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The Beast’s Monthly Mailbag

By jimmyhutton on July 21, 2021 in Other

Cuts to Eastern Beaches Bus Services

Eastern Suburbs Bus Services
Dear Beast – If the light rail was a viable option, it would be used. It adds an extra 30 minutes to every trip. We are paying for this white elephant.
Transport Minister Constance told The Beast, “We are actually making this a turn up and go service.” What does this mean? Channel Nine News had a story about a similar trial in a South Coast town where commuters were forced to pay an extra $5 on top of the fare. We don’t want Uber buses! We have a good system that suits everyone including the elderly.
Minister Constance must know how well the X40, 353, 338 and the others are patronised. Please do not cut our bus routes.
Suzie Smith
Clovelly

 

A Message To The Minister
Dear James – Andrew Constance’s “Message from the Minister” in the July edition of The Beast demands comment.
How condescending is the opening comment about the government’s proposed changes to the bus system: “…change can be tough, I know that you’re used to things being a certain way, finding out that they will soon be different can be a shock…”
This comment reeks of the view that we poor souls don’t know what is good for us and we have not understood the benefits of the bus disruptions mooted. Instead, users are more likely to hold the view that change is good only if it improves the system.
He goes on to say the changes are required to make a “more integrated public transport system”. We would all love that if only it was true. Instead, we will face a very disintegrated system with lots of added changes of travel mode and poor connections.
He says that the most popular express bus services are being kept in the peak periods “…because we know people rely on them…” But why so when later on he claims that the light rail journey time from end to end is only 35 minutes. Out of peak periods, other users don’t seem to count.
He says that there is no deal to drive bus users onto the light rail. But how else can one interpret the necessity of Coogee users having to change to the light rail to get into the city?
And we are led to believe that there is a 96 per cent customer satisfaction from light rail users. This sounds like a North Korean style survey result. It does not reflect the attitudes of many of the people who say they used the service once to try it out. “Frustratingly slow” is the usual view expressed.
He comments that there shouldn’t be half empty buses running along the light rail route. Half empty or half full, that’s still more passengers than the light rail. Not so long ago we were limited to 12 on a bus and told to wait for the next one if there was more on board.
Finally, there is a disconnect with the claim that there will be more frequent buses running on the new system whilst at the same time buses will be removed from the East to be deployed elsewhere. Wouldn’t more frequent services require more buses, not less? Perhaps the comment only refers to those peak services and not to those non-peak services. Yes, Andrew, the changes are scary!
Simon Bartlett
Coogee

CONSTANCE’S CATASTROPHE
Dear Mr Constance – I read your letter with the usual amount of scepticism and of course realise there is always a fantasy element to your communications.
I challenge you, Mr Minister and your staff, to use public transport for a month. Travelling to and from work, as well as all appointments during the day and night.
Those empty buses that break your heart may become your lifeline to appointments, especially outside of peak hours. I doubt you’ll have the balls to take up the challenge; it doesn’t provide the usual photo opportunity, nor does it affect your constituents.
Margie
Coogee

 

Buses and Trams
I enjoyed reading Constance’s propaganda for the bus changes and the “success” of the trams (a 696 per cent increase on not much is still not impressive). The new bus services will be far better than the existing ones… really?
Remember when the tram was going to be the answer to all Eastern Suburbs transport problems, and no trees were going to be removed? No overhead wires, no inconvenience to local businesses or other travellers, no cost overrun…
Had anyone reviewed the lack of success of all newly introduced tram systems in Europe over the past 30 years they would have realised that there were better ways of spending the money.
The truth is that most Eastern Suburbs residents use public transport extensively (the rest rely on oversized vehicles that clog the already inadequate road system). As there is little enthusiasm for building new roads in the area, surely it would be in everyone’s best interest to increase bus usage?
It is interesting that the minister’s constituency is in the deep south of the state where high density population and associated transport issues are rare, to say the least. No doubt this is an interesting academic exercise that he will be able to consider from afar when he steps down. We still have to live here.
Steve
Coogee

 

Andrew Constance
Dear Andrew – Thanks for your informative letter and for educating us mere minions. It’s just as well there will be some sort of public transport available as your zero-tolerance policing on NSW drivers gives us a taste of what 1939 Germany must have felt like. I hope you enjoy your chauffeur-driven ministerial car, paid for by my taxes.
Nathan
The Bra

 

The Minister for Transport’s ‘message’ to the People
A typical patronising piece of spin from one of the architects of the environmental vandalism of Sydney.
Looking beyond the smokescreen of protecting us from COVID, Mr Constance represents a government that oversees the selling off and privatisation of public assets, land clearing and generally handing over NSW to vested interests to wreck the place in pursuit of maximum profit for the chosen few.
This has encouraged a city to lose it’s soul, becoming a frontier where gold rush fever reigns.
Bruce
Clovelly

 

Save the 378 Bus Campaign
I read with interest all the letters and articles relating to the proposed cuts to Eastern Suburbs buses in July’s Beast – our only remaining community letter forum.
Our Save the 378 Bus group has been campaigning for two years to restore the 378 bus route, which sadly no longer exists. We now have to change from the 379 at Bondi Junction, not at the interchange, which would be sensible, but on the windswept corner of Newland and Oxford Streets, which has no bus shelter. So, no direct route to St Vincent’s Hospital, Central Railway or the CBD.
We wrote many letters to Andrew Constance, the minister for transport, held protests at Bondi Junction Mall and at the Bronte Beach bus stop, interviewed many bus passengers and collected thousands of signatures. We even hired a bus to Bega to protest outside Constance’s office. He holds the Bega seat by a huge margin so basically couldn’t care less about us city folk.
We cited the example of our local retired, disabled headmaster who had done so much for the community, struggling to change buses so he could get to St Vincent’s Hospital for his chemo, but there was no sympathy for the poor bloke.
The only positive that has come out of our campaign is that Kristy McBain, mayor of Bega, got some publicity for supporting our cause and is now an MP in Canberra.
We wish the residents of Coogee and Randwick success in their campaign to stop the ‘heartless plundering’ of Eastern Suburbs bus services. Good luck, and remember that you can always vote!
Mrs Judy Ebner
Bronte

 

STA Buses
Dear Editor – The government is proposing to cancel many of our favourite buses. Is this government responsible for making the whole city function, or is it just strip mining our most loved assets to hand them over to business mates?
Packaging up profitable routes to prepare them for selling off to private franchises is obvious from the design of currently proposed changes. This is not transport. When privatised, the most lucrative routes remain and unprofitable routes vanish, leaving many people stranded or calling for an Uber, adding to congestion on the roads. Profit becomes more important than giving people a good, reliable bus service to keep commerce and community services swirling.
Transport routes and services to and around the city of Sydney, from the days of the horse and carriage onwards, have been intimately intertwined with urban development in the eastern and southeastern suburbs. Existing bus routes cannot be rearranged without massive upheaval, confusion and loss of quality living. Channelling people onto the light rail is just a smokescreen. The real agenda is privatisation.
Mora Main
Waverley

 

The Royal Randwick Crossing and Other Local Transport Issues
Pedestrian Crossing
I am a constant user of Royal Randwick and know the area of crossing John writes about (Pedestrian Crossing Desperately Needed, Letters, The Beast, July 2021).
People are plain lazy because there is a pedestrian crossing a short walk from the shopping centre. Instead, they dart across the road like demented ducks.
Either move the existing pedestrian crossing – the one that services the church and school – closer to the shopping centre (I am sure the church would be against this) or place railing along the rest of the path to the existing crossing, to stop the deathwish pedestrians from putting their lives at risk and to protect motorists from having heart-stopping experiences.
Common sense needs to prevail here. Two pedestrian crossings within 100 metres of one another is just ridiculous.
Margie
Coogee

 

Common sense, not another set of lights, is what is really needed!
Hi James – Please, no more letters supporting a pedestrian crossing at Avoca Street, Randwick, when there is a perfectly good set of traffic lights 45 metres away! Seriously, how lazy are people?
I walk that area a lot (far more than I drive) and know it is a risk to cross there, so I don’t. Where is the responsibility from the people crossing the road? In most cases it is an unnecessary attempt at a shortcut, and on the occasion previously described, that person sadly ‘lost’.
Why would the RMS or Council put in another set of lights so that individuals can hold up an already busy road (again, when a set of lights exists a short stroll away)?
People need to stop laying the blame on others for their own poor choices that in this case ended badly. And the answer to the highly emotive question, “How many people have to die?” is, “None – use the lights!”
Peter
Randwick

 

Once again, Pedestrians are Relegated
I am amazed and shocked at the lack of completion of the Oxford Street Cycleway Project along Oxford Street, Bondi Junction. I fail to understand the reason for this.
The project was interrupted at St James Road and works have started at Bronte Road instead, leaving the dangerous footpath outside the Waverley bus depot for completion later next year.
This footpath is in desperate need of replacement. The block pavers are dangerously uneven. Earlier this year I almost hit the ground after having tripped over one paver. Consequently, I contacted Waverley Council’s customer service three times, but to no avail.
The bus stop that is located in front of the bus depot is in use day and night and is also a thoroughfare for pedestrians and cyclists. People of all ages use this footpath and bus stop.
At this point in time, I find it grossly unsatisfactory that, once again, a bicycle track has been given priority over the safety of pedestrians and public transport users.
Recently I have written to the council hoping that it reconsiders giving priority to the immediate completion of the project, in the interest of public safety.
A.M.
Bondi Junction

 

York Road
Has anyone else experienced traffic problems in York Road? At about 8.30am and 3.30pm every school day the traffic is stopped. The disruption is unbelievable. Why did they give this school permission to expand further? What chaos will occur in coming years ? This whole area has appalling traffic movement already – and it will only get worse.
Peter West
Bondi Junction

 

Environment and Development

Beast Rock pools
Dear James – Still on glorious ocean walks, but now from Rose Bay to Nielsen Park in the affluent shire of Woollahra. I pass by super-posh school palaces with turrets high on the hill, and the beautiful harbour below. But can these students explain better than most what the first white stuff around the edges is, when a rock pool starts to dry out?
Salt? No way. Far too soluble and only found in the centre when the pool has almost completely dried out, and then as beautiful clear cubic crystals of sodium chloride. What is it then? Ask an oyster (or a coral or cuttlefish). They all need calcium carbonate, also known as aragonite and calcite, for their structure, and this is the least soluble component in seawater, almost at saturation point, followed closely by gypsum.
Try evaporating some seawater in a shallow vessel in the sun; a large watch glass. Measure the pH of the seawater. The extra, human-created carbon dioxide from our atmosphere has lowered the alkalinity of the ocean on average by 0.1 pH from pre-industrial levels. It is still as alkaline as baking soda. In fact, it is bicarbonate, the ocean’s pH buffer. Yours as well, in your blood and saliva.
Think about all this while sprinkling your smashed avo with very expensive but ‘natural’ pink, sustainably harvested sea salt, garnished lightly with limestone, a dob of dolomite and then getting plastered in Paris (plaster of Paris).
Should you happen to read the labels on imported salt from the USA, have a look to see whether it contains prussiate (prussic acid) and hydrogen cyanide. Check this out in your library in the book called Chemistry in the Marketplace on page 118-119. If the book’s not there, change schools.
Ben
Bondi

 

Goodbye, baby! Incinerators and the Reef
Building an incinerator in Matraville shows three things. Firstly, it shows a failed, or non-existing, recycling policy. Our Liberals’ policy (state and federal) does not avoid rubbish. It just wants to burn it. Secondly, we know from worldwide studies that wherever incinerators are built, cancer rates will go up. Thirdly, burning stuff will contribute to Australia’s CO2 emissions. Australia is already among the world’s worst per person emitters (wikipedia.org). More CO2 will only accelerate the destruction of the Great Barrier Reef. UNESCO will shortly list the reef as “in danger”. Its total annihilation is on the cards.
The BBC also reported that our esteemed Liberals have “committed A$3 billion” to the reef. In the same time frame, Turnbull, the Mad Monk and Scomo have committed A$100 billion to submarines. Only the mathematically challenged will believe the Liberals’ fairy-tale that spending a microscopic 3 per cent of their submarine budget on the reef will make any difference.
Thomas Klikauer
Sweet Coogee

 

Cigarette butts outside Bunnings
Hi James – I recently emailed Randwick Bunnings and asked if their staff or contractors could pick up or take home their cigarette butts that are left on the ground near the roller door on Clovelly Road, and I’ve heard nothing back!
Where’s their pride? Where’s their ‘good neighbour’ behaviour? Don’t they understand they will be washed into the drain and straight into the ocean? How lovely for everyone!
Can everyone who smokes please put your butts in the bin or take them home? Why is this so hard?
No one has ever looked at urban or natural scenery and thought, “Hmmm, this could be improved by me dropping my cigarette butt.” Have some consideration for the fish, if not the swimmers.
Melissa
Randwick

 

Rampant insane overdevelopment
79-101 Wellington Street is the biggest development Bondi has seen for a long time. We lose 15 beautiful little houses and end up with two monstrosities with as little open surrounds as the developer can possibly get away with. Instead of maybe 50 people living on this length of the road, we will have 56 units with perhaps 150-200 people crammed in. The developer walks away with money and Bondi loses more of its character and has even more people crammed in to fight over dwindling parking spots, our rarer and rarer open space, and our greater and greater traffic problems.
Residents and critters have the right to live with open space around the actual buildings, but developers of course make their money by eating it up (not to mention living for a week without the ongoing insanity-inducing noise of eternal building and the dust, noise and associated parking and traffic problems development brings with it).
It puts a strain on our limited resources, remembering that these developments all require extra services: more electricity, internet, water and road usage, public transport and of course that rage-inducing issue – parking: hence eternal road works.
The NSW government is hell-bent on development at all costs, with local councils’ and residents’ needs completely ignored. This development makes me sad.
Nicolette Boaz
Bondi

 

Malcolm Turnbull Joins Opposition to New Wharf
Malcolm Turnbull and his fellow residents’ reasons for opposing the Royal Prince Edward Yacht Club’s new pontoon simply do not hold water. The club is not expanding or increasing its membership, their claims that the new pontoon would unduly increase the wharf’s use are totally misleading. The wharf has limited access and is not permitted for emergency use, while nearby Rose Bay and Double Bay wharves have excellent facilities and ample parking.
Turnbull should be well aware that the need for such a large pontoon is largely due to his love for public transport. The new high speed ferries (28 knots) are now passing Felix Bay every 10 minutes, leaving a wash that has made the existing pontoon dangerous to even stand on. The extra length is largely there to provide stability. The original proposal, which was permitted in the original wharf’s approval, was approved by the RMS and Woollahra Council staff. However, it appears that undue influence at Woollahra has held sway over its final approval, forcing the club to fight for its rights all the way to the Land and Environment Court.
Regrettably, this is not a new situation. Even though most of these opponents are members they seem to be more interested in ridding themselves of this commercial blot in their bay, at any opportunity. This included opposing the yacht club’s recent much-needed renovations (its first in 100 years), where they successfully employed a Senior Council who succeeded in getting Council to put impossible limitations on the club’s use. Also, a group that included another prominent resident, [name redacted for legal reasons], strangely got Council to eliminate almost half the parking in Wolseley Road only six months after Council staff had rejected a similar application.
It is a yacht club, not an RSL or a leagues club, with most of its members living in the area. Its impact on the neighbourhood is close to nil. What makes this situation so ridiculous is that most of these residents (except for Malcolm, who has his own private wharf) will be significant beneficiaries of the new wharf, and I doubt that in six months’ time they will notice any detrimental change in their exclusive amenity. In any other area it would simply be a storm in bucket.
I am the one that will be the biggest loser of all. My yacht A-BUS is currently moored right off the end of the current wharf and right where the new pontoon will now be installed. Despite this, I believe the new pontoon is urgently needed.
Kindest regards,
Andrew Goldfinch
Bondi Junction

 

Waste Not, Want Not
So, it has recently come to my attention that Randwick Council has a Food Organics and Garden Organics collection service (FOGO). Good going, Randwick! I have hoped for such a service to be available everywhere for many years now.
That my neighbouring council has such a forward-thinking initiative is impressive. However, I live in the Waverley local government area and it does not. Not so cool.
In our duplex we have a compost bin and a worm farm (supplied, I should add, by Waverley Council) and a patch of garden that reaps all the benefits from them, so all our composting needs are pretty well met. As such, it’s not for me personally that I’m asking, but for all those in situations with no gardens, or apartments with no connection or access to the garden, because this is such a wonderful way to manage waste and contribute in a positive way to helping our environment.
With the increasing number of flats in medium-density apartment housing (the continuing saga of over-development) in Waverley, I think it behoves Council to consider introducing this compost/organics/food waste collection service as soon as possible. Frankly, it’s the least that should be done in light of this insatiable overdevelopment.
And all you folks who have environmental sympathies but who still throw away all your organic food waste, well, this just won’t do, will it? Waverley, we need to do our bit!
Tina Harris
Bondi

 

Giants Eat Small Things For Breakfast
Giants eat small things for breakfast. They wake in the glowing sunrise from their contented slumber, stretching and stomping along the glistening Eastern coastline in search of all that is smaller than them. Their enormous footprints trample every rock, branch and flower in their path. Their tongues snack on butterflies as they fly past. Their fists smash little homes into tiny pieces before sinking their jaws into generations of family history. Hungrier still, they scoop up birds, trees and even whole parks and chew them up until they’re dust. Because Giants eat small things for breakfast.
As morning lingers and the sun shines stronger, the sound of crashing waves pricks the Giants’ ears. With a flare of their enormous nostrils they follow the salty smell down to a beach called Bondi. Their eyes widen. Never before have they seen such a stretch of crystal water washing up white cloud-like bubbles upon such soft golden sand. They wonder if this is heaven? But as sweat drips down their flushed cheeks, they realise it’s an earthly paradise. Rubbing their sweaty palms together, they trudge to the water’s edge to bathe. Beautiful fish frolic at their unsightly ankles. The Giants dip their faces into the water and swallow the colourful fish whole. Because Giants eat small, beautiful things for breakfast and lunch.
Refreshed from the glory of the pristine water, The Giants travel west towards a place called Waverley. They see an open space with small people gathering – some of them are laughing, some dancing and some old small people wearing white are rolling black balls along the lawn. The Giants look at each other with a knowing grin. Moments later, they start to rip the place apart from its core. The groups of small people rush out in fear. Except for one – she has grey hair. As pieces of earth sling across her white clothing, she stands perfectly still, staring into a lifetime of memories that still live in this soil. The Giants continue their frenzy – digging, smashing, pausing only to lick every inch of dirt off their fat fingers. As the sun goes down, their bellies are full from gorging on these ancient Eastern lands. But they’ll start all over again tomorrow. Because Giants eat small, beautiful, old things for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Katey Knight
kateyknightcreative.com

 

Other Local Happenings
Regarding the ‘upskirted’
Hi James – This is regarding the woman shopping at Eastgardens who was violated by the pathetic little pervert filming her buttocks and whatever else he was hoping to see.
Why don’t women pick up the nearest jar of pickles or something equally hard and bash the violator over the head with it? Why do women passively and simply just report it to the police? How many more women will be violated by him before he’s caught (if he’s caught)? Upskirting is an assault on a woman and she has every right to fight back. It’s because we don’t react when we catch the man doing it, that they continue to do it. If every woman bashed their violating upskirter in the head with whatever’s nearest, they actually might stop doing it!
If he’s upskirting you on an escalator for example, simply turn round and shove your foot in his chest/stomach/thigh and send him tumbling all the way to the bottom.
This would be very easy to do in a public place and would most likely gain the support of onlookers/witnesses and the cowardly violator would run as fast as he could.
Stop putting up with these filthy, pathetic men. Stand up for yourself as women because no one else will.
Leanne
Randwick

 

No More Shared Village
I was fascinated to read the statistics in James Hutton’s editorial in the June edition of The Beast. There was an overwhelmingly positive response to the January survey on the Coogee Shared Village Project, with a huge majority of respondents wanting the project extended permanently and a small number wanting it extended for three or six months. Businesses and individuals alike were strong supporters of extending the project.
The large number of responses (over 3,000), even when expressed as a fraction of the households in Coogee that were invited to respond (7,800), means that the margin of error is very small. The fact that 95 per cent of respondents identified as locals and 66 per cent were from Coogee shows that the response was strongly representative of the views of local residents and ratepayers in Coogee and the Randwick LGA.
Presumably on the strength of this response, Council staff recommended an extension to the project. And yet our elected representatives voted to end the project. That doesn’t sound very representative of the clearly expressed views of the locals and ratepayers.
I wonder how well our elected representatives sleep at night, knowing how poorly they do the job that we elected them for and pay them for – representing us.
Best regards,
James Lawrence
Long term resident and ratepayer in Coogee

Why is Taste of Coogee not in Coogee?
It’s a question I get every day. The decision to move the event was made for us. The event was established in 2013 and, in my opinion, Coogee’s best event for the whole community. Each year the event gets opposition from Council, and in January 2020 (pre-pandemic) it was no different, with the general manager at Randwick Council stating, “Taste of Coogee will not happen in 2020.”
Why is that? In 2019, Taste of Coogee paid Randwick City Council $33,000 in fees. It is not paid for by ratepayers and has never had any antisocial behaviour – quite the opposite, a great family day out over the Father’s Day weekend. During its seven-year history, Taste of Coogee has donated over $100,000 to local charities and indirectly contributed millions of dollars in revenue to the local economy.
If you have ever attended a major outdoor food and wine event you can imagine what a whopping undertaking it is. Taste of Coogee was originally held in Goldstein Reserve but was so popular that it grew too big and became a safety concern. After much negotiation with Council and the Randy Petes Cricket Club it was moved to Coogee Oval, which became the home of Taste of Coogee for the following four years.
Coogee Oval is a nice big, safe, fenced venue, and it’s owned by ratepayers – perfect for one weekend a year between the rugby and cricket seasons.
However, in April 2020 (without any notification) Randwick City Council voted on a motion to refuse the use of the oval. The reasons given included that it ‘might’ pose safety concerns for cricketers in the season ahead. These safety concerns were not elaborated on. The cricket pitch is fenced off for the event. In 2019, the only need for repair was to the Dolphin Street driveway, which was already compromised from the football season. It cost just $800.
The invitational Argentina vs Randwick rugby match the following weekend (after Taste of Coogee in 2019) went ahead without a hitch and so did the cricket season.
The event was subsequently offered to relocate to Trenerry Reserve, which is the dog park past Wylies Baths, up on the cliffs south of the beach. This spot is too small, has no parking, no public transport and is an unsafe location. Council has never used Trenerry Reserve
for a major event for all those reasons.
Taste of Coogee is run by locals, for locals, and any profits from the event went to support Coogee Family Fun Day, which was a free community event. Family Fun Day had been held in Coogee on the first Saturday in December for 25 years, until Council held a similar event in the same location just three weeks before Family Fun Day was scheduled to be held in 2019 and discounted their fees. These events are booked with Council months in advance, but apparently they didn’t even know it was on!
After much consideration, and knowing what we are up against, it was easier to find a new location. EQ at Moore Park offers great parking, transport, light rail and buses. Coogee businesses are coming to the event, and it still is promoting the area. Thank you to the councillors who have always supported Taste of Coogee and see merit in community events; Brendan Roberts, Christie Hamilton and Harry Stavrinos.
Bernadette Summers
Founder, Taste of Coogee

 

Beachside Haikus
You can idle here
But please don’t idle your car
Look at scenes, not screens
Sounds of surf, wind, gulls
Turn the bluetooth speaker off
Hear the beach music
Your dog does poo poos
Not very nice on our shoe shoes
Please take it away
Not your plastic shards
Put them in the bin anyway
Help the sea creatures
Smoke on the water?
Sorry not on the beaches
Breathe the freshest air
Franz
Maroubra

 

June’s Doom and Gloom
I know you can’t hear me, God, but I’m speaking to you anyway. What on earth is happening down here?! COVID-19 is putting us back into hell! What has happened to Heaven on Earth? Surely this COVID-19 global population decrease is not part of the Divine Plan? And if not, how could it happen? And why is it continuing? Many of us are feeling so alone down here; so abandoned, so forgotten. Our trust in you and

the Angels is wavering (especially those in Waverley and Bondi Junction – the beginning of the latest COVID-19 outbreak).
Lisa
Waverley

 

Well done, Randwick Ritz
I just wanted to reply to Kevin from Coogee about his gripe with Randwick Ritz and their refusal to accept cash (Randwick Ritz, Letters, The Beast, July 2021). I say good on the Ritz for sticking to their guns, as is their right. It has been proven that the COVID-19 virus can survive on cash for as long as five weeks, so it’s actually in everyone’s best interest to avoid this method of payment as much as they can. I fail to see how the Ritz is “lazy and bullying” simply by taking these measures. I think Kevin needs to check his privilege and think about what is best for the community, not just what is convenient for him.
Emma
Bondi

 

Local MP denying my rights
In December 2020, I approached Gabrielle Upton, the local MP for Vaucluse, to raise my concerns relating to my own workplace injury claim – essentially no progress after three years.
Last year, our union representative encouraged us to request a meeting with our local MPs to discuss our issues. Marjorie O’Neill (Coogee MP) kindly attended one of our meetings and gave us tips on how to effectively approach MPs. After all, I knew it was my right as a citizen to ‘have my say’ in the government and law by ‘raising matters of concern with my local representative’. So I wrote Gabrielle a heartfelt email outlining my experience and to raise awareness of its wider impact on Australian society. I asked for help and I requested a meeting to discuss this and provide my evidence. But, instead of agreeing to a meeting, she asked for my permission to forward my email to the minister for icare (Insurance & Care NSW), Dominic Perrottet. This move concerned me, as he was the minister appearing all over the news for the recent icare scandals, and for whom I had signed (and sent her) a petition asking for his resignation.
After Gabrielle’s involvement, I received a response letter from the group executive of icare, Rob Craig, who then resigned a week later after a parliamentary inquiry, leaving with a ‘golden parachute’ of $430,000. Rob sent exactly the same response that I received before, neglecting any wrongdoing and failing to address the real issues. Again being ignored and gaslighted, but now beyond government agencies and at a ministerial level.
After a bit of back and forth with the new group executive at icare it became clear that I’d proved my point – even louder and stronger – and was still receiving the same neglect. So I decided to approach Gabrielle again, but this time she said she could not assist me any further. She said she had done all she could do.
So my questions are:
• Did she ever care to really listen to me as one of her constituents? Nope.
• Did she ever accept my meeting request after my heartfelt letter as someone who is trying to contribute to the good of society? Nope.
• Did she deny my citizenship rights? Yes, absolutely.
On the claim itself, since the beginning, I had to constantly defend my basic rights to pay and treatment. Later, I escalated mismanagement complaints, including revealing dirty practices used by icare. Fortunately my lawyer and specialists were able to join me at times in these fights, yet still, nothing was resolved. Then, further escalation of complaints to each appropriate government agency until I had reached the entire WorkCover portfolio. Each step of this process only revealed more deception, neglect and injustice, all while being passed around the various bodies and agencies, as none had jurisdiction to resolve anything. My specialists were aware of the toll this experience was having on my mental health. I was diagnosed with different mental health disorders that I didn’t have before I entered this system.
Deep inside I knew that what affected me the most was being unfairly treated and having my rights constantly denied.
I joined a Facebook group called ‘Union NSW – Injured Workers Campaign Network’ and I met other people who were experiencing the same. I found out that my story was the story of many others and, like them, I soon realised that the entire system is rotten to the core.
To my great disappointment, Gabrielle is an example of a politician who, rather than listening to the concerns of her community, prefers to get along with those responsible for this WorkCover mess. This is notably a different side from what I remember when receiving a beautiful letter from her to congratulate me on becoming a citizen and a member of her community. Shame on Gabrielle for not taking any interest in the bigger issues of Australia like this rotten WorkCover system that destroys families, drives people to self-harm and damages the mental health of those who, like me, have the bad luck of experiencing it.
To Gabrielle, just keep doing what you do best. Go blow your own trumpet with your latest renovations like Vaucluse House, with your prizes to school kids, with your COVID newsletters copied from the government website. And don’t forget to keep forwarding your emails. You fail me as a citizen. And you fail as an MP to listen to the community you welcomed me into. I will, no doubt, continue to exercise my other citizen rights. Firstly, I will not vote for you at the next election and, secondly, I will use my freedom of speech to say that your ‘trumpet’ is totally out of tune with ‘Advance Australia Fair’. As citizens, we must be treated fairly in all dealings with government, with the respect, dignity, care and sensitivity Australians deserve.
Gisele
Bondi

 

Dinner for Two
Dear James – I’m shocked! Shocked, yet strangely excited. Not to be deterred by the controversy generated by that arse painting a few months ago, you’ve taken it up a notch and put a couple 69ering on the cover! Love your work.
Hamish
Randy Wick

 

Crossword
Dear Susan Geason (The Crossword Again, Letters, The Beast, July 2021) – Although one is a novelist of published books, one only has to look up on the World Wide Web “obsoleteness” and, lo and behold, there are many references to obsoleteness being a synonym for obsolescence, datedness, antiquation (see www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/obsoleteness). Leave the crossword designer alone please!
Lisa
Bronte 

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