In North Sydney, there’s a Council election on 4 December.

I’m:

  • a sitting Councillor and am a candidate for re-election; and
  • an independent – have not been in any way connected with a political party for 5 decades. I believe in democracy but not in political parties.

Why is being independent important?

Our next Council will need, more than ever, to stand up to and push back on the State Government, whatever its political complexion is, when it:

  • moves to take our parklands for the Western Harbour and Beaches’ tunnels and
  • forces a dramatic increase in traffic passing through North Sydney to reach its tunnels.

 

About the election

North Sydney has been divided into two wards –

  • Cammeraygal (south side) and
  • St Leonards (north side)

Each ward will return 5 councillors and the councillors will elect one of their number to be Mayor (and another to be Deputy Mayor).

I’m a candidate for Cammeraygal

My hope is that each councillor will be respectful of all other councillors and allow due process to run its course – I am passionate about good governance and will, for my part, endeavour to promote a culture that allows Councillors to make the most effective decisions for ratepayers

As to the Mayor:

  • It’s important to appreciate that being Mayor involves far more than public relations.
  • The Mayor provides the management interface between councillors and the executive

 

What have I done over the last term?

I was elected a councillor in 2017

I have a keen interest in protecting and repurposing infrastructure and State Government held land.

  • Since 2017 I have spearheaded a campaign to base the Sydney Heritage Fleet in Berrys Bay and repurpose “Woodley’s Shed” as a museum and exhibition centre operated by the Fleet.
  • I chair:
    • Sydney Harbour HighLine Association – it’s presently designing and building community support for the conversion of the railway between Waverton and Lavender Bay to a walking trail (https://www.sydneyharbourhighline.org.au )
    • Wendy’s “secret” Garden Association – it’s working to protect the garden created by Wendy Whiteley and is looking at ways to raise money to ensure the long-term survival of the garden (https://www.wendyssecretgarden.org.au/ );
    • Waverton Peninsular Working Group (established under the auspices of North Sydney Council) – it was the driver to repurpose the coal loader and is now seeking to have the land on the edge of Berrys Bay secured as public open space.

I led campaigns that saw the:

  • restoration of the “Welcome to Luna Park” arch over Alfred Street, Milsons Point; and
  • conversion of the land overlooking Luna Park to Harry’s and Northcliff Parks

I advocated for the rebuilding of North Sydney’s Olympic Pool.

 

Things worth fighting for – Developer contributions.

Look at North Sydney’s CBD and the stretch of land between Crows Nest and St Leonards Station.

You will see endless examples of the State Government overriding the planning controls put in place by Council after extensive community consultation.

The State Government ‘s ability (directly or through process) to ride rough shod over Council’s planning controls must be eliminated.

Each time Council’s planning controls are overridden, there’s invariably an increase in the number of workers and residents and that leads to an increase in the number of people wanting to use our parklands and services. North Sydney:

  • is one of the most urbanised local Government areas in Australia; and
  • has 550 residents per hectare (compared with Mosman’s 170 and Willoughby’s 216).

 

Where property owners benefit from, in one way or another, a change in zoning or being exempted from compliance with planning controls set by Council, there’s a “windfall profit”. Part of that profit should be paid to Council to fund increase and improvements in parklands and services.

 

Things worth fighting for – Ensuring Council gets a proper return on its property portfolio 

It’s taken me a term attending Council and audit meetings to get my head around Council’s property portfolio and the approaches to determining values and achieving returns.

I’m talking of a portfolio of commercial and residential properties that has a collective value in excess of $200m.

The challenge is to ensure that transparency and market tension are free to drive results – I will do my best to meet the challenge,

There’s a need for a new start.

  • all investment properties should be valued by an independent valuer,
  • returns on investment properties should then be measured, and
  • decisions taken on which investment properties are to be retained and sold.

As to affordable housing, the need is to maximise the number of housing units within the scheme given the constraints on funding – this will almost certainly mean the high value housing units will be sold and the capital released will be reinvested in a larger number of housing units. My focus will be on providing housing for women with children escaping bad relationships.

 

Things worth fighting for – The completion of North Sydney’s Olympic Pool

The pool, built is the thirties, suited for a time when North Sydney had a population of 15,000 – many living on farmlets. It hosted the 1938 Empire Games; it was a dramatic declaration of confidence in the future.

At the end of 2020 it was leaking 30,000 litres a day and the use of grandstand was curtailed because the structure was failing.

With the decision in 2020, to replace the pool and preserve its wonderful 1930s style, Council made another dramatic declaration of confidence in the future.

  • It was a big investment decision.
  • After reviewing the business case, budget and contracts I gave it my unswerving support.

The task is to follow through and make sure North Sydney gets a world class facility that captures the magic of the past and our confidence in the future.

 

Things worth fighting for – the preservation of Luna Park

 

Luna Park is, along with the Bridge and Opera House, one of Sydney’s great icons. It needs to be preserved and protected and not allowed to morph into a development site.

The recent ABC documentary of the Ghost Train fire at Luna Park was, on any measure, disturbing.

The ABC’s documentary ended with the fire – what’s needed is transparency on everything to do with Luna Park. A good start would be for the State Government to release the current agreements it has with the operator.

 

Things worth fighting for – Open green space

I have a vision that sees protected and kept for ours and future generations

  • the western foreshore of Berrys Bay
  • the largely disused railway between (near) Waverton station and Lavender Bay
  • Wendy’s “secret” Garden
  • Bradfield Park

It’s incredibly important to deliver on the vision because North Sydney has one of the worst ratios of open green space to people living in our area – this is set to be made worse by State Government’s interventions designed to have more high-rise developments with no thought of increasing parklands.

 

  1. Berrys Bay and the Sydney Heritage Fleet

It was back in 2016 that the State Government promised to return the western foreshore of Berrys Bay to our community. That promise triggered the vision that saw the Sydney Heritage Fleet mooring in the protected waters of Berrys Bay and repurposing Woodley’s Shed as a maritime museum. https://youtu.be/Pts0tIn_bsg

The vision:

  • captures and builds on the maritime history of Berrys Bay
  • has been embraced by North Sydney Council, the neighbouring precincts and by our community groups

https://www.shf.org.au/wpcontent/uploads/2021/02/SHF_Museum-of-Sydney-Harbour_Presentation_vNov2020.pdf

To help build community understanding of the vision and build support I:

  • met with the Sydney Heritage Fleet, arranged for presentations to be made to neighbouring precincts and other community groups to share the vision and Council and
  • joined the long-established community-based push to save Berrys Bay

helping to achieve that end was a key policy of mine in 2017 – still is.

I am chair of North Sydney Council’s Waverton Peninsular Group – an advocate of this project.

The latest from the Government – it has “formed” a committee and now says the foreshore land might be transferred at some time in the future.

The transfer should take place now before the State Government turns its mind to the possibility of the land being commercially developed.

Delivering on a vision is a long hard slog and one I’m committed to continuing.

  1. The rail line between (near) Waverton Station and Lavender Bay and the old shunting yard at Lavender Bay.

I thought North Sydney was on a winner and trusted the Government – I was told that the rail line would not be needed beyond 2024 (opening of the cross-harbour section of the Metro).

The Government said that work could commence on creating the walkway on the strip of land adjacent to the rail line and then changed its mind.

In 2017 the Premier:

  • said that it would never sell the railway and ensure that it remains a community asset (i.e., transferred to our Council); and
  • established a committee (chaired by Felicity Wilson) to investigate creating a scenic walking track along this unique stretch of railway land.

The Committee recommended creating the walkway on the strip of land parallel to the rail line. Felicity Wilson is yet to advise the Premier’s response.

North Sydney Council

The HighLine delivers on two of the three key strategic themes for North Sydney – Connected Community and Living Heritage.  It also captures all three of the destination’s primary experience pillars:

  • Urban nature and open space;
  • History and Heritage, and with ample opportunity to feature innovative events; and
  • Arts and Culture.

 

The HighLine has strong support from North Sydney Council and the community.

Of concern is the Government’s move to frustrate any work on the walkway by spending more than $12m on erecting new stanchions many of which are slap bang in the middle of that strip of land that was to be used for the walkway

The transfer should take place now before the State Government turns its mind to the possibility of the land being commercially developed.

I am chairman of the Sydney Harbour HighLine Associate Inc https://www.sydneyharbourhighline.org.au

  1. Wendy’s “secret” Garden

Wendy has worked tirelessly for decades delivering a garden to our community.

What did the State Government do – not much:

  • set up but did not deliver on its promise to fund a trust to keep the garden financially secure and
  • leased the Garden to our Council – why a lease and not a transfer to North Sydney Council?

The transfer should take place now before the State Government turns its mind to the possibility of not renewing the lease and then allowing the land to be commercially developed.

The challenge is to fight to make that transfer happen now – I’s important that we win – see  https://youtu.be/_apzOGSApHE

I chair Wendy’s Secret Garden Association – it’s looking for ways to secure title and funding

https://www.wendyssecretgarden.org.au

  1. Bradfield Park and Kirribilli’s Streets

North Sydney’s parks were set aside and streets laid out during a time when integrated transport meant, for most people, walking to train stations, bust stops and ferry wharves. Those who laid out the streets did not have, within their contemplation, that someday cyclists would want dedicated velodrome-like cycleways

Consider what’s proposed by the State Government for Bradfield Park in Milsons Point.

A proposal that simply ignores the problem which is cyclist having to compete with the users of Bradfield Park and being crammed into the narrow streets and footpaths of Milsons Point.

All the Government has done is come up with an alternative way for cyclists to ascend/descend the 14 meters between the bridge and Bradfield Park. How has it done this”

By seizing a substantial part of Bradfield Park and roadway along Alfred Street Milsons Point and Broughton Road in Kirribilli – this is madness given Milsons Point is one of the most densely populated areas in Sydney.

When cyclists demand cycleways they are also demanding that our community gives up parklands and parking spaces along our street – parks and parking spaces are precious commodities in North Sydney.

If the State Government wants to build cycleways, it should incorporate them in the Warringah freeway.

A call for your support

If you read to this point you must be interested in my policies.

I’m an “independent” having lost faith in the major parties but I have not lost faith in the democratic process – far from it.

Being an “independent”, means I need:

  • your vote; and
  • all the help I can get from friends and supporters. – there:
  • there will be a pre-polling booth open for two weeks prior to the election; and.
  • on polling day there will be many more than usual polling booths, each will be open for 10 hours on 4 September.

That means I need a lot of helpers to hand out my “how to vote” card.

If you want to help and can find time, please let me know.

EDUCATION

Retain and acquire land for educational purposes.

MEDICAL SERVICES

Conduct an audit of the delivery of health services to ensure they are aligned with community needs and delivered in a cost effective way.

AGED CARE

Areas above the Metro station at Crows Nest may be retained for much needed aged care facilities.

URBAN PLANNING

Plan sustainable cities recognising the importance of green spaces to human and environmental health. Keep public land off developers’ tables.

WENDY'S GARDEN

Wendy’s Secret Garden should permanently be designated as a public space. The Government should commit to retaining valuable public spaces such as this.

HERITAGE FLEET

The Heritage Fleet needs a home – a place to moor some of its amazing vessels that’s accessible to the public. Berrys Bay, with its long association with the maritime industry and connection to the Sydney Harbour Highline offers a perfect spot and it’s available now.