Mar 30, 2012

Greens and democracy

I don’t normally respond to the political ramblings of my political opponents but the comments of Greens NSW Local Government spokesperson David Shoebridge about the state of democracy in our City demands an answer. In reality, he bags Council and our residents.

Complaints that democracy is absent in our City from a person who gained a seat on Wollahra Council with a 6.05% of the total vote of the people of Wollahra  and who came unelected into the NSW Legislative Council (he got the nod as a Greens MP to replace another Green who departed for greener pastures) is, to use as old saying, the devil quoting scripture.

I suppose I can be blamed for many things but I think it’s stretching credulity to be blamed for the last Council Election when no one stood against any of the incumbent councilors, or, indeed, myself. We welcome people offering themselves for election to Council – that’s everyone’s democratic right and that’s the democratic process. It’s also the democratic reflection of the people that their representatives get a majority of votes.

There is no inherent right to a seat on Council for the Greens if they get just 10% of the vote, a figure Mr Shoebridge himself couldn’t achieve.

A left wing, socialist sitting in the rarified environs of Vaucluse, dispensing wisdom to us like some wise sage, should at least try and get some votes among his fellow members of the Legislative Council, who, by the way, didn’t bother to have a formal vote to reject his self-serving, inherently superior view of how local councils should be elected.

He is one of those people who knows his views are correct (and should be unquestioned by the rest of us) and that his views are best for everyone and everyone should agree unreservedly with his way of thinking and let him and his ilk run the place how they think fit.

Now that’s not democracy, the philosophy he espouses, which is say one thing – do another.

School Holiday Program – Primary School

Apart from the library events to coincide with the school holidays, our Community Services have organised a wide range of Vacation Care events over the two weeks, commencing Tuesday April 10. 

Venue for the activities will be Botany Public School on Botany Road in the Out of School Hours Room (come in via the Bay Street entrance to the school). The centre will be open from 7.00am to 6.00pm each day and on offer will be games – indoor and outdoor – all under the theme “Blasting off into Outer Space”. 

If you need more information, or would like the special info pack, call Sherryl on 9366- 3576 or Grace on 9666-6128 between 3.00pm and 6.00pm. All details of the program are on our website – – and you’ll find the necessary forms under Vacation Care in the Community Services section.

School Holiday Program – High School

Council’s youth workers have put together another active and entertaining holiday program for our local high school students. The program kicks off on Monday April 16 with dancing your way to fitness with Zumba – fitness with a Brazilian flavour. 
Tuesday, April 17 sees the activities at Eastlakes Community Centre (Crn Evans and Florence avenues) with the youth centre comp where all the usual PS’s and X-box have an added component with the table tennis competition. It’s between 4.00pm and 7.30pm and dinner is provided. 

Wednesday, April 18 is movie day at Hoyts Eastgardens, between 1.30pm and 4.30pm (again free). 
Thursday it’s off to Hillsdale Community Hall at 236 Bunnerong Road for the Hillsdale Youth Centre Comp, where there’s another table tennis competition along with all the electronic games and other activities. This runs between 4.00pm and 7.30pm. 
The two weeks’ activities wrap up on Friday April 20 with the free bowling comp at Manhattan Superbowl in Mascot. The comp is between 4.30pm and 7.30 pm (with dinner provided) and we ask prospective competitors to get a team of six together and come and enter. For all details contact Community Services on 9366- 3889.

Mar 27, 2012

Mascot Station Precinct and its transformation

The transformation of the Mascot Station Precinct is an exciting time for Council and myself. However, I do understand that for those of you who have only recently moved in it may also be a frustrating experience.

So, let me explain why we are excited about, and committed to, the revitalisation of the area in which many new residents have chosen to make their home.

The City of Botany Bay was some years ago an industrial city, a city where industry, often noxious industry, lived next door to residents, and that was not pleasant. There were acrid smells, noise, heavy traffic and pollution.

When I was first elected as Mayor, it was my vision to turn this City into a much sought after residential area. I wanted the City of Botany Bay to be a place residents are proud to live and a place others want to live. That vision is now becoming a reality, but there is still much to be done.

The first step was to put proper planning procedures in place to allow industry and residents to live as "good neighbours" but, eventually not side by side.

The result has been that over the last 15 years several new residential areas have been created on sites which were once factories and industries, particularly in Botany. As part of this overall transformation of the City, the idea of the Mascot Station Precinct was born. The concept is the result of careful and strategic planning. The idea is to create a vibrant and exciting new "town centre" with a mix of medium to high density residential along with some commercial and retail uses.

I, and my fellow councillors and our planners, are excited by the change that has begun because we can see the vision being created and coming to reality. And I know that once it is complete, Mascot Station Precinct will be a much sought after residential address.

For residents living in the area while this transformation occurs, I realise that there will be some pluses and negatives. Buying a prime piece of real estate in the early stages is a good investment, but the price one pays is living with construction noise, dust and traffic while the other developments are completed.

So I ask for the community's patience and tolerance. The building sites under development are currently at their peak. This results in congestion as the number of workers on site, additional delivery movements to and from the area all make it difficult at times for those of you living in the midst of it all.

It is not an easy time, and in an ideal world all the development would occur simultaneously and the residents would not move in until everything was completed, beautified and landscaped. It is unfortunately not a perfect world and Council will do all it can to ensure that the transformation happens as quickly as possible and with minimal impact on those residents who have already occupied the new developments.

Improvements to the visual amenity of the area are already beginning. Work has begun on creating the pedestrian mall, Laycock Walk. The new pocket park at the corner of Bourke Road and Coward Street will soon be named the “Nancy Bird Walton,” honouring a pioneer aviator who learnt to fly on the old Mascot airfield, now Kingsford Smith Airport. Another initiative will be the conversion of the one-way Church Avenue into two-way traffic, which will benefit local residents. As well, a new outdoor fitness area and children’s playground is planned for Mascot Park, just down the road and next to Mascot Oval.

Developers working in the precinct must abide by their Conditions of Consent, and must consider the surrounding residential neighbours. Council staff carry out regular inspections and several developers have already received hefty fines and been served emergency orders. Indeed, we have involved the local police command in the enforcement of some of the conditions.

I, certainly welcome residents input and your feedback. If you are concerned about anything at all please do not hesitate to contact me on 9366 3600 or via email at

Local School Children Honoured

Last week we held two special receptions for the local primary school students who helped brighten up our latest Community Report. 
Over the two nights, children from Banksmeadow Public School, Botany Public School, Botany After School Care, Eastlakes Public School, Gardeners Road Public School, Mascot Public School, Pagewood Public School, Pagewood After School Care, and St Therese Primary were acknowledged as well as number of local children who submitted their own independent entry.
The children and their parents and carers, and even more than a few proud grandparents, enjoyed the recognition the children received. The young artists and writers from the Community Report were treated to lots of party food and entertained by a magician and balloon sculptor as well as receiving a special citation. Their works of art can be seen in the children’s section of the Central Library, Eastgardens. Photos from the evening will be available from my office from next Monday.

Seniors Garden Party Correction

In a story on Senior’s Week Activities in last week’s Southern Courier there was an error in the details for my annual Seniors’ Garden Party. Inadvertently the date was given as March 27 but in fact it is May 27. A number of people called my office – which shows how closely people read the local newspaper – and I know that Raylene, the Editor, has also made a correction.

School Holiday Program

Like the scouting and guide movements, we are always prepared and, with the first term school holidays due in a couple of weeks, Council staff have organised a wide range of holiday activities.

We have two separate programs – one for under 12/s and the other for those students aged between 12 and 18. For the littlies we’ll be using both the Central Library at Eastgardens and the Mascot Library in Hatfield Street and you will have to book by calling Candy on 9366 3888. 

On two dates, Tuesday April 10 and Wednesday April 18 between 10.30am and midday, the K to 12’s will be asked to show their drawing talents as they draw different shapes on scratch boards. The children will also have the opportunity to prepare Mother’s Day cards. For either of these two days – which are at the Central Library, Eastgardens – there is a charge of $5 and, as seats are limited, you’ll need to call quickly. 

On Friday April 13 (and it’s not a bad luck day!), the library team has organised The Pram Show and they’ve extended the audience to ages 2 and up. The Pram Show provides great fun for everyone, fast-paced, lots of action and audience participation with a colourful cast of monkeys of all shapes and sizes. It’s madcap and the kids have great fun and talk about it for ages. Again, there is a cost of $5 per child (with one accompanying adult for free) and the venue is the Mascot Library in Hatfield Street and it’s on between 10.30am and 11.15am. 

Events go back to the Central Library, Eastgardens on Monday April 16 with the mosaic workshop. This is where the children learn to master the ancient technique of mosaic as they decorate picture frames with colourful mosaic stones and glass beads. This runs between 10.30am and 12.30pm and there is a cost of $10 per child, which is $5 for entry and $5 for the materials.

For the 12 to 18 year olds, our Youth Workers have organised a two-week program beginning after the April 9 public holiday. 

Tuesday, April 10 has the free youth centre day at Eastlakes Community Hall, Crn Evans and Florence Avenues where, between 4.00pm and 7.30pm there will be PS 2 & 3 and X-box 360 along with many other activities. 

The following day it’s off to rock climbing and the bus leaves the Central Library at Eastgardens at 11.00am and returns at 2.00pm. For this one there is a cost of $10. 

Thursday is another youth centre day but this time at Hillsdale Community Hall, 236 Bunnerong Road between 4.00pm and 7.30pm with all the usual activities. 

Friday the 13th is ice skating at Canterbury Ice Rink and the bus leaves the Central Library at 10.00am and returns at 2.30pm. There is a cost of $16 for this one. 

I’ll give details next week of the second week’s activities for the high school students. If you want more information, or to book an excursion, contact our community services on 9366 3889.

E-waste Day – April 14

Old computers, printers, printer cartridges and all the other computer paraphernalia, along with old stereos, televisions and kitchen appliances are always a problem to get rid of – and they shouldn’t be dropped in with normal household garbage. To ensure the E-waste doesn’t get into the waste stream and end up in landfill, Council has organised a free E-waste collection day for the Saturday April 14, between 8:00am and midday. 

The collection point, or “drop off” is Council’s Botany Works Depot, located at the corner of Pemberton and Clevedon streets, Botany. If you’ve got E-waste lying around the house, bring it down and it will be disposed of properly, including recycling as much of the material as possible.

Mar 20, 2012

Free Seniors Fire Safety Information Session

Council has, once again, joined forces with Fire and Rescue NSW to highlight the importance of fire safety and smoke alarms in the home for our senior residents. The National Change Your Clock, Change Your Smoke Alarm Battery Campaign is a NSW Fire and Rescue initiative aimed at providing safety tips on fire prevention and what to do in the event of a fire.

A presentation for local seniors by Fire and Rescue Community Safety Coordinator, Melanie Rebane will be held on Wednesday 28 March at the Alf Kay Eastlakes Community Hall (in Florence Avenue) from 9.30am to 11.30am. Local Fire Service officers will also provide a fire safety device demonstration on the day. Topics for discussion on the day include: How to avoid a fire in your home;

The importance of maintaining smoke alarms; How to use fire safety equipment; Safe cooking practices; Safe use of electrical appliances; Knowing what to do in an emergency situation; Planning for safe evacuation. Tea, coffee and light refreshments will be available on the day along with some lucky door prizes. Bookings are essential. To book early by contacting Therese on 9366 3657.

Free Line Dancing Demonstration Tomorrow

As part of the Seniors Week celebrations, all residents are invited to attend a free demonstration on the grand art of line dancing. While we’ve just about finalised the demo, which will be held tomorrow between 10am and 11am. Just turn up on the day.  We’re also having light refreshments. Our weekly line dancing classes are taught by professional line dance teacher, Annette Gardner, and are available for both first timers and the more experienced line dancer. For more information or to register your interest in attending the free demonstration, contact Pauline or our Aged Services staff on 9669 4640.

Mar 13, 2012

Seniors Week

Seniors Week for our local seniors is one of the most important weeks of the year and it begins next week on March 18. Council holds its main celebration - the Mayor’s Senior Citizens Garden Party - a little later so it won’t clash with the many events that are organised by the State. But joining in the spirit of the week Council still has a few things planned for our local seniors – I’ve given the details below. Our local seniors have made a huge contribution to our City and for this one week of the year (and the weekend of our Garden Party) we lead community recognition of that contribution. The Garden Party is scheduled for Sunday May 27 and in the weeks ahead I’ll give more details. In the meantime I trust all our local seniors will enjoy their special week.

Mar 11, 2012

Mascot Main Street Facelift Continues

The revitalisation along Botany Road at Mascot (known locally as Mascot Main Street) continues unabated with the installation of the new seats and planter boxes. We’re doing the work overnight so we can minimise disruption to shoppers and businesses. All the reports I get indicate support for the new footpaths, seats and bins as well as the planter boxes. Everyone has a different view of what particular plants should be in the garden boxes but they will make this main and popular thoroughfare far more attractive for locals. Get down and have a look at our revitalised Main Street.

55Plus Add-on

The other week I mentioned the great work of our local community organisation 55 Plus and the visit they were having to Henry Kendall’s cottage up in Gosford. A couple of weeks after the Gosford trip, 55 Plus has a walk organised at Stanwell Park along the sea cliff walk. It’s on Wednesday March 28. The pick up times for the walk are 8:30am at Eastgardens and 8:45am at Eastlakes. You can get more information by contacting the 55 Plus President Thelma on 9341 7030. This great community organisation is always on the look out for new members and, if you’re interested, Thelma can give you all the details.

Mar 9, 2012

Your City - Autumn Edition

The Autumn edition of "Your City" will be distributed to residents soon. It can be downloaded at

Mar 8, 2012

Abandoned Vehicles

Both Council and I have received a number of calls recently from residents concerned with what they see as an increasing number of abandoned vehicles. People see that, for example, a car has not moved for some time and think it has been abandoned.
If the car is still registered then there is nothing anyone can do about a car parked legally.

If the vehicle’s registration has expired and the car is on the street then there are actions that can be taken. 

If the vehicle is unregistered and has not moved for some time then it can be considered as abandoned if the owner cannot be contacted.

While the police can book an unregistered vehicle on a street, Council can’t nor can we simply cart it away. 

If we can trace the owner of what may be an abandoned vehicle, we can request it be moved. If the vehicle is not moved, or an owner cannot be located, then Council can begin the steps necessary to have the vehicle removed.

It can take a few weeks once the process begins but we, like everyone else, have to follow the law in all the steps we take. That may be a bit frustrating when people keep looking at a car that seems to be abandoned but we have no alternatives.

Mar 6, 2012

New Street Furnture and Landscaping - Mascot Shops

Recycling: Low Figures - Help from residents needed.

I was disappointed last week when the State Government released its report on resource recovery through local government recycling and our Council was shown with the lowest recycling recovery rate. It’s not an accolade I want. Over the years, we’ve initiated many campaigns to get households to recycle more – from kerbside collections, worm farms, special clean-ups, educational campaigns and much more. 

All we can do is constantly get the message out that recycling should be part of our everyday lives. It makes sense for our environment and it makes sense for ratepayers’ finances through lower dumping costs. Unfortunately, neither Council nor the State Government can force people to recycle, all we can do is promote it and tell everyone the benefits of recycling. We’d love to be able to meet the State Government’s target of recycling 66 per cent of waste by 2014. To achieve that figure we will need the cooperation of all our residents.

Mar 5, 2012

Well Done St Michael’s

In the most recent NAPLAN results for reading and writing in primary schools, St Michael’s School at Daceyville scored extremely well. Gaining first place overall in grammar and seventh place in spelling, St Michael’s proudly took its place in what the Sydney Morning Herald defined as “Top of the Class”. The results are detailed on the MySchool website are for students in Years 3 and 5 in reading, numeracy, grammar, spelling and writing. The school is to be congratulated for this recognition.

John Brandenburg Recognised

I would like to record an achievement by a person known to Council and who is currently engaged by us for special projects within our parks and recreation areas. I’m referring to John Brandenburg, a horticulturist for over four decades who has been honoured in the Parks and Leisure Australia annual awards.

John, an educator in horticulture, land management and parks and recreation management as well as a man who likes to be involved in actual work, was awarded the Frank Stewart award for his commitment to the parks and leisure industry in Australia and throughout the world. At the present time, John is working in our parks and gardens section looking after such diverse issues as our golf course, rabbits, flood lighting and development and upgrades of our own parks and gardens.

An interesting sidelight, John’s work in combating the current rabbit plague – a result of the humidity and rain-induced rapid green growth all across the City – is in contrast to one of his more recognised works, the release of koala bears into regional parklands. John’s work is recognised by many international organisations, including the International Federation of Park and Recreational Administration.

Apart from his work with our Council, John is an active volunteer with horticulture and environmental groups and is a regular judge for agricultural society shows, flower shows and garden competitions, particularly those of the Royal Horticultural Society of NSW. I want to congratulate John on his most recent honour and I sincerely hope he will maintain his association with us and our community.