BLOG: Calderwood a major concern

This weekI raised in parliament my concerns about the Calderwood development proposal and the independence of the Planning and Assessment Commission (PAC). In parliament, I took aim at the Department of Planning for pressuring the PAC into changing its original refusal of this major development on a flood plain and on prime agricultural land. My particular concern is that the PAC ceases to be independent when the Department of Planning can reverse or alter the PAC’s decision leading up to or as part of an appeal to a higher authority.

The Department of Planning also provides advice and recommendations to the PAC in relation to matters that come before it for assessment.

 With respect to the Calderwood matter, the Department of Planning strongly supported the Calderwood proposal in spite of its inconsistency with the Illawarra regional strategy, the lack of infrastructure and public consultation.

 We saw the PAC go from making one of the strongest rejections of a development I have seen, to changing its position prior to the appeal getting under way in the Land and Environment Court.

 I’ve called on the Minister to provide funding to the PAC to defend its own decisions in Court – rather than allowing the Department of Planning to run the case on behalf of the PAC and potentially alter the decision of the independent PAC. 

 Part 3A – Here to stay?

This week, Illawarra Labor MPs along with their Labor colleagues, voted against a motion in parliament commending the removal of Part 3A of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act. Calderwood was a Part 3A application which was given life under Kristina Keneally as Planning Minister and later, the then Minister Tony Kelly approving the concept plan and re-zoning. Readers may recall that it wasn’t until I discovered and revealed donations from the proponents of Calderwood to Labor that this matter was embarrassingly taken out of the hands of the Planning Minister for determination and referred to the PAC for assessment.

It seems that Labor is completely addicted to the bad old days of donations for deals – something this Government has legislated to stop.

What’s in a name?

 When Labor announced a new station at Flinders in 2001, the Shellharbour community was delighted with their foresight. By the 2011 State Election – Labor failed to turn a single sod.

Less than 12 months in Government and I managed to obtain funding and get the project under way. I also recommended that the Station be called Shell Cove – not Flinders, to better reflect its location. It should also be noted that the Shell Cove sub-division will see this part of the Illawarra boom over future years.

 Moreover, work on the Shell Cove Marina is under way. There has also been significant marketing around the Shell Cove sub-division which makes this location more conspicuous.

 All of that aside – what is most important is real action and delivery. Labor MP Anna Watson can continue to fuss about what it’s called – it’s more important to get it done – something Labor failed to do some 10 years after they first announced it. 

Gareth Ward is the State Member for Kiama and serves as Acting Speaker of the Legislative Assembly.  He wasthe youngest person to be elected to Shoalhaven City Council and served as a Councillor and Deputy Mayor from 2004-2012.

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