Return the PCB contaminated Bundock Street site to bush land rather than use it as a CSELR construction depot – 9th December 2016

Greens Councillor Murray Matson says that unused defence force land at Bundock Street in Randwick is unsuitable for use as a construction depot for the CSELR light rail project because of a layer of buried PCB contamination on the site.

He reports that residents have shown him photographic evidence that the PCB layer exists.

The underground layer claimed to be PCB contamination beneath "area 10" proposed as a construction depot for the CSELR light rail project.

The underground soil layer claimed to be PCB contamination lying beneath “area 10” that is proposed as a construction depot for the CSELR light rail project.

He   said,

“The storey that I am told is that Australia’s defence forces discovered that they had a disposal problem over what to do with contaminated electrical transformer liquids. There were similar problems facing Britain and America. It seems that this contaminated liquid is what is now buried under area 10 in the dark layer of soil visible in the photograph.”

Councillor Matson wants the CSELR project to find a different site. He said,

“If you look at it from a precautionary principle perspective there surely must be an alternative site available to the CSELR project that is both more accessible by heavy vehicles and not so clearly dangerous to resident’s health.

He says that residents want the site to be sprayed with native seeds to return it to bush land. He said,

“We should not be using a heavily contaminated site to store construction resources. There is an artificial membrane under the soil holding down contaminants such as PCB’s that I would not like to think of being damaged. Some years ago soil was placed over the membrane and native seeds sprayed over it to return it to natural vegetation. For some reason Defence subsequently cleared the resulting bush land. It was apparently quite distressing to see the homeless bird life perched on fences around the denuded site. Many residents think that the best thing would be for it to be again re-vegetated.”


Will Randwick Council’s draft planning proposal based on the winning K2K urban planning competition be enough to head off twenty five storey towers in the Kensington and Kingsford Town Centres? – 8th December 2016

The following is a media Statement from Greens Councillor Murray Matson made prior to a critical urban planning debate by Randwick City Council onTuesday 13th December 2016.

What do Randwick City Councillors want to be remembered for?

Randwick’s present zoning only allows for between six to seven storey buildings in the Kensington and Kingsford town centres.  But those height restrictions are now under siege from developers.

Next Tuesday night Councillors have a choice.

They might vote for a draft rezoning proposal intended to head off a tide of 25 story high developments presently hitting the Kensington and Kingsford town centres.

Randwick Council has a hard decision to make if it is to prevent 25 storey high rizes in the Kensington and Kingsford town centres.

Randwick Councillors have a hard decision to make if they are to prevent 25 storey high rizes in the Kensington and Kingsford town centres.

The proposal has many environmentally sound measures and will allow the Council to receive 5% of all new dwellings as fordable housing and only modestly increases heights. But it does propose higher buildings at three specific CSELR station sites thus attracting opposition from anti light rail critics.

So the Councillors could instead vote to abandon working on it and let the State Government catch resident ire when towers start mushrooming across the two areas.

Ducking for cover would be understandable for Councillors who may soon not be in office because of Council mergers pushed by the same State Government.

But it is only the present crop of Councillors who have any chance to stop the haphazard redrawing of the Kingsford and Kensington skylines.  Any elected representatives who survive the transition to a post-merger Council are going to have a lot on their plates and maybe subservient to some degree to Government imposed administrators.

The State Government has been trying to use a non-Council body called the Joint Regional Planning Panel (JRPP) to permit re-zonings on specific sites. “Ad hoc” or “spot rezoning” are valid descriptive terms for this piece-meal approach to urban planning.

The Council does have one card it can play even though it is the JRPP making the decisions. The majority of the JRPP membership are professional architects who don’t want to be associated with ad hoc development any more than Councillors.

The JRPP has now knocked back five very high planning proposals after Council successfully argued that planning controls should be reviewed first.

On one occasion the Panel wrote back to the State Government on why it was it refusing the latest proposal:

The Panel notes that the council is well advanced in a planning review of the Kingsford and Kensington Town Centres and has programmed the exhibition of a planning proposal for these two precincts for late 2016 to early 2017. Given that the planning proposal will include the subject site, a separate planning proposal for the site will not be necessary and would in fact be confusing.”

The Council is drawing from the winning entry of its K2K urban planning competition as the basis for a proposal that high rize of just 18 storeys be allowed on only three “node” (light rail station) sites across the two town centres.

Resident groups are not happy with this idea and are confusing the Council’s K2K competition with that of the State Government’s policy of randomly allowing 25 storey high rizes.

The organiser of one resident group has vehemently attacked Councillors who proposed the competition in the misguided belief that it had opened the way for the development push. In fact the K2K competition was put together by Councillors after the Government had already started pushing the 25 story proposals to the JRPP.

Thus K2K is an attempt by Councillors to head off a developer driven high rize tide – a necessity that was made clear in a recent media article.

We want to help control development by working on a plan where development complements the streetscape, makes it more uniform so we do not have mega structures.” (Randwick Mayor Noel Souza, Daily Telegraph News Local July 18th 2016)”

For both residents and the Council the choice is quite stark.

If Council does not push on with a coordinated planning policy that proposes that only three sites go to just 18 storeys then the Government will continue to pressure the JRPP into allowing 25 story towers randomly across the Kingsford and Kensington town centres. And with no planning policy the JRPP will stop rejecting them.

One fellow Councillor said to me recently: “I don’t want to have to drive up and down Anzac Parade each looking at 25 storey towers that I think I could have stopped.”

CONTACT: Randwick Greens councillor Murray Matson 0409-984-587 @murraymatson

Randwick-Botany Greens against rescission motion to remove contamination and truck access clauses from Bundock Street CSELR resolution – 5th December 2016

Randwick Green Councillors will not be supporting the rescission motion submitted against last month’s Council resolution on the use of Defence owned land at Bundock Street, Randiwck.

Councillor Murray Matson says that the rescission motion “is against the health interests of Bundock Street residents” because it seeks to remove a contamination “alert clause” inserted into the resolution by the Greens.

The rescission motion seeks to remove clauses inserted by Greens Councillor Lindsay Shurey last month calling for the vehicle entrance to be moved from Bundock Street to Avoca Street and for a contamination expert to verify that contamination won’t be a risk to residents.

Councillor Matson clarified,

“I have been warning Council for years that sections of the Defence force land is contaminated in various ways. Contamination from dust and rain runoff is a real and disturbing issue for Bundock Street residents. That clause should definitely not be deleted.”

Councillor Matson says he does not see how heavy vehicles are going to be able to easily access the site.

“It’s going to be difficult for heavy construction vehicles coming from CSELR construction works to readily access Bundock Street. I don’t think that getting 58 parking spaces in Kingsford is worth the traffic torture of moving heavy vehicles through Rainbow, Avoca or Canberra streets. It should be remembered that CSELR works will already be restricting traffic along High Street.

Green Councillor clashes with Liberal Councillor over commercialisation of a Randwick Council community pocket park in South Coogee pocket park – 25th October 2016

Randwick Greens Councillor Murray Matson wants Liberal Councillor Brendan Roberts to retreat from his support of a petition from a local cafe seeking permission for seating in an adjacent pocket park.

A testy exchange of emails between the two East Ward Councillors indicates how the highly populated Coogee area can see clashes between Councillors over pressure from business for the greater commercial use of local parks and open spaces.

Tonight Randwick Council will re-debate a proposal by the Cafe that it be allowed more outdoor seating on the footpath.  In this proposal the Cafe is not pursuing use of the park as it seeks in the petition presented to Council on the 20th of January and re-circulated to fellow Councillors by Council Roberts in a recent meeting of October 2016.


The Greens (supported by Labor Councillor Geoff Stevenson) are seeking deferral of the expansion proposal in order to allow for mediation between the Cafe and neighbours who fear being impacted on by its expansion of operations.

Councillor Matson said after receiving Councillor Roberts reply email today:

“I don’t care who or how the petition seeking seats in the park was tabled or presented to Council. What I do ask is for the Liberal Councillors to withdraw their support for the petition’s request  that the Cafe get permission for seating in one our pocket parks.

I remain surprised that an East Ward Councillor would so clearly indicate his personal support for increased commercialisation of a pocket park in such a densely populated part of Sydney. It sent the wrong message that Randwick is a Council that does not support the retention of open spaces.”

Email from Greens Councillor Murray Matson to Liberal Councillor Brendan Roberts to withdraw an unrelated petition circulated by Cr Roberts to Councillors during debate over a development application by the Lion and Buffalo Cafe for increased out foot-path door seating. (25th October 2016)

East Ward Liberal Councillor Brendan Roberts
Randwick City Council

Dear fellow east ward Councillor.

I have re-read the petition that you presented to Councillors at the last meeting during the debate on the Lion and Buffalo Café development application.

It is disturbing to see that the Liberal Councillors are supporting the Café request to its’ “customers” that they sign their support if they agree with the following: “2) to seek council permission to have some seating in the community park for members of the community (cnr Malabar Road/Denning Street)”

I am at a complete loss as to understand why a fellow East Ward Councillor would encourage the commercialisation of this small community park in a densely populated urban area such as Coogee. Clearly if the adjacent Café is seeking permission to place seating in the park then it intends that the seating will be for its customers and not for normal community use. I remind you that the café has already on occasion provided towels to its customers to use for makeshift seating in the park.

This petition has not originated as a request from the community but as a proposal from a business and I thus question its use as a true indicator of real community interest. I thus request that at tonight’s meeting you or another member of the Liberal party move a procedural motion that the petition be withdrawn so that Randwick Council is not portrayed as responding to commercial lobbying for access to community open space.

Greens Councillor Murray Matson

Reply to Greens Councillor Murray Matson from East Ward Liberal Councillor Brendan Roberts received by email 25th October 2016

Dear fellow East Ward Councillor Cr Matson

The said petition was never tabled my me, so I can’t withdraw it.

It was tabled by the applicants as part of their Section 96 submissions on 20 Jan 2016.

Next time I suggest you get your facts right before firing off emails with numerous others CCed on them, it looks unprofessional.

I did refer to the petition at the last meeting, and it certainly did inform the debate regarding the support the cafe had from its local community.

What is actually concerning is your Green ideological opposition to cafes providing an in demand service for their community, even when the cafe is supported by the independent town planners of Council – which is the case here.

Your demand that members of the community are not welcome to enjoy a picnic in a local park is disturbing! Unbelievable, for the record I support locals if they want to have a picnic in any park of the city, your ideological bias is on rabid display Councillor.

The approval as passed by Councillors was as per the recommendation of Council, which was to remain on the concreted part of the path, and not to use the park. Yet you still have used your powers to table a rescission motion against this approval.

I note you moved amendments seeking to cut the number of outdoor seats from the current numbers and also to cease all night time dining; I too am at a loss as to why you are so opposed to a small local business trying to provide a service to their community and jobs for local families.

I make no apologies for the amendments I moved two weeks ago, that were ultimately defeated; like you (and your amendments), I felt they more reflected an appropriate balance of all the competing issues. Unlike you though, I did not prolong the stress for all by tabling a rescission motion after the meeting. Rescission motions generally should be tabled when there’s Councillor absentees or new information. In this case, neither of these exist. The independence of the town planners provided a recommendation that was passed by Councillors. The town planners considered all the issues on behalf of all the stakeholders.

Once again you and The Greens have hijacked a council meeting with your ideologically driven crusade against hard working local small businesses who have the support of the independent town planners via recommendation.

I will be supporting the town planners recommendation tonight, and hopefully let all people associated with this situation move forward in peace as a result.

Regards – Brendan

K2K urban design winner has some good design ideas that Randwick Council could use to block a wave of ad hoc high rises hitting Kensington and Kingsford – 21st October 2016

Greens Councillor Murray Matson says that the winning entry in his K2K competition has gained Randwick Council breathing room to fight off a “blitz of ad hoc twenty-story-plus high rises” pushed for the Kingsford and Kensington town centres.

The State Government has been pressing Councillors to revise their planning instruments after they successfully argued that a string of excessive high rises should each be refused because relevant planning controls hadn’t been revised since the 1990’s.

With the proposals refused the Government made it clear to Randwick that it now expects that a review would be done of the controls.

Councillor Matson responded to the reality of this expectation by setting up the $300,000 prize offered by Council for the best redesign concept for the two Centres.

He states that he is satisfied that the entry by JMD, Hill Thalis + Bennett and Trimble has now won because it bests meshes with Councillors’ opposition to excessive high rises in the two centres. He said,

“Nobody wants the ad hoc twenty story plus building proposals that Council has been fighting off. The JMD, Hill Thalis + Bennett and Trimble concept does not specifically propose 20 story development nor the use of Kokoda Park for an artificial wetland as one of the other entries did.”

Councillor Matson stressed that the winning entry was just a design and the Council was not obliged to use any part of it in the draft planning instrument it was promising the Government it would exhibit for public comment. He said,

“On the contrary JMD suggest a specific range of 4-5 and 5-7 story footprints along with a small number of sites simply suggested in their words as suitable for ‘taller building’. It’s now up to the Councillors to decide if our coming draft local environmental plan (LEP) will be put on exhibition with any of these ideas incorporated. I personally am opposed to excessive high raise in the two centres.”

The winning entry proposes a number of exciting ideas for the town centres including:

  • Widening the footpath on Anzac Parade to create the ‘People’s Boulevard’
  • Six new urban centres and a civic space along Anzac Parade
  • New parklands within walking distance from Anzac Parade
  • Hundreds of large and small trees dotted along the corridor
  • An open watercourse, revealing the hidden stream under Kensington
  • Creating Racecourse Park, next to Royal Randwick

Go here to download a low-res version of the winning entry PDF, 2895.75 KB.

Green Councillor called on to protect frogs in resident maintained South Coogee urban pond now threatened by public housing works -21st October 2016

Randwick Greens Councillor Murray Matson is seeking urgent clarification from Randwick Council that a pond containing five species of frogs will not be destroyed by upgrade work now underway on public housing land

Councillor Matson said that he was contacted on Friday morning by a resident who has been voluntarily tending the pond for many years outside Building 14 in Wauhope Crescent, South Coogee.

He said,

“The resident claimed to have been told by Bridge Housing contractors that there were no conditions under their ‘exempt’ consent specifically protecting the pond. Apparently the works will come within centimetres of the pond and that there are no special precautions being planned to protect the 5 frog species present in such as dust screens.”

Councillor Matson said that he was trying to clarify whether any of the threatened frogs were endangered species and whether Council could insist on the erection of dust and sludge screens.

A resident who maintains a pond for urban frogs thinks that they may be threatened by pending works a public housing estate in South Coogee.

One of five species of frog breeding in a threaten pond in South Coogee

Greens win Randwick Council vote on support for marriage equality legislation following the effective end to the plebiscite option for local MP Malcom Turnball – 13th October 2016

UPDATE:  Last Tuesday Randwick Council supported Greens Councillor Murray Matson’s urgency motion on marriage equality legislation that encouraged the Prime Minister to realign the coalition towards supporting legislation.

March in March 16-3-14 Queers for Justice and Love 024

Greens Councillor Murray Matson’s motion was voted on at last night’s Randwick City Council meeting with support from both Labor and Liberal Councillors.

Councillor Matson and fellow Greens Councillor Lindsay Shurey issued the following statement addressed to the Prime Minister who holds the local seat of Wentworth in their Council area.

“The decision by the federal Labor caucus now means that Prime Minster is left with no option but to work with the Greens and Labor to bring in marriage equality on behalf of our Council’s LGBTI community in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney.“

“Lifestyle verse resident amenity?” Randwick Council allows expanded operations at the  Lion and Buffalo Café in South Coogee – 13th October 2016

Randwick Greens Councillor Murray Matson states that he has been forced to submit a rescission motion after Randwick Council agreed to allow a local café to expand its operations against the vehement opposition of local residents.

Councillor Matson wants Council to organise a mediation session between objecting residents and the popular Lion and Buffalo Café in South Coogee.

He says that residents are complaining of noise and encroachment onto public spaces and he now wants the café owners to negotiate with them over:

  • The re-establishment of a privacy fence that was in place when the previous vet practice used the site;
  • A restriction on the number of outdoor seating allowed outside the café; and
  • Bringing the café operations into line with what prevailed at other cafes in the area.
reviously fenced off by a visual privacy fence when the site was operated by a vet.

Local neighbours looking at the rear of the Lion and Buffalo Cafe in South Coogee want the full reinstatement of a visual privacy fence that was there when the site was operated by a vet.

He asserts that other Councillors made a mistake when last Tuesday they knocked back a proposal by himself and Labor Councillor Geoff Stevenson that the Café’s development application by the café be deferred to allow mediation between impacted-on residents and the applicants.

A massive petition gathered by the Café was presented by Liberal East Ward Councillor Brendan Roberts who attempted to move amendments against Councillor Matson’s opposition in favouring of greater extensions for the Café. Councillor Matson claims that the petition ”represents the opinion of café customers rather than the complaints of residents immediately impacted on by noise and privacy issue’s around the café”.

Councillor Matson is also critical of a “sophisticated” social media campaign being run by the café to allow it to expand its commercial activities into an adjacent reserve.


The Lion and Buffalo Cafe is mounting a social media campaign to pressure Randwick City Council to allow it to commercially use an adjacent reserve as extension of its currently allowed foot path dining area against the views of immediate neighbours.

Councillor Matson says that he that he always opposed creeping commercialisation of Council reserves and open space in Coogee.

“Supporters of the Lion and Buffalo Café love the lifestyle experience offered by it in that lovely area of Coogee. But they may not realise the stress its operations are causing immediate neighbours. This stress is being exacerbated by its intention to commercially take over the use of the adjacent reserve. Sometimes we love an experience so much that we destroy what we love about it.