The Beast’s Monthly Mailbag – January 2018
Congratulations on your excellent cover story on Kate McClymont in the December 2017 edition of The Beast. Kate is a truly inspirational investigative journalist who has done so much to expose serious political and corporate corruption in New South Wales, often at great risk to her career and personal safety. Great to see she hasn’t lost her sense of humour along the way and enjoys our neighbourhood too.
Your profile highlighted the significant obstacles impeding the work of people like Kate, most importantly the high cost of ASIC and property searches. Why does Australia, unlike other developed economies, continue to charge for information that is essential for such investigations? Quite clearly this is a false economy, if you consider Australia’s history of financial and political scandals.
At a time when both Federal and State governments are slashing ICAC budgets, the efforts of people like Kate become even more vital, so it was a relief to read she has no plans to close up her laptop any time soon.
Hire Bike Disgrace
Dear Beast – Arriving home after an overseas holiday, we find hire bikes strewn over the pathways, leant against fences, and always looking abandoned. Normally our council would slap a sign on discarded items and fine the owners, so why, oh why, has Randwick Council allowed these hire bike companies to litter our streets with their bikes?
It is interesting to note that Holland, the home of the bike, has had to bring in special legislation to deal with these same style of hire bikes, part of which is that they must have stands or locales to dock them or they will have the bikes confiscated and a fine will need to be paid for their return.
When share cars and GoGet came into the area, they had copious amounts of legislation to deal with. When it’s bikes there seems to be a total lack of thought, legislation, or monitoring done. Shame on you councillors, littering our streets.
Plenty Of Room For Bubblers
When opening the new change rooms, toilets, and showers at Coogee Beach, the then mayor stated that they were a “well designed facility”. In the entrance to the facility there are sixteen taps over a large basin, but not one of these taps is a drinking bubbler.
The nearest drinking bubbler, I was advised by Randwick Council, is in Goldstein Reserve, which is up a flight of steps on street level. This is quite a hike for young children, the elderly, and anyone with a handicap.
There is plenty of room to put drinking bubblers on the beach level! Is this Randwick Council strictly enforcing the ‘no drinking on the beach’ rule? Get serious Randwick Council and improve your “well designed facility”.
Response to Donald Ockham
Thanks for your response to my article Donald (Letters, The Beast, December 2017). A few quick questions: Do you eat fish? Do you eat sashimi or tinned tuna? Do you realise that each year over 5,000 tonnes of southern bluefin tuna are sanctioned to be caught by DPI Fisheries Management by commercial anglers in Australian waters for the domestic and international market?
This image that upsets you is of one angler with one 130kg fish, which was respectfully caught, respectfully dispatched of, and carefully cut up to provide meals and sustenance to over 100 people.
The photo and the article were specifically chosen to bring some intelligent discussion to the situation of the bluefin tuna population which, through careful management, is on the slow increase.
Your call for The Beast to be more discerning with their choice of contributors is offensive to me, coming from someone who probably doesn’t fish and doesn’t know the first thing about what they’re writing – just simply adding to the Nanny State knee-jerk reactions of your aging counterparts by blabbing based on emotions rather than facts and data.
If I’m wrong I’d love to hear more from you on what you’ve read about sustainable fishing science and the plight of the southern bluefin tuna.
Hello – I am taking the time to write this mail because I have been very offended by your December calendar of events. On page 42, you can see a picture of a dirty pig dribbling to represent the Food Addicts Anonymous meetings. It is so disrespectful and disgraceful to do that!
Food addiction is not a joke. I am waiting for a written apology from the events publisher and I will make sure that this page will go viral.
Middle-Aged Men In Lycra
D Richards of Clovelly rightly points out the total disregard with which the bike hire ‘companies’ treat the community by littering the streets with their rubbish yellow and red bikes (Letters, The Beast, December 2017). I’m at a loss as to how they make a profit; I have had two bikes sitting outside my home for two months – makes one wonder what they are really up to.
The other issue is the lycra lads. I walk every day at Centennial Park and the MAMILs (middle-aged men in lycra) treat the park as their own private racing and training facility. God help pedestrians, animals, or vehicles that get in their way. No leniency is shown; a mouthful of vitriol, hand gestures, and threats being the result of impeding their hairbrained antics in any manner.
I wonder when these so-called intelligent people will realise that if they have a collision they will be the ones seriously injured.
Still A Long Way To Go
Dear James and Dan – This is a congratulatory note to you. The ‘Yes’ vote has been achieved. The ABC had no other news, The Beast will probably have comments as well.
Watching television yesterday, I was pleased for all the smiling faces and remarks. One particularly arrested my attention; one person said something like this: “Yes, I can say I’m pleased… but there is a long way to go…” I’m sitting back and waiting.
Always love The Beast, both of you, and darling, sensible Pearl. Many good wishes for the coming season.
Address not supplied
On Yer Bike
I just moved with my family back to Sydney (I was born here, but left 49 years ago). The first thing that I did was to buy a scooter. It is the best way to move around cities, especially Sydney, a traffic congested city with poor infrastructure but definitely great weather.
I have been driving motorbikes, scooters, and bicycles in many different countries including Italy, UK, Germany, and Singapore, and I am shocked about how difficult it is here for whoever decides to leave the car at home and jump on the two-wheelers.
The last drop that made me write this letter was that I got stopped by the police at one traffic light in Tamarama. The reason was that I overtook a truck that had stopped at the traffic light, leaving a big gap on its left for me to pass safely. I explained to the policeman that the reason I did it was because I got all its fumes on my face. The policeman did not care about my explanation and went on citing how many rules I broke and how dangerous my manoeuvre was!
I still fail to see his reasons as I do not see how overtaking a stationary truck at 2 kilometres per hour is dangerous. I feel more outraged that trucks like this are permitted to smog our environment and are free to circulate in residential areas, against the trend in all big cities, which are outlawing or charging them heavily, or at least imposing strict circulation times. Anyway, the policeman was there for a kill; he was waiting for scooters to commit a mistake.
So, here are my thoughts on this matter: first, the Police in Sydney are there not to protect you, but only to sanction, especially with motorbikes. Second, the environment is super aggressive versus the two-wheeler, and car drivers are usually unaware of them, or even annoyed by their presence on ‘their’ roads (most of the time they will block you if they can). And, last but not least, the community and authorities do not support this mode of transport with positive campaigns, more parking spots (it’s very difficult to park in the CBD, for example) and preferential roads, especially for bicycles.
I would love to see more people using the two-wheelers for their everyday life commitments, thus minimising wasted time in traffic and actually helping to reduce it.
Hi there – A member of our organisation rang to find out where “gluten free” oats can be sourced in Australia (as per the “Lunch Box Friendly Choc Chip Oat Cookies” recipe in your November 2017 edition). Unfortunately there is no such thing here, as our food standard does not permit oats to be labelled “gluten free”. This does differ to other countries’ food legislation, hence the confusion.
Our position statement on oats may help to explain the concern with this recipe: https://www.coeliac.org.au/uploads/65701/ufiles/Position_Statements/CAPSOats.pdf
If you receive any queries about this from your readers, please feel free to direct them to us.
Technical Officer – Coeliac Australia
Christmas electricity costs
Attention Pearl Bullivant – A suggestion in response to last month’s article (It Is Easy Being Green, The Beast, December 2017):
1. Set up a site near the fitness equipment at North Bondi Surf Club.
2. Install a bike-generator to illuminate displays for peoples’ charity of choice – St Vincent de Paul, the Red Cross, surf clubs, or a sponsored Christmas tree, etc.
3. Get all those fitness addicts who frequent the area to get on the bike to keep the lights on.
4. Charge them an entry fee for their efforts on a ‘weight-for-age’ basis, and an auctioned time slot for ‘specials’ like New Years Eve, but rebate the cost to the winning participant, and publish all the names and times achieved.
Not So Trivial Trivia
“Question 2: Who was the youngest ever number 1 ranked tennis player?”
Martina Hingis became the youngest tennis player to be ranked number 1 on March 31, 1997, at age 16 years and 5 months. She has our Lleyton cover by over four years.
Given the casual sexism of this error, it might be an idea to prepare a correction for the January issue.
There have been a number of sightings of foxes around Maroubra and Coogee in recent weeks, so the letter in your December edition (Fox on Coogee Beach) is on trend. But I would like to know more about the writer’s mates he regularly runs with, particularly the alert mate, Richard, who said, “There’s a fox running along the beach.” I would like to know what are the mates’ businesses, where they are located, and if any of them are the principals of their businesses. After all, if it is good enough for the letter writer to get free advertising for his business, then why not his mates, too? Come to think of it, in future, all principals of local businesses should start their letters off that way, nothing like free advertising.
Maroubra (retired, no need to advertise)
R.I.P. More Green Space
Dear Editor – Both Waverley Labor and Greens campaigned promising more green space. The slogan, “More Green Space,” featured prominently on the Greens election flyer.
So it is ironic that one of the first acts of Waverley’s new Labor/Greens council is to kill off the possibility of acres of extra green space. Where? Adjacent to Bondi Beach. How? By voting to not even explore the option of relocating the car park underground.
How much green space have we lost? Queen Elizabeth Drive and Park Parade occupies 17,595 square metres, based on a width of 15.3 metres and length of 1150 metres, so 1.75 hectares of potential extra green space is gone for the community.
Turning the overground car park into recreational space would’ve given us extra parkland. We could’ve had extra tables and seating, as well as room to expand the overcrowded playground and outdoor gym. We would’ve removed a dangerous pedestrian hazard where kids are jumping in front of oncoming cars as they cross to the beach. Many drivers are not adhering to the 10 kilometres per hour limit and not looking straight ahead while driving past the Pavilion, making it unsafe – especially when children try to run across.
A tree-shaded pedestrian boulevard on Queen Elizabeth Drive would’ve provided much needed relief from the heat, especially important for the elderly in summer, and overcrowding on the current promenade would’ve been eased. An urban heat island would’ve been removed. Park Parade, behind the Pavilion, could’ve been a tree-shaded parkland.
Instead, Council has decided to maintain a concrete eyesore that belongs in the 1920s. Never mind that most visitors arrive by public transport, and will increasingly do so in a city whose population is growing rapidly.
Actually, my preference is for the underground car park to not be built at all, but have the overground car park turned into green space nonetheless. However, knowing the attitude of some local motorists, the loss of hundreds of car parking spaces is probably not realistic. These motorists have complained loudly about walking an extra minute or two from an underground car park, so God only knows what their reaction would be if the car spaces were removed.
I remember in 1986 when Sydney City Council announced plans to pedestrianise a section of Pitt Street in time for the Bicentennial; a lot of motorists were not happy. But was it worth it? Yes!
Many Coogee residents in the late 1980s grumbled when Beach Street was pedestrianised. Now you can’t even imagine Coogee Beach without that adjacent green space!
In the 1950s the green space of the Domain was used as an outdoor car park, until Sydney Council put it underground at the end of that decade. So it can be done in the ‘50s, but not in 2017?
A council in Melbourne (Stonnington) is putting a car park underground to create 9,000 square metres of green space in Cato Street, Prahran, and, on the North Shore, Ku-ring-gai Council is transferring an overground car park underground to create Lindfield Village Green. These councils can do it, but Waverley Council can’t do it in one of the world’s most famous locations.
In Seoul they knocked down a major highway running through the heart of the city so that a large area could be given back to the people as recreational space. This was spearheaded by their mayor, who said, “A city is for people, not cars!” (Cheonggyecheon restoration project).
These projects took courage and vision, and while people may not be pushing for it and you only hear complaints from those who believe they’re adversely affected, in the end the vast majority of people have always welcomed more recreational space.
Those civic leaders endured short-term difficulties to deliver long-term benefits for their community. The extra green space they delivered will be enjoyed for centuries to come. Mayor Wakefield should take note.
Having an ugly, dangerous 1920s concrete car park occupying 1.75 hectares of valuable space, in such a popular location, is obsolete in my opinion. Especially in light of the fact Sydney’s population is rising by a million every decade. It is a polluted urban heat island that should be replaced with grass, trees, and recreational infrastructure.
It is a shame Mayor Wakefield hasn’t got the courage to implement this change. It is a shame Deputy Mayor Kanak has reneged on the Greens’ promise on their election flyer of “More Green Space”. Most of all, it is a shame for the local community, visitors, and the children whose safety will continue to be compromised.
“More Green Space”? More like “R.I.P. More Green Space”!
Whilst walking up and down the street
And passing folks I never meet,
I tried to catch a wandering eye
Of any of the passers by,
But all of them, it seemed to me,
Were focussed on the Christmas tree
And Santa Claus in all the shops
And all the other plastic props
From jingle bells to tinsel teeth
To God knows what and goodness grief.
And so I thought it just the time
To write a little Christmas rhyme
Which might, so long as it was read,
Sometime before you went to bed,
Remind us of the reason for,
The Christmas tree, the props and more,
Where long ago in Bethlehem
A child was born and holy men
On camels came with precious things
To place before the King of Kings.
And angels who were heard on high
Were jamming music in the sky
And singing hymns to all on Earth
About the wondrous glorious birth
Of Jesus, have you heard the news?
Of Jesus, tell them in the pews
But please don’t ram it down their throat
Or tell them they’re a Billy Goat
Just make the point in subtle ways
This ain’t the “happy holidays”
This is in fact a Godly feast
As they will tell you in The Beast.
Peter Manus Strain