NSW government introduces minister to ‘champion’ public spaces

The NSW government has announced it will introduce a new ministerial portfolio for public spaces.

The role of the new minister will be to “identify and protect publicly owned land for use as parks and public spaces” and to enhance and expand the state’s parks, gardens and open spaces.

The government will also provide $150 million toward improved parklands across urban areas. Of this, $50 million will be allocated towards converting existing government-owned land into new and upgraded parks in Penrith, Ermington, Appin, Leppington, Frenchs Forest, Carramar, Beaumont Hills and Hurstville.

The remainder will be used to purchase open space in strategic locations in an effort to develop new parks across Sydney.

The government will provide additional protections for crown land held for recreation use, including legislation requiring the approval of the minister for public parks before crown land for recreation use is sold, leased or changed.

“Today’s announcement takes this to the next level with a dedicated champion for public spaces to be placed at the heart of Government,” said premier Gladys Berejiklian.

The announcement comes in the wake of a large-scale “asset recycling” program undertaken by the NSW government.

In 2017, a parliamentary budget estimates committee was told the NSW government agencies have sold or leased $9.14 billion of property assets.

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