Photo from February 2010 where all Marrickville Coucillors carried the Marrickvilel Council banner & headed the march against the last attempt to get a Motorway over Tempe Wetlands & Tempe Reserve.

Photo from February 2010 where a number of Labor, Greens & Independent Marrickville Councillors carried the purple Marrickville Council banner & headed the protest march of around 300 people against the last attempt to get a Motorway over Tempe Wetlands & through Tempe Reserve.

This was the Council Meeting. The following is how I understood the meeting & all mistakes are mine.  Note: MC = Marrickville Council.  Absent:  Clrs Iskandar, Tsardoulias & Haylen.

The Councillors & Wards are as follows – LABOR:  Iskandar/Central, Haylen/North, Tsardoulias/West, Woods/South. GREENS:  Phillips/Central, Ellsmore/North, Brooks/West, Leary/South.  LIBERALS: Gardener/North, Tyler/West. INDEPENDENT Macri/Central, Hanna/South

Marrickville Cooks River Committee recommendation that Council oppose the proposed Westconnex & M5E – There were 3 speakers in favour of the motion.

Speaker 1:  Michelle Ziebots – Transport Planner, academic at UTS, advisor on panel for NSW Transport Master Plan.  Said she was speaking to 2 broad points; wider strategic transport needs & residents who need to be protected by this development.  During the time we were on the Transport Panel we were asked to comment on transport in Sydney. We generally commented on public transport options. We needed to see an increase in spending for public transport infrastructure & second harbour crossing.  More public transport will allow people to get out of the car, but there really aren’t the funds available. It’s a statewide problem.  We can’t do both.  Urban motorway development is not a great solution to traffic management.  People move between the two, whichever gives them the quickest journey. If we have a public transport network, less people will be on the road.  The motorway plan was headed up by Greiner. I don’t believe it has got strong technical backing. This is a variation of the past. There was a previous attempt to extend the M4 Motorway.  There can be devastating impacts on the feeder roads.  We need to spare the residents currently affected by WestConnex.  It is in the interest of MC & a lot of transport providers to say that we don’t want WestConnex to go ahead.  There is a wide raft of public transport available & it is these MC needs to support.

Speaker 2:  President of the Wolli Creek Preservation Society – 25% of our members live in Marrickville municipality.  We have had clear information from Maritime Services about WestConnex.  It will destroy 2 hectares of bushland (11% of the bushland of Wolli Creek) & about 400 high quality trees, which would not be allowed to be removed if they were in people’s backyards.  The M5 East was congested within 2-years.  More roads attract more cars. Patronage of the East Hills line dropped after the M5 was built.  Motorways take money from public transport.  Road peak times are largely solo drivers.  Congestion is self-limiting.   Providing good public transport is available. The other solution is charging & allows wealthy people priority use.  Climate change is also an issue.  This is no time to be building roads.

Speaker 3:  My family have a long history in Tempe. 4 generations have lived in my house.  This issue came to Council 2-years ago.  All Councillors were united to oppose the road across Tempe.  It’s a no brainer.  All Councillors were completely against the motorway.  This will destroy more people’s homes. The wetlands are very precious. To dig into the Tempe Tip site will be an environmental disaster. We do not want to see wetlands, which has the largest number of birds in the LGA, be affected.  A tree is listing on Fatima Island.  It’s an emergency situation. We are a part of the environment.  I ask MC to oppose WestConnex flat-out. We do not need any more reports.

Clr Leary:  Motion: I ask that MC does oppose WestConnex & MC write to the Minister informing him of MC’s opposition. This was adopted unanimously by the Cooks River Committee. Our residents are against this proposal.  I know the Councillors have dealt with aspects of this issue a few months ago.  I thought the response was woefully inadequate. It’s great to see Clr Hanna siding with the Greens on this.  He always supports the residents of Tempe.  The main argument for the Taskforce was that we need more information before we can comment. There are 14 things we know about WestConnex & only one is enough to reject.

  1. No traffic modeling before the project has been announced.
  2. Sydney is the 4th worst city in terms of public transport. WestConnex will suck money away from public transport.
  3. The plan has been criticized & condemned by leading experts.
  4. We know it will have a significant & major negative impact on the Wolli Creek area.
  5. Two main routes have been proposed.  One route is gazetted & goes through Tempe Reserve & Tempe Wetlands.  The other is through the Alexandra Canal.  All proposals take from Tempe & all our LGA.
  6. The Minister appears to be concerned about the cost.
  7. Existing road reserves … [I missed this bit].
  8. Tunnels mean toxic smoke stacks.  The Minister said we won’t get the best technology for smoke stacks because of costs.
  9. The justification is that WestConnex will relieve traffic around Botany, but this section of road has been removed.
  10. The Minister’s long-term financial plan in Tempe (pg 15). There is a risk that these sites may be removed from MC.   What is the cost to MC?  Looks like the rent is $2.3 million per year.  Average this over 10-years & it will be a black hole to MC of around $23 million.  It is questionable whether we will get more from them that the value of the land.
  11. We know Councillors had a briefing re WestConnex, but this was only open to the Clrs & a few staff – no public consultation.
  12. We know the Federal Government is currently jointly funding a study of WestConnex with the State Government & has representation on a committee.  Our Local Member is funding the study of WestConnex.
  13. We know that the Labor Party is split on the issue.  Clr Woods is on the Cooks River Committee & they unanimously voted against WestConnex, so I hope Clr Woods will be against the WestConnex tonight.
  14. Another point – the meeting that I chaired on the weekend of environmental groups … a Tempe resident said. “This is a no-brainer.”  Why are not all the other Councillors opposing WestConnex?  So if you support a delay, can you explain why?  A motorway through our community is the worst thing.

Clr Hanna:  Last time I voted against it & I will vote against tonight.  I was really surprised that some Councillors were saying go for it.  Go to the people & ask them. Last time the Labor, Greens & even Anthony Albanese were marching against it.  It’s about time MC shows that they are not neglecting Tempe & Sydenham.

Clr Woods:  Two amendments – point 2; change to “formally oppose motorway if it will have a negative impact on Tempe Reserve, Wolli Creek & any other part of Marrickville area.”  Point 3: says there is already an accepted position that MC has & this will change depending on point 2.  Replacing all of point 3 motion of 16th October 2012 will remain MC’s position.  Clr Leary’s position is all about strategy & is dishonest.

Clr Leary: Withdraw dishonest accusation.

Clr Woods:  I will replace with ‘misleading’ if Councillors will not oppose WestConnex that we are not concerned & we are very concerned about the environmental impacts.  Our position is if that proposal duplicates that of before, we will oppose this.  The reason why I put point 3 was because that was a reasoned decision. Clr Leary would like to say the debate is over.  I think the debate will go on & on & we should adopt a reasoned approach as things come.  We will probably not support WestConnex once we get all the details & realize the environmental impacts.  It’s quite disadvantageous to knock out my amendments.  If WestConnex causes environmental damage we will not support it.

Mayor Macri:  Clr Leary said we have the 4th worst public transport system. I’d much rather our public transport system than trade for Beijing’s human rights.  It is misleading Clr Leary about the quality of air in tunnels.  The Minister said they have learnt.  It won’t be the same as the Lane Cove tunnel, which is actually cleaner than the air outside.  It’s interesting that Clr Learys is concerned about MC’s financial position when he refused the container DA now in the Land & Environment Court.    The meeting had nothing that would concern the public.  It was about how to engage the public in consultation.  They said it will be on the table.  At this stage there are no details.  Many of Clr Leary’s points are rhetoric.  I’d be concerned if our Federal Minister didn’t investigate where our funds go.  The clearest & most damming thing is build it & the people will use it.  Car-pooling is available.  That is why I got the Tarago.  Councillors should not drive singularly to inspections.  We can’t say no, no, no.  If it is detrimental, I’m sure all Councillors will oppose.

Clr Phillips:  Clr Hanna was right in that MC has a long history…

Clr Gardener:  Point of order.  Clr Phillips should not speak as only one speaker after an amendment.   If someone has spoken for, there are no speakers against. It’s in the Code of Practice.   Staff:  I believe we are talking about substantial motion by Clr Leary & foreshadowed motion by Clr Woods.  Clr Phillips:  I’ve been on Council for 4-years & Clr Hanna 16-years. The practice has always been all Councillors have a chance to speak. It’s a real pity if you shut me down.

Clr Gardener:  I’m not shutting you down.  There is no debate.  I am against Councillors grandstanding & using Council Chambers to mislead the community.  Clr Phillips: People know WestConnex goes up Parramatta Road.  There is a long history of MC opposing various incarnations of motorways through, over & under Marrickville LGA.  Clr Leary made an excellent case against the motorway. The community know about the motorway & they do not want it.  I think it a narrow short-term vision at the detriment of Marrickville & Leichhardt.  How many times has the Taskforce met that was set up last year?    Staff:  We just received a letter from Duncan Grey who said no Taskforce has been formed, so no meetings yet.

Clr Woods:  Question involves direction number 7.  We urge residents of Marrickville LGA to be involved in consultation.  This motion gets rid of the process of consultation with the community.  My amendment acknowledges that the community is concerned & we do not want to take consultation out of the motion.

Clr Gardener:  I am against Clr Phillips’s amendment.  This room is like 1939. The bombs haven’t started dropping.  We don’t know what is happening. We have a Taskforce that haven’t met because there is nothing to talk about yet.  If my home was bulldozed, I’d be in front of the bulldozers & your house also.    I have grave fears that this will fix any issue.  We are not saying we will oppose for the sake of opposing it.  If we are to be taken seriously, we should wait & see. Don’t fight the phony war.

Clr Leary:  I disagree with Clr Macri’s interpretation of what occurred with the Minister. I think it is ludicrous that they will be no community consultation just because Councillors opposed WestConnex.  Just because MC opposes WestConnex does not mean we will be locked out of the process.

Vote:  For Clr Leary’s motion – Clr Philips. Leary, Brooks, Ellsmore & Hanna.  Against: Mayor Macri, Clrs Woods & Tyler.  Motion passed.  Clr Gardener walked out of the Chamber just as the vote was beginning & returned just as the vote ended & therefore he did not vote.

The motion adopted is – That Council:

1. Note the minutes of the Marrickville Cooks River Committee meeting of 26 November 2012.

2. Resolves to formally oppose the WestConnex motorway & widening of the M5 East & any other motorway proposal that will have negative impacts on the Wolli Creek Regional Park, the Tempe Wetlands & any other area of the Marrickville LGA &

3. Directs the General Manager to write to the Minister for Roads & Ports & the NSW Premier notifying them of MC’s opposition to WestConnex.

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