Luna Park Site Amendment Bill
LUNA PARK SITE AMENDMENT BILL
Debate resumed from an earlier hour.
Mr YEADON (Granville - Minister for Land and Water Conservation) [7.39 p.m.], in reply: I thank the honourable members for Ballina, Newcastle, North Shore and St Marys for their contributions to the debate on this bill. The honourable member for Ballina, who led for the Opposition, indicated that, with the exception of an amendment to schedule 1 concerning the protection of heritage-listed trees - which I will deal with later - the Opposition agrees with the bill. Most of those who contributed to the debate quite rightly pointed out that this bill will ensure a financially viable arrangement for Luna Park so that that great Sydney icon can continue to serve the people of and
the visitors to Sydney in a way that will not create an ongoing financial impost on government and, therefore, the New South Wales taxpayer.
It is a matter of record that a considerable amount of taxpayers’ money has been poured into Luna Park; indeed, the latest round was an injection of $50 million of taxpayers’ money to open the park in early 1995. Part of that money went to the restoration of the heritage components of the site, but a considerable amount of taxpayers’ money was wasted on that venture. The Government wants to avoid that situation. To do that it needs to provide for a wider range of activities so that the commercial viability of Luna Park is assured. That will entail some restriction of access by the public at all times, certainly not to the boardwalk and foreshore areas but other areas will be restricted from time to time.
As the honourable member for Ballina quite rightly stated, that is a necessary trade-off in order to ensure that commercial viability is established. Heritage protection has been raised by honourable members. The Government is aware of the heritage concerns surrounding the Luna Park site. Any development on that site must comply with heritage listings. The site as a whole is listed as a heritage item by North Sydney Council. Specific heritage items listed by the National Trust are: Crystal Palace, Coney Island, the face entrance, the wild mouse ride, the fig and coral trees on the top of the cliff, the cliff tunnel, the chamber in the cliff face and the Alfred Street gate.
In addition, the site, face and towers, Alfred Street entrance, Crystal Palace, dodgem building and Coney Island were listed in the register of the National Estate in June 1997. There are no permanent conservation orders over the site or its elements, because the heritage classifications protect the site for future generations. The honourable member for Ballina said that the Government could circumvent the planning laws in place under North Sydney Council’s local environment plan by lodging a Crown development application.
I suggest that the honourable member has his mind more on the past when his party was in Government and dealt with Luna Park, because at that time the Luna Park Reserve Trust entered into a commercial partnership with the company that was to jointly run Luna Park as a commercial venture and the Government, through the trust, was intricately involved in the financial aspects of the park. This Government is not taking that approach. Certainly a trust is in place to oversee the operations of Luna Park, but the trust will not enter into a commercial arrangement which would lead to it running the site. Therefore, the successful applicant will make an application as a private entity or private operator.
In the past the former Government was one-half of Luna Park Amusements, and well behind the role of governing the trust. It had entered into an arrangement to be a one-half player in that commercial operation. This Government is not taking that approach and will not lodge a government or Crown development application - that will be done by private operators, and therefore will not override the local environment plan in North Sydney. Local residents are concerned about the cliff top. In assessing the future use of the site the urban design advisory service of the Department of Urban Affairs and Planning recommended the use of the cliff-top site for commercial development. These areas have not been used in conjunction with the amusement park on the local level.
The plan of management adopted by the former Government recommended that consideration be given to commercial development of the land. Proposed section 6C merely declares the purposes permitted under the dedication of the site, that is, for public recreation. Residents are concerned about their privacy, the noise, and their views. Residents were invited to a meeting hosted by the administrator of the trust and my department held on 20 October. At that meeting they placed their concerns on the table. Residents can be assured that any development will be subject to all the standard planning, development applications and other requirements. The Luna Park site is subject to two regimes: firstly, dedication under the Act which restricts use of the site; and, secondly, the controls placed on the site under planning laws.
This bill affects only the first regime. The second regime, involving planning laws and frameworks, is not affected and will explicitly continue to apply. That is clearly enunciated in proposed section 6F. Nothing will happen unless the trust agrees and all planning laws are complied with. That will ensure that local residents will continue to have an input as this process is developed, because such a planning application would require a community consultation component. This will ensure that their voice continues to be heard throughout the course of the development of this proposal. The honourable member for Ballina raised the issue of fig and coral trees on the cliff top. There are fig and coral trees on sites B and C above the cliff top.
Harry Seidler’s building on Glen Street is next to site B. He is also concerned that the trees will be taken down if any development occurs above the cliff top. The trees are protected; they are included in the North Sydney local environment plan and are listed with the National Trust. Any development will have to comply with the protection afforded to the trees. In addition, the independent financial viability assessment report found that development was viable on the cliff-top site even with the appropriate protection of those trees.
Under this proposal the trees are fully protected in two ways: through a heritage listing and also under the North Sydney local environment plan. Therefore there is no requirement to add a further provision to this bill to take account of their protection. They are well and truly taken account of and fully protected. For that reason the Government will be rejecting the amendment that is proposed to be moved by the Opposition. I commend the bill to the House.
Motion agreed to.
Bill read a second time.
Mr D. L. PAGE (Ballina) [7.53]: I move:
Notwithstanding the comments made by the Minister in his reply, I am concerned about the protection of the large Moreton Bay fig trees. Any development that affects the trees and disturbs their root systems, which would cause ecological damage to them, should not be permitted under any circumstances. The Carr Government seems keen to protect trees in country areas, under its forestry policy. I should like to know that it is equally keen to protect trees in city areas, notwithstanding the Minister’s comment that that level of protection exists already. I believe that the bill provides a number of protections, including access to the foreshore and the boardwalk. It also provides for the normal planning laws to prevail. It would not be unreasonable to incorporate also a clause that provides for the additional uses outlined in proposed section 6C subject to the protection of those trees. I fail to see that there is a downside for the Government in accepting my amendment, notwithstanding the argument that the Minister has put forward. He said that the trees are already protected. We should guarantee that those trees will be protected in perpetuity. It is not asking much to have that included in the bill.
I give the Premier, through the Minister, an opportunity to make good his claim that he wants to be remembered as the greenest Premier this State has ever had. This amendment will enable him to put his money where his mouth is and remove any doubt that these trees will be protected in the future. I should not like the Government to be accused of urban environmental vandalism because it was not prepared to act on an environmentally sensitive amendment moved by me, a member of the National Party who has a strong commitment to environmental values, particularly in country areas. I commend to the Premier that this amendment provides him with a wonderful opportunity to prove his green credentials in the city, lest he be accused of being an environmental vandal down the track. I urge the Government to support my amendment for the reasons I have outlined.
Mr YEADON (Granville - Minister for Land and Water Conservation) [7.56]: As I said in my reply to the second reading debate, the Government rejects this unnecessary amendment. The irony of the amendment moved by the honourable member for Ballina is not lost on me. He has spent his political career ensuring that there is no protection for trees in his own electorate but he has moved an unnecessary amendment to save trees in the city. His hypocrisy is staggering. A well-established regime of planning laws and heritage protection mechanisms already exists for the coral and fig trees on the cliff top.
The Luna Park Site Amendment Bill is about reopening Luna Park, giving it a second chance and encouraging a private sector operator to develop a commercially viable proposal for the site which is in keeping with its unique heritage nature. As the honourable member is aware, any development on the Luna Park site must comply with heritage protection mechanisms and appropriate planning instruments. This bill, in particular proposed sections 6B and 6C, is not about overriding any of those planning laws. Those laws are expressly preserved under the provisions of the bill. Proposed section 6C merely extends the authorised uses of the cliff top. It is about overcoming the restrictions currently imposed by the dedication. A number of heritage and planning safeguards make the honourable member’s amendment unnecessary. First, the fig and
coral trees located on the cliff-top area are listed as heritage items in the register of the National Trust and, therefore, will be protected and maintained. They are individually registered.
Mr D. L. Page: What about the root systems?
Mr YEADON: It includes all of the tree. A tree comprises the leaves, the branches, the trunk and the roots. This listing is in addition to other items on the register such as Coney Island, Crystal Palace, the face entrance and the Alfred Street gate, all of which are icons to Sydney. In addition, North Sydney Council’s local environment plan 1989 identifies the entire Luna Park site as a heritage item as well as identifying individual items on the site. The fig and coral trees on the cliff top are heritage items. It is not merely a matter of the trees being part of an overall heritage listing. They have their own listing on the register as heritage items.
Any proposed activity on the cliff top and on the Luna Park site will have to comply with the requirements for protection of the trees as heritage items. A suggestion that legislative protection be afforded individual trees is unprecedented. I wonder whether the honourable member for Ballina has thought through this issue. Matters such as this are always appropriately dealt with under planning laws. It is preferable that they be left to be dealt with under planning laws, particularly in this instance in which there is the added protection of heritage register listing. The Government wishes any development of the Luna Park site and the cliff-top area to be in keeping with the heritage values of the amusement park. As I have indicated, any activity on the site will not be a Crown development but will be carried out by a private operator and will be subject to the full planning regime.
In the Government’s view, the planning and heritage laws mean that the status given to the items within the Luna Park site, including the trees, by the National Trust listing and the north Sydney local environmental plan provides sufficient protection. In addition, the plan of management will take the trees into account when it goes on display for public consultation. The Government believes that the bill, including proposed new section 6C, will give Luna Park its best shot at surviving in the future. There is no doubt that New South Wales residents desire the protection of Luna Park. Luna Park, including the trees, is properly protected, as should be the case. The Government rejects the amendment.
Question - That the amendment be agreed to - put.
The Committee divided.
Schedule 1, page 4, line 19. After the word "area" insert the words "provided they do not threaten or damage heritage listed trees".
Mr Beck Mr D. L. Page
Mr Blackmore Mr Peacocke
Mr Brogden Mr Phillips
Mr Debnam Mr Photios
Mr Downy Mr Richardson
Mr Ellis Mr Rixon
Ms Ficarra Mr Rozzoli
Mr Fraser Mr Schipp
Mr Glachan Mr Schultz
Mr Hazzard Ms Seaton
Mr Humpherson Mr Small
Dr Kernohan Mr Smith
Mr MacCarthy Mr Tink
Dr Macdonald Mr J. H. Turner
Mr Merton Mr R. W. Turner
Ms Moore Tellers,
Mr O’Doherty Mr Jeffery
Mr O’Farrell Mr Kerr
Ms Allan Mr Martin
Mr Amery Ms Meagher
Mr Anderson Mr Mills
Ms Andrews Mr Moss
Mr Aquilina Mr Murray
Mrs Beamer Mr Nagle
Mr Clough Mr Neilly
Mr Crittenden Ms Nori
Mr Debus Mr E. T. Page
Mr Face Dr Refshauge
Mr Gaudry Mr Rogan
Mr Gibson Mr Rumble
Mrs Grusovin Mr Scully
Ms Hall Mr Shedden
Mr Harrison Mr Stewart
Mr Hunter Mr Sullivan
Mr Iemma Mr Tripodi
Mr Knight Mr Watkins
Mr Knowles Mr Whelan
Mr Langton Mr Woods
Mrs Lo Po’ Mr Yeadon
Mr Lynch Tellers,
Mr McBride Mr Beckroge
Mr McManus Mr Thompson
Mr Cochran Mr Carr
Mr Collins Mr Markham
Question so resolved in the negative.
Schedule agreed to.
Bill reported from Committee without amendment and passed through remaining stages.