Monday, February 01, 2010

Sydney Metro Response to Submissions

Last October I wrote a brief submission on the Environmental Assessment and the Station Plans for the proposed Sydney CBD Metro. Today I received a paper letter (dated 15 January 2010, but postmarked five days later on 20 January 2010). The letter says that a response to the issues I raised is in a "Submissions Report" available on the web, unfortunately I have not been able to find that response.

The letter does not give the web address of the report. It gives the home page of the NSW Department of Planning and of Sydney Metro. I was unable to find the document navigating from these home pages. I tried telephoning Sydney Metro, but got an answering service, which took a message, but so far no one has rung back.

Eventually I found a web page "Project Application - CBD Metro - Assessment" which has"Response to Submissions" which might be what the letter was referring to. However, that then links to ten PDF documents, the titles of which do not match those of the documents I was commenting on (Environmental Assessment and Station Plans). These documents are about 40 Mbytes in total. It is not reasonable to have to search through 4,000 pages of material looking for a response to my submission. It would be quite simple for Sydney Metro to electronically mark which bits of the report refer to specific submissions, or at least point to the most relevant section.

I attempted to find mention of my submission by searching the documents using a web search, but was unable to find either my name, nor the reference number allocated to the submission: 2536.

In its judgement "Muin v Refugee Review Tribunal; Lie v Refugee Review Tribunal" (8 August 2002) the High Court of Australia found that a government agency could not merely make "documents" available in a mass of undifferentiated material, it was necessary to provide some form of identification of the specific relevant material.

In my view Sydney Metro has not provided a response to the submission, or to any submission, as there is no way to find references to submissions in the thousands of pages of material. Sydney Metro has therefore no complied with NSW planning law.