The Beast’s Monthly Mailbag – February 2020
Bus Manners and Climate Change Protesters
Where to begin with Zak’s letter (The Wheels on the Bus, Letters, The Beast, January 2020) about ‘this generation’ and their lack of manners on public transport? Perhaps by noting my daily experience on packed out city bound buses, where I see young and old commuters alike offering their seats to the elderly, pregnant and frail, day in day out. Or marvelling at the leap of logic he performs to make Extinction Rebellion protesters responsible for a lack of respect and seating on buses. Seriously?
Climate campaigners want more, better quality public transport. Enough in fact to ensure the frail and elderly – and everyone else – don’t have to worry about being packed onto under-funded buses and trains.
What about Zak’s characterization of climate protesters as young and self-absorbed? Actually, those willing to be arrested and make the most disruption are, as often as not, parents and grandparents genuinely concerned about the shape of the planet they are passing on.
If you really care about public transport and respect for one’s community and planet, Zak, why not join the campaign against public transport privatisation and fight for its massive expansion? Why not join the dots and realise that real climate solutions and expanded public transport are part of the same struggle? See you on the streets.
Have You Guys Lost Your Minds?
In your January 2020 edition you gave the ‘Thumbs Down’ to “photographing motorists using their mobile phones while driving”, which you described as “simply not on”. You then doubled down on your own insanity by declaring that “The freedom to text and drive is a basic human right”.
Erm, no mate, it’s illegal – illegal pretty much everywhere. And not only are you wrong, your timing is lousy. On the very day that The Beast reached my postbox it was reported that during the first week of this New South Wales trial alone, 3,000 drivers have been caught texting and driving, so this is not some marginal issue (www.theguardian.com/world/2019/dec/17/mobile-phone-detection-cameras-more-than-3000-nsw-drivers-week).
If you’re going to be sententious, at least be so on a position you might have a chance of defending. Unless you’d like to explain to your readers why it’s okay to risk running someone over and killing them because you were tweeting out some asinine ‘LOL’. Get your head together, seriously.
Name and suburb not supplied
The Journey’s Just Begun
Dear James – My sincere condolences to you and all of Dan and Georgie’s family. In August 2019 my partner was diagnosed with a rare sub-type of Lymphoma. We have been together and inseparable since 2005 and got married as soon as the laws of this land allowed us to.
Thank you for sharing Dan’s journey in The Beast. The shock of my partner’s diagnosis was traumatic as we were completely ignorant about cancer. I spent the next couple of weeks educating myself by deep diving into various websites and any material about cancer I could get my hands on.
Our cancer journey has just begun and he is only into his second month of a six-month program of chemo and other drugs but is not coping too well with the side effects – back spasms, rashes and recently a ‘cardiac event’ for which he spent five days in hospital.
On top of all this we’ve been battling with the insurance company. If there are any lawyers reading this and have some spare time to help us out we would be very grateful.
My partner, like Dan, is a family man. Our family is just the two of us and our 17-month old little dog. My partner has always been happiest just to spend all of his time with us and our close family.
In the days after the diagnosis I used to wake up thinking it was all a bad dream, but now I’ve accepted our circumstances and we look forward to making the best of the remaining time we have.
Pardon me for stating the obvious, but you and Dan have done a gigantic community service by publishing Dan’s cancer journey. I’m an avid reader of The Beast magazine and always look forward to reading the next edition.
Have a happy, peaceful and restful Christmas and New Year. We all need a brother like you!
Channel the World’s Intelligence
Dear Madam/Sir – Imagine what could be possible if just a quarter of the world’s incredible collective intelligence was channelled into finding a way to remove excess greenhouse gases from the atmosphere instead of creating more and more ‘amazing’ digital technologies, computer games or big, flashy cars, or weapons of mass destruction. The barrier, of course, is greed – it will only happen if or when people in Australia, America, Europe, China and India are driven by the survival instinct instead of greed!
Save the Trees
Dear James – re DA402/2019 to Woollahra Council. Request to remove 661 trees. Tell the Royal Sydney Golf Club that you will not be supporting their DA to remove 661 mature trees!
The premise that the Royal Sydney Golf Club wants to convert to a ‘Links’ style course is something only a select few will utilise and no doubt there is a financial motive somewhere along the line. There always is.
I am amazed that anyone would even consider losing so many trees in this day and age. Um, have you noticed the (lack of) air quality lately?
We have just lost millions and millions of hectares of wilderness and trees in the east, the Amazon is burning and we have species of animals going extinct at the greatest rate of anywhere in the world. Need I remind anyone reading this that they are breathing because of trees?
Any decision to allow the removal of 661 trees is an act of ecocide. If you have children you are condoning the loss of their right to inherit a planet worth living on.
That golf course hosts numerous animals and bird life. They have a responsibility to protect these trees and the wildlife they support. The earth is not just a playground for select humans.
Mature trees are irreplaceable – ask any scientist. They provide shelter and coverage and stop soil erosion where young trees can’t and don’t.
This DA should be refused on the grounds of ecocide. We cannot continue to destroy nature and survive as a species.
Love From Your Readers
Dear James – I’m not sure you realise how diverse your readership is. Also, don’t solve any big questions in these early days. Everything is overwhelming and it’s a really full-on time of year. Sending you all love, from one of your youngest fans.
Helen & Evie
Your Brother Dan – Our Man
Dear James – I’m sure I’m one of hundreds, if not thousands, to write to you. Oh Boy. I have been reading The Beast for a few years now.
It’s Sunday, December 1, and I’ve just got The Beast out of the letter box and saw Dan on the cover. I went up to my apartment. I poured myself a ‘family size’ glass of Oyster Bay Sauv Blanc. I went out to the balcony with The Beast. I knew what was coming.
I’m so sad. I loved Dan’s writing (and yours too!), and though I never met him, in my funny little way I thought I did. That’s how much I love your ‘little mag’.
From a stranger, please send my wholehearted condolences to Georgie, the kids and your good self and family. I lost my best mate a few weeks ago. A tragic accident and I think about him and his family every day. Time will ease the pain but as you can imagine it’s a hard road.
I’m a selfish f… I was only telling someone the other day that I have O negative blood. I did go into the Hunter Street Red Cross about a year ago and donated plasma as I read it could save many lives. The Red Cross have contacted me on at least five occasions and have asked me to donate blood – not plasma – as everyone can have O negative blood (I think).
So, instead of being selfish, I’m making a commitment from this day on: Every month I will trek into Hunter Street to do my part. I urge all your readers to do the same. It’s the least we can do in Dan’s memory.
Keep up the great work in Dan’s honour and if you need a few dollars to keep The Beast alive don’t be shy asking your readers for a donation for The Beast or a fund for Georgie and the kids. I haven’t got much money but I’ll kick it off by donating $200. Yeah, I can go without my schooners at the CBH, The Cloey, The Surf Club and my bottles of Sauv Blanc and Shiraz for a day – sorry, a week! Stay strong my friend.
Wonder Trams Delivered and Paid For
Dear Marjorie and The Beast – Just to share my thoughts with you, and I hope many more, as a Randwick/Coogee resident.
Transport Minister Andrew Constance’s statement about the weekend tram services: “I apologise for the inconvenience to the passengers… but it was a super weekend (listen carefully) for trams!”
I bet trams enjoyed themselves. They are very privileged – their worth is $2.9 billion – to run the distance of not 150 kilometres but a miserly 15 kilometres, and now they actually could stretch their real limbs/wheels after waiting for so long as holograms. A wonderful Christmas present from our generous Santa Gladys!
By the way, Gladys, we wonder how you are going to pay for this $200 million/kilometre wonder? Yes, of course, sell the buses!
Try walking, it’s cheaper and healthier. Happy Christmas and a healthy new year!
Margy of Coogee
Dear Sir/Madam – I am writing to congratulate the above correspondent on her discernment of the true purpose of the enterprise, i.e. the minimisation of resources expended to deliver the maximum of resources to the self (An Idiotic Idea, Letters, The Beast, January 2020).
While this is perfectly acceptable in a privately owned enterprise it is absolutely infuriating in a bureaucracy, e.g. Randwick Council.
For those wondering why the UK voted to leave the EU, wonder no longer. I look forward to the day when Australia votes to leave Canberra.
Merry Christmas to all.
Response to Margy
Margy is mostly correct (An Idiotic Idea, Letters, The Beast, January 2020); Council has indeed launched a campaign to raise awareness that what goes down stormwater drains ends up at our beaches. Part of this campaign invites residents to ‘adopt’ a drain as a symbolic way to say they care about protecting our beaches from pollutants such as chemicals, paint and dog poo.
However, we ask that residents don’t try to clear drains themselves, as that would be unsafe. Randwick Council will continue to clean the drains, sweep streets and beaches and maintain the 35 gross pollutant traps that prevent larger items from entering the ocean.
To find out what small actions you can take to protect our beaches, please have a look at www.endbeachpollution.sydney.
Randwick City Council
Imagine if all the money that was being used to lock up refugees was being used to fight fires. Then we might be getting somewhere. At the time of writing, my son has evacuated with his partner from near Bega to somewhere where they will, we hope, be safe. Bermagui. We’ll see. Imagine if all the brain power used to distract us from the ‘threat’ of refugees had been used to reduce emissions. There’s a thought.
We protest, demonstrate for the decent treatment of refugees every Friday at 5pm at the Sydney Town Hall steps. Please join us. My number is 0451 509 232. There are 500 people still being held as political hostages by the Australian state, in PNG and on Nauru.
My dad was a refugee from Austria. Back in 1940. Welcomed by Aotearoa-New Zealand. He would be turning in his grave to see what Australia is doing. People not unlike my father paid with their lives for the 1951 United Nations Refugee Convention that Australia is violating every day.
Congratulations to the writer Behrouz Boochani who we held captive for 7 years. He got to New Zealand and has found freedom there, as my father did. We have to get the rest of Australia’s hostages free.
People are free to phone me on 0451 509 232. Well done with your excellent magazine.
Stephen Langford OT
(Order of Timor)
Happy Holidays? What a load of chunk
To Tina Harris of Bondi (Monthly mailbag, The Beast, January 2020), the grinch who is trying to steal Christmas!
Ms Harris has suggested to readers that the expression “Happy Holidays” is somehow “pleasantly secular (in that) it doesn’t discriminate to exclude a good chunk of the population”. Since when, I ask myself, is the greeting “Merry Christmas” discriminatory to anyone, let alone “a good chunk of the population”? I’d like to meet those chunk-sters and try it out on them.
This preposterous proposition of Tina’s is precisely what I refer to when I speak of political correctness going mad. Are Tina’s propositions evidence-based or are they poignantly parroted propositions borrowed from the mindless chatter of greenies huddled in incense infused cafes in Glebe or Newtown? (For Bondi locals, these are two suburbs west of Centennial Park, both devoid of a sea breeze but offering a wide and excellent variety of food).
So, if Tina’s proposition is correct and we can no longer wish each other a “Merry Christmas” for fear of offending and “discriminating” against the chunk-sters, what else must be chucked out the window? Clearly “Happy Easter” must go and the bunny must now return to its burrow, eggs and all.
The Tooth Fairy (sorry kids) must also go for fear of offending the toothless (now inadvertently part of the chunk set, though they won’t be smiling about it!). “Happy New Year” is a write-off for fear of discriminating against the Chinese. The otherwise happy Labour Day holiday is kaput for fear of offending the unemployed. “Happy Birthday”? Well you need to go too for fear of upsetting the chunk of women who don’t want anyone to know. And so the list goes on and the chunking class gets bigger and bigger.
But where will it all stop? That, I am afraid, is a question for the Office of Political Correctness. God help me!
Randwick Local Planning Panel
The best kept secret in Randwick in 2019: Randwick Council no longer approves housing development in Randwick, it is now approved by a small group known as the Randwick Local Planning Panel.
The panel normally has four members, but only one – the so-called ‘community representative’ – is a Randwick resident. Many of the other three panel members have current or past roles in the housing development sector. None of the panel is elected by the Randwick community and, despite the fact that Randwick ratepayers pay thousands of dollars per meeting to each of the members, the panel has no direct accountability to the Randwick community.
There are restrictions on seeking broader community views prior to consideration of development proposals and the only input is from directly impacted residents as part of the formal development process, so issues like over-development, lack of parking, pedestrian access and community transport options rarely get discussed at panel meetings.
I have been in the public sector most of my working life and negotiated with countries from all over the world, and my view is that the state government legislation that created this undemocratic system in 2018 would not be out of place in Russia or China.
So, recognising that the Randwick community has no say over development in Randwick, and having been outvoted when I tried to stand up for community issues, I resigned as one of the community representatives because I could not take the ratepayers’ money where it was not possible to represent their interests.
If this information comes as much as an unpleasant surprise to you as it did to me, contact your local state government representative and ask them to return the Randwick community’s voice on development in Randwick. If nothing else, tell others, because it would be nice if Randwick got control back of Randwick in 2020.
Kindness From Strangers
On a busy Monday morning commute on the X73 bus, I passed out and smashed my face on the way down to the floor. It was not a pretty sight and inconvenienced a whole lot of people struggling to get to work on a smoky Monday morning, heading to their corporate offices in the city.
I want to thank everyone on that bus for being so gracious and caring in my time of need. In particular I’d like to thank the beautiful humans Hamish, Jessica and her partner, who waited with me for the ubercool paramedics Jay Jay and Kate, plus the guy who ran around the corner at Bridge Street to the fruit seller and thought to buy me a bottle of water – unbelievably sweet. Grateful.
Bondi Icebergs Sauna
In 2019 the Bondi Icebergs Club was given a new lease until 2042 and so the club embarked on some much needed repairs and updates to the physical premises of the pool area. In the first phase the mens and womens bathroom were upgraded and in the second phase the café and sauna switched places. The club gave the café a new space about 400 per cent bigger than the old café. However, the new sauna is the same or marginally smaller than the old one. Instead of using the existing space to make a bigger sauna the club created a keg storage room next to the sauna which is actually being used as a closet to store cleaning supplies.
You may ask, “So what, why does this matter?” Well, unlike most other clubs, the Bondi Icebergs is meant to operate for the public benefit, as both the pool and the entire premises are located on Crown Land which is administered by the Bondi Baths Reserve Trust. It is the public who paid $1,151,855 in FY19 (as per the Icebergs Club Annual Report) for admission to the pool area and to use the facilities that the club has provided, which includes the sauna. The existence of the sauna is a clear public benefit. Making the sauna smaller and less usable is a significant reduction of this public benefit.
Almost everything done in the current facilities upgrades has been an improvement. The toilets and changing areas for both men and women are much better and very well designed. The new entrance, lifeguard room, larger café and walkway extension are great. Everything done in the current slate of upgrades has been an improvement, except for the new sauna.
The Icebergs sauna is a unique place. It is a melting pot of swimming members, casual swimmers, locals and visitors. It is a place where you meet people you might not otherwise interact with anywhere else. The sauna is very well used and is often standing room only on the weekends. The right move would have been to make a larger sauna when the opportunity was there. Unfortunately the club chose to prioritise making a new utility closet over making a bigger sauna. This is a bad result for both the club and the paying public.