The first step towards preventing the development of "New Tokyo" (Ross James' excellent letter of 26 June) is to remind our Councillors that they are elected to represent the wishes and best interests of ratepayers, rather than to be "but an instrument of the State, a delivery arm of the State", to quote Warringah Mayor Michael Regan.
Clarifying or re-aligning the fundamental rôle or function of local government is more important than discussing how many councils we should have.
Secondly, we have the two main proponents of "growth at any cost", the Prime Minister and Premier, as local MPs. Surely as their electors we have some influence?
Ralph Bennett (Your Say, 20 June) correctly identifies population growth as the source of most of this country’s problems.
But he will be waiting a long time for his hero “strong leaders”, Messrs Abbott and Baird, to change things. Doesn’t he realise that it is their governments which are promulgating the “growth at all costs” policy? Until recently, Mr Abbott was even advocating that we should to pay women to have more babies. And he’d rather we continued to breathe carbon emissions because he doesn’t like the look of wind turbines, or presumably solar panels, despite the moral arguments expressed by his spiritual leader, the Pope. And Mr Baird has just announced that a Greater Sydney Commission will deliver 664,000 additional houses by 2031. They clearly haven’t got the message, Mr Bennett.
Messrs Abbott and Baird don’t know the meaning of the phrase “quality of life”. If it doesn’t have a dollar sign in front of it, it can’t be of any importance. But population growth does have plenty of dollar signs, all of them red for minus.
Australia used to follow the lead of our enlightened neighbour, New Zealand - women's suffrage and GST, to name but two examples.
New Zealand allowed same-sex marriage two years ago, but for some reason it is Ireland’s recent referendum which has caught the popular imagination.
Apart from the need to mend bridges after Mr Abbott’s last St Patrick’s Day message which so offended his Irish counterpart, Mr Kenny, there are a lot of other things we could learn from Ireland, so I’d like to suggest that the Prime Minister urgently undertake a fact-finding mission. As background Irish history reading on the plane, Mr Abbott could study the Congested Districts Board, set up in 1879 “for the improvement of those areas where the resources available were not sufficient to support the population” (Sydney, anybody?). Once in Ireland, he should not only find out all about the marriage debate, but also investigate:
why the number of Irish wanting to come to Australia has dropped significantly since he became Prime Minister;
the pros and cons of being a republic vis-à-vis a British colony, and how to transition from the latter to the former (the 1916 Easter Rising centenary is coming up);
the haunting, majestic beauty of wind farms;
why an Australian bank, Macquarie, is funding Ireland’s first solar energy farm;
whether it is worth having a national airline;
the potential for surplus Irish housing (post the demise of the Celtic Tiger) to accommodate our unwanted asylum seekers;
how to manage sovereign bankruptcy;
cronyism in high places;
ways of transferring public assets to the private sector at below market value;
why ‘affordable housing’ is so ugly;
the importance of preserving cultural heritage.
Does any of that sound familiar, and relevant to Australia? Well worth a visit, I’d say. And perhaps Mr Abbott should pop in to the Vatican en route for a chat with his spiritual leader about renewable energy.
[While Mr Abbott is overseas, Peter Dutton should revoke his Australian citizenship, as being a serious threat to the future well-being of Australia, and prevent his re-entry.]
The NSW Civil & Administrative Tribunal has today announced that it accepts NSW Health’s assertion that it is unable to find the study on which it based the choice of Frenchs Forest as the location for the new Northern Beaches Hospital.
Perhaps NSW Health’s inability to find the final document may have something to do with the fact that a Draft version of the same report (Development Options Business Case) reveals that from the three locations under final consideration for the hospital the Frenchs Forest site:
- ranked a poor third on qualitative/operational criteria,
- came equal second on 'risk analysis’
- was cheapest in the short term, on the basis that roading/access upgrades would cost $21.3 million, whereas they are currently estimated at $400 million plus $125 million for public transport upgrades.
So much for for the 2013 NSW Planning White Paper's prescription that "Planning authorities are to make decisions in an open and transparent way and provide the community with reasons for their decisions.” NSW Health either can’t or won’t justify a decision which channels upwards of two billion dollars of tax-payer money into private sector pockets, and devastates a pleasant residential suburb in the process.
Alison Horrell (Your Say, 11 June) is both very right and very wrong.
She's wrong if she thinks the residents of Frenchs Concrete are happy to have the Brad Hazzard Memorial Folly plonked in their midst. It's not just the hospital, it's the 12-lane dual-level highway, the compulsory purchase and bulldozing of homes, businesses and trees, and then Warringah Council's plans to "develop" (ie destroy) the wider area around the hospital precinct. So much for our pleasant leafy residential suburb.
Perhaps if Ms Horrell thinks that's all so wonderful, we should discuss swapping homes.
Where she is absolutely right, of course, is in pointing out the stupidity of the chosen location. That's because the planning permission has been based on false information given to NSW Planning by NSW Health, as follows:
- that the chosen site is central to the catchment area of the Manly, Warringah and Pittwater local government areas. This is palpably false both geographically, as Ms Horrell points out, and also demographically - a study has determined Cromer to be the demographic centre;
- that "a robust qualitative analysis" formed the basis for the choice of site. In fact, according to the Health Ministry's own study, Frenchs Forest came a poor third on qualitative/operational criteria among the sites considered, behind the Warringah Council land in Dee Why and the Warringah golf course;
- that solutions to the roading/access problems associated with the Frenchs Forest site would cost a maximum of $21.3 million. The current budget is $400 million, plus $125 million for public transport upgrades, and an acceptable solution has still not been devised, far less costed. And Ms Horrell is again right to stress that nothing is being done about the North/South corridor of Wakehurst Parkway, the budget all going on East/West traffic.
Thankfully people on the peninsula seem finally to be waking up to the travesty that is being perpetrated on them. Not to mention over a billion dollars of taxpayers' money being mis-spent.
There aren't too many ways available for venting one's anger or frustration at some of the things happening in the world around us. One such escape valve is the good old Letter to the Editor, even if only a small proportion of them gets published. It is often well-nigh impossible to keep the discussion short enough for the newspapers. So rather that have them expire in some Editor's Trash bin, we'll preserve them for posterity here. Inevitably, though, some nuances will be lost for those unfamiliar with the background or the letter or article to which we are responding. But each is undoubtedly a miniature literary masterpiece, though you may find the themes become somewhat repetitive.