take down was probably the best they could do in the nick of time, given the story had gone out in the ezine already and was in their main webpage index.
I wonder did someone threaten them legally to do it?