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City Desk
30 June, 2009  
More vroom-vroom

Those culture vultures are at it again in New South Wales. Polluting, noisy and crass car rally given its head as Rees government suspends environmental and safety protections throughout northern shires. Bruce Donald reports


imageOnce again the rev-heads of NSW are gunning their motors as Ian Macdonald, the Minister for Overriding Laws and State Development, repeats the star turn that inflicted V8 cars on Sydney’s Olympic Park (seen here).

Justinian readers might recall our March 25 story News Ltd, the V8 Act and the exclusion of rights, which reported on how the NSW parliament ran roughshod over the public interest to get the News Ltd backed vroom-vroom event waved through by the checkered flag.

This time it’s the rally drivers, with their GPSs set on the North Coast and Northern Rivers, who have spurred Macdonald into a repeat performance with the Motor Sports (World Rally Championship) Bill 2009 (awaiting assent).

We lawyers know how powerful precedent can be in justifying a law, however draconian.

When an Act can be lifted off the shelf it’s easier second time around to ignore the fact that it tramples all over the controls and laws put in place over decades to protect the environment and the public’s rights.

The World Rally Act, like its Olympic Park predecessor, will allow the minister to carve out a “rally area” where a raft of laws are excluded for the duration of the event.

imageWhile Olympic Park was a relatively small geographic area, this time it can be the part of the whole Tweed and Kyogle Shires containing the 350 kms required for the rally.

In the process all these laws are suspended:

* Environmental Planning and assessment Act, 1979.

* National Parks and Wildlife Act, 1975.

* Local Government Act, 1993.

* Crown Lands Act, 1989.

* Forestry Act, 1916.

* Fisheries Management Act, 1994.

* Water Management Act, 2000.

* Motor Vehicle Sports (Public Safety) Act, 1985.

* Road Transport (Safety and Traffic Management) Act, 1999.

* Roads Act, 1993.

* Protection of the Environment Operations Act, 1997.

Needless to say, under the World Rally legislation the conduct of the minister or the race authority cannot be “challenged, reviewed, quashed or called into question before any court of law or administrative review body”.

When the government gets the smell of petrol in its nostrils you can forget about looking to the rule of law to protect the public interest in New South Wales.

From Bruce Donald