MEETING WITH THE PARLIMENTARY SECRETARY FOR THE ILLAWARRA, PETER POULOS, MP
31 JANUARY 2022, 10:30am
STV: Stephen Le Bas, Louise Wellington, Donna Henderson
TVC: Martin Gorrick, Ray Smith, Annette Jones
BACKGROUND: In December Mr Peter Poulos was named the Parliamentary Secretary for the Illawarra. Interestingly he is not working for a particular Minister. He previously worked for the Treasurer, Matt Kean. As Parliamentary Secretary he is able to provide briefings and take issues to any Minister he wants, which makes him influential. He mentioned that the Ministers he thought especially relevant to consult in relation to Illawarra issues were:
Minister for Regional NSW: Paul Toole
Minister for Transport: David Elliott
Minister for Cities: Rob Stokes
Minister for Planning: Anthony Roberts.
Mr Poulos was appointed to the role directly by the Premier and is well connected to the very top of the current NSW Government. He mentioned that he has a holiday house in Vincentia and so has an appreciation of our concerns.
MEETING: The meeting started with a walk around Thirroul. During the walkaround the Parliamentary Secretary for the Illawarra noted the views of the escarpment. He remarked that any large building would impinge on these views. The Parliamentary Secretary was introduced to a number of local businesses owners, including the owners of IGA, Thirroul Pharmacy and Thirroul Cellars. Each business owner explained the impact the proposed Plaza DA would have on their business, especially given the proposed change to traffic and on street parking. Business owners explained that they are not against development but are opposed to the proposal in its current form. The Parliamentary Secretary listened and asked questions.
After the walk around the meeting adjourned to Anita’s Theatre where the Manager, Nick escorted the group on a guided tour of the theatre and explained the impact of the proposed Plaza DA on his business. During this time media were present and conducted interviews with the Parliamentary Secretary and Stephen.
Thereafter the meeting commenced with an explanation of the Conciliation process, including representation before the Land and Environment Court (LEC) by local community members and businesses. A summary as to how the matter ended up before the LEC was provided. He was advised that the matter will now go to a full hearing in mid-April. The Parliamentary Secretary was surprised that the developers had not tried to engage the community as a means to prosecute their case. He saw this as a missed opportunity.
The Parliamentary Secretary was presented with an explanation of how the Save Thirroul Village group was started and how this group works in with the Thirroul Village Committee. An outline of the actions of the groups was presented. The extent of community opposition to the Plaza development was explained. The Parliamentary Secretary seemed impressed with the number of submissions.
Further, the traffic issues particular to Thirroul were presented to the Parliamentary Secretary. An explanation of the level of community involvement in relation to the options offered by Transport for NSW (TfNSW) for Thirroul and the outcome of the consultation were provided. There was discussion about the impact the DA would have on local traffic. The effect of the DA on the medical precinct was noted by the Parliamentary Secretary.
The Parliamentary Secretary stated that from his perspective there were a number of issues that had to be considered by the LEC in relation to the Plaza DA. These included, but were not limited to:
Escarpment views – citing the Acropolis as an example. It is a wide held belief that the Acropolis defines Athens. Possibly the Escarpment defines Thirroul.
Transport issues and TfNSW reservations
Remaining toilet block
Height restrictions in the DCP
The Parliamentary Secretary added that he had already been in discussion with the Lord Mayor and Councillors. The Liberal Ward 1 Councillor, Cameron Walters had already discussed the Plaza with him. It appears that the Parliamentary Secretary has established links with local members.
An outline of the activities of the TVC was presented to the Parliamentary Secretary – graffiti removal, beautification, involvement in the DCP and monitoring of DAs. An outline of how the TVC works with other neighbourhood groups (i.e., NIRAG) was provided. An example of flyers relating to neighbouring DAs was presented to the Parliamentary Secretary.
No firm undertaking was made by the Parliamentary Secretary but we are happy that he is aware of the local issues and trust that he will raise these with the Ministers and Council as the occasion arises.
Meeting ended at 12.45pm