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1.        Environmental groups plan to protest to stop National Parks in NSW being developed for tourism by private development consortiums TOMORROW 2nd June 2010 outside Parliament House, Macquarie Street Sydney at 12 noon . The web-site of the Colong Foundation goes into the issue of development of National Parks in detail. http://www.colongwilderness.org.au/tourism/Stop_exploitation_of_national_parks.htm

2.        East Sydney residents are protesting against the RTAs plans to drop the creation of a garden at the corner of Bourke & Stanley streets around the Eastern Distributor chimneystack & instead, rezone the land for residential units. http://sydney-central.whereilive.com.au/news/story/east-sydney-locals-fuming-with-rta/

3.        The Sydney Botanical Gardens Trust have been given the go-ahead from the Federal Environment Department to use noise dispersal & water spraying to remove the grey-headed flying foxes, a threatened species, from the Gardens.  Respected conservation groups were against the proposal to remove the bats from the gardens.  For background see  https://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2010/03/24/sydney’s-royal-botanic-gardens-trust-wants-‘threatened-species’-bats-banished/

http://sydney-central.whereilive.com.au/news/story/sydney-botanic-gardens-bats-will-be-harmed-by-removal-conservationists/

http://sydney-central.whereilive.com.au/news/story/bats-to-get-ear-bashing-at-sydney-botanic-gardens/

http://www.australiangeographic.com.au/journal/syndeys-bats-to-get-the-boot.htm

4.         Vandals destroyed more than 40 mature trees in Patterson Lakes & Moorabbin in May 2010.  The trees were planted to replace other trees vandalized 18 months previously. http://moorabbin-kingston-leader.whereilive.com.au/news/story/trees-butchered-in-outrageous-attack-at-patterson-lakes-moorabbin/?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

5.        I’ve previously posted about the battle by the community who are against a DA for a new Woolworths supermarket at Newport. To date Pittwater Council has received 1,353 submissions from the community, most against the DA.  The community fears that local shopping strips will be lost when the Woolworths giant moves in. There is a similar concern with the proposed Marrickville Metro development. http://manly-daily.whereilive.com.au/news/story/room-for-improvement-woolies/

6.        More than 100 people attended a protest at the ADI site mid May 2010 including State Opposition Environment Spokeswoman Catherine Cusack, Liberal candidate for Londonderry Bart Bassett, Penrith Mayor Kevin Crameri, Councillor Ross Fowler & a representative of Lindsay Federal Labor MP David Bradbury. The community is trying to save 100 hectares of critically endangered Cumberland Plains woodland.  Interestingly, the news headline is – ‘There is still time to put things right.’ http://cumberland-courier.whereilive.com.au/news/story/there-s-still-time-to-put-things-right-at-adi-site/

Pansies & Marigolds in an island bed on Botany Road - far better than cement

The 1535 hectare site is to be developed by Delfin Lend Lease to create a new suburb – Jordan Springs.  It is one of the few green belts left in Western Sydney & is home to 110 bird species, 10 reptiles, 9 mammals, 8 frog species, 3 of them endangered & many plant species, including 4 rare ones.

I found an article from the Green Left written in 1996 where they say residents have been fighting to protect this land for the past 6 years.  This means the community has been fighting for 20 years to save this green corridor.  This is an interesting article as it provides a background history. http://www.greenleft.org.au/node/12798

The ADI Residents Action Group website also provides a great synopsis of what is going to happen & why the ADI site is important to preserve. http://www.adisite.org/

7.        Environmental protestors & Aboriginal traditional owners of the land continue to fight to prevent logging of the Mumbulla State Forest in South East NSW. http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/breaking-news/anti-logging-activists-lock-on-to-timber-harvesting-machinery/story-e6freuyi-1225867563540?from=public_rss

It is the last remaining habitat for around 50 Koalas. This may not seem many Koalas to require the stopping of logging a forest, but at The Australian Koala Foundation website, https://www.savethekoala.com/ they say, “there are less than 80,000 koalas left in the wild, possibly as few as 43,000.”  This certainly makes 50 Koalas extremely significant.  Personally, I think every Koala is significant, but we are talking about big money to be made here versus the habitat & survival of an animal. This is always a problem because the animals generally lose. That the Koala is listed as vulnerable in NSW is supremely important.

The Nature Conservation Council of NSW is calling for urgent action to stop logging & save the Mumbulla State Forest & have outlined ways in which the community can become involved. http://nccnsw.org.au/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=3002&Itemid=1

Last Friday 28th May 2010 a coalition of conservationists, including Chipstop & the Nature Conservation Council of NSW have called for the Federal Government to step in & order that the logging be stopped.  Intensive wood-chipping of Mumbulla State Forest has taken place this week.  Interestingly, due to countries buying less of our woodchip at the moment, there is some concern that they won’t even be able to sell the woodchips they have made from the torn down forest. The Tasmanian timber company Gunns recently posted a 98% drop in its ½ yearly profit, partly due to a drop in woodchip sales. http://bigpondnews.com/articles/Environment/2010/05/28/Fed_govt_needs_to_protect_NSW_koalas_467192.html

8.         Landcare is collecting old mobile phones to help their aim of planting 30,000 trees along the Murray River, at the Mallee in WA & in the Daintree Forest in Far North QLD.  90% of each mobile phone is recyclable so giving your old mobile to collection points stops them landing up in landfill where they don’t degrade.  Collection points are Australia-wide & to find a collection point near you – www.mobilemuster.com.au

9.        Great news in that the Federal Government contributed to the purchase of a 14,000 hectare property called Bowra Station located in western QLD.  The property, purchased by the Australian Wildlife Conservancy is home to 200 species of birds. Birdwatchers will be able to go there.  http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/05/21/2906362.htm

10.        More great news as the NSW Labor government has decided to pay logging industry $97 million  & in turn, they are to stop logging the River Red Gums by the end of June 2010.  A National Park in the Millewa group of forests will be established in July 2010 & will be jointly managed with the Yorta Yorta people. http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/05/19/2903840.htm

11.        I found the Environmental Volunteers Newsletter on Marrickville Council’s web-site.  It’s a great newsletter with information about current activities & contact details of all the environmental groups working in the LGA. http://www.marrickville.nsw.gov.au/environment/volunteering.htm

As of last weekend the historic Fig tree at the IKEA development Tempe was still standing. Its shape has changed so I think it has been pruned.

In the May 2010 edition of Marrickville Matters magazine, Mayor Iskandar said, “I urge Marrickville residents to find that piece of land that is not being used & come to us for help to establish their own community garden.” Marrickville Councils Community Sustainability Co-ordinator can be contacted on 9335-2222. May’s magazine has a environmental feel with many articles focusing on the environment across the LGA. Council also says Mackey Park in Marrickville South will be carbon-neutral with all power needs being offset by the use of photovoltaic cells which generate electricity when exposed to sunlight.  This is really good.

12.        Go easy on the mince & bacon rashers if you feed Kookaburras because a Kookaburra was found in a Mosman Park being chased by dogs because he was too fat to fly.  He is currently in rehab at Taronga Zoo Sydney & on a diet, poor birdie. http://bigpondnews.com/articles/OddSpot/2010/06/01/Hefty_Kookaburra_has_grams_to_go_468341.html

This was the monthly Council Meeting. Clrs Thanos, Iskandar & Tsardoulias were absent. Clr Tsardoulias is in hospital so I wish him well & hope he has a speedy recovery.  Apologies for the length of this post. There was a lot on the agenda & I find it hard to be both brief & fair.  The following is my take of the proceedings & any mistakes are mine.

Old Marrickville Hospital Development This debate was recorded by 2SER radio.  A representative from Climate Action Newtown (CAN) addressed the Councillors saying that 500 households in the LGA receive updates about CAN’s activities &

I found these on a tree in Enmore

they constantly hear that the community want action about climate change on a local, state & federal government level. CAN believe making the development a 6 star sustainability site & carbon neutral, making it a fabulous opportunity to show real leadership to other councils across NSW.  (contact information for Climate Action Newtown is in the blogroll located in the left-hand column).

Clr Phillips moved a notice of motion that the development of the hospital site be designed to achieve a 6 star sustainability rating & carbon neutrality saying it was important that Marrickville Council lead on environmental issues & set a good example. He cited Council House Two in Melbourne as an example saying it may cost a bit more, but will pay for itself in the long run.  While Clrs Wright & Marcri said they were concerned about upfront costs, all Councillors supported the motion.  A staff member advised Marrickville Council had at last count $4M – $5M value in unencumbered property. Clr Phillips said that the costs could be an impediment, but CO2 also has costs to society & the environment & that this kind of development should be the standard in new buildings.  Carried unanimously.

Support for the 100% Renewable: Community campaign for clean energy. A community representative associated with CAN & with the 100% Renewable Campaign (national grassroots campaign calling for Australia to switch from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources to mitigate climate change) addressed the Councillors saying this campaign was a great way to engage the community. She spoke about the campaign & asked for Council & government support saying Council’s support would send a strong signal to the community about renewable energy.

The motion by Clr Phillips was 1. Provide a link on Council’s website 2. Mention its support in the Inner West Courier 3. Co-sponsor a banner to be hung from Newtown Town Hall for 1 month 4. Give a grant of $500 for campaign materials. Clr Wright asked about costs & staff said each banner costs around $700 & if it comes out of the Contingency Fund it can only be to support incorporated organisations.  CAN is incorporated, but 100% Renewable is not.  Clr Wright supported points 1 & 2, but not points 3 & 4.  Clr Hanna supported points 1, 2 & 3, but not point 4 saying that garbage on the streets was more important & this money belonged to the ratepayers.

Clr O’Sullivan supported Clr Wright’s comments suggesting it may be more fruitful for CAN to apply to Council for a community grant. She could not support point 4.  Clrs Kontellis & Byrne supported motion in full with Clr Byrne suggesting CAN apply for a community grant anyway.  Motion carried. Clrs Phillips, Byrne, Kontellis, Peters & Olive supporting & Clrs Wright, O’Sullivan, Hanna & Macri against.

Affordable Housing. This was definitely one of the agenda items where I think it would be hard to be a Councillor.  The gallery had around 17 young people who were members of a group called Centrepiece Queer Art Collective.  One of their members addressed the Councillors & the debate was recorded by 2SER. She spoke about how the Collective are homeless & have been squatting in the old Marrickville Hospital. Council have asked them to leave so an audit can be done for fire safety issues. The Collective wanted to be allowed to use the building if it is

tree canopy

deemed safe & said they had the local fire station assess the area & do an informal inspection.  The Fire Brigade said exit signs & smoke alarms would be sufficient. She asked how come they could organise a fire check in 1 afternoon & Marrickville Council couldn’t in 15 years saying this was “bureaucracy before human needs.”

A resident in the street spoke in support for the Collective saying he bought 12 years ago & was told development was imminent, yet the building has remained empty.  He said the building could have been used for housing & Council should consider what they can do to remove fire & health hazards & support this group of responsible homeless young people. He said they created no problems for the local residents.

Clr Byrne wanted to add to the motion that Council write to the state government about providing more affordable housing. She said the old Marrickville Hospital site is in Major Projects, but there are financial aspects, fire safety audits were done 2007 & 2008 & there were key reasons why Council can’t allow the young people to live in that site. She said it would be morally corrupt to allow people to use it because of asbestos on site.  She also said Council staff have found housing for the Collective & Metro Housing Group is offering 12 months accommodation.  She said Council has just worked on the Draft LEP to provide flexibility in industrial areas to provide live/work areas for our creative residents.

It was a long debate where all Councillors acknowledged the difficulty of homelessness, the demand for housing & the availability of affordable housing. Clrs Byrne, Hanna, Macri, Phillips, Kontellis, Peters, Olive  & O’Sullivan spoke on the issue. They were concerned for the Collective, but could not agree to allow them to live in a building that was unsafe. Clr Peters asked staff to outline recent developments about affordable housing in the LGA.  The staff member said Council has applications for Boarding Houses & the Dept Housing has more houses in the area. He said the biggest growth was through St George & Metro Housing who have probably added 30-40 houses, but the reality is affordable housing has got less. The motion was for Council to explore potential use of unoccupied buildings, audit these buildings & assess the costs to make them liveable dwellings & ensure any development of Council owned property contains affordable housing.  Carried unanimously.

Protect our National Parks from privatisation. Motion by Clr Byrne for Council to write to Frank Sartor Minister for the Environment & Climate Change,  requesting he withdraw his bill to allow commercial development in National Parks & ensure any attempts to increase visitor numbers are done with the best interests of local communities & local environments.  Carried unanimously.

Third Quarter Performance Report 2009-2010 & GST Compliance Certificates. Received & noted. Carried unanimously.

Annette Kellerman Aquatic Centre Plan of Management. There was some discussion regarding the café, with Clr Olive asking what happens if the café ceases to operate, does it return to the control of Council. Staff said they would seek legal advice. Clr O’Sullivan had some concerns regarding the restrictive nature of the contact citing the clause ‘no use of butter’ as an example.  Staff said there was a 1½ page nutritional statement to serve as guidelines for minimal standards of food served by the café so we don’t end up with pie & chips. Carried unanimously.

Safety around Sydenham Station. Clr O’Sullivan said that residents have started a Clean Up Sydenham campaign as they are concerned about safety walking from the station to Unwins Bridge Road past the derelict Station Masters house & another empty house & rubbish in this area.  Motion to ask Railcorp to clean up, remove weeds & overhanging vegetation & for Council to advise of options for improving amenity & safety. Carried unanimously.

Henry Tax Review & Housing Affordability. Clr Phillips spoke briefly about the report & said given that affordable housing comes up in Council debates he would like fellow Councillors to be familiar with it & said Council should be writing to all levels of government about affordable housing. Carried unanimously.

Energy Efficient Street Lighting. Clr Peters put forward a motion to request Energy Australia to replace all street-lights with energy efficient bulbs on main roads throughout the LGA & to notify residents of Council’s action.  Clr Wright moved an amendment that instead of writing to residents about this, to notify them via Council’s website, Marrickville Matters & rates notices to save money. This was accepted by Clr Peters. Clr Olive said he wasn’t against writing directly to residents as they needed to know both sides of the story & this may push the supplier into action. Carried unanimously.

Support for Refugees & 2010 World Refugee Week. Clr Peters wanted Council to promote a rally on Saturday 26th June 2010 saying many residents of Marrickville

native grass

LGA are refugees. She said we would like the federal government to lift the freeze & close Curtin & Christmas Island detention centres immediately. Clr Wright said she noticed Council displayed a banner at Petersham Town Hall & would now be doing the same at Newtown, Sydenham, St Peters & Marrickville Town Halls at the cost of $2,500. She said she would rather use the money on people rather than on banners.  Clr Peters asked for guidance from staff as to the issue of reuse of banners by Council.

Clr Phillips said it was “atrocious” what the government has done with refugees saying it is “back to the dark days of Howard.”  He was worried that sewing lips & self-harming would start again. He said it was “the regime of cruelty with people behind razor wire just because of their mode of arrival.” Clr Kontellis supported the motion saying Council should be taking supportive action & said the government’s action on refugees was appalling. Carried unanimously.

Meeting concluded.

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