2016 - Anne and Paul

STATE INFRASTRUCTURE - COMPULSORY PURCHASE - Paul to SMH, 11 Jan 2016

With reference to Sean Nicholls’ piece this morning, the situation with the Northern Beaches Hospital is even more unjust than the examples he quotes, because the location of the hospital is perpetrated based on deceit.

The government’s own Development Options Business Case (page 30) states that the Frenchs Forest site ranked a distant third amongst the locations considered on the all-important qualitative and operational criteria. The cost of roading upgrades was put at $21.3 million, whereas the current published figure is $500 million. Contrary to the Health Infrastructure's claims, the Frenchs Forest site is neither geographically nor demographically central to the catchment area.

Ironically, the preferred site was the land associated with the Warringah Council offices in Dee Why, soon to be vacant if the proposed council boundary changes go through.

So the homes and businesses, the flora and fauna, the open green spaces and recreational areas, and the pleasant leafy character of the suburb, are all to be destroyed unnecessarily.


"I think that I shall never see a billboard lovely as a tree; in fact unless the billboards fall I'll never see a tree at all." - Ogden Nash - Paul to SMH, 19 Jan 2016

​It’s great that the Federal government finally acknowledges the value of trees, but how is it actually going to control, even influence, policy at State level?

Given the length of time trees take to mature, the first priority must surely be to preserve what we already have. The suburb of Frenchs Forest didn’t get its name by accident, but will soon have to be referred to the Geographical Names Board to have “Forest” removed, such is the environmental and social devastation being wreaked by the building of a new hospital, a 12-lane dual-level highway, and extensive development planned for the wider area around the hospital precinct. Already hectares of bush and countless birds and animals have been destroyed, and more is imminent. Businesses have already been evicted, and homes are next in line. The tragedy of it all is that the hospital is being built in what the government’s own “robust qualitative analysis” rated a poor third amongst the six locations considered. The ruin of the pleasant leafy suburb is thus totally unnecessary.

Not surprisingly, the Federal Liberal member for Warringah and one-time Prime Minister hasn’t uttered a peep in defence of the trees, nor of the residents, both human and non-human.

I hope Mr Turnbull’s aspirational words don’t turn out to be just that, ideals without any practical benefit.


LOCAL GOVERNMENT RESTRUCTURE - Paul to MD, 2 Feb 2016

​You've got to hand it to Brad "Teflon" Hazzard for his mastery of weasel words.

When last [Monday] night's huge public meeting in Forestville voted unanimously to reject his government's plan to split Warringah council in two, Brad promised magnanimously to convey the resolution personally to the Premier. What he assiduously avoided saying was that he would support the sentiments of the resolution. In fact, his horrified face when a speaker suggested Brad should cross the floor on the issue told a different story - what an impossible idea!

The other message Brad will hopefully take from the meeting is the number of self-confessed Liberals who affirmed that they would no longer support that party, at either state or federal level, should the proposed split of Warringah go ahead.


HANDWRITING - Anne to SMH, 4 Feb 2016

William McKeith asks what will be lost if school children are no longer taught to write by hand. In my opinion and based on personal experience, a hell of a lot will be lost.

I love to write by hand and try to do so each day. I have a small collection of fountain pens and various coloured inks to choose from. The whole process is sensuous and deeply meditative; the colour of the inks, the beauty and design of my pens, the sound of pen on paper. I have excellent hand to eye coordination which has enabled me not only to write well but also to teach myself to sketch and now paint my world. Writing my thoughts by hand enables me to connect with my subconscious and to problem solve. Sketching and painting enables me to see the world around me and connect to it in meaningful ways. When I write and sketch I am most definitely not disengaged from the world around me. I am acutely in touch with it.

I use technology too but when I do I am at a remove from the process of self expression. There is a glass screen between me and my words and pictures. ​

The myth persists that only some people are naturally talented artists. This is incorrect. Everyone who can write their name in cursive lettering can be taught to draw and to draw well. Being able to write and draw develops the right side of the brain. This is the side of the brain that understands patterns, spatial relationships and can connect the dots in ways our left, rational brain can't. This knowledge has been around and well researched and understood for decades. It's not at all encouraging that policy makers aren't across this information.


TAXATION PERCENTAGES - Anne to SMH, 6 Feb 2016

​By focusing on what people will lose out on his article (Test of Courage Sat 6th Feb) Peter Hartcher implies that as people move into a higher tax bracket they will be worse off. The maths doesn’t support that.

The statement that people could end up paying 50% more in income tax is open to pernicious misunderstanding. It is too easy for that to be misinterpreted by shock jocks, for example, to suggest that people will be paying 50% tax which is clearly not true.

A quick look at the ATO website yields the following mathematical truths for FY16: 

If your Income is $37,000 Tax = $3572 Net income = $33428 (average tax rate 9.65% )

If your income is $80,000 Tax = $17547 Net Income = $62453 (average tax rate 21.93%)

If your income is $200,000 Tax = $63,547 Net Income = $136,543 (average tax rate 31.78%)

I imagine that someone earning $37,000 would be happy to trade places with someone earning $200,000. Even after paying $63,547 tax they'd be over $100,000 better off.


MORE ON LANGUAGE - Paul to SMH, 11 Feb 2016

​Since when did the transitive verb "to accommodate" mutate into "to accommodate for"? Is this Twitter-speak? Can the Herald please stick to English? (Inside Twitter's new office, 11 Feb)


TAX - Paul to SMH, 17 Feb 2016​

Alan Hislop (Letters, 17 Feb) says "reducing the company tax rate .... would stimulate the economy". All it would do is increase company after-tax profits. I thought is was widely agreed that corporate tax avoidance was a major problem, not that companies paid too much tax.

In any case, isn't "stimulate the economy" just a euphemism for "increase spending"? Surely even more wasteful and waste-creating materialistic consumerism is the last thing this planet needs?


SYDNEY GETS ITS PRIORITIES STRAIGHT! - Anne to SMH (Published), 22 Feb 2016

​So an estimated 15,000 people turned out to protest Sydney’s lockout laws while only handful turned out out a few weeks back to save a line of 130 year old Moreton Bay figs which were no doubt home to birds, possums and insects. Hedonism rules, it seems.


BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR - Paul to MD 25/2/2016

Before we get too carried away by Mr Baird’s apparent turn-around on the issue of a single council for the Northern Beaches, perhaps he could assure Warringah ratepayers that they will not have to inherit the combined debt of Manly and Pittwater councils, which we are told totals well in excess of $100 million.


FRENCHS FOREST - Paul to MD, 2 Mar 2016

So 62 householders, who have lovingly tended and maintained their pleasant, leafy suburban properties for umpteen years, now think they should bequeath to posterity a 4.3 hectare slab of concrete. What unspeakable greed and irresponsibility!

But I have to disappoint them. What they are hoping to do is incompatible with Warringah Council’s Vision to “protect the environment”, and their stated policy that growth "won’t compromise our way of life”.

So it won’t, can’t, mustn’t happen. The State government is already destroying more than enough of the suburb. It’s up to the Council (which we have fought to preserve) to protect what’s left.


HOW STUPID DO THEY THINK WE ARE? - Paul to MD, 8 Mar 2016

​You ain't seen nothing yet, Mr Raicevich (Your Say, 8 Mar).

Now that the RMS hospital project Stage 2 has been approved, it won't be long before the lovely Brick Pit Reserve disappears, along with the long sweep of trees from Hilmer Street as far as Fitzpatrick Avenue East.

But not to worry. According to NSW Planning's appraisal of the RMS project, (Executive Summary, final paragraph) "The Department considers that the project’s ... residual impacts ...would not... result in any long term adverse or irreversible effects." That's all right then! And RMS will be collecting and planting seeds, so in 100 years we'll have a few trees again, and the birds can have somewhere to live once more.

What planet do these people live on?


QUALITY NOT QUANTITY - Paul to SMH, 14 Mar 2016

​PricewaterhouseCoopers tell us the blindingly obvious [Divisive Marriage Equality Plebiscite, 14 March]. Of course a non-binding plebiscite is wasteful procrastination. So is the plan to conduct yet more studies into climate change. Both are political cowardice, especially if details are not to be released until after the election.

But at least PWC adduce some facts and figures in support of their case. Not so with their subjective opinion that "the economy, growth, and jobs ... is the real priority for Australia". It's natural that accountants would think like that. But the rôle of government is different. Its priority is surely the quality of life of its citizens.


AND EVEN MORE EMPTY HOUSES - Anne to SMH

I'm surprised it's taken until now for people to start realising a lot of properties are lying vacant across the land. ("Thousands of empty homes adding to Sydney's housing crisis") The thought had already occurred to me albeit for a different reason than yield versus capital gain. When I travel I like to stay in self catered accommodation. The network of homes available for me to stay in is extensive and this has prompted me to wonder how many "holiday homes" lie vacant for lengthy periods of time when they could perhaps be housing people continuously. Some self catering properties are very popular and earn their keep. Others seem only to be rented out during peak periods while lying vacant for much of the year. Also, many people keep a second home for their exclusive use for a month or so each year which constitutes another set of under utilised properties. ​

I am not saying this is necessarily a bad thing. I'm simply pointing out that a lot of dwellings do seem to be vacant for one reason or another. Meanwhile our cities are being ripped to pieces by large scale development on the basis of what seems to be an over inflated perception of a housing crisis.


PUZZLING DOUBLE STANDARD - Anne to SMH 1/4/2016

​It's funny how Business recognises bribery as a "legitimate" cost of doing business yet fails to recognise things like tax and workers' entitlements as legitimate costs of doing business.


SCOVANDOLOUS (Elizabeth Farrelly, 14 Apr) - Paul to SMH, 14 Apr, 2016

Thank you, yet again, Elizabeth Farrelly. There's another glaring example you didn't mention. Starting next Monday, RMS will begin taking the Forest out of Frenchs Forest, by removing hundreds of mature trees along Warringah Road, to be replaced by a 12-lane, dual-level highway, supposedly necessitated to support the new Northern Beaches Hospital.

There are two ways in which this example is particularly scovandalous. First, the hospital is sited in what the government's own analysis ranked as a poor third among the locations considered; and secondly, the 2006 choice of location was not reviewed or updated when, in 2012, the then Minister for Planning, Brad Hazzard, signed the order giving the go-ahead to build in Frenchs Forest, so that roading upgrades which were supposed to cost $21.3 million are now estimated at $500 million.

So it's not just barbaric vandalism, it's gross mismanagement as well, at the expense of tax-payers in general, and the residents of Frenchs Forest in particular.


SAY GOODBYE TO THE FOREST - Paul to MD, 14 Apr 2016

Felling starts Monday. Don't these people have a conscience?



LIBERAL SELECTION - Paul to SMH, 18 Apr 2016

​Is it too much to hope that the Mackellar Syndrome might be infectious? Then perhaps the Wind of Change might blow it into the adjacent electorate of Warringah.


BROOKIE - Paul to MD 19/4/2016

Every time there’s an election coming up, the Federal Member for Warringah promises $10 million to upgrade Brookvale Oval.

He didn’t deliver when he was Prime Minister. How does he expect us to believe him when he is a mere back-bencher, hopefully not even that?


BACK TO THE FUTURE FOR SYDNEY, Anne to SMH, 1 June 2016

Rob Stokes boasts that his government is implementing items from the 1948 County of Cumberland plans for Sydney.

Taking the example of the Northern Beaches Hospital at Frenchs Forest it would seem to me that to retrofit 1948 planning onto today's conditions is truly the reactionary thinking Stokes accuses others of. In 1948 Frenchs Forest was pretty much a rural area with very little traffic passing through. These days the old "blinking light" intersection carries in excess of 80,000 vehicles a day and rising.

When the latest planning for the hospital took place in 2005/6 Frenchs Forest came in third on a list of sites considered. The final decision for the hospital's location was based on the cost of road improvements around the site costing $21 million. Those road improvements which involve widening 1.5 kms of road are going to cost over $500 million.

So, the NSW government doesn't follow its own recommendation, wildly underestimates the cost of things and makes a decision based on nostalgia for 1948. ​

I'm beginning to suspect it's Bruce Baird's vision that is being inflicted, by his son, upon today's Sydney.


THIS IS NOT THE CHANGE WE WANT, MR STOKES - Paul to SMH, 1 June 2016

There may have been a hospital pencilled in for Frenchs Forest on Rob Stokes' 1948 map ("The city is waiting for change", 31 May), but that doesn't make it appropriate for the 21st century. In fact, when the actual planning process took place in 2005/06, Frenchs Forest ranked a distant third amongst the six sites considered. Its ultimate selection was based on a figure of $21.3 million for the required roading improvements, whereas that is now costing $500 million.

When the then Planning Minister, Brad Hazzard, gave the go-ahead for the hospital in 2013, (despite telling a public meeting that he would be debarred by perceived conflict of interest), the information was already out of date, but was not reviewed. Similarly, NSW Planning ignored its own criteria requiring full and current information to support the planning application, and requiring that the overall impact of the project be within acceptable limits.

So not only do we get the massive hospital and a 12-lane highway (at the expense of homes, businesses, parks, and hundreds of the trees which gave the suburb its name), but the state government is hell-bent on further development around the hospital precinct, which will be facilitated by the undemocratic installation of a puppet administrator to run the new Northern Beaches Council.

The suburb is being devastated. This is not the sort of change we want, Mr Stokes.

It's little wonder that for the first time in my life, a month short of my 70th birthday, I took part in a political demonstration last Sunday.


LETTER - Paul to SMH 5/6/2016

​Is it not illegal to discriminate on grounds of ethnicity and/or nationality (Mike Baird to give refugees priority, 4June)?

Surely the Public Service should be a meritocracy, not a social welfare home, for whatever reason.


MILLENNIALS NEED TO STOP BLAMING OTHERS - Anne to SMH 29/6/2016

In the United Kingdom 80% of old fogeys exercised their hard won right to vote in the Brexit referendum. Meanwhile only 20% of millennials bothered to venture to the voting booths. (Brexit: young Brits are angry about older people deciding their future. June 28)

Perhaps these "young whipper snappers" might like to redirect their nasty blame away from older folk and towards their ambivalent peers.


ONE PERSON, ONE VOTE - Anne to SMH (Published), 7 July 2016

​Is Dr Piero Moraro for real? (SMH 7th July). Firstly, if he understood the history he would know that one man, one vote came to be in order to stop vested interests fashioning society to suit themselves.

Secondly, had he been reading the papers he would not have used the Brexit vote to justify his reasoning. More than one vote for young Brits would have been a complete waste because around three quarters of them didn't bother to vote in the Brexit referendum anyway.


ICAC REPORT - Paul to SMH, 2 Aug 2016 ​

Given that the State Liberal Party won the 2011 election using illegal funding, will the Governor:

a) declare the election invalid,

b) nullify all Acts and Orders of this government since that date, and

c) prorogue parliament and hold fresh elections?


NORTHERN BEACHES HOSPITAL - Paul 6/10/2016 ​

No, Mr Calacouras , the “real tragedy” as you describe it is that the hospital is being built in the wrong place. ("Preparation disaster a sight for sore eyes”, Sat 1 Oct 16).

The planning Environmental Impact Statements on which the hospital was approved claimed that the site was chosen in 2006 after a “rigorous qualitative analysis”. But the Health Department’s 2005 Development Options Business Case, which contains the results of the study, actually ranked the Frenchs Forest site a distant third operationally amongst the six locations considered. However, it was fairly “low risk”, ie not too much objection was anticipated. And it was cheaper than some of the other options, primarily because the roading upgrades were quoted as being $21.3 million, a far cry from the $500 million currently quoted.

It was also claimed that the Frenchs Forest site is central to the Catchment area (Manly, Warringah and Pittwater LGAs, as was), which is manifestly false geographically, and a demographic study at the time said the population-weighted centre was around Cromer.

When the then Planning Minister, Brad Hazzard, signed the Order in Oct 2013 giving the hospital the go-ahead, there was no review of the 2006 decision, and no update to the erroneous data which was then at least 8 years old. Nor subsequently did NSW Planning adequately evaluate the validity of NSW Health’s submissions. After all, one part of government is hardly likely to say “No” to another part of government.

So what they are doing is exactly what you say, "just plonk a massive hospital in the middle of a quiet neighbourhood” destroying the suburb and mis-spending public money at the same time. All on the basis of false information! That’s the “real tragedy”. As regards the Council’s Precinct Plan, as it hasn’t been published yet, how can you say what it will contain? It is conjecture and speculation to say "It will lead to the rezoning of streets and allow for developers to build high- and medium-density apartments. It will feed into the new businesses that will be set up to cater for the influx of people.”

The Planning Department has been trying for 40-odd years to impose “containment”, which means having people work and live in the same place. They haven’t succeeded yet, so there need not be an influx of people. If they wanted staff accommodation, they should have included it on the hospital site. The same goes for any other facilities the hospital needs, such as catering.

Overall, you appear to have allowed yourself to become a voice for the greed-fuelled developer/real estate lobby, rather than maintain the professional objectivity required of journalism. The public influence which attaches to your position needs to be exercised more carefully.

However, you are quite right to ask "what are they going to do about parking?”. The hospital approvals say there is to be a parking plan in place within 6 months of the hospital opening, but the need is already with us, with the streets around the site full of parked vehicles belonging to construction workers. Yes, a car park will be built, but how will staff and visitors be persuaded or compelled to use it? Council needs to act now to protect residents from the congestion and danger the traffic situation produces, not wait until well after it opens.


TIME FOR A COMPLETE RE-THINK - Paul to SMH (Published), 22/10/2016

​In everything one reads and hears from urban planners these days (including Elizabeth Farrelly's 'Ode to the Terrace', 22 Oct), one word is a constant, but makes me cringe. It is "vibrant".

It is put forward as if it were a self-evident truism. Why is "vibrant" the holy grail?

Why can't our objective be "calm"?

John Betjeman expressed it eloquently:

"Here where once were pleasant fields,

and no one in a hurry,

Behold the harvest mammon yields

of speed and greed and worry."


NB. ​[This was published without the Betjeman quote, I suspect for copyright reasons].


THE DEATH OF SPORT - Paul to SMH (Published), 29 Oct 2016

[NB, this is the published version, slightly edited from my original]

'Fun' is sounding the death knell for genuine sport

It's no surprise that a Ten Network executive should think the raison d'etre for sport is to be "fun" for his viewers ("New gadgets, new deals for record summer of cricket", October 29-30). That's "what it was a while ago", he says. And that way he can sell advertising and make a profit.

Well, David Barham, for your information, a while before that sport used to exist for the participants. It was a contest of skill, technique, applied intelligence, athleticism, strength (in some codes) and, in team sports, the values of integration with others. It was about dedication, hard training, self-sacrifice.

As spectators we used to appreciate "absorbing", "gripping", "tense". We enjoyed the sport for its own sake, we didn't need fireworks and so-called music. Ask Geoff Boycott if his job was to entertain or to score runs to help his team win the match.

Believe it or not, there was even a behaviour code, which included respect towards opponents and officials. Even today, the Australian Oxford Dictionary gives as one meaning of the word "sportsman", " a person who behaves fairly and generously".

But the participants got greedy, and prostituted themselves to television. Television has in turn sold itself, first to tobacco, and now to gambling.

Horse and greyhound racing (shame on you, Mike Baird) exist only for gambling. NRL and others are following the same path. The evil consequences are well documented, with match-fixing apparently rife in NRL, cricket, tennis, even darts.

If that's what you call fun, Channel Ten, you're welcome to it. It is the death of sport.


AM I SAFE? - Anne to SMH 31/10/2016

​I'm a bit worried about leaving Australia. I'm a fifth generation Aussie but my forebears arrived here by boat – on the second fleet. If I leave will I be allowed back or be forever banned? ​

Funny how governments change their minds about the suitability of boats.


FRENCHS FOREST FOLK COPPED A RAW DEAL - Paul to MD (PUBLISHED), 3 Nov 2016

THE state of affairs at Frenchs Forest as now revealed dates from 2005, when the Health Department’s “rigorous qualitative analysis” placed Frenchs Forest a poor third out of six sites considered for the new hospital. The same Development Options Business Plan said the road upgrades would cost $21.3 million, not the $500 million currently published. These facts were not reviewed or updated when the project got the go-ahead in 2013.

The claim in the subsequent planning process that Frenchs Forest is central to the catchment area is also false, geographically and demographically. The Planning Department’s final summary, in approving the project, that there would not be “any long-term adverse or irreversible effects” is simply laughable. So the hospital is in the wrong place so the devastation that has already taken place is unjust and based on deceit.

If there is to be no further rezoning of residential areas in Frenchs Forest, it is small compensation for the many residents who argued from the outset to have their quality of life and their environment protected, not pillaged.

Paul Cunningham, Frenchs Forest


THE ORIGINAL READ: ​

“The Story so Far” (MD, Sat 29 Oct, pg 36) actually dates from 2005, when what the Health Department called a “rigorous qualitative analysis” placed Frenchs Forest a poor third out of six sites considered for the new hospital. The same Development Options Business Plan said the roading upgrades would cost $21.3 million, not the $500 million currently published.

These facts were not reviewed or updated when Brad Hazzard gave the project the go-ahead in October 2013. The claim in the subsequent planning process that Frenchs Forest is central to the catchment area is also false, both geographically and demographically. The Planning Department’s final summary, in approving the project, that there would not be "any long-term adverse or irreversible effects”, is simply laughable.

So the hospital is in the wrong place (ironically the Dee Why council chamber site was the preferred option), thus the devastation that has already taken place is unjust and based on deceit. If there is to be no further re-zoning of residential areas in Frenchs Forest, as you suggest, it is small compensation for the many residents who argued from the outset to have their quality of life and their environment protected, not pillaged.

If the planners are indeed going to prevent any further depredation of the residential suburb, they deserve our profound gratitude.


THE TYRANNY OF EXPECTATION - Anne to MD (Published) 3/11/2016

It's regrettable that oily developers promised financial windfalls to the residents of Karingal Crescent Frenchs Forest before there was any firm plan in place by council. It's also regrettable that the hospital development was commenced even before a fully resolved plan for entire area was properly completed.

The whole process of the hospital's location and extreme road widening has caused grief to many residents right from the get go. Some people are "winners" and fervently in favour of the development while others have either been disadvantaged or disappointed to lose their suburb to such a large scale and destructive development.

Perhaps it would be fair if the residents whose land has been "up zoned" share their financial gains with residents such as those in Karingal Crescent for whom things have soured. Let the "winners" thus acknowledge their good fortune has come at the expense of others.

Warringah Road is now so wide the Bantry Bay Road precinct is substantially cut off from the rest of the suburb. Rather than have it rezoned it should remain the safe suburban family friendly area it is. There needs to be diversity of accommodation. After all, not everyone aspires to live in an apartment. There also needs to be a restoration of some of the native habitat that has been ravaged.

For what it's worth, I think the government should acquire the affected Karingal Crescent homes with due compensation and turn the land into a park to replace the kilometres of parkland and habitat that have been lost to the highway widening. ​

I'm not holding my breath.


THE PUBLISHED VERSION WAS AS FOLLOWS:

WINNERS AND LOSERS WITH DEVELOPMENT

IT’S regrettable that developers promised financial windfalls to the residents of Karingal Cres at Frenchs Forest before there was a firm plan.

It’s also regrettable that the hospital development began before a full plan for the entire area had been completed. The whole process of the hospital’s location and the road widening has caused grief to many residents. Some are winners and are fervently in favour of the development while others have been disadvantaged or disappointed to lose their suburb to such a largescale destructive development.

Warringah Rd is now so wide the Bantry Bay Rd precinct is substantially cut off from the rest of the suburb. Rather than have it rezoned, it should remain the safe suburban family friendly area it is.

There needs to be diversity of accommodation. After all, not everyone aspires to live in an apartment. There also needs to be a restoration of some of the native habitat that has been ravaged.

I think the government should acquire the affected Karingal Cres homes with due compensation and turn the land into a park to replace the kilometres of parkland and habitat that have been lost to the road widening.

Anne Carpenter, Frenchs Forest 


FRENCHS NULLARBOR - Paul to SMH, 4 Nov 2016 ​

Mark Horton (Letters, 4 Nov) seems unaware that the "big picture" for Frenchs Forest was in fact revealed in late 2010, in NSW Planning's proposal to designate the area a "State Significant Site". The proposal contained explicit references to us becoming another Chatswood (but without the benefit of a rail line, of course).

This plan was howled down by the community, most notably in a public meeting in Forest High School, attended by our local MP, Brad Hazzard, who undertook to convey our views to the Premier, although tellingly he stopped short of saying he would support them. (In April 2011, Mr Hazzard became Minister for Planning.)

The "State Significant Site" concept is what we are now getting, but we are getting it by stealth, piece-meal, one bit at a time. Hence the chaotic mess we find ourselves in.


HERE WE GO AGAIN - Paul to MD, 7 Nov 2016

First Frenchs Forest, now Mona Vale (Suburb Blueprint, MD 5 Nov, p3). The common factors are

a) the degree to which planners are out of touch with how people want to live, and

b) the lengths to which the planners and their political overlords will go to conceal evidence that is inconsistent with their obsessions.


BIG AUSTRALIA - Paul to SMH, 7 Nov 2016 ​

For economists to assert that "Big Australia is the right thing to do" is tautology. (Jessica Irvine, 7 Nov). Of course it is, by their narrow definition of 'right'. To say that a bigger population will increase "the demand for and supply of goods and services in the economy" is rather stating the obvious.

But is that all that matters? In fact, is it important at all? Apart from her subjective claim that Australia is "a much more interesting, dynamic and creative society than it was" (which insults 50,000 years of Aboriginal heritage), she fails to explain the alleged benefits of population growth (regardless of source).

To dismiss non-economic considerations as "sitting in traffic jams" is facile. Ms Irvine ignores the effects on our quality of life caused by the devastation of the natural world by what is euphemistically called 'development'. She ignores the human cost of the loss of trees, green spaces, birdsong, clean air, quietness. Does she really believe that it is good for humans to live in isolated cells 10 storeys off the ground, divorced from the natural world of which we are an integral part? Has she factored in to her equations the loss of seals, for example, resulting from man-made plastic pollution in the ocean?

The planet cannot sustain 9 billion people. If we don't expire through global warming, we will choke on our own pollution. Neither is a pleasant prospect.


TRUMP - Paul to SMH, 9 Nov 2016,

​I can see Messrs Abbott, Bernardi, Brandis - I haven't even got to C yet - preening themselves in expectation of an invite to the Inauguration.

Unfortunately, for her own protection, Julie Bishop will have to find another portfolio, this being a boys-only locker-room.

As if the ultra-Right didn't already have a strangle-hold on government in Australia.

Sorry, Malcolm, I think the game's up.


TRAFFIC - Paul to MD, 9 Nov 2016​

This morning an accident in Forestville reportedly caused a tail-back on Warringah Road as far as Beacon Hill. $500 million spent on roading around the hospital won't help that situation one iota. Yet Mike Baird (Manly Daily, 8 Nov) says the "upgraded" Warringah Road will provide an alternative route to the City and relieve pressure on the Spit Bridge/Military Road corridor.

This, and the B-Line scheme, are Bandaid policy. The Northern Beaches badly need a third major route to the CBD. But of course the short-sighted sell-everything state government has sold off the land they had earmarked for just such a project.

And still they want to cram ever more people into the Peninsula! Madness!

LETTER - Paul to SMH, 12 Nov 2016

​Garry Linnell (12 Nov) says he's leaving Sydney "at least for the next year or so", but he's "going to have to visit her every day". No half measures with you then, Garry! An hour or so up the coast (travelling off-peak, I presume), and commuting daily, is hardly "leaving".

I wholeheartedly agree, Sydney is awful and getting steadily worse, but nowhere in this state is safe from Mike Baird.

For the cost of an overcoat, Tasmania, New Zealand or even Finland sound like better solutions.


THE LAW IS AN ASS, Paul to SMH, 17 Nov 2016

​So there were 112,518 complaints to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman in the past year (Lucy Cormack's piece, 17 Nov). I'm not surprised. One of them was mine.

This morning the TIO advised me that in Australian consumer law, I cannot require Vodafone to continue to provide the service that we contracted to. It is apparently all right for the provider unilaterally to reduce the benefits of my contract (specifically withdrawing my ability to share my overseas call allowance with another plan on my account), as long as they offer to release me from the contract without penalty, which they did. But I don't want out of the contract, I want Vodafone to perform the services I signed up for.

So long as a provider isn't obligated to honour the terms of a contract, the TIO will continue to receive complaints, and plenty of them.


BIODIVERSITY - Paul , 18 Nov 2016

​I can't quite understand why the state government finds it necessary to legislate to make it easier for tree clearing to go unchecked.

They've been doing what they want already, without let or hindrance, as my suburb of Frenchs Wasteland (formerly Forest) can attest.


MADNESS - Paul to SMH, 21 Nov 2016

​185,000 more homes over five years; 2,000,000 more people over twenty years!

Can anyone advise me on how to bring this irresponsible, out-of-control state government before the International Criminal Court on the charge of 'Crime against Humanity'? Would they be able to use 'Insanity' as an acceptable defence?

How else are we going to stop them utterly destroying our city? Sydney is already over-crowded, while the rest of the state is largely empty. So why not create a new city somewhere? There are plenty of precedents.


FUTURE SYDNEY, 22 Nov 2016, Paul to SMH

​Yesterday it was "Sydney can never be full". Today it is "Move over red-tiled roofs on quarter-acre blocks ... how will the old make way for the new?", not 'should the essential character of suburban Sydney be destroyed and replaced?'

As self-appointed facilitator of this debate, Fairfax should exercise more objectivity, rather than act as an organ for Big Business. Or perhaps "debate" is your euphemism for a conditioning process aimed at convincing us that your vision is inevitable.

Perhaps you could more usefully examine the alternative option of building a new city to house the additional population you want.


YOU CAN'T PLEASE EVERYONE - Paul to MD, 24 Nov 2016

In stating “Some still say…” that the hospital was built in the wrong place, Alf Sylvester’s otherwise excellent letter (Your Say, 23 Nov) implies that there is some uncertainty on the point. He and others may like to know the facts.

NSW Health’s EIS applications for the 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 in determining the Frenchs Forest site for the new hospital.” (Northern Beaches Hospital SSI Application SSI 13_5982, Submissions Report/Preferred Infrastructure Report February 2014 page 42, available on the NSW Planning web site at NBH Stage 1 Submissions Report Final.pdf )

The attached pdf contains the relevant pages from the the Health Department’s 'Development Options Business Case', Nov 2005, on which the 2006 decision was based. It clearly places Frenchs Forest as a poor third on the all-important qualitative assessment. The choice of the Frenchs Forest site was based on the necessary roading upgrades costing $21.3 million, whereas the current published estimate is $500 million. The site’s “risk profile” (ie short-term obstacles) rated well.

So Frenchs Forest was the cheap (so they thought in 2005) and easy option, definitely NOT the best on long-term operational criteria, as was claimed.

Note that the 2006 decision was not reviewed or updated in October 2013 when the then Planning Minister signed the Order designating Frenchs Forest and kick-starting the project. Nor did NSW Planning question the choice of location, despite their own criteria requiring full and up-to-date data to support the application.

The other fundamental lie is that the site is central to its designated catchment area, the then LGAs of Manly, Warringah and Pittwater. This is manifestly false geographically, and there was a study done which placed the weighted demographic centre around Cromer.

I hope that you will find some way to publish this information, or at the very least to forward it to Mr Sylvester.


TIME TO CHOOSE, Paul to SMH, 26 Nov 2016

I'm sorry, Elizabeth Farrelly, I admire so much of what you write, but I find your whimsically optimistic second scenario utterly unconvincing. (It's time to choose, Sydney, 26 Nov)

Maybe, just maybe, your ideals might be realised if you were designing a new city from scratch - which is probably what we should be doing - but nothing I can see in the political climate of this state gIves grounds for hope that an additional two million people over the next twenty years will be anything other than disastrous.

Perhaps if you had a look at what they are doing to my suburb of Frenchs Wasteland, and understood the dishonest means by which it has been achieved, you would appreciate my pessimism.

Surely the Creativity that you espouse is more readily achievable when humanity has room to thrive within its natural environment.


MONA VALE BEWARE! - Paul to MD, 26 NOV 2016​

Wade Orth (Your Say, 26 Nov) and others who are celebrating "the dumping of the unpopular Mona Vale Place Plan", be warned!

In 2011 the residents of Frenchs Wasteland were similarly delighted when the State government (Mr Persson's employer, remember) withdrew the proposal to make us a 'State Significant Site', a second Chatswood. How naive we were!

They got their way in the end, by stealth, bit by bit. First a hospital, then roads, now wider re-zoning. Trees gone, wildlife gone, homes and valuable businesses gone, even a school to go, we're told. The Council now describes us as a town, not a suburb. It's indistinguishable from the proposal that was supposedly scrapped.

History has a nasty habit of repeating itself. Beware!


COST BLOW-OUTS - Anne to SMH 1/12/2016

It's galling to read that the state Liberal Government (the party of responsible economic management) has overseen a huge cost blow out in the inner-city light rail project. Pity then that a cost blowout of similar size in Frenchs Forest has gone unreported.

The decision for the location of the Northern Beaches hospital was partly based on a 2005 estimate of $21.3 million for road upgrades. The published figures for the road up grades currently stand at $500 million. ​

So that's another blowout of around half a billion dollars. Either that or it was rank stupidity to base a planning decision on information that was ten years out of date. I didn't realise the state had so much money to burn.


"INFRASTRUCTURE BLOW-OUT" TAKEN TO A NEW LEVEL - Paul to SMH, 3 Dec 2016

Our politicians like to trumpet their spending on infrastructure as though it were ipso facto meritorious. Infrastructure expenditure is only a 'Good Thing' if it is spent wisely, tastefully and cost-effectively.

In December 2010, NSW Planning issued the "Frenchs Forest Specialised Centre - State Signficant Site Study”, which proposed turning the suburb into a second Chatswood, but without the benefit of a railway. Following strong community opposition, the proposal was officially withdrawn in 2011, primarily because of insurmountable transport difficulties.

Undaunted, the powers that be decided we wouldn’t notice if they gave us the same concept by stealth, piece-meal. So on 16 October 2012, the then Planning Minister, Brad Hazzard (despite previously saying that as the local member he would be perceived to have a conflict of interest) signed the "Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment (State Significant Infrastructure - Northern Beaches Hospital Precinct) Order”, implementing a flawed 2006 decision on choice of location without reviewing or updating it.

This began a process which has involved two-stage approval of the hospital, two-stage approval of $500 million of roadworks which were supposed to cost $21.3 million, and last Wednesday the release of a Draft Northern Beaches Hospital Precinct Structure Plan, proposing rezoning to create 2,200 new homes, knocking down a high school but building another nearby, and yet more retail and eateries which are the last thing we need.

Permeating the latest plan is the planners’ admission that they can’t achieve what they would like to achieve because of "transport and infrastructure limitations”, exactly the conclusion that was reached in 2011, except that billions have been spent and a suburb has been devastated in the meantime.

The ultimate irony is Friday’s announcement by Mr Stokes that a new town is to be built at Ingleside. As a green-field site, this could easily have been be planned to incorporate a hospital, and its location is much more central and accessible for the Northern Beaches catchment area the hospital is intended to serve. How short-sighted can you get?

Will anyone have the courage to admit defeat? Stop pouring good tax-payer money after bad in Frenchs Wasteland, scrap the Precinct Plan, and concentrate on making Ingleside a thing of beauty. Hopefully the planners are all reading Elizabeth Farrelly this morning.


HOSPITAL LOCATION - Paul to MD, 3 Dec 2016

On 1 October 2014 I wrote to the Manly Daily enumerating the reasons which made Frenchs Forest unsuitable as the location for a new hospital. One was to rebut the official claim that the Frenchs Forest site is central to the designated catchment area, which is the area now covered by the Northern Beaches Council.

My letter concluded: "It shouldn’t be too hard to find a site which doesn’t have these insoluble problems, possibly in the Terrey Hills area."

For “the Terrey Hills area” read “Ingleside”.


DRAFT STRUCTURE PLAN REPORT - Paul to MD, 6 Dec 2016

​If Council wants us to make submissions on this report, it could help by providing a version in English, not incomprehensible planner-speak gobbledegook. Two random examples:

What does "legibility of relationship between car space and residential address" mean? (P46)

What is "place based activation of public spaces"? (P40)

The author has ignored my request for clarification.

The revised version should preferably remove the awful but ubiquitous word "vibrant". Try substituting 'calm', 'restful', 'verdant', or similar.

I notice also that the 'artist's impression' on the council's media release web page refers to 'Northern Beaches Town Centre'. [http://www.northernbeaches.nsw.gov.au/news/20161130-new-vibrant-northern-beaches-town-centre-revealed]. Is that official? I realise it is no longer appropriate to have a name which includes the word 'Forest', but centre of the Northern Beaches we are certainly not.


LETTER - Paul to SMH, 6 Dec 2016

Does Grahame Marks (Letters, 6 Dec) seriously believe it's a good idea to spend billions of taxpayer money building a hospital in the third-best location, accompanied by $500 million in roadworks which were supposed to cost $21.3 million, followed by a Precinct Plan which says 'We can't do what we want to do because of transport limitations" (the same conclusion they reached in 2011)?

Now made look even sillier by Friday's announcement of a new town at Ingleside, which would have been a much more central and accessible location for a hospital.

What short-sighted, pig-headed planning, and what a waste of our money. And a lovely suburb destroyed in the process.

Perhaps Mr Marks will be less inclined to vote for Mike Baird when his local Manly Hospital is closed and the site sold to developers to pay for what they have done to Frenchs Wasteland. (Unless he himself has a vested interest, of course.)


DAYS OF BEAUTY AREN'T NUMBERED, THEY'VE GONE - Paul to MD, 9 Dec 2016

​Where has Patricia Baker been for the past few years? (Your Say, 9Dec)

We fought them in 2010/11 and thought we had won. The proposal was withdrawn. But then our local member, Brad Hazzard, became Planning Minister, and on 16 Oct 2012 signed the Order designating the Northern Beaches Hospital Precinct, implementing a flawed 2006 decision based on a 2005 study, without reviewing or updating it.

Local Government asks us how we would like to see things, but State Government says 'This is what's going to happen'. And now a State Government employee is running our local council.

Short of armed insurrection, or waiting until the next election, does Ms Baker have any suggestions?

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