Monday, May 12, 2008

Frank Sartor, the Planning Minister, is expected to drop controversial plans to allow government to acquire private land for developers, after rising public opposition from all political parties, including the Christian Democrats.
The property industry welcomed Sartor’s plans because they believed that it would cut red tape in the industry, but their support has waned after the Planning Institute of Australia said the planning act would still need to be redrafted.
If the changes went ahead, it would mean that the ability to acquire private land would rest in the hands of Sartor, who has been criticised for gathering too much power over property development to himself.
Sartor recently hit out at suggestions that he had too much control over individual developments, and appointed a three-member panel to advise him on contentious development projects. This would add another layer between the Planning Minister and the development process, and bring a halt to accusations that donations were a factor in his decisions on property development.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Plan dropped under cover

News has emerged that the Labor government quietly dismissed its plan for wireless inner-city broadband on the day of the Sydney Harbour boat crash. Eric Roozendal, the Minister for Commerce, announced that the plan would be shelved because it was not practical because of financial and technological concerns. The associated press release was not emailed to political journalists.
The question must be raised of why Roozendaal chose to make the announcement in the midst of the harbour tragedy.
A staffer of Mr Roozendaal said the announcement to scrap the plan was made on the day of the harbour crash because that is when the decision was taken. That is nonsense, pure and simple. Analysts said that the difficulty with building a wireless network in the city should have been obvious years ago, and the announcement to scrap the plan could have been made at any time.
This government has a history of dismissing projects when the media’s focus has turned elsewhere. It is indicative of a government that has no regard for releasing information in the public interest, but is more interested in managing its own image. By now, the public can see it as well.
A telecommunications market analyst at IDC Australia said the project sounded like “an election promise to get them over the line more than anything else” and that Labor would have known as early as the end of 2006 whether the project was viable.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Liberals finally speak up

The NSW Opposition has said that it would give conditional support for the electricity privatisation plan, provided that all the arrangements of the sale are overseen by the Auditor- General and that an independent organisation was established to watch the use of funds from the sale. The Coalition have set out a further three conditions the government must meet before their support will be given, and they have rejected the current plan, citing its lack of detail. The NSW Coalition has come under increasing criticism over the past week from the media and the government for refusing to state their position on the electricity privatisation plan. Previously Barry O’Farrell adopted a “wait and see” approach, demanding more details of the plan before making a statement.
Since O'Farrell became leader of the Opposition in NSW, they seem to have adapted a position of silence when it comes to government. This may be advantageous when the public is watching the government destroy itself, but when the government is doing something controversial, the Opposition needs to make itself heard. Otherwise a position of silence will turn into a position of invisibility. People are wary of what they cannot see.