Christmas Day is just days away and the year 2011 is fast drawing to a close. Over the weekend family and friends will gather to celebrate what is perhaps one of the happiest times of the year – Christmas. The kids are on school holidays, their studies done for another year and they’re bursting with energy. For parents and everyone else there’s not enough time to do all the things we have to do to get ready for Christmas. But that doesn’t matter, it’s part of the excitement the season brings. On behalf of all our Councillors and Council staff – and along with my family – I want to wish all our residents a very Merry Christmas and a really happy New Year. I’m having a break over the next few weeks and I’ll be back in January, ready for another great year for the City of Botany Bay. My office at Eastgardens will be closed from this Wednesday December 21 and will reopen on Monday January 23, 2011.
Dec 21, 2011
On the 15th January, Council will host a special Family Day at the Botany Aquatic Centre. The day will include entertainment for all ages and everything will be included in the entry price to the pool.
There has been very little promotion of the pool in recent years but, with the appointment of a Recreational Officer, a program has been initiated to raise the profile of the pool over the summer months.There will be two inflatable play items in the big pool as well as live entertainment. The inflatables will float around between 11am and 3pm and there will be live entertainment, which will start after lunch around 2pm.
Council has booked a group called Three Wishez, who gained popularity and a whole lot of fans with when they took part in the X-factor, the latest television show that seeks out new talent. They made it in to the top four. There will also be entertainment for the young ones and we have secured the Jitterbugs, a popular children’s act. To add to the fun there will also be balloon benders, wandering magicians and a craft corner.
Then on again on Australia Day there will also be inflatables in the pool with a kids show by the Livelyhood. It will be a much small version of what’s on offer on the 15th. Because of our close proximity to the City and beach areas, it was decided not compete with all the Australia Day activities funded by the State Government.
It has given me great pleasure to welcome to Australia, and to our City, Councillor Giorgio Fantuz, from our Sister City in Gaiarine, Italy. Councillor Fantuz is on a private family visit but has graciously made time to visit our City and I am very appreciative that he has found that time to join us.The City of Botany Bay and the Community of Gaiarine have shared a long friendship which spans more than 25 years.
Councillor Fantuz is now a second generation member of the Council of Gaiarine, who is continuing to build on that friendship. His father Vittorino Fantuz, a former Councillor and Mayor, was involved in the original ceremonies, which saw the hand of friendship extended to the City of Botany Bay. His father, and his god-father, Councillor Romeo Antoniolli, both played a major role during the early years to establish the sister city bond that now exists between our two Cities.
Now Giorgio is a young man who, like his father and god-father, has put himself forward to make a positive contribution to his community by taking an active role in local government. I commend him for his commitment and the role he will play in shaping his community in the years ahead.
It has been a great honour for myself, and my fellow Councillors, to welcome Giorgio to the council meeting on Monday night. We are indeed privileged. We send greetings to your father, Vittorino, and your god-father Councillor Romeo Antoniolli, and your family, as well to your Mayor, Loris Sonego, your fellow Councillors, Aldermen and the Citizens of Gaiarine.
We wish you a most enjoyable time during your stay here in Australia.
Dec 11, 2011
The well known mural on the King Street wall of Best and Less, Mascot, will get a face lift next month. A specialist Mural artist has been engaged and work is set to proceed to restore and repaint the mural which has deteriorated over the years. The works will require scaffolding to be erected, and I again ask the Mascot Shop patrons for their patience. The area has been in need of a face lift for some time and with the mural looking fresh again, and the new paving, I am sure the minor inconveniences will be seen as worthwhile in the end.
Residents have been commenting on our new suburb signs, which feature a three dimensional Banksia. All the new signs are almost in and the next job on our house keeping list is to give our trade mark bus shelters a new coat of paint to brighten up the streetscape.
Residents could be forgiven for thinking nothing was happening with the upgrade of Garnet Jackson Reserve, but I can assure you it is progressing … slowly. We have had a hard task getting enough clean land fill (it has to be a specific PH level) for the northern end, but this is now almost complete and it will then be left to settle for a few weeks before the landscape architects move in to work their magic. There was also more rubbish to remove than we first anticipated. Rumour has it there is a car buried there. We have cleaned out a lot of rubbish and dug down deep and didn’t find one, so it is there then our staff say it must be buried VERY DEEP! I am assured the advertised plan will be completed in the New Year.
Dec 10, 2011
The school holidays aren’t too far away and it’s time to begin thinking about places in the January 2012 Holiday Program for 12 to 18 year olds, organised by Council’s youth workers. There’s a wide range of activities planned, some based at Hillsdale Community Hall while others are excursions. The program kicks off on Tuesday, January 11, 2012. To find out more, or get a full list of activities, contact Patrick on 93663888. We also have a January Holiday Program for the younger children aged 5 and above and we’ve got two events for those aged 2 and above. For all three you’ll have to book in person with Candy, who you can find at the Central Library on the ground floor at Eastgardens, or phone 93663888.
The Botany Aquatic Centre is now open for summer and with the hot weather we are enjoying it is a popular weekend venue. Council asks all patrons using the pool to be mindful of residents when parking in the surrounding streets, or dropping off and picking up children. We had a few complaints about people blocking driveways and double parking. Our Rangers patrol the area frequently and infringement notices will be issued if you do the wrong thing. The Pool is open daily from 6am to 7pm.
Carols in the Park tomorrow Sunday, December 11, Mascot Memorial Park, 6.30pm. Face painting is available for the early arrivals from 5.30pm.
Inflatable Days at the Pool: Two family fun days are planned for Sunday January 15, 2012 and Australia Day, Sunday January 26. Watch your letter box for more information in January
It is that time of year when I send out an SOS to our residents to assist us with the maintenance of our nature strips. With the hot weather and intermittent rain the grass, and unfortunately weeds, are growing like wild fire. In the last week alone it looks like all our nature strips are filled with dandelions (those yellow flowers which turn to fluffy balls the kids love to pick and blow everywhere!). Please, if you are mowing your own lawns on the weekend it would be appreciated if you could run the mower over the nature strip to keep our City looking good. Council mows the nature strips on a block system, which means each street is done every eight to 10 weeks. We try and get around more frequently in summer but it is difficult. So if you can lend a hand it would be very much appreciated by both council and your fellow residents.
Work is continuing on the Mascot Shops refurbishment and will do so until around December 16th. The men are currently putting in the paver bands on either side, and across the centre at various intervals. This has taken a little longer than anticipated and I do apologise for the delay. The men have, and continue, to work throughout the night so that there is minimal disruption during the day. Once the paving works are completed, the next task will be to give the area a good clean and top sealing coat. The finished effect will look smart and fresh. This will be complemented with new street furniture – seats, bins and colourful planter boxes. I thank the shop owners, their staff and most importantly their patrons, our residents for their ongoing patience and support for this project.
Nov 29, 2011
Planning is underway for the second six a side soccer for this current season and judging from the success of the spring competition the summer competition will be even better.
It is Council’s unreserved view that the proponent must acquire adjoining residential flat buildings – at 14 and 16 Evans Avenue – in order to produce an acceptable development. The proponent resisted this contention and we have had numerous discussions with the Department of Planning and Infrastructure to resolve the issue.
A redevelopment without the adjoining residential flat is a missed opportunity and one which we, as a Council, oppose. We have made this view abundantly clear to both the proponent and the Department of Planning and Infrastructure. In his letter to me, the Minister acknowledges Council’s views and the concerns we have raised in the past about the potential isolation of adjoining sites and the best way to achieve an integrated development.
The Minister advised that the Department has required the proponent to consider the potential isolation of adjoining sites and the need for a holistic approach in the Director General’s Environmental Assessment Requirements (DGRs) that have been issued for the project. He adds: “I have asked the department to further explore with the Proponent and Council the option of acquiring the adjoining flat buildings so as to integrate them into the development proposal. Failing this, it will be necessary for the Proponent to show how redevelopment of the site can occur without isolating or compromising the ability to redevelop adjacent sites.”
This project will be assessed by the Department as it was not one of the developments that were returned to local government following the repeal of Part 3A of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act. Once the Environmental Assessment has been received by the Department it will go on public display for a minimum of 30 days, during which we will closely examine it to ascertain if the DGRs have been addressed adequately and that our concerns have been allayed.
The first local story was from Orica’s Bill Crowe who unashamedly said that HCB, or hexachlorbenzene, had become a “celebrity waste” and although it had a “bad name” it wasn’t too bad.Mr Crowe was speaking at an HCB Community Participation and Review Committee meeting.
Well to our residents, HCB is not a celebrity, it is a curse.
Mr Crowe’s company, which also has a bad name, wants to relocate the celebrity waste but, again in his words, “There’s a dance to go through to get people comfortable with the idea.” He quipped, tellingly: “People won’t dance.”
People round here won’t dance, Mr Crowe, because, simply, they don’t believe a word or a commitment Orica makes. That’s the case for the present. It has been the case in the past. And, it will be the case in the future. At the Newcastle parliamentary committee hearing, Orica boss Graeme Liebelt, said that the leaking of the carcinogenic chemical hexavalent chromium in suburban Newcastle should not be considered a “serious incident”
He may not have not considered it serious but the local residents did, and our own residents would agree with the Newcastle residents and not Orica.
The other very disturbing fact that emerge at the Newcastle hearing was that Orica senior staff admitted that they “lost control” of the ammonia plant. To have senior staff admit that they couldn’t control a chemical plant is clearly terrifying. I’d like to know what levels of control senior staff have over the many and varied operations andmanufacturing at the Orica Botany plant.
To people around here, the great Orica legacy is multifaceted, and distinctly negative There’s the stockpile of HCB, what Orica considers celebrity waste and which we know as toxic waste The waste is at Botany as it has been for many years. It has to go.
Then another facet of the legacy – polluted groundwater. For years Orica and the Environmental Protection Agency said no problem. We differed and undertook our own independent analysis. The outcome was the truth – that the groundwater was polluted. The EPA was forced to act.
Then there is the occasional venting of chemicals – another constant legacy. While not as bad as what’s been happening to Orica in Newcastle, it is still not good. The common denominators are Orica and the EPA.
This leads me to the second article in the Southern Courier and my breathing problems. The head of the EPA, Greg Sullivan, says the EPA is working with industry to make them better neighbours to residential communities. Mr Sullivan was speaking at the same meeting as Mr Crowe.Fresh from the Orica debacle, or debacles, in Newcastle, Mr Sullivan said these events would “reinvigorate” the EPA.
Orica Botany couldn’t invigorate the EPA with year after year of environmental vandalism but now all is well and it’s about, to use Mr Sullivan’s words about “being a good neighbour.” Mr Sullivan can champion all the reforms to acts he likes. What he needs to champion is actually regulating polluters and Orica stands, in this City at least, at the head of the queue. I think Orica also heads the queue in Newcastle.
The less than reinvigorated EPA hasn’t been a protector of the environment in our City for years. I can only hope Mr Sullivan’s reinvigorated EPA steps up to the plate in the years ahead.
Only time will tell if we see words, or action. Then, hopefully, I can eat my cornflakes without problem.
Nov 23, 2011
Nov 21, 2011
The monthly Council immunisation clinics are held, on the first Thursday of each month in three locations;
- Mascot Early Childhood Centre, 51 Coward Street, Mascot between 9.00am and 10.00am;
- The Central Library, Ground Floor Eastgardens Shopping Centre between 2.00pm and 3.00pm and between 6.00pm and 7.00pm.
Nov 13, 2011
Oct 27, 2011
Inherent in what I wrote was the question of whether a public instrumentality should, for example, spend $10 to save $1. Now I exclude any suggestion of expenditure to counter corruption in the theme or purpose of what I say – that goes without question. I do not claim any skill of prescience, but an article in an edition of the Sydney Morning Herald last week showed that, perhaps, I might have some.
The article detailed reviews and audits that had occurred involving and revolving around the sale, via a web-based auction site, of two billiard tables from the staff recreation area at Parliament House. The review followed questions from the elder ALP statesman in the Senate, Senator John Faulkner. I’ve known Senator Faulkner for some time and he has been unrelenting in his campaign for openness and transparency in government and in the oversight of public revenue and expenditure. But, in this case, I think even Senator Faulkner would bristle at what followed his questioning of the relevant government department responsible for management of Parliament House.
Following his questions, consultants PricewaterhouseCoopers were commissioned to audit the process. The audit found the process was within departmental guidelines but it did find some weaknesses in processes. What government could live without “process”?
These weaknesses in process, or processes, led to a broader review by a former public servant. As well, an investigation into whether staff had breached their code of conduct was commissioned from the Centre for Public Management.
Not content with all these audits or investigations, a survey of the cultural heritage value of items in Parliament House was also commissioned.
The secretary of the department responsible for Parliament House said he was grateful that such an affair had come to light as it had identified deficiencies in the department’s processes – there’s that word again.
The key is in the detail. Let’s look at it. PricewaterhouseCoopers were paid $42,000 for its audit. The review of weakness in the processes by the former public servant cost $30,000. Then the Centre for Public Management’s investigation came with a price tag of $25,000. Lastly, the survey of the cultural heritage value of items will cost an estimated $5,000.
All up, the cost to review the processes of the on-line auction of two redundant Parliament House staff recreation billiard tables cost taxpayers some $102,000.
Process, after all, must be followed --- and reviewed, and investigated, and audited, and reviewed again.
That’s all well and good and the bureaucrats are no doubt reassured that the $102,000 expenditure was justified – all in the name of process.
The only issue I have is that, the outcome (another great word for bureaucrats) of the on-line auction was that the two tables sold for $2,500 each – a grand total of $5,000.
The federal bureaucrats spent $102,000 to check if all due process was followed in the $5,000 sale of two billiard tables.
If that’s the outcome of process then leave me out of it. I’m just a mug taxpayer who helps foot the bill – for process, of course.
This is “Yes Minister” to the nth degree – or bureaucratic madness. In Canberra, however, it’s normal process!
Oct 22, 2011
The picture below shows shopping as it used to be – when, in my kids’ opinion, we were all in the dark ages.