Baird Government's Sydney Harbour vision prioritises development over public space


The Baird Government’s announcement of a new committee to outline a ‘vision’ for Sydney Harbour confirms that a development and commercialisation agenda for the foreshore will override the public domain, the Labor Opposition said today.

Labor’s Luke Foley pointed to three decisions of this government concerning Sydney Harbour as evidence of the desecration of public space in favour of development and commercialisation.


Mr Foley cited:

  • The radical plans for rampant commercialisation unveiled for the Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain precinct;
  • Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner’s plonking of a floating helipad in the middle of Sydney Harbour without any community consultation – which was later abandoned following public outcry; and
  • The handover of the Bays Precinct’s future to a developer, UrbanGrowth.

“This Government has clearly demonstrated it has an agenda of overdevelopment and commercialisation of Sydney Harbour and its foreshore over public amenity,” Shadow Minister for Planning and the Environment Luke Foley said.

“The proposals released in the Master Plan for the Gardens include a multi-storey, five star hotel and a railway station and ferry terminal within the Royal Botanic Gardens, and a grotesque orientation centre and shop at the Queen Elizabeth 2 Gates near Man O’ War Steps.

“The government has also put the Bays Precinct in the hands of a developer.  The future of this precinct should remain the responsibility of the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority, which has a statutory role to protect and enhance the natural and cultural heritage of the harbour foreshore in addition to an economic development role.

“Today’s appointment of Mr Wielinga to head this new committee as well the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority is clearly aimed at SHFA’s abolition.

“The new committee will drive a development and commercialisation agenda for the harbour foreshore rather than a more holistic approach that would give equal regard to public access to the foreshore, linking open spaces, retaining heritage items and retaining maritime activities.”