NSW Council Amalgamations: Botany Council to go – maybe Randwick, Waverley and Woollahra too – January 10th 2014

The Government released the final reports of the Independent Local Government Review Panel and the Local Government Acts Taskforce a few days ago.

The Government may or may not take up two options for south eastern Sydney. In either case Botany Council will be absorbed.

Randwick Greens Councillor Murray Matson says the Greens are not supporting either option. “The Greens totally oppose forced Council amalgamations<.” Option 1.

The present Sydney Council borders are expanded to “enhance the potential for improved urban management (eg at Newtown, Paddington and south into Botany) and to include regional facilities such as Centennial Park.”

This basically means Botany Council will vanish. Randwick Council will lose Centennial Park but that would not make a great deal of difference as it is currently administered by a trust.

Option 2.

This will be the amalgamation of Randwick, Botany, Woollahra, Waverley and Sydney, which is just two short of the seven member super council that was rumored to be coming. But it will still be an area of 500,000 plus.

Randwick Greens Councillor Murray Matson said this week,

“Amalgamating with Sydney was always the Randwick Councillors worst case scenario, no offense to any serving Councillor on it. There is no valid financial reason why Randwick should be amalgamated as we have been proven to be financially sustainable.”

The Greens are concerned that a larger sized Council area will disenfranchise constituents from their elected representatives with fellow Greens Councillor Lindsay Shurey saying,

“At the moment I am just about able to handle all the phone calls and emails I get from constituents, but that would become really difficult under a super council model. There are big questions as to how Councillors will be elected to these new bodies and the manner in which they will be allowed to represent their new expanded constituent bases. ”

The two Greens called for keeping proportional elections and the current councillor per constituent ratio in any amalgamated Council body. Councillor Matson said,

“Proportional elections for Councillors should be retained and the current Botany Council optional preferential or one-councillor-per-ward system should be avoided at all costs. We should also avoid reducing the net number of Councillors in the South East so that our constituents can still enjoy ready access to their elected representatives.”

BACKGROUND: A recent relevant media is available from NSW Greens MLC David Shoebridge at http://nsw.greens.org.au/content/ofarrell-looking-break-election-promise-council-amalgamations.

Randwick Council voted for a price on carbon emissions in 2013 the hottest year on record – 5th January 2014

In November Randwick City Council voted for a Greens motion to write to federal politicians advocating the retention of a market based system for setting a price on carbon emissions.

Now the ABC (the thing some Liberals apparently want to privatize) is telling us that 2013 was the hottest Australian year “since records began in 1910”.

Clearly, when all the political posturing is put aside, Prime Minister Tony Abbott has got to do something effective about climate change. If a Liberal will not use the market system to reduce carbon emissions who will? (Well, the Greens obviously…)

Hopefully our Prime Minister’s solution will not include clubbing the ABC into silence. But my 2014 new year hope is that we will at least see changes in perspective at our local level.

Maybe Liberal Councillors Brendon Roberts and Harry Stavrinos will edge away from being seen as open climate change deniers. Maybe Liberal Councillor Robert Belleli will stop derailing Council debates by dragging in every unrelated excuse for climate change he can possibly (and impossibly) think up.

Randwick Greens Councillor
Murray Matson

Local Submission on the CBD to South East Light Rail Environmental Impact Statement from the Randwick-Botany Greens

The full Randwick-Botany Greens submission to
the EIS for the CBD to South East Light Rail (CSELR) is available here.

High Cross Park

Randwick Council trees could be saved by moving parts of the CSELR around – such as the High Cross Park interchange west along High Street.

The local Greens generally support the CSELR but have called for route realignments and operating adjustments that would ameliorate the excessive loss of trees, street parking and the open space of High Cross Park.

A strong call is made for the integration with an Anzac Parade dedicated bike path and for the provision of bike/light rail interfaces.

It is suggested that the sites for the two bus/light rail interfaces and the site for the stabling yards should be moved.

A hybrid bus/light rail approach is suggested for Anzac Parade to provide frequent bus stops for short journeys set independently of the proposed light rail stops. Express bus services are called on to be retained.

The Randwick-Botany Greens call for separating the justification for the CSELR from the concurrent UAP process. Light rail should only be returned to Randwick to service the new dwelling targets previously set for the Council by the previous Labor government rather than flagged increases under the Urban Activation Precinct (UAP) agenda.

The Randwick-Botany Greens do not support recent calls made for the replacement of the CSELR with heavy rail stations and are concerned over their relationship to the two proposed UAP.

Light rail using existing road surfaces is preferable to the instillation of heavy rail in the Randwick Council area for the following reasons:

  • It has minimal environmental impact and is vastly superior to road traffic emissions;
  • It is cost effective;
  • It is politically attainable in the medium term;
  • It avoids community resentment of intrusive vibrations from tunneling activity and fears of potential property damage;
  • It is capable of providing a net increased capacity of 5,000 and
  • It minimizes the need for compulsory land acquisition.

 

Heavy Rail Labor Tries Light Rail Derailment Bid – 13th December 2013

The Editor
The Southern Courier

Randwick Labor Tries to Derail Achievable CBD To South East Light Rail Project With Unachievable Heavy Rail Push.

The recent heavy rail push by local Labor is about giving themselves a superficially saleable rail policy that they can show is different to that of the Liberals who are committed to light rail.

But it is mainly just political showmanship that they have not thought through.

Light rail is relatively cheap but heavy rail is expensive and will have to be surrounded with intensive residential redevelopment to justify and for pay for them.

But Labor opposes intensive residential redevelopment, don’t they?

The same party warning that UAPs will give us high rize development down Anzac Parade is inconsistently championing high capacity heavy rail stations in Randwick and Maroubra Junctions.

I don’t know why Liberal Councillor Robert Belleli is also pushing for heavy rail but he has clearly copied local Labor one too many times.

The Greens support light rail to address the extra 8,400 new dwellings that the last Labor Government told Randwick Council to accept without any new transport infrastructure.

Labor is trying to derail achievable light rail by pushing for unachievable heavy rail – pardon the pun.

Randwick Greens Councillor Murray Matson
@murraymatson

Response by Greens Councillor Murray Matson to “inconsistent” heavy rail position taken by Randwick Labor Councillors and Liberal Councillor Robert Belleli – December 6th 2013

Are Randwick’s Labor Councillors and Liberal Robert Belleli inconsistently  ‘engaging’ heavy rail into the Government’s UAP agenda despite agreeing with The Greens that light rail should be ‘disengaged’ from it?

light_rail_vehicle

Last Tuesday’s unqualified motion by Labor’s Tony Bowen (supported by Bellleli) calling for heavy rail to Maroubra and Randwick junctions flies in the face of their recent well publicized opposition to the UAP proposal.

The previous Labor Government told Council to accept 8,400 new dwellings into our planning instrument LEP 2012, which is one reason why The Greens support the return of light rail to Randwick and Maroubra Junctions.

This year the state planning department (but apparently not the department of transport) have tried to co-opt light rail to justify many more new dwellings under the present Government’s Urban Activation Precinct (UAP) agenda. Which is why The Greens called for the return of light rail to Randwick to be disengaged from the UAPs.

But now Councillors Bowen and Belleli have inadvertently gone further than this. They have voted to direct Council to call for heavy rail without in any way restraining the Government from using it as a justification for excessive high rize development – something that they are both supposed to oppose.

If Councillors Bowen and Belleli want a high capacity heavy rail station in Maroubra Junction – with out disengaging it from dwelling increases – aren’t they implicitly supporting the Southern UAP by providing the needed transport infrastructure?

If the provision of light rail should be disengaged from justifying the UAPs, then surely so should heavy rail? I don’t think Councillors Bowen and Belleli actually perceive the inconsistency of their motion.

I will be moving on Council that we recognize the CBD and South East light rail line as the best rail strategy for Anzac Parade and that we carefully qualify Bowen and Belleli’s heavy rail endorsement to disengage it from the UAP.

Randwick Greens Councillor Murray Matson
@murraymatson

Hop scotch and chalk art not to be classified as graffiti in Randwick Council – 30th November 2013

Randwick Council has moved to safe guard chalk street art from amended legislation of this year that could also restrict children’s chalk games and rainbow pedestrian crossings daubed by the LGBTI community.

Randwck Council  attempts to protect creative chalk art from being classified graffiti under expected State legislation.

Randwck Council attempts to protect creative chalk art from being classified graffiti under State legislation.

Last Tuesday Councillors voted that,

“…Council resolves not to classify as graffiti designs, messages, or markings made by the use of non-permanent chalk except for offensive material as classified under the law.”

Greens Councillor Matson who moved the motion noted the removal of the rainbow crossings and later said.

This year political activists have been using chalk as a way of voicing their opinions on a number of issues. The recent ‘rainbow crossings’ were examples of chalking. Six months ago, NSW Roads Minister Duncan Gay ordered the removal of the Oxford St rainbow crossing in the heart of Sydney’s gay district. This action led to unprecedented numbers of locals chalking rainbow flags on the city’s footpaths in protest.”

Chalk artists have been recent participants in Randwick’s cultural activities such as the yearly Lexington Place busking competition and the Greens want to protect them.

Councillor Matson said,

As I understand it, regulation made under the amended Act could allow for a Council Officer or a Police Officer to prohibit chalking activities, which could include children’s games like hop scotch and the activities of professional entertainers such as the one who drew entertaining images on the bitumen as part of last year’s Randwick busking competition in Lexington Place.

But Randwick City Council will now not be applying any such regulations against chalking as a result of my motion, although the Police still could.

Councillor Matson asserts that famous examples of previous chalk art in Sydney could be made illegal by adoption of regulation under the amended legislation. He said,

Another act of public expression that could now be regarded as illegal would have been the famous chalking by Arthur Stace of the word ‘eternity’ across Sydney from the 1940s to the 1960’s. This act was later commemorated as the graphic in the year 2000 Sydney Harbour Bridge fireworks display.”

Background to chalking bans now possible under the amended NSW Graffiti Control Act 2001

Section 6(1) of the Graffiti Control Act 2001 (as amended in 2013) allows a Council to appoint an “authorised person” to enforce the act.

The act under section 3 defines a “graffiti implement” as amongst other things “an implement of a kind prescribed by the regulations“.

Police Officers can still enforce regulations against chalking despite the Randwick City Council resolution not to use Council officers for that purpose.

Contentious NSW Planning Legislation held over to February – 29th November 2013

The Planning Minister announced on Thursday that the passage of the planning reform legislation will be delayed until Parliament resumes at the end of February next year.

The reason he gave is that too many amendments were concenot_happy_Barryded in the Upper House over the last week.

Amendments have included removing code assessable development, retention of affordable housing provisions, and partial repeal of the provision making the size of a new mining project the main consideration for approval.

Randwick Greens Councillor Murray Matson called on the Government to “scrap the legislation”. He said

Planning Minister Brad Hazzard should accept that the community has voiced its criticism through the Upper House and that this highly resented piece of legislation should be scrapped.”

The Greens were the only party to refuse to vote for the final version of the amended bill this week citing a range of remaining provisions that made it environmentally weak and unaccountable to the community.

Failed amendments moved by the Greens included:

  • Removing Strategic Compatibility Certificates;
  • Reigning in the State Significant Development provisions so that the Minister can’t impose SSD in breach of local plans and other environmental controls;
  • Subjecting private certifiers to tough anti-corruption measures; and
  • Making Ecologically Sustainable Development  (ESD) the primary objective of the Act.

 

 

 

Planning Bill Passes NSW Upper House – 28th November 2013

The Government’s planning law reforms have passed the state upper house after amendments with only the Greens voting against it.

Greens MLC David Shoebridge describes it as an “historic failure of planning reform“.

Local Greens Councillor Murray Matson says that although amended the legislation will still be a problem for Councils trying to enforce local planning controls such as Randwick’s Local Environmental Plan 2012.

He warns that Strategic Compatibility Certificates will allow overreaching developers to bypass the Council plan. He said this week,

Strategic Compatibility Certificates can now bypass our local planning controls, which is hardly in the spirit of returning planning controls to local Councils.”

He stated that the old Act had obliged developers to come to the Council to justify non conforming applications. He explained.

Up to now applications that were over our height or floor space ratios had to convince us that it would be unreasonable or unnecessary for those limits to be imposed on them. We just knocked one back this week at 2-8 Anzac Parade Kensington that was too big by 283 square metres because they were unable to mount a convincing argument.

He says developers can now bypass Council by appealing to higher level regional plans that could be set up by the Government. He elaborated,

Strategic compatibility certificates can be issued by a regional planning panel or by the NSW Planning Director-General. All it would take is for the Government to set up a regional plan over the Council allowing greater heights and densities than those under our Local Environmental Plan 2012. We would be bypassed!

Recognizing long wall coal mining threat to Sydney Water Catchment Area is a step too far for Randwick City Council – 28th November 2013

Randwick Councillors have declined to support a Greens call for the banning of long wall coal mining in the water catchment areas of Sydney.

Class of water REDUCED

Long wall coal mining may compromise Sydney’s drinking water.

The disappointed mover of the motion, Councillor Murray Matson, blamed the low profile of ‘long wall coal mining’ risks when compared to the high public knowledge about the alternative practice of ‘coal seam gas mining’.

He identified a need for more public awareness of long wall mining by Sydney residents and said after the meeting,

Many of my fellow Councillors were prepared to support a ban on coal seam gas mining, or CSG as it is known, but not were not willing to come at calling for a ban that would have included the different activity of long wall coal mining.

CSG is now a contentious and high profile mining activity in different areas of NSW and my fellow Councillors are right to be critical of it. But it is long wall mining that is being identified as the highest current threat to urban drinking water in the Sydney Water Catchment Area.”

Councillor Matson commends the recent formation of Protect Sydney’s Water, an alliance of more than 50 groups across Sydney Basin working together to protect the water catchments from destructive mining. He said,

I am confident that the new alliance will be able to raise public awareness and debate on the threat to our urban drinking water. And then local Councillors will begin to catch up on the issue. Just give them some time.”

Abandon the planning reform bill says Randwick City Council to the NSW Upper House – 27th November 2013

Last night Randwick Council voted to call on the NSW Government to abandon it’s contentious planning reform bill as debate continues in the State upper house today.

Better Planning Network supporters at a recent rally in Marourba.

Better Planning Network protested the Bill at a recent rally in Marourba.

Greens Councillor Murray Matson has urged the NSW upper house members to take note of the local “grass roots” resolution.

I hope that the NSW upper house takes note of this local resolution from the grass roots in its ongoing debate this week on the outrageous excesses proposed under the Government’s planning reform bill.”

TEXT OF RANDWICK GREENS MOTION CALLING FOR ABANDONMENT OF PLANNING REFORM BILL

That Council:

a) notes its deep concern at the changes proposed to the NSW planning system in the Planning Bill 2013 that will see Council lose more of its planning control via;

  • the imposition of code assessable development;
  • the establishment of sub-regional planning boards;
  • the use of discretionary strategic compatibility certificates; and
  • the expanded reliance on private certifiers;

b) regards as a mistake the failures to enshrine ecologically sustainable development as the principle object of the bill and to address climate change issues;

c) resolves as a matter of urgency to write to the Minister for Planning, the Hon Brad Hazzard MP and the Premier, the Hon Barry O’Farrell MP calling on the NSW government to not proceed with the Bill; and

d) resolves as a matter of urgency to write to the Minister for Planning, the leader of the Opposition and the parliamentary representatives from the Greens, the Shooters & Fishers and the Christian Democrats advising them of this resolution and of Council’s concerns.