In Committees this week, committees report on the Sydney stadiums strategy and a bill related to the proposal to raise the Warragamba Dam wall, while hearings kick off for the inquiry into the Westconnex project. You can find further information on all current and past inquiries on our website.
Public Works Committee tables report on Sydney stadiums strategy
On 27 September, the Public Works Committee tabled its report on the Sydney stadiums strategy, making eight findings and 10 recommendations to government for action.
A key recommendation of the committee was that the NSW Government not proceed with the redevelopment of Stadium Australia until construction of the new Sydney Football Stadium is completed. The committee had heard that the final business case for the refurbishment works at Stadium Australia will not be finalised until 2019. It was the committee’s hope that, by this time, works at Sydney Football Stadium will have commenced and lessons may be learnt during the rollout that could inform the works at Stadium Australia.
In view of evidence that there are significant safety and security concerns at Sydney Football Stadium that require immediate attention, the committee did not oppose the continuation of the works proposed for that stadium.
The government’s response to the report would ordinarily be due within 6 months of the tabling date, which would have fallen on 27 March 2019, the day after the State election. Given that the stadiums strategy is an issue of significant public interest and the government’s response to the report could be of great value to voters, the Chair the Committee, the Hon Robert Brown MLC, of the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party, obtained the agreement of the House to vary the usual deadline and instead require that the response be provided by 28 February 2019 – well before the March election and the commencement of the caretaker period. A similar motion was agreed to for Portfolio Committee No. 5’s report on the review of the commercial fishing inquiry arrangements.
Committee inquiries into Water NSW Amendment (Warragamba Dam) Bill 2018
On 26 September the House, on the recommendation of the Selection of Bills Committee, referred the Water NSW Amendment (Warragamba Dam) Bill 2018 to the State Development Committee for inquiry and report. This is the third bill referred from the trial Selection of Bills Committee.
The bill amends the Water NSW Act 2014 to allow temporary inundation of national park land resulting from the Warragamba Dam project without a legal impediment under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974. The Warragamba Dam project involves the proposed raising of the Warragamba Dam wall and use of the dam for flood mitigation.
The committee completed a short inquiry within two weeks, during which time it received 110 submissions and held a hearing on Thursday 4 October to take evidence from Aboriginal representatives, environmental groups, academics and the Government about the bill and the Warragamba Dam project.
The committee tabled its report on Wednesday 10 October. The report contained seven recommendations, including that the Legislative Council proceed with debate on the bill. The committee recommended that the Government review consultation processes relating to any Warragamba Dam project planning approvals and allow for adequate time to map Aboriginal heritage in areas to be impacted by the project.
In addition, the committee made recommendations relating to procedural aspects of the Legislative Council’s trial of the Selection of Bills Committee regarding the stage in proceedings at which a bill should be referred for inquiry and to consider allowing members to submit ‘Additional Comments’ rather than a ‘Dissenting statement’, an option available in the Australian Senate.
Public Accountability Committee examines the WestConnex Project
After receiving close to 550 submissions, the Public Accountability Committee held three public hearings over the last week for its inquiry into the impact of the WestConnex Project.
The committee questioned key stakeholders involved in the planning and delivery of the project including Roads and Maritime Services, Treasury, WestConnex, and the former Chief Executive Officer of Sydney Motorway Corporation.
Issues discussed included the project’s costs, business case and governance structure. The government’s sale of Sydney Motorway Corporation, and the separation of the Sydney Gateway – a project planned to improve road and freight rail access to Sydney airport – from the WestConnex project were also considered. The hearings also provided an opportunity for a number of resident action groups and individuals from the Inner West to share their experiences of the effects of construction and property acquisition associated with the project.
The committee intends to hold one last hearing in November, and is expecting to publish its report in December.