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Save Our Sydney Suburbs Inc. newsletter December 2000

LUNA ANTICS

Over the past two months we have witnessed some wonderful examples of the illogical, contradictory and unfounded actions of government bureaucrats in the State Department of Urban Affairs and Planning (DAUP). The story of the aptly named Luna Park is a good illustration.

In my e-mail of 19 November when I reported on the DUAP Sustainability Conference I alluded to the claims made there by the Minister of Planning and Urban Affairs, Dr Refshauge and other speakers promoting the DUAP point of view that higher population densities reduce traffic problems. This allegation is one or the main "justifications" made by DUAP for its disastrous dictatorial policy of enforcing higher densities. At this conference I pointed out that higher densities increase and do not decrease traffic densities (but that is not the thrust of this newsletter – just bear in mind the DUAP claim of higher population densities reducing traffic problems).

Recently North Sydney Council approved in full an application for the development of Luna Park, apart from a proposed 500-space car park. The Council offered to negotiate with the developers on a compromise involving locating a 100 car park at the Kirribilli Bowling Club, which is owned by the Council and on which the current lease expires in 6 months. The developers declined this offer to negotiate.

North Sydney Council had good reason to refuse to sanction a 500 car park. Milsons Point is already a traffic nightmare. It has narrow streets, one in and one out. It is THE spot for anyone from overseas to view the Opera House and the City skyline. All Tour Buses come there. On busy mornings and sometimes at night traffic can back up to and onto the harbour bridge. An increase of 500 more car spaces would severely exacerbate the traffic problem.

Public transport services to the area could hardly be better – it is well served by train, bus and ferry. Visitors to Luna Park can come by train – Milsons Point Station is 200 metres away with frequent trains originating from many localities. A ferry terminal is situated 8 metres from Luna Park and there is a shuttle bus every 5 mins from the nearby terminus served by major bus routes. Correspondence from both the EPA and a planning committee of the RTA recommends against a 500 car space park.

The Olympics experience showed how car use could be minimised when adequate public transport is available. A car park of the size proposed would generate an additional 1500 car movements per day. North Sydney already has choking traffic problems. Why make them worse when viable alternatives are available?

The 500 car space car park was proposed for location under the cliff face. Not only would it destroy heritage-listed fig trees, it would also necessitate excavating an area equivalent to a six storey building under the cliff.

Enter DUAP and its Minister, Dr Refshauge. On 3 December Dr Refshauge announced that the State Government would take over the planning powers of North Sydney Council of the Luna Park area. A 500 car space park will now be forced upon the residents of North Sydney whether they like it or not.

What breathtaking autocracy, arrogance and deceptiveness!. So much for DUAP’s claims that its policies reduce private vehicle travel by Sydneysiders and that these policies make our city more "sustainable".

Forcing those in North Sydney to endure still worse traffic congestion by bureaucratic dictate starkly demonstrates the cynical hypocrisy underlying the Government’s policies. Is it, or is it not genuine about reducing the affliction of choking traffic congestion? I think we know the answer!

Do we have to put up with this?

Moving away from the Luna Park situation, in general the politicians seem to favour developers over other considerations. In the last electoral cycle property developers contributed more than $1,000,000 to the NSW ALP, almost 4 times the contributions from unions (The Australian, 5-6 February 2000). These contributions are quite legitimate. There is no reason to assume that this is a specific factor in the Luna Park case but the generally favourable attitude of many politicians and of DUAP to developers is noteworthy.

This bias must be counteracted. SOSs is working on creating a Sydney-wide network to provide support to small community groups in their struggle to save our city from overdevelopment, and loss of bushland and heritage.

Those seeking to rein in overdevelopment in Sydney have been sidelined by politicians due to the lack of a visible, unifying organisation to advocate on their behalf. Small isolated voices are quite powerless to effect change. But the situation would change dramatically if all of the community groups, along with thousands of other residents were to act in a concerted manner.

More and more individuals are becoming motivated to save Sydney from a future of overcrowding, traffic congestion and overdevelopment. But we need still many more members in order to have the necessary clout.

If each member could recruit 3 more members we would have much more influence. Application forms are attached to help put words into action in case others can be persuaded to join.

You may also consider expressing your opinion on this disgraceful situation by writing to Dr Refshauge whose contact details are given as:

Refshauge, The Hon. Dr Andrew John, M.B., B.S., Deputy Premier, Minister for Urban Affairs and Planning, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Minister for Housing.

Ministerial office Phone: (02) 9228 4499

Ministerial office Fax: (02) 9957 2145

Marrickville Electorate address:

244 Illawarra Road Marrickville NSW 2204. Phone: (02) 9558 9000 Fax: (02) 9558 3653

PO Box: PO Box 170 Marrickville NSW 1475

The best method of direct contact is by e-mail; the email address is: arefshau@parliament.nsw.gov.au

Tony Recsei President

Save Our Sydney Suburbs

Remember to register for the forum on Sydney's Population Future on Saturday, 3 March 2001 at the Sutherland Entertainment Centre, Eton Street Sutherland.

Please take advantage of the earlybird registration to assist the Forum organisers prepare for the expected 600 registrations. The Forum panel section will allow members to quizz DUAP's boss on the Department's policies. This opportunity should not be wasted.

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