How Should Randwick Councillors Respond to the “Summary for Policy Makers” from the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change? – April 3rd 2014

What is the local message for your own Randwick City Councillors from the recently released Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change?

The Panel has produced a “Summary for Policy Makers” document. Greens Councillor Murray Matson is asking local residents to read it and then use it to lobby himself and his colleagues with suggested policies that could be enacted at a local level.

He said,

“I am personally looking for direction as a responsible local government policy maker representing an urbanised coastal community. I am asking our residents for suggestions on how their local Councillors should respond to the Intergovernmental Panel’s latest and most exhaustive study of the dangers of climate change.”

Councillor Matson also noted that Randwick Council was in the process of drafting its 2014-2015 building program under its annual budget.

UPDATE

Just some issues commented on in the summery for policy makers include amongst many others:

  • Recent climate-related extremes: “For countries at all levels of development, these impacts are consistent with a significant lack of preparedness for current climate variability in some sectors”;
  • Sea-level rises: “In Australasia, planning for sea-level rise … is becoming adopted widely.”;
  • Global aggregate impacts: “…high risks around 3°C additional warming…”;
  • Human Health: “…there has been increased heat-related mortality and decreased cold-related mortality in some regions”;
  • Livelihoods: Hazards will affect poor people by “impacts on livelihoods, reductions in crop yields, or destruction of homes and … increased food prices and food insecurity”; and
  • Governments are responding: “Engineered and technological options are commonly implemented adaptive responses, often integrated within existing programs such as disaster risk management and water management.”

Councillor Matson noted that some recent Randwick Council activities or debates in relevant areas that people might want to look for possible amending or expanding included:

  • the CSLER light rail project;
  • local food sourcing through its community garden policy and the La Perouse Chinese Market Gardens;
  • beach improvements and general drainage works;
  • existing flood plain management plans;
  • coastal ecosystem concerns for the grey nurse shark and blue groper;
  • annual tree planting and flora and fauna protection budgets;
  • the Randwick Environment Park wetlands;
  • bike facilities and path expansion;
  • shop local initiatives;
  • water and energy conservation initiatives;
  • continuation of the Council’s environment levy; and
  • Council’s position on the pricing of carbon emissions.

This latest IPPC report is likely to reopen the carbon price issue amongst Randwick Councillors. Last year a successful Greens motion saw the Council writing to the Prime Minister “advocating the retention of a market based system for setting a price on carbon”.

Councillor Matson commented,

“Despite our pro carbon price resolution there are still some Randwick City Councillors who identify as climate change sceptics but I think that this latest IPCC report now makes that view untenable.”
Councillor Matson also noted that Randwick Council is in the process of drafting its 2014 to 2015 building program and provision of services under its annual budget.

Randwick Councillors call on State Government to adopt design changes for CBD to South East Light Rail (CSELR) – the Dulwich Hill to Central extension opens – and the global light rail market reaches towards $7.5 billion – March 28th 2014

UPDATE: Figures for the passenger carrying capacity of standard and articulated buses (i.e. “bendy buses” ) have been corrected in this article as indicated.

CBD Kingsford lightrail routeGreens Councillor Murray Matson supported the call for changes but also took aim at local critics who are attacking the feasibility of a properly implemented CSELR light rail system as the best public transport solution for Randwick.

He drew a link from yesterday’s successufl opening of the Dulwich Hill light rail extention to the local situation. He said that,

“The maths just don’t work for those trying to claim that buses can carry more passengers from Randwick into the CBD than light rail. A properly implemented CSELR incorperating Randwick Council’s called for changes will work as light rail works like the Dulwich Hill extension are booming internationally with the global market likely to reach $7.5 billion by next year.

He explained further today,

“The CSELR will move 300 passengers per light rail car against 75 58 for a standard bus and 115 88 for an articulated bus. The CSELR running on dedicated light rail only lanes has a clear capacity advantage over buses which are predicted to run into a saturation point in the CBD beyond which they will not be able to be forced. The light rail capacity on the other hand can be further pushed up to 600 per trip by hooking two CSELR cars together.”

Councillor Matson stated that it is a mistake to focus too heavily on a simplistic bus verse light rail argument because the CSELR was not intended to totally replace buses anyway. He elaborated,

“People focusing on this bus verse light rail issue are forgetting that buses carrying 6,000 passengers are actually going to be retained alongside the new light rail cars along Anzac Parade making it a hybrid bus/light rail system. This, with the extra 9,000 to be added by the better carrying capacity of the CSELR, will boost the overall capability to 15,000 in peak hour. This is better than the 10,000 currently carried by buses alone along Anzac Parade.”

Councillor Matson said that the main selling point for him on the advantages of an integrated bus/light rail over just a pure bus system was the flexibility added by the CSELR. He said,

“In high demand situations the Government plans to double the potential capacity of the hybrid bus/light rail line along Anzac Parade line to 24,000 passengers per hour by simply hooking two light rail cars together. You can’t hook two buses together.”

Councillor Matson refutes claims by another Councillor that light rail is in decline around the world. He says,

“Light rail is actually an international growth industry with the global market for it predicted by Global Industry Analysts (GIA) to reach $7.5 billion by next year. Yesterday’s opening of the new Dulwich Hill to Central Station extention is part of the trend.”

Councillor Matson supported this statement with the following quote from an industry observer made just today.

“GIA announces the release of a global report on Light Rail. Global light rail market is projected to reach $7.5 billion by the year 2015. The market is driven by increasing popularity of light rail transit across various regions, owing to easy accessibility, reliability, and fast transportation services. Increased traffic congestion, rise in oil prices, and growing environmental awareness are few other factors driving the market for light rail. Various cities with an existing light rail transit system are in the process of extending their network, while others, which currently do not have a LRT in place, are setting up or planning for light rail transits.” (source –  Friday, March 28, 2014 PRWEB)

Councillor Matson concluded by saying,

“Globally the world is turning to light rail as an effective public transport solution to congested cities and all Randwick City Councillors have a duty to recognise this. The historic task of the current  Randwick Councillors is not to oppose light rail but to demand that the State Government provides an improved plan that adopts Council’s called for design changes.”

BACKGROUND DETAIL

The Randwick-Botany Greens support light rail but want changes to the design of the announced CSELR project in order to protect trees and open space.

The carrying capacity of a standard Sydney bus is just 75 passengers at 1.86 passengers per square metre of floor space. The capacity of the new light rail cars will be better with 300 passengers at 2.51 per square metre (assuming a 45 metre long and 2.66 metre wide body).

But it is not just about comparing the carrying capacity of a bus verse a tram. It is also about how much space is taken up on our congested streets and how much more space has to be wasted between two vehicles that have to follow each other. Light rail has a clear advantage here because the more people you can fit into one extended vehicle length the better.

An additional advantage over buses is that two light rail vehicles can be linked together thus collectively taking up less space on the road by removing the space between the cars and moving 600 passengers while doing it. The best bus option available in Sydney is an articulated vehicle carrying just 115 passengers.

Survey Shows Amalgamation Threatened NSW Councils Unfairly Forced to Take on $521 Million in State and Commonwealth Expenses – 18th March 2014

Proposals to forcibly amalgamate NSW Councils for financial efficiency reasons ignore $521 million in “arduous extra expenses that have been  unfairly ‘cost shifted’ onto them mostly by the NSW State Government” say the Greens.

The latest survey by the peak Council group reveals that in 2012 these extra costs were “5.63% of Local Government’s total income before capital amounts or $521 million>”

Greens Councillor Murray Matson reaffirmed that Randwick City Council should not be amalgamated and commentated,

“Randwick’s own study using the same researchers as the Government appointed Review Panel shows that we are financially sustainable in our own right and don’t need to be amalgamated. But like all NSW Councils our financial picture is made worse than it should be by the unfair moving of State expenses onto us. It’s called cost shifting.”

Fellow Greens Councillor Lindsay Shurey called for the State Government to:

“…reverse this odious financial undermining of Local Government before continuing any further in assessment of the financial need to amalgamate Councils”.

BACK GROUND

Cost shifting is where the costs of a service, concession, asset or regulatory function are “shifted” from a higher sphere of government on to a lower government without the provision of corresponding funding or adequate revenue raising capacity. It is a practice that has been bitterly resented by NSW Councils for decades. The peak NSW Council group, Local Government NSW, conducts a yearly survey of Councils to determine the level of cost shifting.

Most cost shifting in NSW comes from the NSW State Government and to a much lesser degree, the Commonwealth (0.18% of total cost shifting or just over $712,000 for immigration and citizenship ceremonies).

The following list of cost-shifting areas came from APPENDIX A of the Local Government NSW survey which includes some qualifications that should be read.

  • Contribution to Fire and Rescue NSW.
  • Contribution to NSW Rural Fire Service.
  • Contribution to NSW State Emergency Service.
  • Pensioners rates rebates.
  • Voluntary conservation agreements
  • Public library operations.
  • Shortfall in cost recovery for regulation of on-site sewerage facilities.
  • Shortfall in cost recovery for administration of the Companion Animal Act (NSW) 1998.
  • Shortfall in cost recovery for administration of Contaminated Land Management Act (NSW) 1997.
  • Shortfall in cost recovery for functions under the Protection of the Environment Operations Act (NSW) 1997.
  • Shortfall in cost recovery for functions as control authority for noxious weed.
  • Immigration services and citizenship ceremonies.
  • Shortfall in cost recovery for administering food safety regulation.
  • Provision of educational services.
  • Crime prevention/policing.
  • Flood Mitigation program.
  • Transfer of responsibilities for roads under RMS road reclassification reviews.
  • Medical services.
  • Road safety.
  • Community and human services.
  • Waste levy.
  • Sewerage treatment system license fee.
  • Waste management site license fee.
  • Taking away of revenue from crown reserve land under council management
  • Shortfall in cost recovery for processing of development applications.

Local Greens support Randwick Literary Institute Rally – 9th March 2014

Randwick Greens Councillors Murray Matson and Lindsay Shurey attended yesterday’s rally at the Randwick Literary Institute along with Waverley Greens Councillor Dominic Wy Kanak to support it’s retention  for community use.

Greens at rally to keep Randwick Literary Institute in community use.

Current and past Green Councillors come out to support the Randwick Literary Institute rally last Sunday. Left to right: Murray Matson, Pru Cancion, Lindsay Shurey, Dominic Wy Kanak, Margaret Woodsmith

There is a strong fear in the community that the 101 year old public meeting place and workshop facility may be about to be sold off by the State Government.

Also attending was former Randwick Greens Councillor Margaret Woodsmith and former Waverley Greens Councillor Pru Cancion.

Greens Lindsay Shurey collects signatures at Randwick Literary Institute rally.

During the rally Greens Councillor Lindsay Shurey (in white) assisted in collecting petition signatures.

Councillor Matson said, “The Council area needs to retain the versatile meeting place options that the Randwick Literary Institute has always given to our community.”

Former Councillor Woodsmith was recently part of a delegation that went to see local Coogee MP Bruce Notley-Smith to lobby for the retention. She said after the rally,

“The R.L.I was 100 years old in 2013.it was built with community donations on crown land and has been used as a community center ever since. The current manager employed by the department of Lands was given notice on the 1st of January. Marion has been there for 12 years and has grown the usage from 15 groups on a regular basis to the current 74, over 2,000 people in all. I immediately saw the danger that it was on the radar of a greedy State Government for residential development. We organised a committee, got busy and yesterday we had a good rally.”

At the rally the local MP Bruce Notley-Smith spoke and promised to save the facility for community use. Ms Woodsmith commented afterwards,

“The rally was well attended and it came with a reassurance from the local member Bruce Notley-Smith (a Liberal whom I was deputy Mayor to when we were both on Randwick Council). Federal Labor MP Matt Thistlethwaite also spoke in support. It all now seems likely to work out in the community favor.”

Inside the building current North Ward Councillor Shurey moved amongst the crowd helping collect signatures calling for the facility to remain accessible to constituents.

Councillor Lindsay Shurey speaks today at Randwick Council’s International Women’s Day Community Art Prize – 8th March 2014

It was a proud day for Councillor Shurey when she spoke at the Women’s Day art awards that were originally initiated by former Greens Councillor Margaret Woodsmith.

Here are selected extracts from her speech notes.

Greens Councillor Lindsay Shurey speaks at today's Randwick Council International Women's Day Community Art Prize awards.

Greens Councillor Lindsay speaks at today’s Randwick Council International Women’s Day Community Art Prize awards.

“International Women’s Day celebrates the social, political and economic achievements of women while focusing world attention ares requiring further action.”

“The theme for 2014 is: ‘Inspiring Change’ and encourages advocacy for women’s advancement everywhere and in every way.”

“Recent events reported in the media have refocused our attention on rates of domestic violence against women. Herald has a front page story. A 2004 National Women’s Safety Survey identified that 57% of women experience physical or sexual violence at some time in their lives. In Australia, most women who are victims of domestic violence or family violence have children. These statistics are startling and sobering.”

“Another area which I’m sure you’ll agree cries out for change is wage disparity based on gender. As Justice Mary Guadron, the first woman to be appointed to the High Court famously said in 1979: ‘Equal pay was won in 1969 and again in 1972 and yet again in 1974.’ And she added, ‘We still don’t have it.’

CSELR Light Rail: Report back on outcome of Randwick Councillors meeting with Transport Minister – February 28th 2014

A number of us Randwick Councillors met with the Minister for Transport today.

It goes without saying that we were all grateful to the Minister for taking time out of a clearly busy schedule to update us on the issue of the proposed High Cross Park bus/light rail interchange.

The Minister presented to us plans for a new updated design of the interchange in the park that had been generated by submissions to the recently concluded EIS for the CSELR light rail project.

I can not speak for all the Councillors who were present but a number of us expressed concern to her that the Department was still pushing for a light rail and bus interchange in High Cross park when we had seen previous plans for a workable alternative in nearby High Street which would also provide a stop for POW hospital.

I came out of the meeting personally unconvinced that the Minister’s advisers have established to us that it is unfeasible to move the interchange from the Park westward into High Street. As a result I told the Minister that while I supported the light rail project in general I could not see how the loss of any of the park area could be justified while High Street is an option.

While I was disappointed with the outcome of the meeting I remain committed to working with the Council and the Minister’s Department to overcome any identifiable problems with using High Street as a site for the interchange.

Randwick City Greens Councillor Murray Matson

CBD and South East Light Rail: Tense meeting expected between Transport Minister and Randwick City Councillors this Friday: February 27 2014

The proposed High Cross Park light rail and bus interchange will be a point of major disagreement when Randwick City Councillors visit the NSW Transport Minister tomorrow.

Greens Councillor Murray Matson stated today that he did not accept that the Minister could not feasibly move the interchange westward into nearby High Street to save the park and provide a direct rail stop outside POW Hospital.

View Larger Map
He stated that if the Council and the Government worked together any technical difficulties with a shift to High Street could be overcome. He elaborated,

“The Council believes that there is no valid reason why the light rail interchange could not be moved down into High Street itself thus providing a direct stop for POW. I will be asking the Minister to clearly articulate any technical objections that she might have against a High Street site so that the Council can workshop ways to overcome them to provide a first class public transport system to the CBD.”

Further key inflammatory points are likely to be the loss of trees along Alison Road and a reversal of Council expectations that the Wansey Road section of the rail line would be moved down onto the race course land.

Councillor Matson said,

“I do not think that the Minister appreciates how frustrated Randwick Councillors are getting with what seems to be a blind refusal by the Government to take seriously the re-design proposals that we put forward in our EIS submission to make the proposed light rail line a popular success. We sincerely believe that our suggestions will enhance the public’s acceptance of the light rail line as the best solution for improving public transport between the Council and the CBD.”

At some point after Friday’s meeting the Government will have to approach the Council to gain support for a contract of agreement to use its land and infrastructure for the CSELR project.

In December 2013 Randwick Council made a submission to the Environmental Impact Statement being conducted to test the feasibility of the light rail project. A Council report summarized the problems it identified in the submission as follows.

Summarised in brief, the major design issues raised in the submission are:

  • Objections to the proposed locations of the Randwick and Kingsford interchanges, the alignment on Wansey Road and the location of the proposed Randwick light rail vehicle stabling facility at 66A Doncaster Avenue.
  • Objection to the loss of substantial on-street parking throughout the route and particularly on Anzac Parade, and objection to any reduction in footpath width or pedestrian safety/capacity as a result of the light rail alignment
  • Concern about traffic impacts both on the route and in surrounding streets, and the lack of certainty about future bus changes
  • Concern about the loss of a large number of trees, including significant trees

Council To Debate Whether Dependence on Randwick to Debate Whether the Riot Squads is an Effective Alcohol Management Strategy for Coogee Beach

At the next Randwick Council meeting Liberal Councillors will try to overturn a 24 hour alcohol ban that would bring Coogee Beach into line with a similar ban at nearby Bondi.

The situation was managed quite effectively” (Randwick Liberal Mayor Scott Nash on 2UE, 12 February)
The police had to call in the riot squad” (Randwick Greens Councillor Murray Matson, 11 February)

revellors Coogee Beach 17th January 2014 - 4 - web version

Revelers before being moved on by the riot squad at Coogee Beach 17th Jan. 2014

The two quotes above were made about ham strung police efforts to control an intoxicated crowd at Coogee Beach in January.

Councillor Matson says that the two differing statements can only be reconciled if use of a riot squad at a popular Sydney beach is accepted as an effective alcohol management strategy – and he does not. He said,

“There are no restrictions banning alcohol consumption on Goldstein Reserve during daylight hours. As a result groups of drinkers can start congregating there from about 11am on. They know they can’t do it at Bondi.

A few weeks ago the police realized on one day that the situation was getting out of hand but could not do anything until dusk. Things had deteriorated so badly by then that they had to call in the riot squad. That would have been unnecessary if they had been free to act hours before.

How can the Mayor of Randwick propose that Council should depend on the use of riot squads to control crowds of drunks as an effective alcohol management strategy?What happens the next time revelers are allowed to reach the riot level at Coogee Beach before 6pm?”

Fellow Greens Councillor Lindsay Shurey disputed claims made on 2UE by Liberal Councillors that there was no community call for the 24 hour ban. She was told at a local community meeting that residents were intimidated away from the beach reserve after a certain time of the day because of the presence of drunken revelers.

Beer brought from local outlets being carried onto Coogee Beach 17th January 2014

She said,

“I attended the February meeting of the Coogee Precinct meeting and it was made clear to me that they were sick of families being forced to abandon the beach reserve because of the obnoxious behavior of drunks. I have seen photographs showing the reserve being taken over by drunks. As a Councillor I promised the meeting that I would respond by raising the matter at Council.”

Great Barrier Reef dumping: Sydney Town Hall Rally 1pm this Saturday (8th February 2014)

Who would have thought an Australian Primer Minister could be so complacent about the need to preserve one of Australia’s iconic areas, the Great Barrier Reef?

Check out https://www.facebook.com/events/577411032344703

Randwick Green Councillor celebrates end of long wait for Coogee Community Garden – February 3rd 2014

Four years of planning are over and planting has started on the Coogee Community Garden site after volunteers constructed raised corrugated iron planter beds on Sunday

Randwick Greens Councillor Murray Matson inspects the new planter beds at the Coogee Community Garden site.

Greens Councillor Murray Matson at the installation of the planter beds – Coogee Community Garden site.

Long term supporter Greens Councillor Murray Matson initiated Randwick City Council’s part funding of the project via a Councillor’s motion last year.

He attended the planting on the weekend and paid tribute to the core group of residents who had worked to bring it all about.

“The creation of this community project is a tribute to the residents who stuck with it for four years. Supporting local food sources through community involvement like this is something that I am personally proud of Randwick Council for doing.”

Greens motion to Randwick City Council. SUBJECT: Motion Pursuant To Notice – “Additional funding for Coogee Community Garden”

BACKGROUND:

A small committee (supported by over 100 community members) has been working for almost 4 years to establish the Coogee Community Garden on Dolphin Street.

They report that they recently signed a Licence Agreement that gives them in principle permission from Crown Lands to start building on the site. But they require further funding to make the community garden an actual reality.

The committee states that is has raised $25,000 via grants but needs around another $30,000 to build the garden in full. In addition, they are seeking funding to pay for the services of an experienced Landscape Designer / Project Manager to oversee the build, implementation and initial operating phase. They have recently applied for a council grant (Cultural and Community Grants) but were unfortunately ineligible.

They have emailed me stating that,

“The Coogee Community Garden aims to build a sense of community, offer a place where people can share knowledge and fresh garden produce. The CCG will be a community asset that will encourage the development of our community through gardening – a space fostering communication, community-connectedness and friendship. There are also multiple Health & Wellbeing and Environmental benefits from a community garden for the Randwick/Coogee community. The CCG will provide fresh produce and plants as well as satisfying work, neighbourhood improvement, a sense of community and connection to the environment. The garden will be a community space for healthy social interaction and physical exercise.”

They further claim anecdotal evidence that people who grow their own food are more likely to consume it and therefore reap the health benefits. They also suggest that environmentally, carbon emissions could be reduced as food travels less from where it is grown to where it is consumed and no harmful chemicals or insecticides will be used.

The committee expects to potentially reduce food waste by over 21 tonnes each year through composting and to save 7 tonnes of greenhouse gas pollution each year.

TEXT OF MOTION:

That Council fund the Coogee Community Garden project $30,000 either through savings, or if savings are not possible, via consideration in the coming draft Council budget.

MOTION LODGED BY:GREENS COUNCILLOR MURRAY MATSON