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Letters December 2016

By Dan Hutton on December 15, 2016 in Other

Illustration: Dalton Wills

Illustration: Dalton Wills

NOT AMUSED BY SCHADENFREUDE

I read the interview of John Gannon from Maroubra (Local Bloke, The Beast, November 2016), and was shocked by his comment about his favourite thing: recently seeing two cyclists fall off their bikes. At the end of the interview, he states that his wisdom to pass on is to be kind. What is kind about enjoying seeing cyclists fall off their bikes? Cycling around the Eastern Suburbs is quite perilous and they are vulnerable in traffic. Everyone needs to be bike aware and give them one-metre clearance. I think he should swap his weekend beers for a good, healthy bike ride to get a better perspective of how hard riding really is, instead of being such a jerk.

Thanks,
Martha Birch, Clovelly

NOT HAPPY, JOHN

In his profile piece last month, John Gannon said that his favourite thing about the Eastern Suburbs was seeing two cyclists come off their bikes in the last month!

John thinks that it is a good idea to be fit and doesn’t like the traffic in the Eastern Suburbs. The traffic will only get worse if people don’t take up cycling for local trips, and cycling certainly assists fitness. The last thing he says is: “The only words of wisdom I have are always be kind.”

Respect for others, including cyclists on roads and sympathy for their misfortunes, would be an extension of his own values of fitness and kindness.

Sue Tracey, Randwick

BONDI DREAMING

I am so glad to be able read your wonderful magazine from abroad in the UK where I now live.

I miss the Eastern Suburbs and the people. Although I do get to visit once in a while it’s not the same as living there.

Having said this, I do live in a beautiful, unspoiled part of Wales, UK – Mumbles village, gateway to Gower Penninsula, Britain’s first ever listed Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

But, it’s not Bondi with ‘The Office’, ‘The Temple’, and other (unofficially named) spots where a few select local pals meet for a morning yarn, stretch and swim.

The one thing I am still grateful for is that when I do, on occasion, visit, my old buddies are still there in the original time frame that we always met.

Reading The Beast reminds me of happy times spent living at ‘Surfside Six’, right opposite the Bergs and, of course, the beach!

Lisanne Beck, Swansea, Old South Wales

KEEP THE BRONTE BUS STOPS

The Macpherson Street, Bronte bus stop should be kept to service the needs of those – although there aren’t many of us – who catch public transport to work. It is nice to have a shelter to protect us from sun and rain. It’s even nicer to reflect on people who would have used the shelter years ago when waiting for the tram. The DA proposing it be sacrificed in favour of a driveway for a new development is plain rude.

Bronte is becoming a gated community. No street frontages left. No chats with neighbours. Just imposing walls and remote controlled garage doors keeping people safe from the risk of interacting with anyone.

All the new developments make it painfully obvious the residents have no interest in what goes on beyond their walls – all the swimming pools underline this point.

Anonymous, Bronte

TRAIN TO BONDI A GOOD IDEA

I refer to Sidonie Roberts’ letter (Bondi Needs Saving From Michael Caton, Letters, The Beast, October 2016) on the protests in the late 90s that stopped a rail link between Bondi Junction and Bondi Beach.

On my daily commute I often think of those anti-rail protesters and how they ’saved’ us from that rail link. I think of them as my bus makes its slow, agonising crawl up a gridlocked Bondi Road. I think of the hour I could’ve saved every day with a rail link; time I’d rather spend with my family, instead of being stuck on a bus. I wonder if those actors/artists/singers who protested the rail link have to negotiate the same peak hour traffic I do. Do they have nine-to-five jobs in the city they need to get to? Probably not!

In the late 90s, when I questioned anti-rail protestors on their motives, the most commonly expressed response was: “Keep the Westies out!”. That is, make a trip to/from Bondi Beach as hellish as possible so that outsiders would never return (such noble, high-minded sentiment!). Well, guess what? They’re coming anyway! However, instead of arriving via an efficient, environmentally friendly form of public transport, they’re arriving by car. Blocking our streets and driveways. Great result protestors!

Organisations like the Bondi Beach Precinct exist ostensibly to serve the interests of local residents. In reality they seek to keep Bondi Beach in some sort of 1950s time warp.

For decades Bondi Beach residents have had to go to the Junction to shop at a Coles or Woolies. In 2013, when it was announced that the Pacific Bondi development would contain one of the two major grocery chains, I like many others welcomed the amenity and walkability of buying groceries locally.

However, the Bondi Beach Precinct had other ideas. They opposed the proposal and a 2500 signature petition was organised to stop it. The local Labor councillor, Cr. John Wakefield, supported the petition.

According to our precinct leaders, residents must be denied the chance to shop at a local Woolies/Coles as it would ruin the mythical utopian ideal of Bondi Beach only they understood.

No, we must be frog marched into cars, or packed into buses, and then wait patiently on gridlocked streets to get to the Coles/Woolies in the Junction. Like on many other issues, the precinct’s archaic vision was paramount and the amenity of local residents comes last.

Thankfully sanity prevailed and Bondi Beach now has a Woolworths, which has been a big hit. Has the availability of reasonably priced groceries led to the ruination of Bondi Beach as forecast? Methinks not! It would be interesting to know if the leaders of the Bondi Beach Precinct shop at the new Woolworths? Probably!

Sanity will also eventually prevail regarding the rail link (heavy or light). The local precinct and NIMBYs can whinge all they want. However, in a city that is adding a million to its population every 10 years, logic and the broader public interest must eventually win out. It may be decades late, but it will eventually win out.

Thomas Aspland, Bondi Beach

BITTER ABOUT KALE

I went to my local health shop and I tried to do the right thing and ask for advice on a ‘healthy’ alternative to stay awake during the day to study. As I’m not a coffee or tea drinker I’ve found that drinking Coca-Cola isn’t sustainable. I explained to the shopkeeper my predicament of not drinking hot drinks and having a sweet tooth. She recommended a green powder, which I was hesitant about due to past experiences of disgusting kale tasting powder supplements. I suggested a tastier acai powder, as I know I like the juice. I was told there was no opportunity to have a taste and was firmly recommended the green stuff, and reassured it would taste great and give me the pick me up I desired. I was advised I could drink it warm and not hot.

To my horror I got home, tasted the warm drink and spat it back out. When I emailed my disappointment to the company I was told to Google some recipe options to accommodate my sweet tooth as it was a bitter product.

If I had been told it was bitter when I asked what it tasted like I would never have bought it and would have gone for the sweeter acai option.

Perhaps staff need to listen to customer needs before flogging off the wrong product, which they will not like. Companies should also reconsider the way they deal with customer complaints and remember without customers they don’t have a business.

Stressed Sweet Tooth (no address provided)

THINK OF THE KIDS

It is true there are an increasing number of children in the Bondi area as Mark Hersey says (Underground, Overground, Wombling Free, Letters, The Beast, November 2016). I am bringing up two young children in a unit. We could move further out to get a bigger place, but we prefer the amenity of living in the Eastern Suburbs, and wish to remain close to family and friends. Public recreation areas act as our backyard, as they must for children growing up in units.

I think it would be great to make Bondi Park bigger. I take my children to the promenade frequently, where they enjoy riding their tricycles and scooters. At times, when the promenade is congested, it can be unsafe for small children, especially with joggers insisting on running too fast. It would be great if the aboveground car park were given over to pedestrians; there’d be more room and it would be safer for children. If the only way to achieve that is to put the car park underground, then it should be considered.

Mr. Hersey mentions that local primary schools are at 140 per cent capacity. It is essential that the Department of Education recognises this area has an increasing number of children who need school places. The work being done to expand Bellevue Hill Primary School is a good start. However, the current overcapacity in primary schools will naturally flow onto senior schools. Is anything being done to expand government high school places locally? They need to look at that as well.

It was very short sighted of the Carr government to close down Vaucluse High School. Why does the north shore have a good mix of government and private high schools, yet the Eastern Suburbs is almost all private high schools? Many local parents will struggle to pay private school fees. Also, some parents would prefer to send their children to a secular school rather than a religious one. I know of local families who’ve moved to the north shore just so their children can get into a good government high school. The saving in school fees can be $20,000 to $30,000 a year.

Finally, the increasing number of local children shows why it is essential that Bondi Pavilion is kept as a community facility. We have more than enough restaurants and cafes. I was brought up in a house with a backyard and took it for granted that I could do various activities at home such as painting or playing musical instruments with friends. Many of these activities are not possible for children living in cramped units.

The Pavilion should be the place where we can take our kids after school, or on weekends, to do the activities they can’t do at home. I understand Council wants the Pavilion to pay for itself, however some things are more important than money. We’ve already lost the Hakoah Club as a local community facility, surely not the Pavilion too.

I read there are many creative minds coming up with imaginative ways to reactivate the Pavilion as a vibrant community facility. Whilst the Pavilion has to cater for many needs, above all it should cater for local children and teenagers. It should be an artistic creative hub that energises and inspires generations of children. We already have a high-class restaurant over the water. It’s called the Icebergs. There is more to life than catering for the rich!
Due to our higher density living we must retain what public community spaces we have (Pavilion) and expand them where possible (Bondi Park). Makeover not takeover!

Caroline Beaumont, Bondi Beach

MISINFORMATION ABOUT UNDERGROUND CAR PARK

It is revealing to see the outrageous lengths that car park advocates will go to, doing the developer’s work for them and trying to make the case for an expensive and unnecessary underground car park at Bondi Beach. The proposal will rob beach users of over 100 parking spaces for a mere “15 per cent more green and recreation space”*. Claims that you’ll get twice as much grass and trees are simply untrue. These are the facts, but please don’t take my word for it, go to Waverley Council’s website and check out their Bondi Park, Beach and Pavilion Plan of Management and Master Plan Vehicle Parking and Movement Study Investigation of Parking Options (GTA Consultants and CM) and fact sheets, it’s all there. Mark Hersey and others who seek to muddy the waters and to mislead readers on this issue need to refer directly to these documents and stop making stuff up.

The Queen Elizabeth Drive (QED) – The QED will be replaced by a service road. Will you be able set up your Esky and a deck chair on it? No, it will be a service road, accessed by council trucks, police, ambulances, special events vehicles, as well as potentially servicing a taxi rank. Mark Hersey needs to look at the GTA report and tell everyone where his “tree-shaded pedestrian promenade” (replacing the QED) comes from; this is pure fantasy.

The Feasibility Study – Waverley’s Liberal councillors voted in the $100,000 feasibility study after receiving the results of their latest community consultation, which showed conclusively that respondents had overwhelmingly rejected the underground car park proposal. Democracy, eh? As for the feasibility study, if we’ve learnt anything from the Yes, Minister TV series, it’s that no government undertakes a study that they don’t already know the result of!

No Lifts Required? – Common sense dictates that the slope behind Bondi Pavilion is not steep enough to house a large underground car park that is “directly accessible by foot” as some have suggested. The Redleaf Pool car park comparison is hardly valid, as it is a much smaller facility, on a steep slope, of which some 20 spots require Council employees to park each other in. Comparisons with similar car parks suggest that such a facility would definitely need to have a lift and would require the digging of a massive trench, at least 150 metres long, 50 metres wide and nine metres deep.

Trees – The excavation would necessitate the removal of nearly every mature tree behind the Pavilion and the surf club. If we’ve learnt anything from the Anzac Parade debacle, it’s that people don’t like seeing their trees being turned into woodchips; trees are not simply interchangeable. In any case, any new trees would have to be planted around the exhaust stacks. Nice thought, huh?

Security – In their report, GTA consultants have identified police safety concerns that need to be resolved. Ask yourself, if you were a woman, how would you feel about getting changed in a dark corner of an underground car park? Or being in a lift in your bikini surrounded by a bunch of leery blokes? Simply put, people behave differently when they think they can’t be seen. Children would be at risk from impatient drivers desperately trying to find a spot in an under lit, confined environment, while you’re struggling to gather all your beach gear from the car.

Flood risk – Is there a flooding risk for an underground car park at Bondi? I would draw the reader’s attention to Waverley Council’s Coastal Risks and Hazards Vunerability Study, pages 72-77. Note the red bits where the underground car park would be located on Figure 4.15. Sure, we’re talking about a one in 100 year event, but then again, those residents at Collaroy didn’t think that their in-ground swimming pool would end up on the beach either.

The Bondi Pavilion – Waverley Council’s deeply unpopular $38 million Pavilion upgrade plans are inextricably linked to the car park proposal. Recently they have come up against a brick wall (and a Green Ban) of community resistance. The GTA report identifies “Pavilion through access” as a heritage issue, which needs to be addressed. This refers to the huge walkway that plans show will be punched through the middle of the Pavilion, wiping out the amphitheatre and the Flickerfest event, in order to facilitate access from the underground car park to the beach, at considerable expense. Where is the money for all these boutique projects supposed to come from?

Construction problems: GTA consultants have identified ease of construction of the car park as being one of the major drawbacks of the proposal. Substantial engineering challenges would have to be overcome, not the least of which is building the structure into the water table. This was a significant issue when constructing the underground car park (on higher land) at the nearby Pacific development, leading to increased costs.

Efficiency: Will it work well? Traffic flow in and out of an underground car park would be much slower than the present arrangement, clogging up Campbell Parade, a problem identified by GTA. Imagine the chaos when, for example, a southerly buster hits the beach and everyone runs for their cars. Many of us are time poor and like to squeeze in a quick visit to the beach before work, so every minute counts. Realistically, any estimate of the time taken to access the beach from the proposed underground car park must include the time taken to enter and park at such a facility, then to exit through the lift and traverse through the Pavilion, only then to be able to walk to the end of the beach that you choose to access. It is clearly not just a matter of walking from the rear of the Pavilion to the front of the Pavilion. This will also discriminate against parents of young children who usually prefer the northern end of the beach.

Cost: Based on 2012 calculations, GTA consultants estimated that it would cost a minimum of $30 million (and this figure doesn’t include a range of costs such as engineering or geo-technical work), with the money to be mostly raised from parking revenues (i.e. they’re going to gouge beach users for the money; if you think parking at Bondi is expensive now, well… ). Resident parking permits were identified as being problematic, as local residents like to use the beach (funny that), so look out Waverley ratepayers! There is no doubt that this $30 million figure would be much higher now.

This is a bad idea and not supported in the local area. You want to take your elderly parents or a disabled friend down to see the sea at Bondi? You might need to go to Clovelly instead. No amount of misinformation and gratuitous motherhood statements about where the children will play can disguise the many problems with this proposal.

* Waverley Council Fact Sheet, August 2014

Andrew Worssam, Bondi

THE SAD REALITY

The sad reality of Mark Hersey’s criticism of published arguments against the proposed closure of Queen Elizabeth Drive (QED) and the construction of an underground car park behind the Bondi Pavilion is his failure to be factual.
He selectively quoted Council Fact Sheets where it suited his case. Those same facts sheets predict only a resultant 15 per cent increase in green and recreation space, yet he scathingly attacked that 15 per cent as a “claim” when used in those arguments as though the figure was plucked from the air. Then, again despite of the Fact Sheets, he suggests that the effect of closing QED would be to “double the size” of the park (Wentworth Courier, 19 October).

He twice suggests to your readers that a one to two-storey car park is envisaged, whereas the Fact Sheet states: “An underground car park of approximately two to three-storeys would be built”. Next, contrary to the diagram contained in the Council Fact Sheet, he suggests that the car park could be accessible by foot as per the small Redleaf Pool car park. It will be underground with more than 10 times the capacity of that at Redleaf, a non surfing location, and the reality is that people would need to navigate to and from the bowels of the car park via walkways, stairs and certainly lifts.

Mr. Hersey quoted a correspondent, Andrew Worssam, as follows: “Getting in and out of an underground car park could add 20 minutes…” but misleadingly omitted the qualifying “to a quick morning surf or exercise session at the southern end” and poured scorn upon the suggestion, saying: “We are talking about a minute or two either side. Seriously, is that really going to ruin one’s day at the beach?” He also left out the fact that the quote referred to those who shoehorn in an early surf or exercise session before school or work, not near the car park, but at the distant south end. To those beach users time is of significance.

Mr. Hersey asked me to explain my “alarming comment” that the car park would be a hazardous and unsavoury place, however he omitted my words: “especially for the growing number of female surfers who change in and out of their wetsuits alongside their cars”. Leaving aside the obvious, I refer to the report to Council by GTA consultants who listed as a disadvantage “Police concerns regarding safety/security of underground parking to be resolved”. If the police have concerns, so should the community.

He suggested that “a few regular locals” are seeking to impede the proposal. GTA note in their report that Council estimated that cars parked in QED 575,144 times during 2012, of which 457,583 had beach parking permits, which I assume were predominately purchased by more than “just a few” regulars. GTA also observed to the effect that drivers preferred parking close to the beach (i.e. on QED), and that the historical arrangement was for the parked cars to be facing the beach. This arrangement of course favours the elderly and infirm who wish to view the beach from or beside their or a carer’s car. It also favours those who wish to check the conditions prior to deciding whether or not to swim or surf.

A visit to the beach even shortly after sunrise on any reasonable week day discloses a surprisingly large number of beach and park users who enjoy the facility of parking proximate to their preferred area of healthy activity in the limited time available before their work/school commitments drag them away. It is not “just a few regulars”. They should not be discouraged by the introduction of an inconvenient parking regime.

I have no problem with pros and cons being put, however your readers do deserve to be provided with the truth.
Being 75 years of age it is unlikely that any such car park will be completed whilst I am still active. My concern is for the generations who would be denied the level of enjoyment that Bondi has provided me and many thousands over the years.

I might add that the consultants informed that, in 2012 terms, it would cost about $30 million. The history of public-funded projects tells us to expect major blowouts in cost estimates, especially dated estimates. Those regulars who constitute some 80 per cent of the parking numbers in QED might prefer the $30 million-plus of rate payer revenue not be wasted on a project that would reduce their available car spaces by more than 100 and also would add to the parking miseries of nearby residents.

Greg Maidment, Bronte

YOUR COUNCIL AT WORK

Regardless of what you think of the merits of either an underground car park or a renovated Bondi Pavilion, you should think twice if you believe it will be done efficiently or cheaply. Case in point is the footpath that connects Penkivil Street and New Street. It’s a 90-metre path that lets people either walking or cycling up to Bondi Junction go directly rather than walk up Old South Head or Bondi Roads, and it’s really popular in the mornings and evenings. For whatever reason, Waverley Council decided to replace the footpath (even though the state of the footpath was not much different to the kilometres of footpath leading there and the kilometres of footpath leading away from there) and stick in a few new shrubs.

So you would think that replacing 100 metres of footpath is a relatively painless and quick process. Think again. The footpath was fenced off for around six weeks and finally completed a few weeks after that, and the cost was $280,000.
I’m not an engineer and I thought that was a lot, so Dr. Google helped me. Apparently laying 200 square metres (approximately the 90-metre length by two-metre width) of driveway is going to cost you $15,000. And even neighbouring Botany Council has a gazetted cost for 200 square metres of footpath of $30,000. Add in a few shrubs and you might spend another $5,000. A long way away from $280,000.

So unless something is not what it seems, Council appears to be able to overspend by a factor of five on simple tasks. And they can’t even do it quickly. If you want any further evidence, just look at the cost and time to completions for things like the toilets at North Bondi, or landscaping at the beach, or any of the children’s park refurbishments. Do you trust them to do more than $5 million of work?

Campbell Dawson, Bondi

CONTAINER SCHEME ENVIRONMENTAL VANDALISM

The June issue of The Beast (page 36) shows a picture of Liberal state politician Bruce Notley-Smith holding three pieces of litter. The headline reads, ‘Container Scheme Set to Keep the Eastern Beaches Beautiful’. The electioneering picture of the litter-holding politician comes with the hidden transcript: ‘I am an environmentalist’. Thankfully, the picture remains undisturbed by Mr Notley-Smith’s very own state chainsaw massacre gang cutting down well above three hundred magnificent trees about three miles up the road. This is a level of hypocrisy only a politician can muster.

The state’s tree cutting location in Randwick marks the place where the Liberal government’s environmental wreckage annihilates anything in its path to make way for a 19th century transport (non) solution – an inner-city train with mostly ‘standing room only’ – for a 21st century transport problem. It is for the ‘light rail’ – perhaps called ‘light’ because it is light on urban planning and strategy.

The two bottles and one can of Coke in Notley-Smith’s picture look surprisingly unspoilt. Is this an indication that they were simply ‘picture prop’ purchased quickly in a bottle shop up the road? Alternatively, they can’t have been lying around for long at Coogee Beach, showing not a single scratch, no labels torn off, nothing! In this case, it is perhaps an indication of Randwick Council’s tireless – and often rather unthanked – work to keep Coogee Beach clean. Something the council does with great success.

Strangely it is not the Liberal Party’s favourite ideological hobbyhorse of the ‘free market’ that cleans up Coogee Beach. Instead, it is the taxpayer funded early morning tractor and the handiwork of council workers that keeps the place liveable. But these are things the neo-liberal ideology of Mr Notley-Smith’s political party rejects. Instead, it favours tax cuts (lots for the rich and some for the poor), remains staunchly anti-environmentalist, supports rampant deregulation, seeks the reduction of state provisions wherever possible and even plans the elimination of Randwick Council altogether. Politically, Mr Notley-Smith’s party remains asphyxiated in the ideological hallucination of Hungarian aristocrat Herr von Hayek’s neo-liberalism. This brings us to Europe, with which The Beast article closes.

At the end of the article one reads: “NSW now joins over 40 jurisdictions globally in countries such as Canada, Germany and Sweden in running a container deposit scheme.” What one does not read is that many of these countries have been running such schemes for several decades. Meanwhile Mr Notley-Smith’s own political party has been fighting against such as scheme for decades. But above and beyond all that, the container scheme has five significant advantages for Mr Notley-Smith.

Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, as a member of Mike Baird’s chainsaw massacre gang and the ‘global-warming-is-crap’ party, Notley-Smith can present himself as an environmentalist. This might come under ‘The Spectacular Achievements of Propaganda’ (Chomsky) and the hope to get re-elected. But it also remains a fine example of what hypocrisy and propaganda are all about.

The second great advantage of the container scheme is that it leaves the industry that produces fancy packaging, rubbish and litter largely alone. The container scheme does nothing to prevent the production of rubbish and waste. Seen from the perspective of the ‘waste hierarchy’, for example, the scheme remains on the low level of three (‘recycling’). The scheme produces stagnation, asphyxiating us at this level. It does not even move up just one level to ‘reuse’. And it is far off from preventing the production of rubbish, packaging, and leftovers. Preventing rubbish remains at the highest level of the hierarchy. But Mr Notley-Smith’s scheme has never been about preventing rubbish, nor has it been about the environment. Instead, it locks us into one of the ‘least favoured options’, i.e. bad for the environment.

Thirdly, left untouched in the production of rubbish and undisturbed by environmental regulation, large corporations can continue to rake in humongous profits. The scheme favours the profitability of the top-end of town – Mr Turnbull’s end. Not surprisingly, Coca Cola Amatil promotes the scheme. Perhaps the whole thing is not so much a container scheme as it is a container scam.

Fourthly, the container scheme – rather cunningly – off-loads its costs onto consumers. Economists call this externalisation. As the former CEO of Shell Sir Mark Moody-Stuart once said: “Let someone else pay the bill.”

Consumers pay the bill by purchasing the litter in the first place. But now they also pay for its disposal three-times over: (a) in the form of Mr Notley-Smith’s container scheme, soon to be included in the cost of the product; (b) through the normal yellow bin in which some of the litter will still end up; and (c) in council rates as council workers will still have to clean up the rubbish left behind on Coogee Beach. Only people on crack cocaine might believe that this scheme will end the litter on Coogee Beach.

In the end the picture’s subtitle remains true: ‘Good on you, Bruce’ as it has only advantages for large corporations and a Liberal politician eager to present himself as the friend of the environment while his government cuts down trees like there is no tomorrow. The scheme does not prevent litter, but supports the production of it. Finally, it offloads the cost to us – the consumer and the voter. Perhaps we are conned twice when voting for such a scheme. Good on you, Bruce – an ingenious con-job. ‘Con’ as in container, of course.

Thomas Klikauer, Coogee

COUNCIL CAN’T CONTROL EVERYTHING

I am writing to advise that there are some things Council can’t control, and that is when an approved DA is started (construction begins). Especially when it goes through a private certifier. The case in point is to do with 223-225 Coogee Bay Road. There is a DA for it (DA/565/2015). It has been approved.

There was a sign up sheet around the vicinity of 223-225 Coogee Bay Road from businesses and their customers who wanted Council to stop the demolishing of the current building in the upcoming late spring/summer period, as it could cause problems with summer trading.

Council can’t stop this. The private certifier can’t stop this from happening. Who do people think they are? Selfish. People have rights to start their construction – demolition in this case – whatever time of the year. The DA has been approved. So get over it!

Anna Cook, Randwick

PLASTIC NOT SO FANTASTIC AT SCULPTURE BY THE SEA

The arrival of Sculptures by the Sea along the Bondi to Tamarama walk, and the flowering of Jacarandas, marks the beginning of summer. The organisation and the hours spent by artists, curators and facilitators is exceptional and every year it is exceptionally executed, drawing huge crowds.

However, one of the most striking artworks this year to me was the most alarming. The underlying message of ‘Operation Crayweed’ by Jen Turpin and Michaelie Crawford was to increase awareness of the loss of crayweed and the subsequent loss of ecosystems when there was a mass destruction during the 70s and 80s. This important message is supported by the Sydney Institute of Marine Science, Sydney University, Centre for Marine Bio-innovation, UNSW and NSW Fisheries, to name a few. How then did no one in any of these institutions, or the Sculpture by the Seas directors, not stop to think about the green impact of their instalment?

The ‘artwork’ is made from over 1000 metres of non-biodegradable yellow barricade PVC mesh, hundreds of plastic baubles, thousands of metres of plastic flags, three plastic buoys and seemingly millions of single-use-non-degradable-PVC-zip ties that were used to hold this artwork to the fence-line of the coastal walk.

PVC makes up one-third of the global plastic output and consumption. Not only does its production use fossil fuels, but it does not break down or degrade. Instead, it breaks down into tiny particles that are ingested by animals, which lethally disrupt their digestion and also make them toxic for human consumption.

It is disappointing to see that there seems to be a complete disregard to making the sculptures and artworks environmentally conscious. Chris and I are both active citizens of the community who continually try to reduce our carbon imprint by avoiding wastage and never littering. It is just shocking and sad to see such a lack of awareness exhibited in a public display that epitomises Bondi and its locals. The intention is great, but surely there must be a better way to increase public awareness of crayweed ecosystems that won’t contribute to landfill.

Don’t get me started on the other plastic dominated displays. Please, Sculpture By The Sea, try and consider artists’ green imprint.

Christopher and Millicent, Bondi

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