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Letters September 2016

By Dan Hutton on September 15, 2016 in Other

Beardy: He's a hottie Photo: Dalton Wills

Beardy: He’s a hottie
Photo: Dalton Wills

Twisted Fortunes

I really enjoy the twisted fortunes appearing each month in The Beast’s star signs. Clearly the author, Beardy from Hell, is a keen wit and rather pleasantly twisted as well. In his pic he looks like a handsome dude. Can we please have a full body shot of Beardy in the next issue? Preferably shirtless! Keep up the wild predictions Beardy.

Simon Furber
, Randwick

Wood Fires Terrible for Health

Dear Beast,

I was pleased to see that my letter in the July Beast calling for a ban on wood fires in Waverley (Wood Fires on the Nose, Letters, The Beast, July 2016) caused Rupert Truscott-Hughes to devote his entire column to the issue in the August Beast. To be honest, I would have been more excited to appear in Pearl’s column nearer the front of the esteemed journal (sorry Rupert), but I am happy to know that at least one person did actually read my letter.

Whilst I enjoyed reading Rupert’s witty thoughts on the issue of wood fires and red wine, I feel compelled to reply in defence of my call for a ban.

Rupert believes that the smoke from a wood fire “smells delightful”, but, as a doctor, I would offer him the following Clintonesque advice: Don’t inhale. The smoke from a wood fire is just as toxic as that from a cigarette. Both wood fire and cigarette smoke come from burning biomass and, as such, contain the same toxic mix of chemicals and ultra-fine particles that cause cancer, heart disease, premature death and even premature birth. If you smell the smoke, it’s a sign that the chemicals and ultra-fine particles have entered your blood stream and are doing you harm. Think I’m exaggerating? Look at any Environment Protection Agency website both in Australia and in the USA to see the evidence, and listen to the NSW Chief Medical Officer, Dr Kerry Chant, who has called for the banning and phasing out of wood fires in Sydney.

Rupert trivialises the extent of the problem by suggesting that I am blowing out more “hot air” than the handful of people who bother to light their fires in Sydney. This couldn’t be further from the truth even if I was a politician spruiking my pre-election promises from a hot air balloon. The NSW EPA states that in the winter months the majority of particulate pollution in Sydney is caused by residential wood fires. It far outstrips particulate pollution from road transport. In fact, in mid winter residential wood fire smoke is responsible for 75 per cent of Sydney’s PM2.5 fine particle pollution. Remember, these are the particles that are so tiny that, when inhaled, they cross the lining of your lung and enter your blood stream, causing disease throughout your body.

Whilst we in Sydney are burying our heads in what’s left of the sand on beaches from Bronte to Collaroy, other cities around the world are getting on with the job of saving lives. Rupert notes that the city of Montreal has banned inefficient wood fires. Closer to home the city of Launceston has moved to reduce the use of wood fires through a buy-back scheme. The city has reduced its number of wood fire heaters by half with a resulting marked improvement in air quality and a drop in deaths in winter from heart diseases by 20 per cent and from lung diseases by 28 per cent. That’s no joke; it’s real lives saved.

I accept that my call for a ban will not be welcomed by many in our community. I understand, and feel, the romantic pull of a wood fire and a glass of fine red. Rupert’s ridicule, and the pro wood fire views expressed in the associated vox pop, show that we in the medical profession have a long way to go to raise the level of awareness and understanding about this important public health issue. Much as we saw with the fight against cigarettes, there will be resistance to change before governments and the general population accept that we cannot continue to ignore the evidence of the actual harm caused by wood fire smoke in Sydney.

So next time you walk out of your house and smell the smoke of a wood fire, remember that smoke is causing you harm. It’s bad for you. It’s bad for your kids. It’s bad for everyone. It is time we cleaned up our local atmosphere by moving away from wood fires in Waverley.

Oh, and one more thing Rupert – sadly the Bronte RSL saga is far from over. In the latest development (so to speak), the developer has prepared new bigger and taller plans for the site, which we expect to be lodged as a new DA in the near future. And, in an interesting move, the developer has offered the RSL site for sale (maybe the Truscott-Hughes family could buy it, Rupert?). Thanks for raising the issue and stay tuned for more news on that front.

Dr Stephen Lightfoot, Bronte

No to Wood Fires

Thank you for printing the letter from Dr Stephen Lightfoot last month, telling us about the toxicity of wood fire smoke from domestic heaters. Yes, they should be banned now. Happily, there was a National Clean Air Agreement endorsed in December 2015, but I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for results. For some frightening details of how a small number of wood fires cause a huge amount of air pollution, see the Asthma Australia website. There is no excuse for a wood fire in the suburbs, and even the modern heaters, which often fail the inadequate emissions standards. Wood fires are so last millennium!

Therese Weiss, Maroubra

Wrong, Wrong, Wrong

Mark Hersey (More Open Space at Bondi Beach, Letter, The Beast, August 2016) presented a lengthy defence of the proposed underground car park at Bondi Beach, which he based on the false premise that the amount of green space would be doubled.

The council website states that it would “create 15 per cent more green and recreation space”, not double it as Mr Hersey asserts. Additionally, most of that additional space would be along the unattractive western strip adjoining Campbell Parade. Queen Elizabeth Drive would be retained as a service road. The very basis of his argument is fundamentally flawed.

Then there is the impact of a reduction of 138 car spaces at a cost to ratepayers of some $30 million-plus, despite the fact that there is already insufficient parking space to meet present, let alone growing, demand.

Greg Maidment, Bronte

Underground Car Park at Bondi Beach

It seems that some folks want an underground car park at Bondi Beach, come hell or high water, and damn the expense. In fact, high water could well be an issue. According to Waverley Council’s ‘Coastal Risks and Hazards Vulnerability Study’, such a facility might become an unintentional water feature.

Advocates for an underground car park really need to do a bit more research. According to Council’s own statement, there will be a “15 per cent increase in recreation and green space” – nothing like the “doubling the size of Bondi Park” fancifully offered by Mark Hersey. Hersey also underestimates the impact on beach users; in particular, the time spent negotiating such a facility (“an extra five minutes…”). He should have factored in how long it takes to access an underground car park (think of a trip to Westfield at the Junction), find a parking space, walk to the lift, traverse the Pavilion, trek to the promenade, and only then begin walking to one’s preferred end of the beach. Multiply that by two and you end up with a lot less precious time at the beach.

Conservative estimates would suggest that such a project would require the digging of a massive trench, at least 150 metres long, 50 metres wide and 9 metres deep, requiring the removal of every tree behind the Pavilion. Ponder that for a second. In the meantime, anyone who was pulling their hair out over how long it took Council to re-turf Bondi Park over summer would have to wonder how they could possibly manage a project of this scale?

Andrew Worssam, Bondi

Another Take on the Underground Car Park

Over the years there have been a lot of statements published against the proposed underground car park at Bondi Beach. I wish to respond to these statements one-by-one:

1. “There’ll still be a service road along the front (of the Pavilion), we just won’t be able to use it.” (A Worssam, The Beast, July 2013).

If the impression created here is that Queen Elizabeth Drive (QED) will be left as vehicle-only, then that is false. The proposal will result in QED being an upper pedestrian boulevard. This can be checked on the council website. QED is wide enough to have a pedestrian path down the middle and lots of grass and trees on either side. There is a recommendation that the pedestrian path be accessible to emergency vehicles. So it can be termed a ‘service road’, the same way the current pedestrian walkway is a service road, where occasionally a police car or ambulance has to use it.

2. “Getting in and out of an underground car park could add 20 minutes.” (A Worssam, Wentworth Courier, 20 April, 2016)

There is no proposed design yet, so we don’t know the entry/exit points. My educated guess is that with cars no longer being slowed down by large groups of pedestrians crossing QED, it would be quicker to enter and exit. It would also be safer for both cars and pedestrians as they are segregated.

3. “Council will simply farm out the whole project to a company like Wilson Parking.” (A Worssam, The Beast, July 2013)

There is nothing to indicate this. If there is some basis for this statement it should be produced.

4. “Is to be replaced with something more like the Bondi Junction Westfield car park.” (A Worssam, The Beast, July 2013)

A one or two-storey car park built into the rising slope behind the Pavilion can be directly accessible without lifts. I believe a more appropriate comparison is with the underground car park above Red Leaf Pool in Double Bay. That is built into the slope rising from the harbour and is directly accessible and does not have lifts.

5. “An underground car park would greatly inconvenience those who use the beach for its natural purposes.” (G Maidment, Wentworth Courier, May 18, 2016)

Do the majority of beach users get to the beach by car, or do the majority arrive by bus, walking or cycling? What modes of transport should be prioritised? Amongst the car drivers, do the majority find parking on nearby streets or on QED? If a person who normally parks on QED instead parks underground behind the Pavilion, how much extra walking will they do to reach the water? Three minutes? Five minutes? How many people want to park for the purpose of walking on the promenade or going to the Pavilion? Is there much extra walking for them?

6. “The small gain in green space is not worth it.” (A Worssam, The Beast, July 2013)

For readers to decide this they should look at the space occupied by car parking both in front of and behind the Pavilion. They should visualise that space as grass, trees and open recreation area. Is all that asphalt and bitumen better served as grass, trees and recreation space? If the answer is yes, then it is worth it.

Alan Doyle, Bellevue Hill

Graffiti a Piece of History

Hi Beast,

I’d like to acknowledge that the wet concrete vandalism on the footpath at 80 Macpherson Street in Bronte will have its 50-year anniversary this December. The graffiti reads ‘G.S. 22/12/66’. It’s amazing that something as ordinary as a kid scrawling his initials in wet concrete is now a piece of local history. Who is G.S.? Waverley Council has been doing a lot of footpath replacement over the past year or two and I fear that this piece of history will be inadvertently dug up.

Ian (no address provided)

Light Rail Plan a Mess

The light rail seemed like a great idea at the start – let’s reinstate one line where once a world class system existed (a network that was pulled up for all the wrong reasons half a century ago) and in doing so replace those congesting old buses.

As it turns out, the stark reality is the grand boulevard that is Anzac Parade has been chopped up to appease the developer lobbyists at Moore Park and the horse racing track, and questions arise about the light rail’s capability to deliver a more efficient transport system. Why couldn’t the tram route be achieved without cutting down half the majestic avenues of trees?

The reality is that state and local governments, in these supposedly enlightened times, can still be pig-headed and arrogant enough to run rough-shod over their constituents in the name of ‘progress’ at any expense. Their autocratic cry is ‘the end justifies the means’. Pretty Boy Baird and his mob(sters) are just the latest bunch in a long line of dictatorial opportunists running the state of NSW.

Hopefully people are increasingly waking up to the kind of society that politicians, developers, banks, insurance companies, miners, etc. have built to service themselves over the rest, and saying enough is enough. The mantra of never-ending growth above all else is the madness that must end.

Bruce, Clovelly

Bad Service Leaves Bad Taste

Hi Beast,

I’m hoping you can help me? I’m a Bondi local and had a friend over the other Tuesday night and we decided to go to the Beach Road Hotel for dinner for the advertised (out on the front board) Taco Tuesday (3 for $10).

When ordering we were told by the lady that it wasn’t on the menu, and that we could only order off the menu! We alerted her to the sign out the front, but she was just downright rude. We didn’t want to make a fuss as I hadn’t seen my friend for over 30 years and didn’t want to damage the evening, but my point is that I’m over false advertising and the attitude given by staff at the Beach Road Hotel. They should be hiring staff who are local and who don’t give you attitude just because you are over 30. I don’t know if you can help with the taco thing, but I am sort of pissed.

Liisa, Bondi

Robin Hood a Muso’s Dream

It’s great to hear that the Robin Hood Hotel is promoting local musicians. Many years ago while drinking in the ‘Hood Bar’ we patrons were entertained by four lads crooning the theme of the Marlboro Man – “filter, flavour, flip-top box”, etc. We knew their entertainment value, but it took a little longer for the world to recognise the Delltones!

Jack Herald, Coogee

Thank You, Good Samaritan

I would like to thank the kind and honest person who found my purse in Coogee on Saturday, July 30, 2016. The purse held a credit card, amongst other items, and the wonderful finder handed the purse and contents to the local bank in Coogee the following Monday, but didn’t leave any contact details. I am very grateful and send many thanks to you. The fantastic spirit of the Coogee community lives on.

Pam Brass, Coogee

Caring Coogee Community

On Friday, July 28, my two year-old daughter Nellie and I were enjoying an afternoon ice-cream at McDonald’s in Coogee right before she suffered a febrile seizure. During the panic and anguish a kind patron of McDonald’s came to our aid offering CPR and much needed support. A number of the staff from McDonald’s and the Coogee Legion Club also came to our aid, calling the ambulance, cleaning up the mess and taking care of our items while we were taken to hospital. Unfortunately I was unable to get the names of the great folk who helped us out and we just wanted to say a massive thankyou and offer our appreciation. Your kindness did not go unnoticed and it is good to know that we live in a caring community. I’m pleased to say that Nellie made a full recovery and has been back at McDonald’s and the Legion Club for both ice cream and a celebratory drink.

Penny and Nellie, Clovelly