Forced WestConnex home acquisitions unfair

Despite a finding by a parliamentary committee, for the past 3 years, the NSW Government has known that the process for valuing homes forcibly acquired for major infrastructure projects – including WestConnex – is unfair to home owners.

As reported in the Sydney Morning Herald (p1) this morning a parliamentary committee chaired by Liberal MP Matt Kean found the compulsory acquisition system is “unfair and inadequate”. Yet the Government has forged ahead, acquiring a number of homes along the WestConnex route, with many more targeted for acquisition in the coming months.

MP for Newtown and NSW Greens WestConnex spokesperson Jenny Leong has called for a moratorium on all home acquisitions until a fair process has been determined and an independent inquiry of WestConnex has been undertaken.

“This is yet another reason why the construction of WestConnex needs to be halted until a full inquiry is undertaken. With the whole WestConnex project looking shakier by the day, people should not be forced out of their communities for what is looking more and more likely to be a failed project.

“Over the past year I have been in direct contact with extremely distressed residents, some of whom have lived in their homes for 40 years, that are facing the loss of their homes.  The impact on so many families, elderly people and individuals is life-changing – it’s disgraceful.

“Families are being forcibly uprooted removed from their homes and communities, before planning approvals have even been granted. Without sufficient compensation these families are unable to find a new home in the same local area – and that’s unacceptable.

“Why hasn’t the Government taken the advice of a parliamentary committee chaired by one of its own MPs? Does it have something to do with the already massive budget blowout on this disaster of a project?

“The community opposition to WestConnex is clear. It seems like every other week there’s a new story about cost blowouts, health concerns, lack of transparency – and now confirmation that the Government is taking advantage of people who happen to live along the route, by not offering them fair and just compensation,” she said.

11 January 2016

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Showdown between Community and Coalition on forced council amalgamations

 

Council_Amalgamations_2

The NSW Government’s forced amalgamations plans for local councils have been announced.

The forced amalgamations will cut the number of councils from 152 to 112. In Sydney, 43 councils will be reduced to 25, while 109 regional councils will become 87.

NSW Premier Mike Baird has said the target population size for the proposed merged Sydney councils was 150,000.

State-wide opposition to forced amalgamations has already seen Mike Baird’s merger plans ‘Fit for the Future’ scaled back significantly.  Growing community opposition means that the plans are far from guaranteed.

Greens MP and Local Government Spokesperson David Shoebridge said:

“When a government dribbles out an unpopular policy a week before Christmas it’s a pretty clear sign that it’s feeling a lot of pain and just wants it to stop.

“For all the bluster and arrogance of the Baird government the proposed forced amalgamations on the table today are far less aggressive than his plans were earlier in the year.

“Six months ago the Baird government was planning to have a mass sacking of councils to appoint administrators and force Sydney into just six mega councils with dozens more council mergers in the bush.

“Growing community pressure has already forced a back down from Baird with no councils being sacked and a much reduced plan for forced mergers across the State.

“The Coalition now faces six months of even greater public pressure as each and every one of their proposed forced amalgamations grinds through separate public inquiries run by the Boundaries Commission.

“It’s no surprise this is being announced just before Christmas, it’s is a rubbish policy from an arrogant  government that knows forced amalgamations are deeply unpopular.

“What has been announced today is an incoherent plan for the future of local government without a scrap of evidence to support it.

“There is not a single report that supports a single one of these proposed mergers. What we see from Baird is a scrappy attempt at a political fix and councils and residents deserve far better.

“Baird is already finding that communities have far closer connections with their local councils and the services they provide than some smooth-talking bloke that they see on TV occasionally.

“The Greens remain committed to work with communities to stand up to the Coalition’s bullying, oppose forced amalgamations and keep local councils genuinely local.” Mr Shoebridge said.

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TRANSGRID LEASE EXPOSES CONSUMERS AND RENEWABLE ENERGY TO UNCERTAIN FUTURE

The $10.3 billion paid for the long-term lease of NSW’s high voltage transmission network raises serious questions about what guarantees have been given to the consortium and their costs for consumers and the future of the renewable energy industry, according to Greens NSW MP John Kaye.

Dr Kaye said: “The over-the-odds sale price looks like consumers have been served up on a platter to the multi-national consortium.

“Premier Mike Baird must come clean on the details of what guarantees were provided.

“TransGrid is the nerve centre of the electricity system in NSW.

“If a top-dollar sale price was locked in with a series of contract sweeteners, then inevitably it will be consumers and the renewable energy industry who will pay.

“With annual revenues of only $2.2 billion, TransGrid was set to be the smallest of the leases yet it has brought in what looks like a highly inflated price.

“This will help Mike Baird politically and it will provide for additional infrastructure but inevitably the additional cash will be extracted from households.

“The Australian Energy Regulator wrote down TransGrid’s allowable annual revenue from $2.9 billion to $2.2 billion.

“Clearly the new leaseholders are expecting something more for their $10.3 billion investment.

“There is little the electricity price commissioner can do to protect consumers after the first four years of the lease period.

“The transmission network, set up to deliver electricity from the state’s five large coal fired power stations to urban centres and large industry, is at risk of becoming an impaired asset.

“Somewhere hidden in this deal there will be a massive sting in the tail for NSW.

“Today the people of NSW have lost control over their energy future to a consortium of multinational corporations that care nothing for households or the clean energy future,” Dr Kaye said.

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LOCAL COUNCILS SHOULD NOT BE FOOLED BY BAIRD’S BLUSTER AND BULLYING

Local councils across the state should not be fooled by Premier Baird’s bullying language and aggressive campaign to force amalgamations.

Premier Baird and Local Government Minister Toole sent a letter to all NSW Mayors with an unsubtle threat to councils who have listened to their local community and decided to remain standalone: “Councils that see the benefits of merging, but are unable to reach agreement with neighbouring councils, should submit their merger preferences even if agreement has not been reached. These councils will have the best opportunity to shape the future of the new council.”

In response to Baird and Toole’s bulliyng letter, Greens MP David Shoebridge has distributed a letter to all NSW Mayors and Councillors with some essential truths.

There is a very good reason why the Premier is so vague and why he is so bullying. He wants councils to capitulate and “voluntarily” merge by the end of this year because the alternative for him is a lengthy, politically damaging and far from certain outcome.

The Premier does not have a political majority in the NSW Upper House to amend the Local Government Act to allow him to simply sack councils and force mergers without due process.

Greens MP and Local Government Spokesperson David Shoebridge said: “This is blatant bullying from the Premier and Minister who know that if local councils don’t voluntarily amalgamate, the alternative is a lengthy, politically damaging and far from certain outcome.

“Baird and Toole have clearly been frustrated by local councils who have listened to their communities and been told to stand firm and not become a mega council.

“Most councils after consulting with their communities have found that their residents don’t support having their democratic say diluted by a merger and there is no economic justification for a merger.

“The fact is the Premier does not have a political majority in the Upper House to amend the Local Government Act to allow him to simply sack councils and force mergers without due process.

“The Greens will continue to support locals who, in the face of the Premier’s bullying, decide to stand alone as viable, community-supported and responsible councils.“ Mr Shoebridge said.

Both letters are online here: http://davidshoebridge.org.au/2015/11/13/local-councils-should-not-be-fooled-by-bairds-bluster-and-bullying/

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Bike Blackspot iPhone App Launched!

Cyclists in Canada Bay are well aware of several blackspots in local cycling infrastructure, for example, the corner of Lyons Rd West and Bayview Rd. The Greens’ new Bike Blackspot iPhone App can send a message to the NSW Government telling them that this corner in Canada Bay is a hazardous spot for cyclists and it needs to be fixed.

The Bike Blackspot iPhone App (sydney.bikeblackspot.org) allows cyclists to build a map of where improvements are needed. This tool can be used to lobby the government and show them where funding needs to be targeted and because it is interactive; cyclists can also use it to share information about great places to cycle in Canada Bay.

With several active cyclists, the Canada Bay Greens are working hard to ensure that Canada Bay to becomes a safe and cycling friendly area for people of all ages.

The app in the brainchild of Greens Senator Scott Ludlam and at the official NSW launch (photo above) Scott and NSW Greens MP Cate Faehrmann urged cyclists in Sydney to use the Greens’ new Bike Blackspot iPhone App to log the good, the bad and the ugly of bicycle infrastructure and send a message to the Transport Minister, campaigners and their fellow cyclists.

“Cyclists can use their phones to record danger zones, obstacles and maintenance issues on the spot and upload a photo.  They can also nominate a spot that needs better infrastructure and praise good areas where cycling really works,” said Ms Faehrmann.

“Users of the App will also be sending a direct message to Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian that we need better support for cycling. “So far the NSW Government has failed to adopt the absolutely vital Inner Sydney Regional Bicycle Network project, which would cover around 14 local government areas, has a cost benefit of $3.88 for every dollar spent and could be built for a fraction of the cost of new motorways and roads.

The app has so far been launched in Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide and Geraldton with great response. Senator Ludlam has been calling for federal funding for cycling infrastructure for two years, but this has so far been rejected by government.

“Bike riders across Australia are fed up with being endangered, ignored and neglected by Governments and are now making the case for urgently needed funding,” Senator Ludlam said.

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Why living in Canada Bay can be bad for your health

A 2010 study by the Health Effects Institute (HEI) in the USA entitled “Traffic-Related Air Pollution: A Critical Review of the Literature on Emissions, Exposure, and Health Effects” found children living within 500 metres of a major road or freeway are at greater risk of developing asthma, while adults face an increased likelihood of lung and heart-related illnesses. The study revealed that traffic pollution was likely to exacerbate asthma in children, trigger new asthma cases across all ages, impair lung function in adults and could cause cardiovascular illness and death.

This study was the largest international study on vehicle air pollution and health and looked at 700 worldwide health-pollution studies, and found that there was a clear health risk for those living near arterial roads or highways.

Canada Bay local government area contains several major roads in or passing through it: M4, Parramatta Rd, Concord Rd, Patterson Ave, Gipps St, Lyons Rd, Great North Rd, Victoria Rd, Homebush Bay Dr. Almost all suburbs and therefore thousands of people in Canada Bay live within 500 metres of one of the above named roads. The accompanying image shows the areas most at risk; if you live within the area bounded by the thick brown then your family is at risk.

Reports like those from the HEI show that vehicle air pollution impacts on our health and provides further evidence to support actions to reduce our reliance on motor vehicles. Although air quality in NSW is sometimes considered good by world standards, at ground-level ozone and particle pollution has shown no significant improvement since the 1990s because of factors such as the rising population and more cars on the road.

Over the past two decades Sydney’s population has increased by 21 per cent and the number of cars has increased by 4 per cent, with car trips up 58 per cent. In 2005, the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics found that the cost of vehicle air pollution on life and illness was $2.7 billion.

Facilitating the reduction of the number of cars on our roads MUST be a priority. The old political parties are not interested in reducing people’s reliance on cars; their only promise is to build more roads to attract more vehicles. The Greens work toward ensuring that other transport modes are given more attention so that the people of Canada Bay have a real choice when it comes to their mobility. The Greens believe in a sustainable society and this includes sustainable transport that does not put people at risk. The choice is yours.

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You don’t loosen your belt to cure obesity

A new motorway may provide some short-term relief to congestion, but within a short time the extra road capacity generates more traffic than there was before. In the long term motorways just allow congestion to grow further: they don’t reduce it. The continuing debate on the M4 east and spending billions of dollars on a grandiose system of road tunnels under Sydney fails to acknowledge this situation. This, and the evidence below, is just some of the reasons that the Canada Bay Greens do not see the M4 East as a solution to the problems of traffic congestion in Canada Bay. (We also don’t think the pollution from the portals & vent stacks would be appreciated by those who live near the tunnel, but that’s another issue). Precious government dollars should be invested in mass public transit and making active transport (walking and cycling) safer.

A 2011 analysis conducted at the University of Technology Sydney found that as the M5 southern motorway was constructed in stages between 1992 and 2001, traffic levels in the corridor jumped with each successive stage of construction. Prior to 1992, traffic levels in the area had increased by 1000 to 2000 daily trips each year, roughly reflecting population growth; but in the year the first stage of the M5 opened; traffic grew by 11,200 daily trips, an increase of 15% in regional traffic levels. With the opening of the M5 East tunnel in 2001, traffic into General Holmes Drive jumped by 46,000 trips a day; some 26,000 of these trips were diverted from other roads, but the remaining 20,000 represent entirely new travel. The sad part is that this scene had already played out on the M4 some years before.

The combined road traffic on the Great Western Highway and M4 at Prospect had been growing at a rate between four and three per cent, or by around 3,000 to 2,000 vehicles per day on average per year, prior to the May 1992 opening of the Mays Hill to Prospect section. In the year after opening, road traffic grew by 24 per cent, leaving around 17,000 vehicles on average per day above previous growth trends. 20 years later these growth rates have resulted in the catastrophic congestion we see today. Similar situations can be found in Melbourne, Brisbane and overseas.

It should come as no surprise then that building more motorways on the basis that they will “relieve congestion” is a lie. If not, then please show us the example where this has worked. All we want is for a working example of a city that has built its way out of congestion simply by building more roads.

In the heyday of freeway building in the 1950s, the well-known architect and urbanist Lewis Mumford warned that trying to cure traffic congestion with more road capacity was like trying to cure obesity by loosening your belt. The result of too much belt-loosening can be seen throughout our major cities. With each new road we have imported more of this problem; we should avoid making it any worse.

“Congestion, it turns out, is an inevitable consequence when the private sector produces an unlimited number of vehicles and expects the public sector to spend limited resources to build an unlimited amount of space for them to run on.” – Gordon Price, Transport Planner and former City Councillor, Vancouver.

References:

Public Transport Users Association of Victoria (www.ptua.org.au)

Institute for Sustainable Futures, University of Technology Sydney. (www.isf.uts.edu.au)

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July Councillor Report

Below is a snapshot of Pauline’s council activities.

The Draft Canada Bay Comprehensive Local Environment Plan (LEP) 2012

The draft LEP is intended to establish broad controls for future land use and development across Canada Bay. It came back to Council with amendments, after receiving 226 submissions while it was on exhibition.

A separate report was prepared by an independent consultant regarding the reclassification of Council owned land. Concord Library will retain the zoning of ‘community land’, but Five Dock Library is proposed to be changed to an ‘operational’ zoning, which allows for long term lease or sale. I was the only councillor who voted against the change for Five Dock Library.

The amended LEP will be re-exhibited for 28 days for further comments.

After requests for re-zoning, a strategic study commissioned by Council for Parramatta Rd, Five Dock, industrial area and Five Dock town centre made some recommendations which would maximise employment opportunities. I was ready to adopt the recommendations of the study, but the other councillors voted to defer action on this.

Waste Management

Council agreed to endorse a plea to Ministers about waste management from the South Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (SSROC). The waste services have been privatised, but now the councils are asking for the state or federal governments to take control again.

The only sites available to these councils as transfer stations or waste disposal are owned or controlled by two private companies. Landfills used are Lucas Heights (filling fast) and Woodlawn, which could end up with a monopoly. Moreover, current NSW regulations present a barrier to Energy from Waste technologies. SSROC asks for waste management to be recognised as an essential service.

Functions, meetings and community events attended by Pauline:

  • Citizens Panel meeting, Drummoyne Oval; Yaralla Bushcare group; 23.6.12
  • Councillor workshop: 26.6.12
  • Sustainable City Committee Meeting; 28.6.12 
  • Canada Bay NAIDOC Week cruise; 8.7.12 
  • Council meetings: 10.7.12; 17.7.12
  • Visit to Chiswick bushcare group; 14.7.12 

Pauline Tyrrell, Greens Councillor, City of Canada Bay Council

(you are welcome to ring me on 9713 5780 on any Council matter or for more details.)

Recent news from council can be found here

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Protect Canada Bay from Coal Seam Gas Exploration

Protect Canada Bay from Coal Seam Gas (CSG) Exploration

Pauline Tyrrell at "No CSG Rally' on 1 May 2012

Pauline Tyrrell at “No CSG Rally’ on 1 May 2012

Pauline Tyrrell was one of 4,000 people who rallied outside State Parliament recently to stop CSG mining under both the Sydney metropolitan area and in prime agricultural land all over NSW. There is growing concern that CSG mining interferes with underground water systems. And the heavy vehicle movements associated with this activity could cause havoc in areas such as the Inner West. Many may not realise that there is a current CSG exploration licence which covers all the land under the Canada Bay Council area.

After the  rally, Pauline moved a motion for Canada Bay Council to oppose CSG mining and exploration until it can be proved to be sustainable and to call on the Premier to ban CSG mining and exploration in the Sydney basin.

The story was published in the Inner West Courier (23/5/12)

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