NSW Planning Minister Brad Hazzard has called on councils not to "muck about" when it comes to approving development.
Mr Hazzard was speaking at the September lunch for the Illawarra chapter of the Property Council of Australia, at the Novotel Wollongong Northbeach yesterday.
He spoke on two issues: the government's work to create a new planning system for the state and the recently released discussion paper The Illawarra Over the Next 20 Years.
One of the challenges facing the Illawarra outlined in the discussion paper is to find housing for the expected population of 52,300 people in 2031.
Mr Hazzard said there would need to be a sharp increase in the number of dwellings being built, something the revisions to the planning system were designed to achieve.
As part of that, councils in the Illawarra needed to work with the housing industry rather than against it, he said.
"I want councils to have a can-do attitude," Mr Hazzard said.
"I want them to get on with it, don't muck about guys. Housing is one of the drivers of this economy.
"Folks, we're all in this together, let's make sure we share the same enthusiasm for the task. I want you to stop all the games and let us get on with this together."
Mr Hazzard said that NSW did not have the mineral fortunes of states such as Western Australia and instead had to rely on an upturn in housing to improve the economy.
"Our economy very much depends on getting the housing sector moving, getting building moving," he said.
Part of this would be achieved by a change in culture of planning departments and local councils - away from the tendency to knock back developments.
"We want to see, not the red Xs going against development applications, we want to see an approach that says 'how can we help you?"'
On the planning future of the Illawarra - "one of the jewels in the crown of NSW" - Mr Hazzard said the discussion paper was the first time the city's residents had been asked to comment on a strategy for moving forward.
He said the region showed promise with the mix of traditional employment sectors such as mining and the new employers such as the University of Wollongong's Innovation Campus - but it was a matter of turning that promise into reality.