As the year winds down, it’s a time when we traditionally take stock of what we’ve achieved this year, what we haven’t. We celebrate the victories and rue the losses and make plans for how we are going to tackle the unfinished business in the new year.
So what have we achieved during 2019? The answer is probably ‘more than you think’.
This time a year ago we were bunkering down as the rhetoric around the NSW election campaign became more and more toxic. The NSW team worked carefully and thoughtfully putting together a cohesive and comprehensive election platform and advocated strongly to the government and the opposition about areas needing reform, with a key focus on the terrible NSW planning system and the unreasonable burden the development contributions system has become.
Since March, our advocacy has continued. We’ve had hundreds of meetings and conversations with Ministers, senior public officials and ministerial staff and in the past three months in particular, our work has started to bear fruit culminating in the announcement last week from Premier Gladys Berejiklian about planning reform.
As we end 2019, planning and contributions reform has been centralised within State Government and supported by the Premier as a key focus in 2020. Of course, an announcement of intent needs to be followed by strong action and our engagement on the need for that has already started. This week and next we will be meeting with public officials, seeking more details and a clear and accountable timeframe. But I have no doubt that the announcement we saw from our Premier was heavily influenced by the practical, politically viable solutions put forward by the NSW team, on your behalf, over the past 12 months.
We have also helped change the narrative about our growing population. As the year ends, the Good Growth conversation is strong– including the release of major research from the Good Growth Alliance which we led the establishment of at the end of last year. Last month saw a Good Growth Summit held with the support of the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment , the Minister and key stakeholders. The NSW Government has also appointed a housing minister and is preparing a housing strategy – two other key ‘asks’ from the Good Growth Alliance prior to the March election.
Our push into Western Sydney has continued – with the appointment of Ross Grove as our Western Sydney Regional Director, the creation of a Western Sydney Taskforce, the holding of key events in western Sydney including a tour of the new airport site and good engagement with key leaders and members in the region. The year culminated with the release of 800 hectares of employment land in the Mamre Road precinct near the new airport, something we have been working towards for the past 18 months with our industrial members.
And apart from these key strategic initiatives, we’ve drafted many, many submissions to government on your behalf. Our response to the Local Strategic Planning Statement Process has been significant – nine member briefings held across Sydney with over 20 councils, 15 submissions made on LSPSs of key relevance to our members and we are, right now, now working closely with the Greater Sydney Commission to improve those strategies that require it through their assurance process.
All of this could not be done without the support and expertise of you, our members. Your feedback on submissions, attendance at meetings, contribution to committees and analysis of critical issues is central to a good result.
Yes there is plenty more to do and we are already working hard on how to ensure our focus in 2020 stays on core issues likely to matter most to you.
But, as we hurtle towards our sold out Christmas lunch this Friday at the Fullerton Hotel, I hope you will join me for a moment in reflecting on a successful year for the Property Council and its members where we are once again central to public policy conversations and decisions.