Monthly Archives: December 2014

NSW Government likely to amalgamate Randwick Council despite former Green Mayor Murray Matson’s 2004 reduction of an infrastructure backlog inherited from Labor – 12th December 2014

Raylene Bliss,
Editor,
the Southern Courier.

Dear Editor

When I became a Green Mayor in 2004 Randwick Council had an infrastructure backlog of $116 million to fix. That’s now down to $6 million after I implemented our first ever long term financial plan.

We are now one of the most financially sustainable Councils in NSW and immune to any argument for amalgamation. But the Government has ruthlessly rigged its ‘Fit for For the Future’ program against us.

Metropolitan Sydney's first Green Mayor of Randwick brought initiated reforms that have brought an infrastructure backlog of $116million down to just $6 million by 2014.

In 2004 newly elected Randwick Greens Mayor Murray Matson brought in a long term financial plan that has reduced Randwick Council’s $116 infrastructure backlog down to $6million by 2014.

It requires an existing population of between 200,000 to 250,000 before any NSW Council will be allowed to escape. Randwick, sustainable as it is, falls short.

Next week Council will mail out seven options to residents to seek feedback on how Randwick and neighbouring Councils might get to a combined figure above 200,000.

Included is an assessment of the possible amalgamation of Randwick and Botany, which is an option supported by Randwick Labor. This option will not get us to the Government’s required 200,000.

Some residents still naively believe that Randwick can somehow say no to the Government. They are being manipulated by vote driven local politicians who for state election purposes are whipping up a populist rage against those Councillors that actually are trying to mitigate the Coalition’s approaching juggernaut.

I support the two plebiscites that will be held by Council in February and May. But do NOT allow yourself to believe that the Coalition Government is going to take any actual notice.

Randwick City Greens Greens Councillor Murray Matson

Coogee Election news 2015: Greens candidate Lindsay Shurey says St Catherine’s master plan should look to sustainability and compliance with Waverley LEP – 10th December 2014

“St Catherine’s master plan proposes building heights and FSR’s grossly over those set by Waverley Council, their community, and endorsed by the NSW government in the Waverley LEP 2012″

The school should start again and propose changes to their site which comply with the LEP”, the Greens 2015 candidate for the state seat of Coogee, Lindsay Shurey said.

“At the last election the then Liberal opposition waged a campaign that local communities should control planning issues in their local area. They further espoused a policy that the community be involved in strategic planning, setting the overall parameters for their local areas.” Ms Shurey said.

“The Community in Waverley has done that with its Council, and the resulting controls in the LEP should be determinants of planning decisions in their area. The gateway system of Liberal governments overriding local controls for large developments is as bad as Labour’s Part 3A legislation” she said.

“There is considerable evidence that residents are currently experiencing a significant reduction in their amenity as a consequence of the operations at St Catherine’s. Traffic chaos and parking issues are key concerns. More than 600 students are dropped off in the morning and 140 teachers compete with residents and shoppers for on street parking.

The predominant use of the private car for all users of St Catherine’s is unsustainable.  Located on a public transport hub and close to Bondi Junction railway station, there is no reason for St Catherine’s users to shun public transport. The existing traffic and parking chaos must be resolved before an intensification of use is considered.

St Catherine’s should be required to make a model transport shift to public transit for sustainable transport and meet specifically targeted performance indicators for that change by their staff and students.

The proposed 500 seat theatre and the three pool aquatic complex would increase the number of users on the site and extend the site use to evenings and weekends beyond the school’s current operations. Since the school is proposing to provide only 19 more car spaces on the site, the community will be fighting for a car space near their homes into the evenings and all through the weekend.  This is unacceptable.” Ms Shurey said.

“St Catherine’s should be required to provide onsite car spaces commensurate with the requirements of two commercial theatres and a 250 capacity aquatic complex. If they are going to lease out their facilities to the community or other organisations they should be required to provide parking like any other commercial operation.”  Ms Shurey said.

For further information: Lindsay Shurey,
M: 0414 286 740
E: coogeecampaign2015@hotmail.com
Twitter: @lindsay_shurey

The crippling state election politics underlying the ‘Fit For The Future’ Council amalgamations debate at Randwick Council – 10th December 2015

Or, how Randwick Labor Councillors have locked themselves into supporting Rockdale’s Labor Mayor in his audacious bid to annexe South Ward of Randwick City Council

(Story written by Randwick Greens Councillor Murray Matson)

An article in yesterday’s Southern Courier newspaper ignited the amalgamation debate in an unexpected way at last night’s Randwick Council meeting.

Former Bob Carr staffer Rosemary Mackenzie was routinely fronting up to the meeting on behalf of Labor Councillor Tony Bowen to publicly criticize various non-Labor Councillors for allegedly “supporting amalgamations”.

But Ms Mackenzie chose to avoid responding to Greens Councillor Murray Matson who politely asked her if she had read that day’s edition of the Southern Courier. In particular, had Ms Makenzie noticed that Rockdale Labor Mayor Shane Obrien was proposing that Botany and Marrickville Councils support his bid to take South Ward away from Randwick? In short, what did she think of Rockdale Labor’s forced amalgamation bid?

Ms Mackenzie, who is no political beginner, instinctively went into ‘dodge the question mode’ and never actually answered the Green Councillor. But tactically she made a bad call.

By refusing to answer that simple question Mr Mackenzie only drew attention to the dreadful pickle that she and Randwick Labor Councillors Tony Bowen and Geoff Stevenson have worked their local party into.

Her retreat from transparency has now significantly damaged a simplistic state election strategy that Randwick Labor has bet all on in the run up to March 25th.

For months Labor has been opposing Randwick Council putting in a submission to the State Government’s Fit For the Future process alleging that to do so would bring about forced amalgamation. The whole point has really been to allow Labor to run a simplistic state election campaign in the state seats of Coogee and Maroubra.

But if Rockdale is now putting in a submission to the Liberal Government seeking the annexation of more than 20% of Randwick, then why shouldn’t Randwick respond by putting in an opposing submission?

If the Council does not put in a counter submission the Coalition State Government will simply deem that Randwick does not oppose Rockdale’s land grab. That is obviously very dangerous. But Mackenzie, Bowen and Stevenson can’t now support a counter submission because they have been vigorously campaigning against Randwick making any sort of submission.

This means that Randwick Labor has locked itself into supporting the surrender of more than 20% of its own Council area, including its rate share from Port Botany, to the Labor controlled Rockdale Council.

The Mayor of Rockdale will no doubt appreciate his Labor colleagues’ silence on his land grab attempt but the residents around Malabar, South Maroubra, Chifly, Matraville, La Perouse, Little Bay, Pagewood, Port Botany, and Phillip Bay probably will not.

Local activists working on the Malabar Headland, CESLR Light Rail, street trees, port noise, La Perouse Chinese Market Garden and other issues may wonder what positions the unfamiliar Rockdale Council will take on them.

The Randwick Green Councillors have committed themselves to supporting Randwick Council’s intensive consultation program over the next few months to allow residents to express their views on forced amalgamations. But Ms Mackenzie and Councillors Bowen and Stevenson on the other hand must now be dreading the inevitable feedback. South Ward residents will undoubtedly call for their Councillors to put in a counter submission.

One can also imagine the position that the present three Councillors who hold the seats in South Ward will have to take.

Soon or latter someone is going to ask Labor Maroubra MP Michael Daley whether he wants Randwick Council to make a Fit For the Future submission opposing most of his seat being amalgamated into Rockdale. He is going to have to come out in opposition to Mackenzie, Bowen and Stevenson. That will be painful for all labor identities concerned.

But that is the problem you can easily find yourself in when you elevate short term electoral gain over research, common sense and caution. The Greens have urged Randwick Councillors to oppose amalgamations but to stay at the table during the Fit for The Future discussions even in the run up to the election.

BACKGROUND

‘… The boundary change could also include south ward of Randwick City to contain all of Port Botany. “The income generated from the ports and airport – two massive pieces of infrastructure – which have a significant impact on public space, should stay with the councils responsible for that space,” Mr O’Brien said. …’ (Extract “Shadow over airport revenue” Southern Courier, Tue, 09 Dec 2014, page 3)

 

Greens 2015 Maroubra candidate James Cruz campaigns in South Maroubra – 8th December 2014

James Macdonald campaigns in South Maroubra

Greens Councillor Murray Matson supported Greens candidate for Maroubra James Cruz at the South Maroubra shopping centre over the weekend.

The Greens 2015 election campaigns in South East Sydney moved steadily on over the weekend with Maroubra candidate James Cruz visiting the South Maroubra Shopping Centre with local Randwick Councillor Murray Matson.

James moved into the South Maroubra area when he was four and works locally at the Bowen Library after working for Angus & Robertson in Eastgardens. He is a member of the local Randwick-Botany Greens.

An angry Randwick Council ponders pursuing the NSW Government for financial reimbursement over street tree assets recently damaged by Ausgrid contractors – 7th December 2014

The excessive tree lopping of many Randwick’s street trees by Ausgrid contractors has angered Randwick Councillors to the point of considering legal action to recover costs from the Governm

Greens Coogee candidate Lindsay Shurey wants residents to complain by recent damage to Council street trees by Ausgrid.

Greens Coogee candidate Lindsay Shurey and Councillor Murray Matson want residents to complain about recent damage to Council street trees by Ausgrid.

Greens Councillor Murray Matson moved an urgency motion at last Tuesday’s Council meeting seeking legal advice as to how such action could be pursued.

All Randwick’s street trees have a calculable financial value that in many cases will have been depreciated by the onslaught that occurred a few weeks ago.

Councillor Matson said,

“Randwick Council routinely assigns a financial value to various street trees by the use of a formula incorporating factors such as age and spread. So we can easily determine the degree of financial damage that has been done to the community’s flora assets by these out of control contractors.”

“The question is can we legally recover this damage figure from the Government if some of our street trees are going to die or deteriorate in value as a result of  the Ausgrid contractor’s ineptitude?”

The degree of damage could be substantial. In an unrelated matter the Council recently applied the “Australian Standard ASDR99307” formula to place a combined value of $36,000 on three Hills Weeping Figs in Eastern Avenue, Kensington.

The resolution to the Greens urgency motion also endorses the erection of signs at specific damaged trees to shame Ausgrid. Councillor and Greens candidate for Coogee Lindsay Shurey, stated,

“I don’t see why a state entity like Ausgrid should be exempt from the rightful public scorn over what its contractors have done to some very well loved trees along our streets. The signs will have an Ausgrid phone number and I would urge residents to use it to make individual complaints.”

Greens candidate for Maroubra James Cruz supports the Council move by the Randwick Green Councillors.

Greens candidate for Maroubra James Cruz is aware of many trees damaged by Ausgrid contractors.

Greens candidate for Maroubra James Cruz is aware of many trees damaged by Ausgrid contractors.

He said,

“The Institute for Sustainable Futures only recently ranked our area as one of the worst for tree canopy coverage in NSW.

We desperately need to protect the trees we have.

We simply won’t accept state-sanctioned contractors coming in and butchering them with no oversight or accountability.”

 

 

 

BACKGROUND

RESOLUTION TO COUNCILLOR MATSON’S SUCCESSFUL URGENCY MOTION:

That:

  1. the General Manager obtain legal advice on the option of  recovering, from the relevant authority, the loss to the Council assets of excessively trimmed and lopped trees by contractors in recent weeks.
  2. the General Manager advises on positions that Council can take to lobby the Government for increased auditing and policing of the conduct of these contractors.
  3. Council use publicity to ask our residents to contact the Council with photos of the trees that they consider to have been mutilated.
  4.  a selected number of trees be tagged with adequate signage drawing attention to the issue and including a contact number for Ausgrid.

Two Randwick Labor Councillors have voted to overturn a Randwick Council decision to support unions during Council amalgamation threats – 4th Decemeber 2014.

The Council had recently received a request from the United Services Union that it be involved in any response by the Council to the NSW Government’s ‘Fit for the Future’ policy.

Last Tuesday night Labor Councillors Tony Bowen and Geoff Stevenson broke with other Labor Councillors and unsuccessfully tried to rescind a decision that the union be given a voice on Council committees set up to deal with the amalgamation threat.

Greens Councillor Murray Matson said he was perplexed by the two Labor Councillors’ refusal last Tuesday night to respond to the union request. He said,

“The Union has sought to consult with Council regarding how it should respond to this amalgamation threat with the primary objective of ensuring protection of employees’ conditions. Bowen and Stevenson inexplicably tried to over turn a mayoral minute intended to give the union a voice at the negotiating table despite other Labor Councillors voting to support the request.”

Both Labor Councillors have been accused of opposing the Council’s response plan for “grandstanding purposes”. Council Matson said.

“Councillors Bowen and Stevenson had a rush of blood and saw an opportunity to publicly oppose the Greens but forgot that they were going to vote against union representation. Other Labor Councillors did not forget and voted to help the union with the Greens.”

He elaborated by saying that Bowen and Stevenson needed to “start being part of the solution”. He said,

“Bowen and Stevenson are now desperately using social media to try and hide their lack of defense for the unions by attacking how the Greens voted. Someone in the United Services Union needs to pick up the phone and tell Councillors Bowen and Stevenson to start being part of the solution”.

The Office of Local Government has issued a suite of ‘Fit for the Future’ templates and each NSW Council is required to present a ‘Fit for the Future’ proposal to the Office of Local Government by June 2015.