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Save Our Sydney Suburbs (NSW) Inc.
News Release October 2003

Getting the Message

Hi SOS Members

The pollies are getting the message to an extent unimaginable at the time when the Save Our Suburbs political party was born. We formed the party because the powers that be were taking absolutely no notice of what we were saying - despite letters, meetings, personal contacts, petitions and demonstrations. Rampant overdevelopment in our suburbs continued unabated with no alternative policies in sight.

There are only two general ways to stop the overdevelopment forced onto us by PlanningNSW. Either:

There are no other options. Just think about it.

Residents who are merely content to complain about a development nearby that affects them personally and not try to get policies changed are not doing anything to fix the basic problem. Save Our Suburbs objective is to rectify the underlying cause for the benefit of our children.

WHAT EVIDENCE IS THERE THAT THE POLITICIANS ARE CHANGING THEIR POLICIES?

After the March 2003 State election the Minister of Planning and the Director-General of PlanningNSW were replaced. The long-gestated PlanFirst legislative pitch by PlanningNSW never made it to Parliament. This legislation proposed Minister appointed Regional Committees overriding democratic Councils.

Now we hear of further initiatives:

New Development on Outskirts
On Saturday the Sydney Morning Herald (4 October 2003) reported that the Carr Government is to create a new development in Rouse Hill to provide a hub for 200,000 people. This is a reversal from the previous policy of forcing newcomers into existing suburbs and comes on top of the previous Bringelly development announcement. While these new areas do not accord to SOS policy of balanced State development and the creation of satellite cities (see below) the initiative is preferable to the overdevelopment that PlanningNSW currently is forcing onto our suburbs.

Regional Development
Much more encouraging is the announcement by Simon Crean, Federal opposition leader, that a proposal is being developed to divert migrants from "overburdened" Sydney into the regions. The proposal sets a target of 45% of new migrants to settle in the regions within 3 years. This will be accomplished by extra points being allocated to immigration applicants who are willing to settle in the regions. If successful they would be given a temporary visa.

THESE SIGNS OF FUNDAMENTAL POLICY CHANGE ARE MOST ENCOURAGING.
The changes may be too late to prevent overdevelopment occurring right now or in the immediate future but they are very promising for the longer term.

WHAT ARE SOS POLICIES?

The SOS Party policies for the March 2003 State election included:

Rather than retrofitting increased densities onto existing communities, SOS proposes the development of new satellite cities adjacent to existing cities. These satellite cities should incorporate desirable features such as green belts, sustainable buildings, underground cabling, drought-resistant plants and water reuse downstream. They should be of optimal size (with about 200,000 residents each). They should have street layouts designed to maximise access by walking, cycling and public transport. They should be linked up by very fast transport and communication facilities.
Central to all planning should be the goal of eliminating unnecessary travel by making the communities as self-sufficient as possible. This means that work, education, entertainment, shopping, sporting and recreational facilities must be located within easy reach of the residential precincts. Such development will not make problems relating to car use go away entirely, but the result will be preferable to forcing high densities into suburbs designed for low density.

There should also be a policy of repopulating declining regions. In this regard, lessons should be learnt from the Whitlam Government’s decentralisation attempt which suffered from a lack of cooperation between the Commonwealth and State governments.

The Commonwealth Government must take some responsibility It cannot just assume as it does now, that the States can forever cram all new arrivals into existing communities. The Commonwealth should provide funds to cater for the necessary infrastructure required by population expansion to promote acceptable development across the nation. It should also provide incentives such as income tax concessions.

Our existing suburbs should be protected — the character of neighbourhoods should not be sacrificed to the juggernaut of population growth.

WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD?

It looks as if State and Commonwealth policies are changing. But like a huge ship reversing its course it will take time before we see the results. However the more actively SOS is supported by the community, the quicker this course change is likely to be.

Tony Recsei
President
Save Our Suburbs (SOS)


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