Sydney’s NIMBY mayors called out amid housing crisis

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NIMBY mayors in Sydney are “fear mongering” over plans to unlock thousands of new homes as they’re more worried about their own positions, the NSW housing minister says.

Rose Jackson said some mayors were prioritising re-election at upcoming council polls ahead of solutions to the city’s housing crisis by “playing politics” over the state’s plans.

It comes after southwest Sydney mayor Frank Carbone claimed the reforms threatened to turn “western Sydney into Kolkata” during an interview with 2GB this week.

“It’s frustrating because it’s not accurate, it’s hysterical and it’s misrepresenting what the government is doing,” Ms Jackson said.

“[They are] taking the easy route of playing into NIMBY politics – but it lacks courage.

“I think anyone of our generation knows Sydney is becoming a harder place to live or start a business. It’s becoming more unequal.”

Fairfield’s independent mayor Mr Carbone told radio station 2GB on Wednesday the government’s proposals would mean the “end of the backyard”, likening the density planned to that of Indian city of Kolkata.

“You won’t be able to put a Hills hoist in the backyard; you certainly won’t be able to play backyard cricket,” he said.

The comments drew satirical responses online from advocates for greater housing density, such as the Sydney YIMBY page: “Frank needs to decide whether these reforms are going to turn us into India or stop us playing cricket, because it can’t be both!”

The Minns government’s plans to override council zonings to allow for greater density around public transport links like the Sydney Metro West is predicted to allow 112,000 new homes across Greater Sydney, the Central Coast, the Hunter and Illawarra.

It has set a target of building 377,000 new homes by 2029.

This week, the Committee for Sydney released its latest Life in Sydney report, which found almost 40 per cent of people surveyed thought their quality of life was worse than in the previous year.

It found cost of living and the price of housing were the biggest challenges facing Sydneysiders, with more people considering moving away from the city.

Mr Carbone told Sky News he was supportive of more density around transport hubs but believed a broad brush approach would “change the fabric of what we see now as the family home”.

Ms Jackson agued that while public figures like Mr Carbone were “headline chasing”, Sydneysiders were queuing around the block just to view an apartment.

She said such remarks were not constructive to the debate, saying she accepted there were some “legitimate issues” councils could raise with the government.

“Do better,” she said.

“Are you going to actively engage or go for fear mongering?

“If we don’t deal with this seriously, Sydney will become a place where whole generations are wiped out (from the housing market).”

The minister said it appeared opposition to the reforms was not about party politics, with majority Labor, Liberal and independent councils voicing concerns.

Labor’s Canterbury-Bankstown mayor Bilal El-Hayek said he was supportive of Premier Chris Minns’ “passion for addressing the housing crisis”.

But he said that passion should not ignore “haphazard planning reforms being rushed through”, he said.

“We are expected to house more than 300,000 people but there is a deafening silence

when it comes to how many schools, preschools, day care centres which will be needed,” Mr El-Hayak said.

“There is no mention of road improvements, or infrastructure to deal with our already

congested roads.”

The mayor said he would discuss seeking legal advice about challenging the proposals at the next council meeting.

Darcy Byrne, mayor of the Inner West, told Sky News councils needed to avoid turning the debate into a “culture war” but there were questions the government needed to address.

The Inner West Council will discuss a draft recommendation at its meeting next week, which concluded that the “council opposes the proposed reforms, and these should not apply in the Inner West”.

David Borger, chair of the Housing Now! Alliance, urged councils to work with government to find solutions for Sydney’s future, adding attempts to stop housing were “really attempts to stop people”.

“Winding the clock back to the 1950s and dreaming of large backyards in inner city suburbs or walking distance from a train station is lunacy,” he said.

“These objections to creating more housing is just going to lock our kids out of the neighbourhoods they have grown up in when they want to get their own home.”

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