Sydney Botanic Gardens should be protected for public use, not commercial events

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The Sydney Botanic Gardens and Domain should be quarantined from commercial events for a minimum of 11 months every year to protect public amenity, Shadow Minister for Planning and the Environment, Luke Foley said today.

Mr Foley has called for the NSW Government and Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust to defend and protect sites on the Sydney harbour foreshore that have been reserved for public use.

"I don't believe renting out the Botanic Gardens prime waterfront land to impresarios for months on end conforms with the core purpose of the Botanic Gardens," Mr Foley said.

"The Sydney Botanic Gardens is a great urban park, a place for the general use of the public – for passive recreation, reading, walking, jogging and quiet contemplation.

"This land should be reserved for public use and quarantined from commercial events for a minimum eleven months every year.

"Between the St George Open Air Cinema, and the Handa Opera – which charges up to $325 per ticket – a large area of green space is cut off to the public for the first four months of the year.

"At this rate, Sydneysiders may anticipate that the Botanic Gardens waterfront land will soon be rented out to impresarios for most months of the year.

"The land south of Mrs Macquarie's Chair now carries a grandstand, restaurants, numerous bars, portable toilets, platinum lounges and merchandise stalls.

"We need to wind back the renting out of the finest harbour side land in the world - which belongs to the people of NSW.

"As a former trustee of the Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain I am aware of the pressures on the Trust to earn private income. However ultimately, the Trust has an overriding duty to preserve their lands for the purpose of public amenity.

"I call for the reservation of the Botanic Gardens and Domain's prime waterfront land for the purpose it was always meant for – public amenity, not entrepreneurial activity."