Labor's plan to protect the Royal Botanic Gardens


Shadow Environment Minister Luke Foley today released NSW Labor’s comprehensive election policy for Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain – ensuring Sydney’s beautiful green space reflects its mission to inspire the appreciation and conservation of Australia’s plants.

Mr Foley said Labor’s policy stands in stark contrast to the controversial plans released by the O’Farrell Liberal Government last weekend – which would see the widespread commercialisation of the Gardens including the construction of a multi-storey, five star hotel.


Under the policy, Labor will:

1. Not proceed with the proposals contained in the current Master Plan for a hotel, railway station and ferry terminal with the Royal Botanic Gardens. Labor will also not proceed with an orientation centre, café and shop at the Queen Elizabeth 2 Gates

2. Return the land at the northern end of Mrs Macquarie’s Road to the people by altering the current road and turning cars around 100 metres short of the Point. The existing road around the Point must be retained for heritage value and will become
a pedestrian thoroughfare. Bush regeneration and the planting of indigenous flora will be prioritised. The grounds of the Botanic Gardens will also be extended to include Mrs Macquarie’s Point while maintaining night access.

3. Reverse the merger of the Royal Botanic Gardens & Domain Trust with the Centennial Park & Moore Park Trust. Labor Premier Neville Wran had the vision to establish the Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust in 1980, giving it control over its
own affairs.

4. Launch an international search for an eminent person with experience in leading a botanical garden to become the new Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens & Domain Trust.

5. Initiate a major public celebration of the Bicentenary of the Royal Botanic Gardens in June 2016. The celebrations will involve all of Sydney, and include the traditional owners of the lands and past and present staff and supporters of the Gardens.

6. Implement a 10 year vision for the Sydney Gardens - Towards 2025, prioritising the
following initiatives:

  • Upgrading the waterfront promenade using Water Sensitive Urban Design principles
  • Building a new science and education facility, following the required relocation of the National Herbarium to a new purpose built facility
  • Developing interconnected trails and themed walks through the Gardens
  • Reducing the use of Sydney drinking water for irrigation, potentially using the old naval oil tanks in the Woolloomooloo precinct to store recycled or reclaimed water.

“This is a plan that is faithful to the organisation’s mission and the spirit in which the lands were originally bestowed,” Mr Foley said.

“The Gardens are a place to inspire the appreciation and conservation of plants – they are not a place that should be captive to commercial interests.

“The excessive proposals contained in the current Master Plan confirm the fears Labor expressed when the effective takeover of the Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust was announced back in January.

“It’s clear the O’Farrell Liberal Government is putting big bucks over botany.

“Labor’s focus for the organisation will always be in the areas of horticulture, recreation, conservation, science and education – not commercialisation.

“This policy will ensure the voices of the botanists, plant scientists and horticulturalists are not drowned out by property developers and commercial event organisers.

“This is a plan that will ensure the integrity of one of Sydney’s great green spaces is protected for future generations.

“Labor will put the gardeners back in charge of the Gardens.”