The Beast’s Monthly Mailbag
A Fact Check For Our Local Member
Dear Editor – I read James Hutton’s interview with Dave Sharma in the February 2020 edition of The Beast with great interest, and in particular his attempt to explain away Scott Morrison’s announcement, made prior to the October 2018 Wentworth by-election, that the government would be moving the Australian embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, and further Mr Sharma’s attempt to rewrite the historical record associated with that shameful and incompetent piece of “policy”. I have a clear recollection of the announcement, the timing of it, and the reporting of it, and the fallout from it, and it differs from Mr Sharma’s. Indeed, a reading of the media reports available online by The Guardian, the ABC, the Sydney Morning Herald and The Conversation after the announcement confirms the correctness of my recollection. There is no mention anywhere of Cabinet approving this “policy” change. That is because that did not happen, contrary to Mr Sharma’s assertion in the interview.
The terms of the announcement showed that Scott Morrison had no idea of the ramifications of it. It was clearly made in an ignorant hamfisted attempt to woo what the author of the announcement saw, in his ignorance, as the “Jewish vote” in this electorate. No one can seriously argue otherwise. What was particularly insulting and problematic about this whole episode was the assumption that all Jews think alike; that all of the Jewish voters in Wentworth are one bloc that would shout “Hooray” and vote Liberal because of this “policy”.
Again, this time at the hands of Scott Morrison, we saw a particular group in our society reduced to an ethnic or cultural stereotype in what was really, at the bottom of it all, a piece of subtle, perhaps unintended, and deep rooted anti-Semitism. The equivalent of recent times in the USA has been Donald Trump’s recent suggestion to an American Jewish audience that Benjamin Netanyahu is “Your Prime Minister.” Both Trump and Morrison assume that the “Jewish vote” is something motivated by matters outside of nationality, i.e. American or Australian, and that Jews are a group who cannot be entirely trusted, have loyalties elsewhere that are more important than those of nationality and who are best thought of as a group to be manipulated en masse for short-term political ends. Putting it more bluntly, the thought behind the policy announcement was on the same level as assertions that all Muslims are terrorist sympathisers.
As well, the announcement was made a few days before the by-election date (held on the Sabbath), after pre-poll and postal votes had been made by many Wentworth voters, including no doubt some of the ones assumed by Mr Morrison to vote in a local by-election on this kind of “policy” ground.
The first announcement was not even the end of it. The nonsense emanating from the government continued in December 2018 when Morrison, in an attempt to cure the stupidity of the first announcement, doubled down and announced Australia’s recognition of “West Jerusalem” as Israel’s capital. In so doing he recognised something that isn’t anyone’s policy, including that of the State of Israel. Mr Sharma’s memory is faulty, because he omitted in the interview to properly describe the text of the second announcement. Instead Mr Sharma referred to “Jerusalem”.
Mr Sharma’s statement in the interview that it’s “a complex discussion to have” is clearly correct. When he gets on top of the facts and all the issues himself, then no doubt he can attempt to have a reasonable and rational conversation about it with the prime minister. It will only be an attempt of course, because given what has come from the prime minister to date, Mr Sharma is wasting his time.
I suggest he and Scott Morrison leave the issue to DFAT and the foreign minister, who I believe counsel doing nothing, and staying clear of it as an issue, which is, frankly, very wise.
In response to Dr Marjorie O’Neill’s article (Better Public Transport – Is the Answer Beneath Our Feet?, The Beast February 2020), I’d like to respond with a resounding, “Hell, yes!”. The light rail from Randwick to the CBD has been an unmitigated failure. Modern mass transit needs to deliver multiple outcomes – efficiency, speed, reduced traffic volumes, environmental benefits – and the light rail has barely ticked any of these boxes.
I’m a long-time North Bondi resident. When I take public transport into the CBD the bus from the North Bondi depot to Bondi Junction station – a 4 kilometre route – takes 35 minutes in peak hour traffic. The second part of the journey, from Bondi Junction to Martin Place – a 6 kilometre route by underground rail – takes only 11 minutes. Extending the rail line to Bondi Beach, North Bondi and beyond would cut down my 46 minute commute to approximately 18 minutes. It would also take buses off the road, easing congestion on both Bondi Road and Old South Head Road, and provide a positive environmental impact. The idea of putting light rail down Bondi Road is ridiculous – it will only further congest Old South Head Road, which is already impossible at peak hours. With more high density building proposals being approved in the east, congestion will only increase. The pressure valve needs to be released with some bold thinking and commitments. The only solution is going underground.
Having lived overseas for over 16 years and travelled extensively, it is clear that Sydney is very far from being able to call itself a world class city until it has the transport infrastructure to match that status. London, New York, Paris, Hong Kong, Tokyo… these truly world-class cities have extensive underground rail systems that take vehicles off the road and make commuting genuinely efficient and rapid for users.
Our state and federal governments need to abandon the short-termism currently influencing policy decisions and find the courage to invest in long-term infrastructure projects, embracing true legacy-making policies for the benefit of communities and the planet. Marjorie O’Neill: tell us what it will take to turn this idea into a movement. You will find many of us ready to back you up!
Better Public Transport
Dr Marjorie O’Neill’s article on public transport in the February Beast didn’t seem to elicit the response it should have. At last, a local politician has dared to open this conversation again. An extended underground network is a no-brainer for the area.
Anyone who has waited for a bus at Bondi Junction in peak hour, or tried to catch a bus from Bondi Beach on a sunny summer afternoon and have given up waiting and started walking, should realise how necessary this is. Those on the roads at peak hours should think the same.
Having seen what a disaster the new tram line has been, in terms of cost overruns and delays, all the NIMBYs and nay-sayers who have stymied similar plans in the past may start to reconsider underground mass transit in the east. Clearly some of those locals are terrified that their sacred soil will be overrun by tourists and bogans if we extend the rail system, but it already is overrun, with most of those arriving by bus or car, further adding to pollution, congestion and parking problems.
Governments need to look one hundred years or more ahead, spend the huge amount of money it will cost, and build a network for the future.
Freedom For Dogs vs
Freedom From Dogs
The law banning dogs from the Tamarama and Mackenzies rock platform has long been a bit of a joke to those people who disregard it until there is a realistic chance of punishment.
Now there’s a grassroots push to have the law changed because they want to keep using it as a Doggy Water World and not get in trouble, “It’s just the place for lots more unleashed dogs and should be the start of more to come!”
People don’t need these proposed spaces, they want them. It’s obvious plenty of people around here need public spaces to exercise their dog, but they don’t need to take their dog to a beach or rock platform, they just want to, and that’s different.
The law banning dogs from Mackenzies has been very publicly in place for ages. It’s not like something that was once their right has been taken from them.
In my opinion, those who think it would be a good thing to lift the dog ban at Mackenzies ought to consider what’s so special about that area. It contains a rare and complex ecosystem in a stunning setting; that’s why there are laws to protect it. For Mr Faulks to suggest those laws and their enforcement are part of, in his words, “the over-regulation in public spaces,” is a trivialisation of the value of such ecosystems.
If Mackenzies is to be a “haven”, it should be for the following: native biota and people who respect it, whether they’re folk who are totally fed up with some of the dog owners we get around here or not. There’s people doing the wrong thing with unleashed dogs all over the place and we have to deal with their turds. Our seashore should provide respite from this and other irritants of city life.
Mackenzies is not “out of the road”, as Miss Ballhausen asserted. It’s part of the shoreline of a densely populated region that’s very close to the city centre. It’s in full view of the coastal walk and beckons as a wonderful detour for walkers who are agile enough. If she’s referring to its lack of paved access she’s merely highlighting a factor that’s been exploited by lawbreakers wanting to avoid punishment.
Cafés and pubs that now welcome dogs are catering to a section of society for their own reasons. Good on them if they do this responsibly and considerately. To associate that trend with the future of Waverley’s beaches and rock platforms is, to me, both far-fetched and downright vulgar – the widespread respect that should be shown to these places is long overdue.
My favourite Sculpture by the Sea is the Tamarama and Mackenzies coastline, and Council needs to step up to its responsibility for the protection and survival of that area. It should be a tranquil place where people can unplug and unwind; where families with little children can safely enjoy the pools at low tide and discover the wonders of nature within them. It should be free from barking and balls being chucked, and free from dogs hassling the rock pool organisms and birds. The complete ban on dogs in that area needs to remain and be observed.
This is not an issue “between dog likers and dog dislikers”; this is about the management of a very special place. If Waverley Council finds the enforcement of this ban financially onerous they should be aided by other government bodies. That coastline is not just for the benefit of local residents; it’s also for other Sydneysiders and visitors to what is considered by many to be the world’s most naturally blessed city.
(no relation to Ray)
Hi James – Ho hum, another attempt to have Mackenzies Bay declared a dog off-leash area. A very small area with limited parking, popular for many forms of recreation, especially for children.
With its recent transient beach (now washed away by storms), dog owners pretty much took over the sand. I am not complaining about that but I wonder how big the canine throng would have been had Josh Faulks’ proposal (Freedom for Dogs vs Freedom From Dogs, The Beast, March 2020) been operative. “Every man and his dog would be there,” comes to mind but is probably now PC unacceptable. My guess is that the canine invasion of the beach caused an incident which triggered the council ranger’s interest.
Mr Faulks asserts that if Mackenzies Bay is “signposted well [as a dog friendly area] then all residents know and they can be safer with the proper protocols in place”. The “protocols” are not specified, nor is the manner of enforcement. How residents would be safer is a mystery to me. Is he concerned that they are now in danger?
The fact is that council rangers have for many years exercised a blind eye discretion in the area while retaining the right, when circumstances make it appropriate, to enforce the on-leash requirement. It has worked pretty well for many years.
An old saying is, “Let sleeping dogs lie.” Should the off-leash proposal succeed, it is my guess that those who now take their dogs there will end up resenting the resultant increase in paddling pooches whose owners, thanks to social media, will know that it has become open slather.
Deal With Your Shit
To my urban compatriots, lovers of the canine – Dogs are the best, and smart, one of the most successful species currently thriving on the planet. They have evolved over 20,000 years and ensured their survival by hitching their wagon to the human species, an ancient partnership.
Dogs really seem to get us, and the feeling is mutual. Out walking, people greet my dog, a warm hello. There is an awkward silence, who were they waiting to reply? But I’m delighted that a connection has been made.
Dogs are a wonderful social prop. Anywhere and everywhere we go, conversations are struck and meaningful, knowing glances shared. And with them, my two hounds, we explore the best that Sydney and the east have to offer. Outside, parkside and beachside, everyone is smiling. It’s the best of times.
But all dog owners share a dirty little secret. No, no one wants to talk about it or acknowledge it, but it’s there and, more and more, I am seeing abandoned little, and not so little, piles of it left forlorn, on soccer fields and sidewalks. Some of the more obnoxious ones are right there in sight of everyone, baking in the Sydney sun.
Time out walking is now spent pondering. Is there a correlation between the proliferation of the cross poodle breeds and the steady increase of unclaimed waste? Is it a Groodle thing? An entitlement thing? Are we awaiting some fabulous app to be invented to come and do the dirty work for us? Uber-scoops? Something I would use, but doesn’t exist as yet.
It seems that someone out there – and you know who you are – was looking the other way when they shouldn’t have been, and they are going to ruin the ride for everyone. We would hate to have these beautiful spaces made off limits to us or monitored more heavily.
New South Wales is under a stranglehold of legislation and restrictions. By the time you have read all of the rules on the sign at the beach or park, your meter is up. Plus, there is the anti-dog brigade, chaired, I suspect, by the person whose house overlooks my local park, has the ranger on speed dial and is itching to bust any unrestrained frolickers. Fair enough, there are plenty of Sydneysiders who, incredibly, don’t ‘get’ dogs. Let’s not give them any more reasons not to.
It is obvious from the landmines that there are all sorts out there and this is not an opportunity to groodle or oodle blame in general, but lovers, please take care of your belongings, and by this, if I must spell it out for you, I mean ‘deal with your shit’ in the appropriate way with the provided bag and bin.
So, a plea: our walkies are in your hands. My fur-babies and I beseech you to lift your game. Now get out there and enjoy this goddam beautiful city.
Coogee Oval, What Next?
Every time I take a morning walk along Dolphin Street to the Coogee seaside, I look into the beautiful and special expanse of space that is Coogee Oval. It’s distressing to look through tall, dark metal fencing that has replaced the traditional short, white picket fence
I would assume that the metal fencing is to be clad shortly in a dark, heavy canvas-like material that is to remain for most of the winter to prevent people looking into the oval, as was the case last year. Obviously Randwick Rugby need, and deserve, the gate receipts they can only get if the oval is obstructed from outside view on match days, but why is the oval cordoned off so offensively and for such a long period of winter? Are there smart administrators out there capable of devising an acceptable solution?
Derrieres on Display
I am a Boomer. Yes, I admit it. I have lived through the 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s, when women commonly went topless on beaches in Australia. No big deal. Really, no big deal. I have also always lived near beaches.
I raise this because fashions change. You will very rarely see a woman topless on a beach today. Okay, fair enough, instead you will see bum cheeks all over the place. Okay, again, fair enough (OK Boomer!). But recently, while innocently walking a neighbour’s dog on a public street, I was intrigued to see (but not stare at!) two girls walking with their derrieres on display for the world to see.
When beach toplessness was a thing you would never see a woman walking on the street with her breasts uncovered – that was for the beach – so why is it now okay for bums to be on display on the street? I dread to think about them being on a bus, either sweaty and sitting on a bus seat or, worse still, standing with their bare rear ends in the faces of seated passengers.
At times, one of Sydney’s latte drinking lefties sits in a Coogee café, looks out to sea and fights the feelings of Schadenfreude. He cannot find pleasure (freude) in other people’s misfortune (schaden). Still, he wonders why nature treats global warming denying Liberal voters particularly beastly.
In recent months, Liberal voters seem to suffer disproportionately from global warming. While their hero is holidaying in Hawaii, faithful National and Liberal voters in regional New South Wales suffered from so-called “never-seen-before” bushfires. Is this the new normal or the downward spiral of global warming’s death and destruction?
Only a short while after the bushfires, even English newspapers reported about their Liberal counterparts suffering from “relentless waves washing away 25 metres of sand and threatening to swallow million-dollar mansions on Sydney’s Northern Beaches”. Nature was hitting another heartland of the Liberal Party.
Finally, on another stronghold of Liberal voters, we read, “Queensland: flooding in the south-east as north braces for record heat wave”. And now global warming hits their mates in the Hunter Valley too, where wine growers suffer from bushfire related “smoke taint”. It damages grapes. One winegrower even said, “We pulled the pin on a vintage,” while Bruce Tyrrell of Tyrrell’s Wines stated, “This year we lost 80 per cent of our crop.”
Deeply lost in thoughts of what is going to come in decades of worsening global warming, the mysterious inner-Coogee lefty Thomas sips on his Chardonnay, looks out to sea and ponders, “Why does nature punish our global warming denying Liberal voters so viciously?”
The Mysterious Thomas
Don’t Judge Me – a Poem
If you follow the legs to their tops, There’s a line where bum starts and leg stops.
Now, it’s never been ruled on by courts, But traditionally covered by shorts.
At the beach, girls of all shapes and classes, Have bikini pants threaded up arses.
Designers make trims and make tweaks, To the point now of unadorned cheeks.
Now, my own horse is not very high, There’s no doubt that this look draws my eye.
But are girls with their pants in their hole, Saying, “Please judge my mind and my soul”?
My outfit may be string and mesh, But how dare you just see me as flesh?!