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Letters October 2016

By Dan Hutton on October 13, 2016 in Other

No Council Integrity in Waverley

No Council Integrity in Waverley


It’s 1998, the lead up to the Olympics. Bondi is in desperate need of a public transport upgrade – the Premier is proposing a train link to the beach. Locals will be able to get to work in the city in under 30 minutes. Visitors will be able to come and go more easily and without the use of cars, meaning less local parking issues. The social and environmental sustainability of the famous beach destination will be radically improved.

Then along comes Michael Caton, self-appointed ‘Mayor’ of Bondi. He mounts a campaign leveraging his cache as a famous actor, and any dreams of better public transport slip away. So why did he do it? He is the embodiment of the Bondi Nimby – a class of very well off, but outwardly bohemian baby boomer creatives. They pretend to be advocates of green outcomes, but they drive up Bondi Road every day. They pretend to be advocates of social justice, but they’re afraid a train station will bring crime from the western suburbs. They want to keep Bondi to themselves, no matter the social or environmental cost.

This same group of people is now trying to monopolise the Bondi Pavilion and prevent a much-needed upgrade. You probably know about the ‘iconic’ building, but when was the last time you used it? I have grown up and lived in Bondi for 20 years and I have only visited the Pavilion on occasion. The old building is in desperate need of a refurbishment and internal reconfiguration. At the moment there is a lot of wasted space that could be used more effectively for community activities. I would love to see the building opened up and used by all locals.

Waverley Council failed to conduct extensive consultation about the upgrade and there’s no doubt that was a bad move. I can understand, in this context, why Caton chose to take an adversarial position. But the focus of the discussion now needs to be on what is in the best interests of all the people who live in Bondi. The upgrade may see the loss of a music recording studio, which Caton and his muso buddies are up in arms about. But what about the needs of the broader non-muso community to access space for other community uses? They’re worried about the building being privatised if existing cafes are relocated inside the building, but how can we ensure its long-term sustainability? I do not have the answers to these questions, but I would like them to be explored in a constructive way. I would like Bondi’s biggest potential community infrastructure asset to fulfill its potential for the whole community, rather than being controlled by a self-motivated famous few.

Love from a ‘real’ Bondi person,
Sidonie Roberts, Bondi


Dear Beast – I was reading September’s mailbag and was pleased to see two headings on the same latitude on page 12: 1. ‘Bad service leaves bad taste’; and 2. ‘Beast Whingers’.

I implore your subscribers to read the first article swiftly followed by the second. Kudos to your publishers.
Jock Hamilton


Not sure which is worse: the so-called ‘whingers’, or those who whinge about whingers. Ben Smit (Beast Whingers, Letters, The Beast, September 2016) complains about those who write in with their “First World problems”. Yes, indulgent and spoiled as we in our Eastern Suburbs bubble are, everything is relative and has a context. Some are fighting bigger battles than others, but that doesn’t negate the validity of each person’s concern. Are we supposed to just sit around in blithe, complacent acceptance while there are forces at work slowly killing the goose that laid the golden egg? That ‘whinging’ could also be called freedom of speech, and it is the only peaceful weapon at hand with which to try to preserve and protect this “best part of the world”. Not everyone who criticises the status quo is just complaining for its own sake. To quote Joni Mitchell: “You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone”.

Tina Harris, Bondi


There has been a constant flow of letters in The Beast and other newspapers from people who remain gobsmacked and appalled by the government-sanctioned vandalism that saw the extensive removal of too many majestic trees along Anzac Parade and Alison Road, some of which are said to have lived and provided pleasure to communities for 150 years.

I say as forcefully as I can that we the people should respond at upcoming federal, state and local government elections by refusing to give our votes to the party of those sitting federal, state and council members in the electorates and wards affected who refused to stand up sufficiently strongly to protect those majestic trees from Mike Baird’s chainsaw. Perhaps a 150-year ban on voting for such a political party to match the life of many of those magnificent trees might be an appropriate response to such wanton destruction?

Frank Cahill, Bondi Junction


Instead of building a state of the art public transport system like any other mega city of equal standing – London, Paris, New York, and Moscow, for example – with efficient underground transport links, the outdated surface transport model ‘Light Rail’ of the Liberal Party in power at local, state, and federal level is being pushed relentlessly, never mind the environmental cost. And the costs are huge, with yet another six weeping fig trees of exceptional significance on Wansey Road getting the chop in Randwick to make way for the light rail; the corner of Wansey Road and Alison Road has already lost 13 trees, which stood 20 metres tall. None of the 62 trees already removed along Alison Road, Wansey Road, and Anzac Parade have been relocated, according to the Transport NSW spokesperson, Laura Aubusson (Southern Courier). But to maintain environmental cosmetics in the hope of camouflaging its ecological vandalism, Liberal MP Bruce Notley-Smith suggested a Mickey Mouse “two cents worth on litter” initiative. This can hardly make up for the environmental wreckage of his party, visible to all at Alison Road, Wansey Road, and Anzac Parade. And there are more trees to come – or should I say ‘go’ – on Anzac Parade in the coming days.

But wait, there is more! The ecological destruction orchestrated by the state Liberal Party is replicated at federal level with land clearing and “more drilling, more spilling”. This comes as “BP explores drilling options off the South Australian coast five years after the Deepwater Horizon disaster” (, September 7, 2015). Meanwhile, at a global level, the Liberal environmental damage continues with the denial of global warming conveniently cosmeticised – camouflaged – by its new ‘Tony Abbott light’, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, offering the same policies only now framed in a nicer way. But whether at local and state level, or at federal and global level, putting lipstick on a pig may not change the pig, it just looks nicer.

Thomas Klikauer, Coogee


I have resisted responding to earlier issues of The Beast on the topic of wood fireplace burning, but I can hold back no longer. I am a long term resident of Bronte, most likely a decade or two more than Dr Lightfoot, and am probably one of the few residents that still has an original wood burning fireplace in Bronte. As I understand it, Waverley Council does not approve wood fires in any new development applications, but the use of existing wood fire facilities is allowed.

Our fireplace is not used as the primary source of heating in winter. We have gas heating throughout our house (and I am sure the toxicity from this is not good), but my family and friends do enjoy the occasional gathering around the fireplace during the very cold months of winter. Wood burning is an ancient and natural form of heating. Dr Lightfoot, get real, get a life, and stop trying to influence everyone else’s life!

George Sinclair, Bronte


Dr Lightfoot has moved onto his next crusade – banning wood fires. Now I’m not a doctor, but it seems rather onerous to compare wood fires to the health effects of smoking. We don’t directly inhale the smoke from wood fires and it’s only in an enclosed area that the long-term effects of passive smoking have comprehensively been proven.

Studies into the effects of secondhand smoke in outdoor areas come up as negligible or close to background levels.

To quote William Saletan of, who sifted through two studies (the 2006 California Air Resources Board study, and a 2007 study from Stanford): “If you want to argue for park wide smoking bans based on asthma or on an analogy to noise pollution, go ahead and make that case. But let’s not cloud that debate by invoking the general harm of secondhand smoke. Studies of secondhand smoke have indeed moved outdoors. Their findings support restrictions on lighting up within a few feet of other people. But they don’t warrant more than that.”

So if the science behind outdoor smoking bans isn’t directly clear then I’d assume it would be a similar situation for wood fires. Chimneys are high in the air with the sea breeze of the area often blowing the smoke well away. Not to mention this isn’t Launceston or Montreal. Sydney’s winter isn’t as long or as cold.

The doctor also made comparisons between pollution of car exhausts and wood fire smoke. Again it seems the doctor failed to take into account exposure levels. Pollution from exhausts occurs constantly all year round, 24/7, whereas residents would only be lighting wood fires one in every two days (max.) during winter, plus only a small percentage of Bronte homeowners would actually be using their wood fires. Most have moved to gas or blocked off their chimneys entirely due to possums.

If the majority of residents were lighting fires constantly perhaps I’d be on board with the doctor’s ban, but I can only remember three or four days this year when I’ve actually smelt wood smoke. I feel Dr Lightfoot is again trying to deal with a problem that doesn’t need dealing with.

Anthony Bosch, Bronte


Hey ho Beasters – I have to say I quite enjoy thumbing through your copies of The Beast. I never actually take them from the letterbox to the house, but I always seem to find one on my table.
I don’t like fighting, and am so baffled by the fascination of this cage fighting? I have heard all the arguments about how much safer it is/isn’t than boxing (which I also don’t like). The general aggression around the streets post fight is so full on. Macho dick heads everywhere. It is so bloody popular, and the worst thing is that they advertise it during the ad breaks in between football highlights during the day, which I watch with my kid.

Anyway. Little early morning rant almost over.

I love your ‘A-Z of Living a Plastic-free Life’ on page 60 (The Beast, September 2016). Something I live by. Probably not the best picture to put on the page 62 overleaf of a massive f**king plastic takeaway cup from yet another ‘supergreenjuicesmoothiefad’ bar, which are probably responsible for about 30 per cent of our plastic beach litter.

As I said, I really like The Beast. I tip my hat to your passion and I think you folk do a super job. Keep it up.

Timothy Moore


Dear The Beast – I was having a read through the September issue and was really pleased to see ‘The A-Z of Living a Plastic-free Life’.

The acceptance of single use plastic these days is downright scary. The fact that when I go to a bar and ask for a vodka, lime and soda I also have to ask for it with ‘no straw’ is ridiculous; along with the other millions of stupid ways society excessively uses plastic.

I base many choices around avoiding plastic, so you can imagine how delighted I was to see you promoting ways people can reduce their plastic usage. Thumbs up!

I then flicked over the page to see a plastic takeaway cup with a straw staring me in the face (QTips #9 – Four of the Best Juices and Smoothies in the East) – WTF guys!

A little editorial oversight wouldn’t have gone astray.



Hi Dan and James – Just a quick email to thank you for your support for the Bondi2Berry ride (Dementia Fundraiser a Ride to Remember, The Beast, September 2016).

We have received a donation of $5,000 from a lovely lady named Coleen, who made the donation in memory of her husband who passed away after suffering from dementia for eight years.

I asked her how she had found out about the Bondi2Berry ride, and she mentioned that she read about it in The Beast.

I wanted to say thank you, as it’s obviously out there being read, and helping us make a difference.

Nick Young, Bondi2Berry


A few months ago we received two development applications for houses in the street in front of ours – houses that we look directly onto and past leafy Bronte Gully.

Okay, we think, fair enough, these houses are ripe for renovation, as are a lot of houses in our area. Then we look at the proposals, both of which want to subdivide – the two houses will become four. The subdivision is also fair enough; one hopes it involves creating greater diversity – a granny flat perhaps, or student accommodation – it’s good to have a mix in the community.

But no, one house in particular wants to become two four-bedroom, four-level houses. It is over the height limit and over the floor space ratio by 39 per cent.

So, we think, why have council sent us these fantasy proposals? Are they obliged to pass these on to the neighbours even when they so blatantly flout the council rules? What a waste of time!

Every neighbour objected with the exception of an elderly lady with no computer who is pretty much house bound (Note to council: your system is unfair to this person who has been part of the community for more than 50 years).

Some weeks pass and we are advised that amended plans are now available for us to comment on. We are not architects or the like, but fortunately one of our neighbours is an engineer and has the know-how to see that not only have none of our concerns been addressed, but the houses are still over the height limit and have unbelievably increased in size to 43 per cent over the floor space ratio!

Taking a morning off work, we attend the council planning meeting where we gather behind a small barrier feeling like naughty children as the panel sits above us in large padded chairs, one further removing herself from contact with us undesirables by wearing her sunglasses in the dim room. We make our short submissions wondering at the waste of everybody’s time to consider items that are so clearly breaking the rules.

That afternoon the plans are approved, with the proviso that facility for a future lift is included, given that the properties have four levels (where the council rules only allow two).

Can somebody explain why? Why does the council provide guidelines when they take no notice of them? What is the role of our council if not to look out for us, the residents and ratepayers? Why are they not thinking of the future, of the importance of community, of the inadequacy of the public transport and the roads to accommodate more people?

Is it a money grab? More houses, more rates? Does Sally Betts just want to be the queen of a larger empire?

I could understand this If we lived in a place where money and greed take precedence over democracy… oh, hang on, we do!

So how much to revoke this decision? Come on Waverley Council, there’s got to be a price to buy my privacy and view back, doesn’t there?

J. Parkes, Bronte


Dear Beast – It may be a beast of burden for you at times, but being able to read your enewsletter each week makes me feel connected to Sydney during my ongoing travels.

I just wanted you to know people value this, and it brings different things to different people that you would be oblivious to.



Hi Beast – My name is Sasha. I live in Frances Street, Randwick, down from the council and up from the racecourse. There are over 80 units in our block and I have an elderly neighbour named Joe, who is over eighty years old. He originally comes from the old Czech Republic, or Czechoslovakia as it was back then. Joe uses a walking stick and I always say to him: “Hey Joe, where are you going with that gun in your hand” – from Jimi Hendrix. Anyway, he was reading an article in The Beast about a ‘Bra Boy’, Richie Vaculik, and he thinks that this young fellow might be the son of an old mate of his from the ‘old country’. Could you please pass on Joe’s details to Richie in the hope that he can get in touch with his old mate?

Sasha, Randwick

I would like to thank the kind member of staff at Kurtosh café and bakery at The Spot, Randwick, who found my wallet there on Sunday, August 21 and passed it on to Randwick Police that day.
I wanted to let you know how relieved I was to get the wallet back as it contained credit cards, cash and other items.
My heartfelt thanks to you for going out of your way; it’s good to know there are people like you out there!

Ilona Hajnal, Bondi Junction

I cannot understand how Randwick Council can approve multi-storey units, especially the one at 5 Bellevue Street, Maroubra, which is a four-storey development with one garage, and then a few months later put ‘No Stopping’ signs all over the same and surrounding streets. We know what you’re doing and realise this is a prelude for your revenue raising, so that now you can go around fining residents for parking outside their houses.

Lucy Byrne, Maroubra


As a resident of Clovelly, I cannot understand why overnight the powers that be have removed at least five parking spaces from Pacific Street and Winchester Lane. Not only do we now have to park miles away, we also have to contend with a plumbing business conducted from a block of units in our street, which parks up to four large trucks that take up two spaces each, as well as two abandoned cars in the turning circle and someone who parks illegally in the disabled spot. All we want is a fair go in what was once a normal street with normal vehicle parking.

D. Richardson, Clovelly