Mar 31, 2010

P&O Trans Australia and Port Botany

At last month’s Council meeting I presented a Mayoral Minute entitled Trucks, Congestion and Port Botany.  In it, I referred to a media release from the Minister for Ports in the NSW Government announcing, in effect, that one new rail freight service to Port Botany by P&O Trans Australia would solve not only the local traffic problems we have, and will have, but also that the service would ease congestion on the M5East.
Since then, representatives of P&O Trans Australia have briefed my office on their operations, present and future, their rail services and their aim to reduce traffic movements. P&O Trans Australia mistook my call for government action to address the Port Botany congestion as some sort of implied criticism of them.  
Nothing is further from the truth. Any reduction in truck movements, any movement to rail as the preferred transport mode, is fully supported by this Council and this Mayor.
The rail service between Port Botany and the Yennora distribution centre operated by P&O Trans Australia have the ability to move more than 157,000 containers a year – or over 320 per day.  
If you take into account that truck trips per container are two then what this one company has done is get 646 less trucks a day down Foreshore Road and the M5East.
In CO2 emissions this means a reduction of 2,558 kgs a day.
P&O Trans Australia is committed to the transport mode shift from road to rail and has shown that commitment with two dedicated trains operating between Port Botany and Yennora three times a day.
P&O Trans Australia has shown what one operator can do.  If they can do it, then others can do the same.  
The track is there.  The Port Botany rail yard upgrade is in its final stages and the construction of the third terminal is well underway.
What is lacking is direction from both the federal and State governments to support what this Council and organisations such as P&O Trans Australia are doing in getting the containers off the road and onto the rail lines.
P&O Trans Australia are servicing the needs of western Sydney industry – what we need are the other two arms of government to do the same.
What is needed are for 40 per cent containers that pass through Port Botany to be loaded onto a rail services and thence to the distribution centres in western Sydney, the eventual destination of the majority of the containers.
For that not only is there a need for the Yennora and Enfield terminals to be fully operational but also some resolution on the proposed Moorebank terminal. That’s why we need both the federal and State governments to work together because, without them acting on concert, there will not be an optimal solution to a growing problem. P&O Trans Australia has done its bit and no doubt will do more. What we need is for this type of action to be reciprocated.
That was what I was alluding to at our last meeting and I am grateful for P&O Trans Australia in taking steps to make sure Council was fully aware about that they were doing.

Mar 30, 2010

Athletics Administrators and Hensley Field

Each day as I drive past Hensley Field I see the revitalisation of this important sporting complex continue unabated.  The earth is being moved, the facilities upgraded and this great multi-use facility if moving inexorably towards completion.
I will soon announced and I will outline a new level of support we’ve received for the multi-sport facility, which will take this ground to a new level.
But, before I do, I want to recount a story that probably gives some perspective to the campaign that was waged against Council,  over our proposed revitalisation of Hensley.  The story I’m about to recount shows the disconnect between sporting officials and administrators and those who actually participate.
Sydney mum Hayley Butler is a 100 metre hurdler who for reasons of injury as well as the birth of her son took a three year rest from the sport she loved.
She decided to return to her sport and set gaining a spot on the Australian team to the Commonwealth games in Delhi in October.
In her first race, the ACT titles, she set a time that not only bettered the B-qualifying time for the Commonwealth Games, but was the second fastest behind Olympic silver medallist Sally McLellan.  Ms McLellan is unfortunately injured and only time will tell if she makes the Australian athletics team for Delhi.
But let’s go back to Ms Butler.  First run in three years and she wins the race and, as she thought, a spot on the Aussie team.
She reckoned without the ubiquitous sporting officials and Athletics Australia, who I think were one of our critics over Hensley.
Ms Butler’s heinous crime as far as the officials were concerned was that she hadn’t had her name checked off before she ran what was an amazing race.
She missed the little tick on a little bit of official’s paper – and in the check-in zone.
They did, however, let her run under a protest and she won in a Commonwealth games qualifying time.
Any joy she may have had was some dispelled by Athletics Australia when the protest was heard.
Athletics Australia flatly rejected her protest – the rules on marking a name off a bit of paper must be maintained.  No variation to the strict adherence of rules could be countenanced by this supreme bunch of sporting officials.
She had to run again – over the past weekend at Sydney Olympic Park.
She won her event and looks like overcoming even the best endeavours of the sporting officials and will represent her country in Delhi.
But the great bunch of sporting officials who laid down the law in Ms Butler’s first event, showed how they supported an athlete who excelled in the only way they know how – by turning their backs on achievement.
In many respects they are like the ones who would have loved to kick the little athletes off Hensley and grab it for their own aggrandisement
Why would we think they’d do anything else.

Mar 29, 2010

Passover Greetings

L’ma’an tizkor et yom tzait’chah – Therefore you shall remember the day that you went forth. Deuteronomy Chapter 16, Verse 3.

As Jews in our community, and in fact around the world gather together to celebrate Passover, we remember the story of the Exodus. After 400 years of slavery in Egypt we remember our ancestors 40 year journey through the desert to freedom in the Land of Israel.

The Passover Seder, with its symbols and rituals, instructs each generation to remember our past while valuing our freedom and the responsibility it entails. As Jews gather around the world to celebrate the hard-earned gift of freedom, Christine, Ben, Matty and I wish all who celebrate Passover a peaceful and relaxing holiday. Chag sameach.

School Holiday Programs

With Easter and then school holidays upon us once again, I have dedicated this column to providing advice on what activities are available to stave off those cries of “I’m bored” “there’s nothing to do” and which may also lend a hand to those who have to juggle work and school holidays … something our family no longer has to do now the boys are teenagers and out of school, but something I do understand well from experience.

Vacation Care

Vacation Care is a program for primary school aged children and will run from Tuesday April 6 until Friday April 16 at Pagewood Public School. It will be open from 7.00am to 6.00pm each day.  A whole series of excursions have been organized to keep all the children occupied and active, including rock climbing, movies, Symbio Animal Farm, a session down at Booralee Park and Clown Town Indoor Playground. There will also be visits to Vacation Care from an animal farm, as well as train rides and a disco on the last day.  Each school holidays we have a theme and for the April Vacation Care the theme is “Food is Fun”.  This means the children will be doing lots of food preparation and cooking activities as well as the usual art and craft and indoor and outdoor games. You need to enrol for Vacation Care and you can do this on Wednesday March 24 between 4.30pm and 7.00pm at Pagewood Public School. For further enquiries please contact Sherryl on 93663576 or Grace on 96666128.

Youth Holiday Program

While Vacation Care looks after the primary school kids, we have a separate program for high school students.  It’s organised by our great team of youth workers and we use both the Hillsdale and Eastlakes community centres.  The program kicks off on April 6 and like Vacation Care runs through to April 16.  There’s a trip to the zoo to look at all the animals and have a closer look at Luk Chai the baby elephant.  We also have archery, a bush walk, movie night, competition days (with pool, table tennis and PS2), a hang out day and, for the last day laser tag and bowling. At the two comp days (at Eastlakes and Hillsdale community centres) there will be a free BBQ while the hang out day sees pizza and popcorn. While the majority of the events are free there are some small costs for a couple of the activities.  Our school holiday programs always fill up quickly and to make sure of your spot for two weeks of activity, fun and just hanging out you’ll need to contact Yasemin on 9366 3889.  You can also book at the Central Library in Eastgardens on Thursday and Fridays between 11.30am and 3.00pm or on Thursday between 4.00pm and 7.00pm at Hillsdale Community Centre, next to Southpoint on Bunnerong Road.

Card Making & magic at the Library

At the Central Library in Eastgardens children from the age of 6 and up can come along and make cards for Mother’s Day on Friday 9th April from 2.30pm to 4.00pm; and on Monday 12th April from 10.30am to 12noon.  Bring along a family photo to include.    On the Tuesday 6th April from 10.30am to 12noon and again on Thursday 15th April from 2.30pm to 4.00pm children from 4 years and up can learn how to make Lily flowers for Mum on her special day.  Each of these activities are free.
On Friday 16th April, the Magic Jester Shayne Richards pops in for a visit and will do two shows, the first will be a magic show at 10.30am to 11.20am followed by a Balloon Workshop from 11.30am to 12.20. Bookings are necessary for this activity and can be made in person by visiting the library and speaking with Candy.  There is a small fee of $2 to be paid when booking.

Wishing everyone a safe and Happy Easter

Mar 26, 2010

Dacey Gardens, Daceyville

Dacey Gardens, Garders and Bunnerong Road, Daceyville

Mar 25, 2010

Immunisation Clinics

Council has always been a strong advocate of immunising children against preventable diseases and, for many years, has run free monthly immunisation clinics.  We work in conjunction with the South Eastern Sydney Public Health Unit from NSW Health and the clinics give pre school immunisation.  A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that the immunisation clinics would be extended to include vaccinations for swine flu, a disease to which children are susceptible.  Because of this we’ve extended the clinics to be held next month from the usual one hour.  This is just for the session at the Central Library at Eastgardens, which will be held over two hours to ensure as many children as possible are immunised. So for the clinic to be held on Thursday April 1 there will be two, two hour, sessions – between 1.00pm and 3.00pm and again between 5.00pm and 7.00pm.  The clinic held the same day at Mascot Early Childhood Centre will run as normal – between 9.00am and 10.00am.  If you want any more information about the clinics, and about immunisation, contact Council’s Immunisation Co-ordinator on 9366 3666.

Mar 23, 2010

Dacey Gardens, Daceyville

Dacey Gardens, looking towards the bus stop stop at Gardeners Road, Daceyville.

55 Plus AGM

There was a good roll up at this year’s Annual General Meeting for 55 Plus which was held recently in the Eastlakes Community Hall.  55 Plus is one of several groups, supported by our Council, who organise a range of activities for our senior residents. There is something for everyone at 55 Plus from art classes, to exercise groups or you can simply enjoy a coffee and conversation.  The Club is always ready to welcome new members so if you are looking for something do, keen to make new friends or discover your artistic side then give our Aged Services a call for more details, on 96695295.  Back to the AGM … and congratulations and a big thank you to those who have been elected to guide the club for the next 12 months.

The committee members are:
Thelma Gardiner, President; Beryl Bell, Vice President; Doreen Dyce, Secretary; Rose Agosta, Treasurer; Brenda Connolly, Heather Keene, Joyce Larkin, Lucy Rimac and Anne Theodore.

Mar 21, 2010

Library Lecture Simeon Lord ­ From Chains to Riches

Lord Street in Botany runs next to Mill Pond, one of our local water storages, and just along from Mill Pond Road.  All have connections to part of our early history and in April that history will be the focus of a special lecture at the Central Library at Eastgardens.  It’s all based on Simeon Lord who arrived on our shores in chains in 1791 and who ended up a very wealthy man. A businessman, a banker and, not so desirable, someone involved in whaling, also built a flour mill at Botany.  He dammed a local creek to generate power for the mill, hence Mill Pond and forever left his mark on our area. The lecture Simeon Lord – From Chains to Riches – will be held at the Library on April 17 at 2.00pm.  The lecture, which is part of the 2010 National Trust Heritage Festival, will be delivered by Council’s Heritage Reference Librarian Mark Butler. It’s free but you will need to book by calling the Central Library on 9366 3888.

Mar 20, 2010

Immunisation Clinics

Council has always been a strong advocate of immunising children against preventable diseases and, for many years, has run free monthly immunisation clinics.  We work in conjunction with the South Eastern Sydney Public Health Unit from NSW Health and the clinics give pre school immunisation.  A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that the immunisation clinics would be extended to include vaccinations for swine flu, a disease to which children are susceptible.  Because of this we’ve extended the clinics to be held next month from the usual one hour.  This is just for the session at the Central Library at Eastgardens, which will be held over two hours to ensure as many children as possible are immunised. So for the clinic to be held on Thursday April 1 there will be two, two hour, sessions – between 1.00pm and 3.00pm and again between 5.00pm and 7.00pm.  The clinic held the same day at Mascot Early Childhood Centre will run as normal – between 9.00am and 10.00am.  If you want any more information about the clinics, and about immunisation, contact Council’s Immunisation Co-ordinator on 9366 3666.

Mar 15, 2010

Congestion and our City

Sometimes the real benefits of our City’s location, such as our closeness to the central CBD, beaches, the airport and routes out of the metropolitan area have associated disadvantages.  The biggest one to my mind is congestion.   I read with interest, and a fair bit of concern, the report by the Federal Government’s Major Cities Unit to Federal Infrastructure Minister Anthony Albanese that congestion that now costs Sydney $3.5 billion a year will rise to $7.8 billion by 2020. These are not hypothetical figures, they are a real cost that will impact on everyone.  More concerning for Sydney was the fact that we have the highest share across the nation of trips to work via public transport, which you would think should ease congestion.  This means that the State Government’s Metropolitan Transport Plan, with its emphasis on public transport expansion, has become vital for our community’s future.  For our immediate area the cross regional bus lanes may have a positive effect but we need to look beyond that to our road networks.  Increased bus trips shouldn’t have to compete with increased heavy truck movements because if they do then our local congestion will increase above the projected levels.  There are some big challenges that have to be faced so our City’s residents can enjoy the benefits of our location along with minimal adverse congestion. We’ll always have congestion (it goes with living in a big city) but we need to be able to manage it.

Mar 14, 2010

Seniors Week 21 - 28 March

The State Government’s Seniors Week is on next week – from March 21 to March 28 – and it’s a week where our seniors get out and about. In our City, we hold off on the Seniors Garden Party until the March celebrations are over so that we don’t compete with the many other events.  We do, however, organise a few for our local seniors.  We’ve got ‘Movies in the Library’ at the Central Library at Eastgardens where you can watch movies from a selection of titles with general appeal. There’ll be two sessions on Thursday March 25. The morning session will commence at 10:30am and the afternoon session at 1:30pm and tea and coffee will be provided. Some seniors may want to bring their own lunch and stay for both sessions. The meeting room at the Central Library will become a temporary movie theatre – so come and relax in our comfortable chairs and enjoy the entertainment.

Mar 12, 2010

Youth Week ­ a few weeks away

Plans are well underway for our annual Youth Week celebrations when we showcase the skills and personalities of our 12 to 24 year olds. I mentioned the Youth Week Art Competition a couple of weeks ago and I’m sure many of our young local aspirating artists are hard at work creating their interpretations of this year’s theme – “Our Environment”.  All the artworks will be on display in the Central Library at Eastgardens between April 10 and April 25.  To be eligible for the prizes in the art competition, your entries must be in by Friday April 9.  There’s also a photography exhibition of the work of young photographers and it has the same environment theme as the art competition.  During Youth Week, which runs from Saturday April 10 to the following Sunday week, April 18 (it’s a little more than a true week), there are numerous events like free movie nights, ten pin bowling, free BBQ’s and “comp” days at Hillsdale and Eastlakes youth centres.  In coming weeks I’ll mention some of the individual events but if you want some information immediately about the 2010 Youth Week, call Yasemin or Patrick on 9366 3889.

Mar 10, 2010

This Friday's Garbage Collection

Just a note for those who get their garbage and recycling collected on a Friday.  For this week, and for one week only, the garbage and recycling will be picked up on Saturday.

Mar 9, 2010

April Falls Day ­ "Don't fall for it"

Council, in conjunction with the NSW Health Service, is providing a free information session to promote healthy ageing, including presentations by qualified health professionals – a doctor, physiotherapist and dietician. Topics will include healthy ageing, improving strength and balance, medication use and falls risk factors.
Falls for those over 65 can lead to a loss of independence, reduced quality of life or even worse. I strongly encourage our senior residents to come along to this free session and find out what you can do to avoid becoming one of these statistics. The session will be held on Thursday 1st April, 2010 at Eastlakes Community Hall in Florence Avenue, Eastlakes. It’s on between 9.00am to 12.30pm and will be followed by a light lunch. All participants will receive a free “Healthy Ageing Goodie Bag” and there’s a chance to win one of the lucky door prizes. So we can cater everyone we need you to book, which you can be calling Pauline or Therese at our Aged Services Section on 9669 4640.

Mar 8, 2010

School Zones

Now that the schools have been back for over a month, I really can’t understand why people still ignore the special speed zones around our schools.  It’s actually not rocket science.  Around schools during the morning and afternoon drop-off and pick-up, everyone slows down to 40kph.  Forget all the complaints about if the signs can be seen or the other excuses. The task is simple.  If you’re in a school zone between 8.00am to 9.30am and between 2.30pm and 4.00pm then slow down.  Sure the flashing lights help but there are big 40 signs painted on the roadway and I think it’s easy to spot a school. I was disturbed to see the Gardeners Road Primary School, just across Gardeners Road from us, was where over 5,800 tickets were issued in 2008-2009.  At least this was down from the figures for the previous year but it shows drivers have a lot to learn.  I urge all motorists to slow down around schools – if you don’t you’ve got a good chance of being booked.  Our Council rangers and the police keep a close watch around schools and their job is to get motorists to slow down.

Rhyme Time in the Library

Last Tuesday morning while I was working in the office I needed to pop into the Central Library at Eastgardens to fix something up with our youth workers.  On my way through I witnessed something really good.  It was rhyme time (something’s that’s held every Tuesday and Friday) and the special kids’ place in the library was packed.  Babies and toddlers sat and watched with joy and their parents, grandparents or carers joined in with the nursery rhymes, led by one of the exuberant library staff.  It was something to see – all the children were really having a great time.  At 10.00am, when the Central Library opens they are all lined up ready to race through the library to get their spots for 30 minutes of rhyme time. After rhyme time, it’s time for the pre-schoolers to enjoy storytime and craft, which begins at 11.00am and finishes at 11.45am.  These are just a couple of regular events that give our library a sense of joy along with some socialising and a great deal of fun.

Mar 5, 2010

Sports and Recreation Committee Established

Council maintains a number of sporting and recreation facilities, some of which derive income while others operate with considerable subsidy. I have been giving consideration for some time in separating the operations of those facilities and making them accountable in the first instance to a committee that operates independently of the Council. With the upgrade of Hensley Athletic Field nearing completion, the need to redress this oversight becomes more pressing.
With the generous grant by the Rudd Government to fund the redevelopment of Hensley Athletic Field, Council needed to devise a mechanism that sufficient revenue could be obtained from its operation to ensure that Council was never in a position again where Hensley Athletic Field was on the road to closure because of the deterioration of the track and a lack of funds available from government for necessary upgrades. To date, Council spends just in terms of maintenance for Hensley about $200,000 a year. It receives revenue of about $70,000 a year, $30,000 from athletics, and $40,000 from soccer.
Hensley Athletic Field was handed over to the council in the 1980’s when Randwick Botany Harriers went broke, and to put kindly, through maladministration. Since then the maintenance of the facility, that serves not just this city, but the region has been a huge drain on the people of this City.
Council has decided that the people of this city would not longer subsidise this regional facility and it must be administered in such a way as to recover not only the current funding shortfall, but needed also to establish a sinking fund to set aside at least facility another $100,000 a year, in order to fund the future replacement of the track. In order to achieve this objective council senior staff recommended the installation of a synthetic infield, as opposed to grass.
A football club wanting to hire Hensley for up to three days a week during the winter season for $115,000 a year for ten years indexed has already approached council. That amount is the amount of the yearly contribution to the sinking fund Council is endeavouring to achieve. However, even with that amount of money being offered, the Chairman of the Task Force has advised that nothing should be accepted at this stage. He advised Council needs to explore all avenues of possible income, including current users, and what levels of fees are appropriate.  Council considered that to achieve all it aims, an independent Sports and Recreation Committee needed to be established to focus on management and usage of the facility.
Council decided in addition to the management of this new facility that council’s other facilities such as the swimming pool, squash courts, tennis courts and golf course should be managed by this independent committee whose function it will be to oversee all those facilities, to separate accounts for the operation of all of these facilities, to incorporates any capital costs, expenditure and depreciation. If there is to be any subsidy for any particular e facility then council will decide on behalf of the people of this city whether such subsidy is appropriate in an open and transparent way. The Sports and Recreation Committee will be required to set budgets and determine fees independently of council.
Council has appointed as Chairman of the committee the Chairman of the Hensley Task Force, Mr Sam Krslovic, who is a local resident, President of Sydney United Football Club and a former Vice President of Football New South Wales.  He has considerable experience in managing stadiums in western Sydney. The Committee should also contain a Senior Council officer with considerable financial and administrative experience and for that purpose Council’s Deputy General Manager has been appointed to that committee. The users of the Hensley Athletic Field have been Randwick Botany Little Athletics and Sydney University Junior Soccer Club so Council appointed Mr Tony Vecellio OAM from the former and Mr Tom Adam from the latter. I have the highest regard for the President of South Sydney Junior Rugby League, who has considerable experience in managing not only junior sport but also a licensed club. Council has invited Mr Keith McCraw to be a member of the committee. Those appointments embrace the most experienced people who cover junior sport within this City. However, I am open to any suggestion of any other person who might add value both in relation to their financial and sports experience. Should anybody be interest they should contact the Council.

Mar 1, 2010

2009 City of Botany Bay Community Report

Council has now published its 2009 Report to the Community. The report is available at

You can either view the report on line or download it. I hope you find it informative. Any information you require please do not hesitate contact me directly.

The 2009 Community Report will be delivered to each household in the City of Botany Bay in the next few days.