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Save Our Sydney Suburbs Inc. newsletter March 2001

The deleterious effects of high-density on our city are noticeably corrupting our environment. Pockets of urban bushland that previously counteracted pollution, mitigated rainwater run-off, cooled the city and provided a sanctuary for wildlife are merely seen as an opportunity for medium and high-density development.

The Paddocks in Willoughby and the ADI site in St Marys (www.savetheadisite.bmt.com.au) are the latest examples of this wanton destruction. Heritage is being destroyed.

Snarling, choking traffic is spreading like a cancer through once quiet suburban streets. Travelling is becoming a nightmare for extended periods during the day. Over-utilised sewers, designed for much lower densities, are more frequently spilling over, with highly noxious wastes running into suburban creeks - Willoughby is the latest sewer crisis point.

SOSs is scoring points

We are determined to end this devastation. Since our last mailed newsletter SOSs has scored some telling points against the Department of Urban Affairs and Planning (DUAP)'s dictatorial policy of forcing unwanted overdevelopment onto communities.

Round 1. At DUAP's Sustainability Conference on 17 Nov 2000 we made sure it was clearly demonstrated that DUAP and their experts cannot justify their high-density policy. They repeatedly failed to answer our persistent questions such as "where does one find a comparable high-density city that does not experience severe traffic congestion or the other ills you claim urban consolidation will alleviate"? Round 1 to SOSs!

Round 2. Several months ago Sue Holliday, Director-General of DUAP had been scheduled and widely advertised as a speaker in a Forum to be held on 3 March on "Sydney's Population Future". The title of her talk was billed as "Community participation in planning metropolitan growth". I was also scheduled to speak at this Forum which included several prominent speakers such as Hon Phillip Ruddock, Minister of Immigration and Martin Ferguson MP. Shortly before the Forum was due an article of ours was published in the Daily Telegraph attacking high-density. On the day this article was published Sue Holliday withdrew for "personal reasons". She refused point-blank to arrange an alternate from her well-staffed department. The Population Forum, which had been organised by Gordon Hocking, was held last week and was well attended by 300 people. Throughout the Forum Sue Holliday and her Department were outspokenly criticised for their no-show, which was taken as a clear indication that they cannot defend their tyrannical policies. Round 2 to SOSs!

Round 3. The Daily Telegraph got to hear about Sue Holliday's withdrawal and featured a story entitled "Planning chief called 'chicken''". This story indicated that after Sue Holliday had read our article she had become too scared to appear on the same platform. Round 3 to SOSs!

Round 4. Letters and a further story on rampant SEPP 5 abuses by developers appeared in the Telegraph. As a result Dr Refshauge, Minister of Urban Affairs and Planning submitted a letter defending the policies. Over the following days he was roundly attacked by six letters from readers and received no support. Round 4 to SOSs!

Round 5. Sue Holliday and I were invited to participate in Richard Glover's ABC "Drive Time Show". Sue Holliday prevaricated and eventually declined to be interviewed so I was interviewed on my own. Round 5 to SOSs!

Round 6. A week later I was requested to go for a quick interview by ABC's James Valentine. Sue Holliday and North Sydney Mayor, Genia McCaffery joined the discussion by phone. Sue's statements had many misleading ingredients, including the statement that DUAP does not set urban consolidation targets. The interview format, however, did not allow time to set the record straight. Round 6 - draw.

Score so far: SOSs 5 DUAP 0

What further proof do we need that DUAP cannot justify its dictatorial policies of forcing overdevelopment and heritage destruction onto communities? Why do they continue to do this? One possible explanation relates to the fact that it has been shown that developers are well entrenched in the planning process of the States.

These developers include the construction industry who build high-density unit blocks and shopping centres which try to monopolise a large adjacent customer base of which the higher the density the better. Developers tend to make enormous profits in New South Wales and they make large donations to political parties. In the last electoral cycle, property developers contributed more than $1,000,000 to the governing party, almost 4 times the contributions from unions. The Minister's Residential Strategy Advisory Committee is comprised of 6 members of whom three are developers, two are bureaucrats and the sole remaining member represents local government. Even with the best of intentions this composition must result in a conflict of interest.

The government has created an environment in which developers can influence and hugely profit from its planning processes for high-density. When called upon to justify its policies it fails to do so. This situation must be changed before our city as we know it and our quality of life is lost forever.

Tony Recsei, President.

Renewals - Membership renewals are now due for members who last payed in 2000. Please use the attached combined Renewal/Application form when renewing your membership.

 

Sydney's Population Future Forum details, including the proceedings may be viewed by clicking on this link.

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