Reforms to planning processes in Australia have been prefaced by assertions about what 'the public' wants from a planning system. The reforms involve a familiar mix of streamlining, privatism, centralisation, and curtailed public consultation. Despite a demonstrable lack of local government or public consultation on the reforms in New South Wales, they were justified by the then Planning Minister, Frank Sartor, as enacting the broader community's desires about how the planning system should be reformed. In this paper, claims about public opinion, collected from media releases, forums, discussion papers, ministerial documents and legislation, are analysed. Seven sets of planning principles provided the thematic framework for the analysis in this. The advocates of planning reforms in NSW, and the reform proposal documents, offer a good deal of rhetoric about strategic planning, political integrity, transparency and fast tracked development. However, little evidence has been offered to demonstrate public desires for these. Scant attention has been paid to planning expertise and community consultation. There is some rhetoric about environmental sustainability and community development, but nothing by way of new processes and principles that would substantively advance those virtues. Voices of dissent assert that the community would prefer social sustainability, environmental equity and community consultation over and above development facilitation; but these counter assertions about public desires are similarly without empirical substance.
State of Australian Cities National Conference 2009. State of Australian Cities National Conference 09: City Growth, Sustainability, Vitality and Vulnerability: Conference Papers (Perth, W.A. 24-27 November, 2009)