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Save Our Sydney Suburbs (NSW) Inc.
News Release July 2006

In Victoria too

Hi SOS Members

We have frequently brought to your attention that the planning strategies for our suburbs submitted by local Councils to the Department of Planning are not really assessed by that department. The Department gives these strategies to a "Residential Strategy Advisory Committee" to assess. This committee is comprised of developers and bureaucrats who cooperate with the Department. There is no representation from the broader community in these closed-door processes. These developers frequently then build high-rise in that suburb. Such arrangements must present a conflict of interest. Developers who will build the high-rise in our suburbs decide how much high-rise there will be and the applicable planning rules! Never mind the public.

It seems the conflict of interest problem does not only occur in New South Wales. In its major front page article yesterday's Herald Sun reports as below. (For your information "VCAT" is the Victorian Civil and Administration Tribunal which is the body that hears planning appeals and is the Victorian equivalent of the NSW Land and Environment Court).


HERALD SUN

VICTORIA'S top planning judge has a major financial stake in a multi-million-dollar suburban housing deal, sparking questions of conflict of interest.

The Herald Sun can reveal Justice Stuart Morris, president of VCAT, is moonlighting as a property speculator in blue-chip real estate in East Ivanhoe. Justice Morris, QC, and his wife Jennifer own eight lots that are being sold to Queensland property developers to build a 92-apartment retirement village. The blocks make up a hectare of land near Ivanhoe Park and, based on recent house sales in the area, could be worth at least $8 million....................

Developers Rathmines Investments are expected to lodge their formal application with Banyule City Council next week. ........................

The Herald Sun believes Rathmines wants to develop an aged-care centre, with gymnasium, medical centre and day rooms, and 92 apartments. Justice and Mrs Morris and their companies Statstar Pty Ltd and Sacavic Pty Ltd own the eight prime titles in an area bordered by The Boulevard, Wamba Rd, Cedric St and Wilfred Rd.

The Herald Sun editorial also features this subject and reports that:
"Justice Stuart Morris was appointed president of the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal in 2003 as part of a new broom designed to make processes more efficient, fairer and democratic. His term as VCAT head coincided with the State Government's 2030 strategy."



BACK TO NEW SOUTH WALES


For many year the New South Wales Department of Planning have been telling us their urban densification policies will improve Sydney's transport problems as everyone will use public transport. Never mind that after a decade of "urban consolidation" public transport percentage share is down by 12%.

The Daily Telegraph of June 29, 2006 reports:

THE DAILY TELEGRAPH

Faster than a locomotive

"The luck came and it was a dream run but I was surprised that it was possible to keep up with a train in Sydney. I'm not sure you could do that in Melbourne.

"I was glad when the train seemed to wait a bit longer at Petersham, which gave me the chance to consolidate a lead as I powered uphill and then down into Stanmore."

Excruciating waits at stations not only paved the way to victory for the runner, from Ballarat in Victoria. They are also emerging as the biggest headache for train drivers. They say leaving ahead of schedule is a bigger problem than lateness because they have too much time on their hands from one stop to the next.

A Campbelltown to Circular Quay service takes an extra 8 minutes than a year ago. Train journeys take longer today than they did when the first electric-powered red rattlers hit the tracks in the 1930s. Off-peak passengers have been hardest hit under the new schedule, which ripped 270 services from them and increased trip times in line with peak services for reasons best known to RailCorp.

The State Government has never acknowledged that the slower schedule was designed to improve on-time running statistics.Transport Minister John Watkins has consistently blamed recommendations out of the Waterfall inquiry. The judge who presided over Waterfall recently torpedoed those claims, saying none of his 127 safety recommendations mentioned slowing down ordinary suburban services.

The reduction in services has also created a glut of drivers who are being paid to do nothing. About 150 CityRail drivers on full pay are stuck with nothing to do but watch DVDs and hope for a shift.


Money in the pockets of high-rise developers.  People packed into units like sardines.  Train services worse than in the 1930s.  150 drivers sitting with nothing to do.  How does the Government get away with it?

Tony Recsei

President, Save Our Suburbs

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