PROPOSED HOSPITAL - Paul to MD 13/12/2013

I agree entirely with Anthony Petrolo (Consider other sites for proposed hospital, 12 Dec ), but surely human beings are even more important than flora and fauna?

So … if you must have a hospital, put it where:

a) it is central to the population catchment it is supposed to serve;

b) it is not on an series of intersections which the Environmental Impact Report admits is already “at capacity”;

c) its main approach arteries are not vulnerable to closure from flooding and accident;

d) it will not destroy the character of the surrounding residential suburb.

The Frenchs Forest site fails on all four criteria. It’s time for Plan B, Brad.


ELIZABETH FARRELLY, Planning to Fail, 23 Jan 2014 - Paul to SMH

Elizabeth Farrelly allowed Brad Hazzard to pull the wool over her eyes. She didn’t seem to ask him, for example:

a) why absolutely nothing is done about reversing, or even slowing, population growth, which is the single common factor underlying ALL planning issues;

b) why his “reform” legislation retains the power for the Minister, at his personal whim, to approve a development proposal which has failed to satisfy all the criteria and systems that he himself has established. Hardly conducive to building confidence in the integrity of a historically corruption-rife system!

c) why he is obsessively determined to proceed to put a huge new hospital slap bang on one of the worst traffic intersections in Sydney (already at capacity, according to traffic engineers), on a site which was chosen decades ago, when the world was a different place. It is also well away from the centre of the population catchment it is supposed to serve.

d) why he is ignoring what he told public meetings, namely that he would be unable to adjudicate or get involved in the hospital approval process, because he lives in the area and obviously has a personal political interest;

There is a systemic problem with modern government. Good government used to be based on a structure of checks and balances. There was actually a serious side to Jim Hacker and Sir Humphrey. But now it’s OK to fire senior state servants who don’t toe the political party line (one of Mr Abbott’s first acts in government, don’t forget). And in any case much of the work is farmed out to consultants, who obviously have to come up with the required answer if they want any continuing business, and who in the case of the Northern Beaches hospital proposal takes what he is told by medical officials and quotes it back as fact, without any verification whatever, as well as conveniently ignoring geography.

So now, when a government wants to do something, one department (in this case, Health) asks another department (Planning) if it’s OK. Who’s going to say “no, that’s a crazy site, find a better location”? No-one. It’s a closed shop. Nothing can stop them. Is that democracy?


QANTAS ONE-CLASS SOLUTION - SMH 18/2/2014

The proposed one-class solution (Letters, 17 & 18 Feb) constitutes such a debasement of the Qantas product that it’s surprising Mr Joyce hasn’t already implemented it!

Can’t he get his head around the concept that enhancing the product or service often produces better business outcomes than cost-cutting?  Especially when he already has Jetstar to cater for the lowest common denominator.

And for someone who constantly preaches about the importance of the Qantas “Brand”, why does he allow the brand to be damaged by putting the Qantas name on a flawed and badly administered programme run by a third party, i.e. the Qantas Cash prepaid multi-currency travel card?  I doubt Qantas is even aware of the problems, given that they allow the third party, Access Prepaid, based in the UK, to act as judge and jury on their own complaints.  What do Access Prepaid care about the well-being of Qantas or the satisfaction of its customers?

Qantas will certainly start paying attention when they get hit with a hefty fine for falsely advertising that the card can be used “everywhere Mastercard is accepted electronically”.  It isn’t even accepted by Qantas’ own  rental car “partner", Avis, in Australia and New Zealand.


WOOLWORTHS LUNGES TO $2b PLUNGE - 10 April 14 - Paul to SMH​

“You can’t save your way to a great business” - Ian Moir, CEO, Woolworths Holdings, SA.

Alan Joyce, please note.


ROYAL VISIT - 16 April 2014, Paul to SMH

I hope those responsible for the safety of our royal visitors are alert to the potential for history to repeat itself.

In 1868, in Clontarf, Sydney, one Henry James O’Farrell, a Victorian of Irish descent, shot the young visiting Prince Alfred in the back, in Australia’s first attempted political assassination. The spontaneous outrage this caused, and the general gratitude for the Prince’s recovery, resulted in an out-pouring of funds which led to the building of the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital.

In 2014, Barry Robert O’Farrell, a Victorian of Irish descent, leads a government desperate to find a funding solution for its lunatic proposal to build a new hospital in Frenchs Forest.

As a precautionary measure, perhaps anti-terrorism laws should be invoked to lock up our beloved Premier for the duration of the visit. He might be happy to have an excuse to avoid ICAC, even for a few days.

NOTE: Within 10 minutes of sending this email, I learned that Barry O'Farrell had resigned, having been found to have lied about the receipt of a bottle of Penfolds' Grange wine. I resent the email adding "PS Threat averted!" in the header.


"ASIC TOOTHLESS TIGER" (28 June) - Paul to SMH 28/6/2014

Here is an example of the lack of consumer protection against false advertising.

The Qantas Cash card is "a multi-currency reloadable, prepaid payment facility" which advertises "Use everywhere MasterCard® is accepted electronically”. [http://www.qantascash.com/ and its Product Disclosure Statement]

Avis (ironically Qantas’ own rental car “partner”) "does not accept a prepaid or reloadable 'stored value' card, a travel money card or an EFTPOS card.” [https://www.avis.com.au/car-rental/content/render-faq.ac]

It only needs one exception (and this is quite a major one in the travel business) to render the claim of “everywhere” false.

After two months’ “investigation”, ASIC “have determined that there is insufficient evidence to warrant further action in relation to this matter”. [ASIC Ref. 13239/14] What more evidence can they want?

But I am unable to find any other regulatory body prepared even to consider the issue, since I am not claiming personal loss.

Peter Fitzsimons (27 June) mentions the inadequacy of our advertising laws. He’d be a great guy to start a crusade!


THE ABC AND CARBON TAX - Paul to SMH 15/7/2014

​We haven’t even implemented the funding cuts yet, and already the ABC is asking the wrong questions.

7.30 this evening (15 July) asked “How much will we save” when the carbon tax is abolished?

Surely the more important question is what will happen to carbon emissions, atmospheric pollution, and global warming? Or what alternative measures will the Government deploy to deal with that?

Isn’t that more important than whether the public saves a few dollars or big companies make bigger profits?


NORTHERN BEACHES HOSPITAL - Paul to MD, 1 Oct 2014

Eira Battaglia (Letters, 1 Oct) may be assured that the “anti-hospital letter writers” have been very vociferous over several years, to Ministers and other politicians, Departments, Council, the Manly Daily, et al. But if a Government is both blind and deaf to common sense, and can’t see that the Frenchs Forest site is the wrong place for a hospital, they are hard to reason with.

But it is never too late to stop good tax-payer money being poured after bad (although it is too late for the flora and fauna, I agree). There are still three Environmental Impact Statements not yet approved, and the contract to build and operate the hospital has not yet been awarded.

The NSW Planning documentation for the new hospital states "The NSW Government confirmed the selection of the Frenchs Forest site for the new Northern Beaches Hospital in 2006. This decision was informed by a robust qualitative analysis …”. So why is that report being kept secret? Especially when the Planning Minister who gave the hospital project State Significant status, Brad Hazzard, promised in a White Paper that the planning system should have “Transparency - Planning authorities are to make decisions in an open and transparent way and provide the community with reasons for their decisions (including how community views have been taken into account)”.

If necessary, the Freedom of Information Act should be invoked to enable the public to understand a decision that otherwise seems ludicrous, for the following reasons:

1. The combined impact of the hospital and proposed roading development will destroy the character and amenity of the residential suburb for existing residents, especially those subject to compulsory purchase of their property;

2. The assertion that "The proposed hospital site is ... centrally located within the NBHS [Northern Beaches Health Service] catchment area” is palpably false. Just look at the map on page 12 of the Northern Sydney Local Health District “Clinical Services Plan 2012-2016”. (Google NSLHD_CSP2012-1.pdf)

3. The major North/South arterial access road to the Frenchs Forest site is almost 15 kms of mostly 2-lane, double-line no-overtaking road which is prone to closure through flooding. Even on dry days, how are ambulances supposed to fight their way through? I hope it doesn’t need a fatal accident involving an ambulance to drive that message home.

It shouldn’t be too hard to find a site which doesn’t have these insoluble problems, possibly in the Terrey Hills area. And the Frenchs Forest site could still be turned into a nice open park, or sports fields.

It’s not too late!


NORTHERN BEACHES HOSPITAL - Paul to MD, 3 Oct 2014​

The artist’s impression of the hospital (Your Say, 3 Oct), “Supplied” by a conveniently unnamed source, is grossly misleading.

1. The hospital will be as much as 10 storeys high, plus services;

2. Warringah Road will be 12 lanes wide, and will involve the removal of all the homes and businesses shown on the left of the picture, ie the South side of the road.

3. Most of the vegetation shown embracing the main part of the hospital has already gone.

4. There will be a helipad, the noise from which the planners consider unimportant.

Just about the most accurate element of the picture is the traffic gridlock.


'INTEGRITY AND CHARACTER" - Paul to MD 10/10/2014​"

​"The integrity and character of our area" isn’t just under threat, Ms Cuthbertson (Your Say, 10 Oct); it is already being attacked and destroyed at this end of the peninsula, as you would have seen if you have been down as far as Frenchs Forest lately.

Of course, I appreciate it is a long drive from where you are at Avalon Beach, particularly if you have a medical emergency and you (or your ambulance) must negotiate the long, narrow, winding, no-overtaking stretch of road known as Wakehurst Parkway, even assuming it isn’t closed through flooding.

But the hospital is being built here because the planners would have us believe is the centre of the Northern Beaches Health Service catchment. Yeah right! And the report on which the choice of site was based is “not available in the public domain”, despite the billion dollars or so of public money going into it.

When you have the combined might of NSW Planning, Health Infrastructure, and now Warringah Council chipping in, all determined to “develop” what has until now been a pleasant residential suburb, you don’t stand much chance. I sympathise with your loss of a few boughs of trees to selfish vandals; we’ve already lost acres of valuable bush to make room for a 10-storey hospital, a helipad and a 12-lane highway. And that’s just for starters.

The interests of the existing residents, who live here because we like the way it is/was, and don’t want it to be destroyed, are of no consequence.

You have every reason to be worried, Ms Cuthbertson.


A PICTURE IS WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS - Paul to MD, 24 Nov 2014

​How dumb do these people think we are?

This image is on the front page of Health Infrastructure’s application to NSW Planning for Stage 2 of the Northern Beaches Hospital.

No traffic, except for one bus. Yeah, right!

A classic example of how to tell lies without uttering a word.


NANNY AWARDS - PAUL TO SMH (Published) 22/12/2014

Thank you, Paul Sheehan, for bringing the Nanny Awards to our attention. (Say ‘No’ to the Nanny State, 22 Dec)

Not only is the award to RMS for road signs well merited, but there is a sub-group which deserves independent mention - School Speed Zones.  Are we to understand that today’s young people are incapable of learning and observing the road safety rules?

But the biggest Nanny of all lies in store for us in 2015, if Mr Abbott gets his way.  Paid Parental Leave could almost define Nannyism.  Most of the argument usually focuses on the affordability of the various proposed schemes.  But the fundamental point is that it is immoral in principle for the state to subsidise those who choose to procreate.  Why should my taxes pay for you to have a baby? By all means let the state support those in need through no fault of their own, but having children doesn’t qualify.

Already positive discrimination in favour of ‘Parents with Prams’ can be seen in most shopping mall car parks, often at the expense of the genuinely disabled.

If you can’t cope with parenthood, financially or otherwise, don’t have them!  The world in general and Sydney in particular need more people like a hole in the head.


PS THE SAME EDITION PUBLISHED ANOTHER LETTER ON THIS SUBJECT, WHICH I THOUGHT WAS EXCELLENT:

Paul Sheehan's Nanny Award to Sydney trains only tells half the story. If the travelling public does "see anything unusual or suspicious" the staff we're supposed to notify don't exist, at least on the south coast line where most stations are either staff-free zones or staffed during peak hour only. Perhaps a third nanny star could be awarded to the same recipient for the locked toilets on these stations, which bear the sign "if toilets are locked, see staff for key".  Jennie Morris Wollongong



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