Jul 28, 2010

Australia's first Aviation Ombudsman announced

The Minister for Transport Infrastructure and Local Government, the Hon Anthony Albanese, has announced the appointment of Australia’s first Aviation Ombudsman. The Aviation Ombudsman will be the current Deputy Commonwealth Ombudsman, Mr Ron Brent. And his appointment will commence in September.

This announcement is as a result of the strong advocacy of the Australian Mayoral Aviation Council which had been demanding for many years an independent oversight of the severe problems caused by aircraft noise, rather than bureaucrats.  As I point it out in my Presidential address to be Annual Conference of the Australian Mayoral Aviation Council  on 2 September 2010, which is available for download at http://www.botanybay.nsw.gov.au/pdf/mayoralspeeches/2009/AMAC Speech.pdf

“In this way we could possible see the end of the fiasco of noise sharing arrangements. As we all know far too well, for more than a decade the noise sharing targets have not been met and they haven’t been met even once.

And, an Ombudsman could perhaps put the onus on the airlines to tell passengers and communities of the truth. Terminology, and I really mean excuses, such as ‘operational matters’, ‘air traffic control issues’, ’weather’, ‘late arrival’ and on, and on, may disappear.

Even the nearly acquired ‘security issues’ may be more scrutinised by an Ombudsman.

Airline operators telling the truth, now that would be something indeed.”

In making the Government’s announcement, the Minister said: “Our airports are vital for our economy but it is also vital that communities who live around the airport have the confidence that their concerns are being met.”

I want to on behalf of the community I represent as Mayor, and on behalf of the Australian Mayoral Aviation Council of which I have the honour of being the National President, wish to congratulate the Hon. Anthony Albanese for being responsive to the needs of not only our community but also all the communities surrounding airports in Australia. This really is a significant achievement for those communities.

I noticed in the Southern Courier an article published on its website on 27 July, 2010 headed “Australia’s first Aviation Ombudsman, is it just plain noise” where candidates for the upcoming Federal election were critical of the Government’s announcement.

Mr Allan Rees of the No Aircraft Noise Party asserts “voters would be sceptical about the timing of the appointment.” The New South Wales Greens warned the Federal Government of the risk of back lash of residents living under the flight path if he didn’t take action.

Greens lead Senate candidate, Ms Lee Rhiannon suggested that the decision made by the Minister “will be seen as window dressing” saying “governments of the day have been long known for setting up independent watch dogs only to ignore what they say.”

The Greens candidate for Grayndler, Sam Byrne, criticised the Minister saying “he has been in charge of Sydney airport for three years but the only thing he has done for residents is to sign off a master plan which boosts aircraft movements.”

I know this is a Federal election time and that it’s the silly season. I know Mr Byrne, the Greens candidate from Grayndler, who is former Councillor and Mayor of Marrickville, and I have the highest regard for his knowledge and ability.  But I am disappointed that he has compromised his obvious talents and abilities by playing politics over such a significant achievement for the community, a community he seeks to represent in the national Parliament.

In my view it reflects poorly on the democratic process when candidates are not prepared to recognise significant achievements by Governments as they try to garner support for their own political ends.

It is the responsibility of all of us, either those who hold public office or those who seek election office to public office, to recognise achievements and to criticise outcomes when those criticisms are genuinely held.

As you can see from what I have said, this is not a cynical decision by a Minister in an election campaign.
This has been a long held demand by communities around airports in Australia. And, it’s something of which these communities in the short, medium and long terms will be extremely grateful.

Jul 25, 2010

Hensley Athletic Field - Draft Plan of Management

The Draft Plan of Management for Hensley Athletic Field is currently on exhibition and available for download at http://www.botanybay.nsw.gov.au/communicating/communicating.htm as is the full concept plan.  Please feel free to send me your comments and I will ensure council considers them.

Tai Chi Workshop

Everyday life can stress people out. One way of beating stress is Tai Chi, an ancient Chinese art.  

The Central Library at Eastgardens has organised a free workshop to introduce Tai Chi.  The workshop will take you through not only what Tai Chi is but the philosophy behind it, its health benefits as well as a demonstration.  

The workshop is scheduled for Saturday August 7 between 2.00pm and 4.00pm – just the right time to get rid of some of the Saturday shopping stress.  While it is free, you’ll need to book, which you can by calling the library on 9366 3888.

Jul 22, 2010

Our "Green" City

Keeping our City “Green” is not just about the factoring in of better environmental practices in all of Council’s operations or in new developments, important as these policies are, but making our City more attractive and a better place to live for all our residents.

When I talk to people around our streets, in our parks or at sporting events I get a common message – one which I totally agree with and work to see a reality.  The message is that green features and protecting and enjoying our natural environment are seen by residents to be important aspects of daily life.  It’s what makes a city good.  That’s why we, as a Council, work hard with all our parks and gardens, our sporting facilities and, indeed, in just about every street and road in the City.

A tree-lined street makes the street less harsh and more inviting.  Dot the street with trees and it’s softened in how you see it and it is a pleasure to walk down.  Nature strips are just as important as are the flowers and shrubs we plant in centre median strips and in roundabouts and other traffic calming structures.

The same applies to parks and gardens.  The new playground that’s just about to be built down in Jellicoe Park will feature shrubs, flowers, grasses and trees to make it more inviting – it’s also, as I said last week, the way we match playgrounds to growing numbers of children in particular areas.

A “green” city is not necessarily one where green policies override all but a city where the right environmental policies are in place alongside policies to spread greenness to almost every street and road, making our City more attractive and a better place to live.

Renovated Amenities at Booralee Park, Botany

Jul 21, 2010

Politics of the Misinformed

My greatest criticism of political candidates is their uniformed simplistic assertions on important environmental and infrastructure issues. Take for example an article in the Southern Courier by Nick Moncrief-Hill of 20 June 2010, entitled “Greens slam port jam” http://southern-courier.whereilive.com.au/news/story/greens-slam-port-jam/

The Greens Party candidate Lindsay Shurey asserts that the Federal Member for Kingsford-Smith and Environment Minister is not listening to what she calls, “Labor mayor Ron Hoenig’s statements reveal that he acknowledges the mess Labor’s failed infrastructure planning has had on the Botany area.” These issues have nothing to do with Mr. Garrett and the Commonwealth Government.  These issues are state issues that I have been advocating for a long time.  These issues relate to very poor planning and a complete lack of intellectual ability by state bureaucrats for a long time to understand how to integrate planning, and infrastructure and transport policy which will lead to disaster.

It is unhelpful in endeavoring to solve these problem for a candidate not even to understand the Commonwealth Constitution when she is seeking election under it. I do not remember seeing Lindsay Shurey before the Commission of Inquiry or Land and Environment Court when the City of Botany Bay sought to prevent the Port Botany Expansion proceeding.  I did not see her in the gallery of the High Court of Australian when we sought to prevent the Third Runway at Kingsford-Smith Airport, and prevent further dredging of Botany Bay.

The Commonwealth Government has been very supportive of the City of Botany Bay with huge infrastructure investments for which I and my community and future generations will be eternally grateful.  I can assure all the residents of this City that our support from the Gillard/Rudd Government has been unprecedented.

Jul 20, 2010

HSC "Ride the Wave'

I mentioned last week that the series of Higher School Certificate study lectures was about to begin across the Eastern Suburbs.  The “Ride the HSC Wave” assists year 12 students in preparing for the HSC with subject-oriented lectures from experienced HSC teachers. There are lectures in Ancient and Modern History, 2 Unit Maths and General Maths, Business Studies and Biology, religion and Shakespeare, personal development along with tips on writing under pressure.  The lectures are organised by library staff in councils in the Eastern Suburbs and, in the past, have been both beneficial and popular.  They began this week and run through to August 4. Students need to book for the lectures and there is a small fee of $5 for each one.  You can book and get more information by contacting our Central Library at Eastgardens on 9366 3888 or on-line at library@botanybay.nsw.gov.au   

The lectures are a great way to get a little extra for the HSC and since I mentioned them last week, our library has already had a lot of enquiries. The first lecture at the Central Library, on writing under pressure, is this Thursday, July 22, between 6.00pm and 7.30pm.  The second is for general maths and will be held on Thursday, July 29, again between 6.00pm and 7.30pm.  Our library staff can also supply information on the other lectures, at the libraries in Randwick, Waverley, Paddington and the Woollahra Council Chambers so don’t hesitate to call.

Jul 16, 2010

Making Safer Young Drivers

In conjunction with the Roads and Traffic Authority, we’ve hosted special workshops to assist parents and those supervising learner drivers.  Each time we hold the safe driver workshops we’re swamped with people wanting to help young leaner drivers become better drivers. Disturbing statistics show that young drivers between 17 and 20 years old are three times more likely to be involved in serious accidents.   We don’t want these trends to continue and that’s why we work with the RTA to try and overcome the high accident rate.

The workshop focuses on helping parents and those who supervise learner drivers with safe driving messages and tips that they can use when teaching young people to drive.  There is also information on the Graduated Licensing Scheme, which requires learner drivers to have 120 hours of supervised driving practice. The workshop is free and it will be held in the Central Library at Eastgardens on Thursday, August 19 between 5.45 - 7.45pm. You ill need to book and for further inquiries and registration please contact Patrick or Yasemin on 9366-3889.

Jul 14, 2010

Rewind and Win!

To celebrate the opening of Rewind Pause Play at the George Hanna Memorial Museum in Mascot Library, we’re giving everyone the chance to win either a Canon Powershot A490 Digital Camera or a Kodak Easy Share Digital Photo Frame. The museum’s current exhibition celebrates its 15-year history by looking back at fifteen of our best exhibits. In this competition we ask you to look through your photo albums and seek out “historic” landscape or people shots taken in the City of Botany Bay. Your photo may be of a local landmark from the turn of last century, or of your co-workers dated haircuts from the 1980s (how gross could that be!). Entries will be judged on ability to remind us of our City’s past and its people. Visit the museum for entry forms or contact Sam, the museum’s curator on 9366 3802.  The competition closes on Friday, August 16.

Jul 13, 2010

You can't move containers by bike

Road congestion in our part of Sydney has been predicted by Botany Bay City Council for years. Common sense tells us expanding Port Botany with an ever expanding Kingsford-Smith Airport in an area locked in by Botany Bay can yield no other result.  We would all like people and freight to be moved by an efficient and effective public transport and rail system. We must deal with the reality and what is achievable in the immediate future.  You can’t move containers by bike.

The Southern Courier in an article by Editor, Raylene Bliss entitled “Traffic jam for road plan: M5 East and M4 East tunnels split suburbs” deals with the debate at http://southern-courier.whereilive.com.au/news/story/transporting-sydney-into-a-state-election-battleground-suburbs-split-by-tunnels/

Jul 12, 2010

Solar Lit Bike Path

If you’ve been down the end of Swinbourne Street in Botany lately you would’ve seen the new footpath/cycleway that links Swinbourne Street with Coal Pier Road, Botany.  If you are down there at night you’ll also see the new solar powered lights, dotted along the footpath/cycleway.  The path and the lights were constructed as part of the development consent for 32 Swinbourne Street and was a good example of developer provided community facilities.

Jul 11, 2010

HSC study help

I know it’s early and most (apart from year 12 students) want to think about the Higher School Certificate – but planning does help results.  Again this year we’re part of the “Ride the HSC Wave” lecture program aimed at helping HSC students.  The “Ride the HSC Wave” is organised by council libraries across the Eastern Suburbs and this year, we’re hosting two at the Central Library at Eastgardens.  The first lecture, “writing under pressure” will be delivered on Thursday, July 22 between 6.00pm and 7.30pm.  The second is for general maths and will be held on Thursday, July 29, again between 6.00pm and 7.30pm.  The cost of each of the lectures, which are delivered by HSC teachers, is $5 and you can book by calling the library on 9366 3888 or on-line at library@botanybay.nsw.gov.au

There are other lectures at the libraries in Randwick, Waverley, Paddington and the Woollahra Council Chambers, covering Shakespeare, business studies, ancient history, religion, personal development and belonging.  Our library staff have all the details of lectures in other Council areas, so don’t hesitate to call.

New Playground at Jellicoe Park

We're just about to get underway with a new playground at Jellicoe Park, in Park Parade (where else?), Pagewood.  For the little kids there will be the little swing, the climbing hut and the see-saw.  For those a bit older there a separate space for multi-play equipment and the bus springer while a flying pole will be in another area. 

There will be softfall throughout as well as shaded areas, trees and shrubs and seats for parents and carers. Based on the popularity of the new playground down in Booralee Park in Botany, the one at Jellicoe Park will be very popular indeed. 

The new playground is part of Council's policy of matching playgrounds with local younger residents.  The parks and playgrounds are where they are needed.  So, if you're down in Jellicoe Park you'll soon see some activity as we create a new playground.

Jul 5, 2010

"Your City" Autumn 2010

Council’s “Your City” Autumn 2010 publication is available for download at http://tinyurl.com/2arqs9m

Sleazy Billboard

I've written to the Premier and her Minister for Transport about an advertising billboard near the Airport, which flies in the face of good taste. We don't need to welcome visitors to Sydney with an ad on how to have a quick affair while you're in Sydney. This is a great city, a world leading city, and sleazy billboards are not what we need to see. I'm not a prude or an advocate of censorship but I think the Government, which controls the land on which the billboards are located, could have a quiet chat to the company that rents out signs to clean up this particular one.

Jul 4, 2010

Mascot Station Pedestrian Plaza

Work will get underway shortly to boost the Mascot Station precinct by creating a pedestrian plaza right at the station. What we will be doing is closing Laycock Street, which runs between Coward Street and John Street and creating a landscaped pedestrian open space.  

Instead of a bitumen street what we’ll have is a paved urban open space dotted with planter beds, lighting and street furniture.  Advanced paperbarks, native grasses and shrubs will soften this area and increase the ambience of the Mascot Station precinct, an area of growing popularity in our City with its new residents, cafes and the mixture of residential and commercial development.  I love going down to this new and vibrant part of our City.