Conference on Sydney problems

Wednesday, August 14, 1991

By Bruce Threlfo

SYDNEY — Around 230 people attended the Living in Sydney conference, held on August 3-4. Initiated by the New Left Party, the gathering attracted a range of activists and people working in various fields of urban and social development.

The first day was devoted to discussion of alternatives to the continued expansion of the Sydney urban area, with an emphasis on creating a more public transport-oriented city.

-2>Dr David Hughes, from the Coalition of Hawkesbury and Nepean Groups for the Environment, argued that the limits to growth in western Sydney had been reached and warned of environmental degradation of the Hawkesbury-Nepean river system.0>

Jeremy Dawkins, of the University of Technology, presented interesting material on the energy efficiency of different types of cities, but said there were no mechanisms to design new, different environments into Sydney.

-2>Nicola Pain, of the Environmental Defender's Office, discussed environment protection legislation being prepared by the NSW government, and called for greater public involvement in setting and policing pollution standards. The current policy, of allowing the State Pollution Control Commission to issue licences to pollute, should be reversed and the onus placed on industry to show that it will not pollute before being allowed to begin operations.0>

-2>Discussion on the second day concerned processes involved in dealing with the environment, with panels on communities, government and power. Peter Woods, from the Local Government and Shires Association, argued for a greater role for local government, as the most democratic and participatory level of government.0>

-1>The conference issued a statement of concern with the high level of deaths from cancer in the Villawood area, calling on the state government to hold an inquiry. Organisers plan a post-conference resource booklet to improve contacts between participants. n0>