A quick update.
Yes, the state government is at it again – see Sydney Morning Herald story here. But resistance is already building to the Draft Greater Sydney Parklands Bill – including a Sydney-wide alliance to protect our parklands.
Behind a smokescreen of spin, Minister Stokes is trying to gut the safeguards in the Callan Park (Special Provisions) Act and usher in privatisation. What else are the 50-year leases for commercial operators in the Greater Sydney Parklands Bill but privatisation? Jamie Parker MP is suggesting that business parks and reception centres are now on the agenda for Callan Park if this Bill was to become law.
Rob Stokes is keen on talking up coffee carts and cafes – apparently seeing it as a sure-fire way to win over the latte-sipping component of the community. Cafes, run by, or in association with, not-for-profit organisations are permitted under the Act – there were two in the Master Plan adopted by Leichhardt Council in 2011.
Mr Stokes hopes his spin will distract us from the dangerous substance in the Bill. At page 34 of the Bill he sets out amendments to the Callan Park Act that will eliminate parliamentary scrutiny and local control over what happens at Callan Park.
The Minister hopes to be given the absolute power to award 50-year leases to private operators of Kirkbride, Convalescent Cottages and Broughton Hall. The fact that a consortium of social welfare and mental health organisations have been awarded the lease over Kirkbride and the Cottages as a result of an expressions-of-interest process run 12 months ago by the state government, doesn’t appear to concern him. The lease will not be signed apparently.
Despite the spin, resistance is already spreading. Our local MP Jamie Parker posted news of the Draft Greater Sydney Parklands Bill on Thursday evening and overnight nearly 3,000 people signed his petition against the changes to the Callan Park Act. You can read and sign here.
Jamie is also organising at big zoom event towards the end of the next week. Standby for details.
The Inner West Council meets on Tuesday night and it is expected they will take a strong stand against the mooted changes. Recently Councillors voted 12-2 to renew the call for a Callan Park Trust to manage the whole of Callan Park. The successful resolution was moved by Rochelle Porteous and seconded by Darcy Byrne.
The Friends are also organising leaflets and corflutes – more of that soon too.
And we are not alone.
The Greater Sydney Parklands Bill also targets the other 4 parks in the portfolio of the Greater Sydney Parklands agency – Centennial Park, Parramatta Park, Western Sydney Parklands and Fernhill Mulgoa. Community groups associated with those parks and the Friends have now formed an Alliance for Public Parklands to oppose this commercialisation drive and to support community control of public parks. Read more about the alliance here.
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Yours for Callan Park