Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Wingecarribee Shire Council meeting

An Extra-ordinary General meeting of Wingecarribee Shire Council was held this afternoon. And extraordinary it certainly was.
The public was invited to attend, but we were not allowed to say anything (well, nearly). We did have "NO" signs, which could conveniently be reversed to read "ON". And these were frequently held up, "en masse". It made it resemble a silent movie scene, perhaps a Charlie Chaplin movie?

It was a closely scripted event. Larry Whipper proposed and moved an amendment, but from the outset it was obvious that the Campbell-Jones group had caucused. They were "all singing from the same song sheet", and had no intention of wavering from their position. Numerous innuendos were delivered about "elections in the air". The most ludicrous moment was when Clr Penny George included in her speech elaborate references to a speech by Martin Luther King about distinguishing between things which were right, good or popular. Oh, please, Penny! The audience started to giggle, and we earned our first Mayor rebuke.

That's the wrong Martin Luther King speech to quote. Try the "I have a dream" speech.
Except Penny, however nice, and well-meaning, just isn't that kind of Councillor.

Much was made about certain Councillors coming to the debate with "pre-conceived philosophical positions" (as if it was only the ones opposed to selling Public lands who have a "philosophical" position). Wasn't "Gordon Gekko" driven by a "philosophy". As I recall it was "greed is good". But Clr. Nick Campell-Jones and Clr. Malcolm Murray seem to think that having a view about not selling Public Parks is a "philosophy" (and that's something one ought be ashamed of, apparently), but having a firmly held view on privatisation of Public Parks is "good public policy", and nothing to do with a conservative economic "philosophy".

Wake up, Malcolm and Nick. You may have the balance of power in Council, but you do not have right on your side.

This was an exercise in futility, from the start, to the finish.


I must commend Clr Yeo for proposing an important motion to include a parcel of land on Oxley Drive, Bowral (on Mt. Gibraltar) into the Mt. Gibraltar Reserve. Then the Councillors voted on the most important motion, to consolidate all the various parcels of land which make up the current Mt. Gibraltar Reserve into a single parcel of land. That is most important, for it will make it exceedingly difficult for a future Council to remove small parcels of land from the Reserve (as this Council has been trying to do with small parcels of Public Parks land so recently).

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Who would be a teacher in NSW?

This morning a teenager was killed in a shark attack at Ballina (northern New South Wales). By early afternoon, the media had found a whipping boy - NSW teachers.

The teachers held a stop-work meeting this morning, and so, according to the ABC Radio News, the boy went for an early morning surf. It seems that the local Police have directly linked the kids death to the Teachers' stop-work meeting.

"Detective Inspector Clark says the pair went to the beach to ride their bodyboards because the school day was starting late so teachers could hold a vote on strike action."


I wonder if Detective Inspector Clark has checked the kid's attendance record at school for the previous few months, to see if he ever missed morning classes before. If I was a teacher, I would be furious at this simplistic "blame the teachers" approach to the death of a teenager.

The kid was killed by a shark, not a Teacher.

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Life in Wollongong is going down the mine.

Just south from Yallah (a southern suburb of Greater Wollongong), is a new sub-division on reclaimed land. In other words, it is a once-good swamp now being turned into a housing estate.
The thing about this place is, it is being built entirely on fill which is "coal wash". The "coal wash" comes from the mines, of course, and then, before the coal is used, or exported, it is sieved, washed and the usable coal goes to the mills, and the "coal wash" gets dumped. Then developers come along, and propose to use it for land fill, and build houses there, and people are so keen to get their own houses that they will buy anything.
This is the view along the street at the edge of Haywards Bay (a brand new housing estate).
This practice has been subject to Question in Parliament, but are the questions asked, the really important questions? For example, they ask about petro-chemical residues in coal wash. That was denied. But I would have asked about sulphur levels, and heavy metal contaminants?
  • 0307: Mr Jones to the Minister for Natural Resources:
  • (24) Throughout the Wollongong regions there are a number of instances where residential development has occurred on filled lands. In all instances the Local Government Authorities have provided stringent guidelines on the nature of the fill to be used and how it should be emplaced. Geotechnical surveys in accordance with engineering requirement are usually a necessary component before such developments are approved.
  • (25) Any proposal to fill and develop residential buildings will require approval from Local Government Authorities based upon detailed geotechnical and engineering studies. All water which flows onto and away from the filled lands would require special consideration, incorporating detailed hydrologic and hydraulic assessment.
  • Question asked on 26 March 92 (session 50-2) and printed in Questions & Answers Paper No. 13. Answer to be printed in Questions & Answers Paper No. 20.
  • Source: Hansard and Papers, Legislative Council, Questions: 0307, Parliament of New South Wales.
Is this the view you would expect from Shoreline Avenue, Hayward's Bay?
I was shocked by what I saw, but clearly other people do not see things the way that I do. On Sunday morning, there were many people looking at the display houses in this area. Clearly the developers level the coal wash out, and top-fill it (with soil). But when excavations were being done for footings, the builders went down to the black coal wash, just about 300 mm down (approx. 18 inches). What happens if you plant a tree? Will it be able to grow in this stuff? And what about the long-term health effects for people living on this land fill?