Bush bashing: rally laws override locals

29/06/2018 Posted by admin

SPECIAL legislation overriding planning, national parks and Aboriginal cultural heritage laws is being rushed through Parliament to ensure a decade of world rally championship races will not be interrupted.The new laws passed through upper house with the support of the Coalition, which criticised it for stopping local communities on the North Coast from having any input into the staging of this year’s event, which starts in just nine weeks.The Motor Sports (World Rally Championship) Bill is similar to the special legislation to allow the running of V8 Supercar races at Homebush Bay for five years. It gives the government power to ignore requirements under planning laws and impose fines of up to $5000 on those who breach the law.The new law will allow the Minister for State Development, Ian Macdonald, to declare any area on the North Coast or anywhere in the state a “declared rally area” until 2017 to allow France’s International Automobile Federation (FIA) to stage five rounds of its championships.In a “declared rally period”, provisions of seven separate laws, including the Local Government Act, Forestry Act and Fisheries Act, will not apply – ensuring the rallies can proceed regardless of opposition in local communities.The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act still will apply. Drivers must stop if they hit and injure an animal, a potential problem in the wildlife-rich area where the rallies will be staged.Before voting to support the bill, the National Party MP Trevor Khan said North Coast communities were justifiably angry at the “lack of proper process” and the Government’s “heavy-handed approach” in legislating to allow the rally to proceed without councils’ approval. “Once again the state Labor Government has demonstrated it is more interested in a headline than what is right for the local community,” he said.The Government agreed to pass special legislation in response to a request from the FIA to the Premier, Nathan Rees, expressing concern about the level of local opposition to the event.Taxpayers have contributed an undisclosed amount of funding to the event, which for many years was staged in Western Australia – until the WA Government decided the rally was not worth its $6 million annual contribution.The NSW Government claims the event will bring $100 million into the Northern Rivers economy over the next decade.
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