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sydney alternative media - non-profit community independent trustworthy
Saturday, 12 April 2008
Developer heaven in NSW as the Big Media 'ordered' in 2005-6?
Mood:  sad
Topic: nsw govt

As much as we like to see this NSW ALP Govt get a good kicking as they do front page of the Sydney Morning Herald today in a strong story about nexus between major developer donations and planning outcomes, there's a major missing piece in the chronology there:

By which we mean the Big Media exhortations to increase housing development to boost the NSW economy in 2005-06, which in turn have amplified the developer donations to get the formal approvals.

Our view is that a suite of articles in 05-06 had a major impact on the trashing of the Environmental Planning system and major increase in developer donation$ by way of gratitude for the Part 3A repeal of about 7 different protection acts. For instance Sydney Morning Herald, referenced below, but also Sydney Daily Telegaph as well on the demise of Carr's premiership. The message implicit in the Fairfax, and Daily Telegraph, menace was clear, crank the economy or get a Big Media thrashing.

And so new Premier Iemma and loyal Planning Minister Sartor did by fair means or foul, and getting ever more cosy with developers and their donations in gratitude at least at administrative level.

To integrate this fact into the Herald chronology in no way excuses the blatant conflict of interest of developer donations to the ALP machine while waiting on planning minister discretionary decisions. It is not only a "perception of conflict" that Iemma acknowledges. It is an actual conflict of interest regardless of Chinese walls between policy and admin within the ALP.

Still it remains the case quite arguably that it was the Big Media that caused the quantum shift of this ALP Govt to intimate relations (as here in my post on a New Matilda string about developer donations earlier today):

Tom McLoughlin 12/04/08 6:17PM

You will notice that my traverse above was written quite early this morning.
Notice I mention a shift from Parliament to the executive. Secondly a shift in govt approach from about "2.5 years ago".
This was all written by me without the knowledge or reading of the lead story on the front page of the Sydney Morning Herald today by Wendy Frew and others. I’ve just finished reading it. It’s a strong story and Planning shadow minister Hazzard is making hay over this "rotten" situation earlier today on radio and now I know his factual platform:

"Files expose sway of developers" 12 April 2008, Sydney Morning Herald


The Herald story corroborates nicely my analysis [below] in a direct example of developments in the Hunter. As good as Frew and colleagues are and professional too, what the story omits editorially speaking is the corporate self awareness at Fairfax that the ALP under Iemma moved to accelerate any and all economic development as a direct reaction to both major newspapers signalling that they were going to go feral and fatal on the NSW ALP govt if the economy didn’t turn: Here are some samples via google:

- 7 Feb 2006 Slump hits home - National - smh.com.au

- 2 Sept 2005 Harder they fall: Sydney’s biggest housing slump - National - smh …

- 2 July 2005 NSW’s economic slump hits home - Business - Business - theage.com.au

- Sydney boom bleeds NSW economy - Business - Business - theage.com.au , By Ross Gittins, August 16, 2005
"It’s now clear that the NSW economy is the worst-performing among the states and its once-booming housing market is at the heart of the problem. Question is, who’s to blame?"

It saddens me to provide political logic for the ALP spivs but that’s the real politik reality. They trashed the integrity of the planning system as a matter of parliamentary majority. That’s what Part 3A is for vertically integrated into the electoral majority.

This was around 2005-6. At which time I totally gave up the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act as a dead letter, that Wran had pioneered in 1979 to keep integrity in the planning system.

Sad huh? Keep going independent media sector. Keep going.


This comment just extracted  builds on a story on New Matilda 

NSW Politics 9 Apr 2008 What's with the Back Flip? Lee Rhiannon and Norman Thompson

NSW Labor's plan to ban political donations comes after years of dodging calls from the Greens and community groups to do just that

and my first comment earlier today as follows:

Tom McLoughlin 12/04/08 6:59AM

To preface my comment, first I was a Green Party member 1993-2000 then lapsed to non aligned status. Second was a Cr at Waverly similar 95-99.
That declared I suggest the Greens via Norman Thompson and sponsor Lee Rhiannon have been unduly modest in their role in the long build up to this situation at the Gong being exposed which actually is the ALP State Machine proper, only caught red handed in one geographical location. And only because stand over men were leveraging the BAD reputation of ICAC for doing precious bloody nothing for years always deferring to the woefully under resourced Ombudsman role (mal administration short of corruption) and no doubt under resourced Auditor General (waste again short of corruption). ICAC itself likely very under resourced.
I saw ICAC chief commissioner at the Gong hearings get stroppy with Cr Gigliotti for being duped by the stand over men claiming to be ICAC officers milking $500K out of their victims. But the Commissioner should be looking in the mirror too, because like top movie The Departed there is a smell of a rat(s) like ICAC manager of Investigations McCabe by coincidence leaving to work in a high paid job at the Maritime Authority of NSW working with now infamous Scimone in what he thought was a safe parking station.

Only I don’t believe in coincidences like that as a lawyer admitted in 1990.

(As Egan in Opposition, later NSW Treasurer, said to Carr early 90ies - ‘you will live to regret this ICAC bill’ - revealing several things: Many like Egan in the Parliamentary and machine upper house ALP never believed in transparency or honesty as per ICAC goals, and/or knew their own party were dirty, like Askin before and had alot to fear. While Carr the populist, maybe idealist, wanted to consolidate the gains represented by North Coast land developer scandals of the late eighties/90ies.)

The Greens have been unduly modest, even as an ex member, because as Michael Duffy has pointed out, hardly your card carrying Greenie, in his SMH column perhaps a year ago now, this website of the Greens dishing the chapter and verse on the sophisticated laundering of developer donations

(undoubtedly for policy via Mark Arbib as machine boss at Sussex St , as now retired Hotel Lobbyist Thorpe freely admitted - was he drunk? - to the SMH last week)

that website of research and detail was highly educational. Highly instructive of the best democracy money can buy:


Duffy a well known conservative wrote that he was going to vote Green in the last state election. There is nothing more profound to say than that - as surprising as Kissinger getting a Nobel. And Duffy is wise and right even coming at this from the Right because credit where credit is due. Honest business people who want to make a buck are being tainted and ripped off in the endless game of playing favourites. It’s moral chaos here in the governance of NSW.

On Stateline NSW last night footage 11 April 08 played of Sartor as planning minister, highly implicated in a pattern of developer donations, stating there is not evidence whatsoever of any ‘development decision that was not based on the merits’ under what’s known as Part 3A, which is the minister’s call in and discretion to decide power.

This like Nazi propaganda is a lie, applying the big lie will work best approach. How so?

Anyone who googles the Environmental Defenders Office or the NSW Nature Conservation Council briefing papers, will find that Part 3A amendments to the pioneering Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 ere all about repeal of merits criteria. Lets run through some of the systemic check and balances that Part 3A repealed:

Assessments under

- The Heritage Act
- Threatened Specied Act
- National Parks & Wildlife Act
- Rivers and Foreshores Improvement Act
- Coastal Protection Act 1979
- Fisheries Management Act 1994
- Native Vegetation Act 2003
- Rural Fires Act 1997
- Water Management Act 2000, or predecessor 1912 Water Act where still in force

are all formally over ruled.


Picture: Protest by civil society/green groups around June 2005 at trashing of the Planning Act by 'Part 3A' amendment for state significate developments repealing a multitude of checks and balances.

But you have to watch carefully with sophist Sartor - and this is how sophisticated this abuse of power really is: The developers still have to address many of these concerns under "DOP directors requirements" but you see these are discretionary now, and weakened with omissions and unenforceable. All these LEGAL checks and balances have all been shifted out of the Parliament into executive discretion.

Looks sound but it’s as rotten as a house with termites. The environmental assessment process has always been limited and flawed for lack of auditing, and discipline on liar ‘expert’ guns for hire. Under cl.283 of the EP&A Regulation it is indeed an offence to "knowingly" lie about material in an EIS or similar document BUT one can simply plead "it was a mistake, an error, an oversight" and these documents are routinely 2 inches thick anyway. It takes an expert auditor to audit them. In short the integrity of the EIS process, not least under flexible director’s requirements, has been pretty much trashed.

You will find a summary and links about these repeals to the EDO, NSW NCC material at a submission to the NSW Dept of Planning on some of the latest sandmining cowboy operators here Jan. 08:

"1/08 Maroota sandmining"

Sartor wants to style himself as the expert benevolent dictator planner who get’s it right on "the merits" so nothing to see here, move on, but really he is sanitising the worst excesses of dictatorship by completely unravelling the 1979 Act and putting in place env assessment by yes men and client dependents of his discretion in either public service career, or developer decision making, or access as per the infamous phone call to a developer to attend his fundraising dinner ‘which he can’t recall’ anymore but Stockland do as reported in the SMH by expert state roundsman Clennell.

The situation stinks and the coincidences of developer funding for approvals keep piling up, but it is rotten, and its not a coincidence.

But here is the taboo in all this - about 2 1/2 years back both the Herald and the Telegraph Big Media ran a unity ticket to beat up the ALP Govt on depressed economic conditions - presumably damaging their profits.

Newly installed Iemma, Sartor etc made a quite blatant shift to destroy the EPA Act which elected Neville Wran in 79 (via his praetorian minister Paul Landa) in oder to crank the economics of the State. So the Big Media have some real responsibility for creating this monster of subjective development and rotten donations culture. They wanted the economic pedal to the metal and the ALP spin machine took them at their word. And it worked up to March 2007 state election too. Now the chickens are coming home to roost for all as amenity and common decency and self respect all go south.

Which is also why such as New Matilda are so important, as are all the other indy media sector, and are the ethical journalists still in the Big Media monoliths grovelling away at the truth of money politics.

God help us in NSW. Actually God will if we help ourselves and throw off these spivs and liars.

Posted by editor at 8:34 PM NZT
Updated: Monday, 14 April 2008 10:25 AM NZT

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