Back to News page

Save Our Sydney Suburbs (NSW) Inc.
News Release May 2004

ADI protests

Hi SOS Members

With regard to the Sydney Morning Herald editorial (copied below) SOS member and strong supporter Bernie Laughlan, who is one of the main stalwarts behind the "Save the ADI Site" campaign, writes as follows:


Tony:

I can`t believe this. Does this editor think that we are mad. Give up! what nonsense.I am about to write a letter to tell him a thing or two without losing my cool. Will you onforward this and ask others to do the same. Its time that The Herald realises that there are a lot of conservationist out there.

The Sydney Morning Herald has ignored our campaign for years and now out of the blue the Editor writes urging us to drop our campaign so that Sydney's urban growth can continue. He has put together a simplistic little history of the site topped off with the Lend Lease line that the Regional Park is four times the size of Centennial Park and therefore what are we whinging about. Why has he suddenly jumped on us. I smell a political rat. He obviously has no understanding of the issue and what we in western Sydney are trying to achieve.

We need to write letters to the herald editor rebutting his claims. We need to point out the reasons the whole site should be protected. Tim Flannery only days ago wrote this story in the Herald (http://smh.com.au/articles/2004/05/18/1084783517732.html) about the grim outlook for Sydney's water supply if we don't do something now.

If there are people receiving this email with a scientific, environmental or botanical background I urge you to write to the Editor ASAP.

Write to: letters@smh.com.au Fax 9282 3492 All letters and email (no attachments) to the Herald must carry the sender's home address and day and evening phone numbers for verification. Letter writers who would like receipt of their letters acknowledged should send a stamped, self-addressed envelope. Ideally, letters will be a maximum of 200 words.

The Editorial Bernie is referring to:


Work, homes and open space Usage of the land at St Marys known as the former ADI site has been heavily influenced by politicians for 200 years. The first white owner was Philip Gidley King, the governor of NSW, and his family. The land stayed in private hands until 1942, when the Federal Government bought it for defence use. In 1988 a decision crucial for the site was taken - the Government corporatised the Australian Defence Industries, encouraging it to sell excess land and keep parts of the proceeds. Other government departments find that money from any sales going to consolidated revenue, but ADI's charter gave it an incentive to get the maximum price possible for the sale. That ensured the site would go to developers. Speculation about its future began immediately.

In 1994 ADI signed a contract to allow Lend Lease to develop the site. Battles continued over the land's heritage value, its environmental significance, its contamination and clean-up, its kangaroos and the impact of development on the district's workforce and economy. Local councils wavered and sought reports. State and federal governments of both persuasions proclaimed themselves saviours of open space while encouraging development - the former usually before elections and the latter after. In

1999 the Federal Government established ComLand, a vehicle which would allow the privatisation of the site. Two years later the State Government rezoned it. In January this year, ComLand sold the St Marys site to the developer Lend Lease. It was back in private hands.

This all happened within 20 kilometres of the geographical centre of one of the world's least dense cities. That openness is a virtue. But to accommodate growth Sydney, attractive to migrants and bound by national parks and the Blue Mountains, is faced with few options. It must continue to fill in land within Sydney, increase the density of existing housing and expand further south-west. To omit one would increase pressure on the others.

Originally, the 1545-hectare site was to hold 8000 homes. Now, 5000 homes will abut an 850-hectare regional park - four times the size of Centennial Park - as well as space for businesses, sports fields and shops. Lend Lease plans 12 years of work, starting within months. The prolonged campaigns by local residents and green groups have made it a much better development than it was. They should now let it go ahead, and concentrate on making the mixed space work as well as possible.


Tony Recsei
President
Save Our Suburbs (SOS)


Back to News page