Moderator.At the end of the next quarter hour, we would like to have a set of specific recommendations about what the sponsors of this Forum, should be focusing their attention on, arising from today. It will be your chance to say to the people that have kindly supported this event, "This is what we think we should be trying to do next".
The audience divides into four groups – the group reports follow…
Where to now?
Group 1 reporter.We started by talking about the problem of greed and how it seemed to be coming down to greed and what we could do about that and if we could actually regulate against greed, and things like that. What we decided was, there's this need for proper identification of community need and how to steer a market according to community desires because (this is one of my catch phrases that I'll throw in) I think at the moment what we've got is a situation where the economy is running the community and not vice-versa. We forget that the economy is a human construct and we make the economy, but at the moment we're kind of made by the economy and so I think part of what was going on for us was realising that we need to get market forces back into their place and steer them according to what we, as a community, need and want. So, how do we give voice to community needs? And part of that involves transparency of current processes; so we're looking at a need for increased transparency of government, not just in all our documents but also on the web. It’s about actually making those documents jargon free, and accessible to people in the community so they can read them and know what the hell is happening. Then the question of sustainability came up and the need to focus our discussions on sustainability beyond the end of oil, because it was something that Peter Newman raised and it's crucial to this planning thing that we're talking about – what do we do when the oil runs out? So we need talk about planning from the public transport base up, and the crucial need for that. Again, we highlighted the need for access to power structures, empowering people and becoming part of the power structure. How we're doing democracy. How we get that into public discussion, how we actually go about making that part of what we talk about as a community on a wider level… All of the stuff Les was saying and Laura was saying about democratic process. So, in a vague way, we've got some key points there, I guess.
Group 2 reporter. Our group too talked about power sharing, that it should be a priority to empower the community. But we feel that PlanFirst is not presently empowering communities and that the consultation process is too complex. Local capacity is needed. At the moment there's too few in the community doing most of the work and we discussed ways of sharing that load, that responsibility of community groups. We make a couple of recommendations. Perhaps send a delegation to DUAP from key members of this organising committee, to report to them – the community dissatisfaction with DUAP, and the processes of DUAP, and other issues raised in this conference. The second idea is to put out a press release this week just before the federal election saying that many of the issues of urban consolidation facing Sydney are not being addressed at a Federal level. In various ways, Local and State are grappling with these issues, but there are implications – with population policies and urban planning – that concern Federal.
Group 3 reporter. We had three points; two are recommendations and the third is an expression of frustration. I’ll mention that one first. Someone brought up the point that high-rise around railways was dislocating opportunities for business and we need more opportunities for local business. Also, we need to get past the idea that there is excess capacity in our infrastructure, we can't just use existing infrastructure. That was the frustration one. The second idea is that we need an integrated state-wide plan, whereby the three levels of government can devise some mechanisms whereby the three levels of government can coordinate and plan for the whole state. The third idea was a general point about transport. We need to focus on transport – an integrated transport system. The point was raised that down the track it should be free; things like, the same concessions should apply on private buses as on public buses. We need to put more work into building bicycle tracks. So there was a big focus on transport.
Group 4 reporter. Some of our points naturally echo some of those that have gone before. Adopt a policy of decentralisation of government instrumentalities. Or should we say re-adopt the formerly rather wobbly policy, but put a bit of backbone in it and stick with it at TAFEs, etc. In other words, put jobs out there. Let's move the jobs around and that means of course both within Sydney and within the State. Get businesses into suburban areas and get instrumentalities out beyond the Blue Mountains. Remove disincentives to moving the house closer to the work. Both Federal and State disincentives. Promote and support local enterprise, make SEPPs subject to revision in Parliament. Have a city or regional relationship between, not city and other countries, but city and the country. Replace state government with regional governments and add a new clause to the constitution that all new or revised laws will take account of operating within a finite system.
Bob Walshe. People laughed this morning when I said we'd solve all of the problems of urban Sydney by 5 o' clock. Actually it's a few minutes after, but haven't we? All of those excellent suggestions make me feel: how can we get the message out beyond these walls? And I want to add a further suggestion to all the ones that we've just heard. Namely, that the most important means of securing action is the action of the individuals who are right here – the importance of individuals and small groups in securing change. The famous words of Margaret Mead – she said, have no doubt of the power of small dedicated groups to change the world, because they're the only force that ever has. So, please remember that each individual and each small group has a sphere of positive action, can do some important things in the world, and those things will contribute to the larger movement for the reform of Sydney's urban shape. We've made some valuable contacts today – I'm sure everyone has – and if on reflection next week you feel you want the address of somebody, a phone number, please remember to ring the Sutherland Shire Environment Centre which has the means of providing that. We hope you've picked up all the fact sheets and materials out in the foyer. Not least a copy of Shire Life newspaper which on page 5 details the problems that we're feeling with DUAP. I have been ordered to produce the papers of this forum, and since there's no one between me and the action – in other words no bureaucracy – it won't take 6 months to produce them. We'll get them out as quickly as we can get them from the respective speakers. At the very latest I'll promise them to you as a Christmas present. Finally, ladies and gentlemen, it would be good to go through all our speakers, beginning with our international visitor Dirk Bolt, but we don't have to name them. I'm sure you will want to applaud them and may I add the name of our moderator Paul Martin, and our principal organiser Jim Sloan, and there are lots and lots of good people who have helped in the organisation of the Forum. Will you join me in saying thankyou… [applause]
Jim Sloan [Executive Officer, Sutherland Shire Environment Centre]. Bob, just a quick comment. I'd like to point out that Dirk has come from Europe, Peter Newman from Western Australia. We've covered the transport costs, but they've actually put forward their time to our community and I think that's a really important thing. Everyone that's come to this conference has put their time in for free. So I'd really like once again to thank them all… [applause]