Monthly Mailbag – May 2019
Sponsoring George Pell
The man who gave us the GST that helped make the rich richer and the poor poorer, who insisted on invading Iraq for no weapons of mass destruction, who broadcasted the ‘children overboard’ myth and who refused to say sorry to Australia’s indigenous people – John Howard – is also the man who wrote a glowing letter of reference for George Pell.
Cardinal Pell is a convicted sex offender (abc.net.au, February 27, 2019). John Howard said that the conviction of sex offender George Pell does not alter his opinion of the cardinal. Howard deserves the thumbs down as a Pell apologist (Thumbs, The Beast, April 2019).
John Howard, the long time leader of the Liberal Party, also wrote that George Pell has “an exemplary character”. Many people may find it hard to believe that sex offenders can have that. Undeterred, the former Liberal Party boss also calls the sex offender “sincere”. Synonyms to sincerity are honesty, truthfulness, integrity and trustworthiness. Many might think that one thing sex offenders hardly have is trustworthiness.
Some parents might not like to trust George Pell with their children, especially young boys. Reference writer Howard closes with the line that the sex offender dedicated his life to his nation and his church. Pell might also have dedicated himself to young boys.
As a father of two school-aged children – a boy and a girl – I do not trust sex offenders like George Pell, I do not trust those who write letters sponsoring such sex offenders (Howard), and I do not even trust their beloved political parties (the Liberal Party).
The Mystery Man from Coogee
The Spot Festival
The Spot Festival – how good was it?!?! Music, food, good vibes galore. Sydney needs more of this, frankly. I’d like to see this as a monthly occurrence, bringing a bit of a Portobello Road or Camden Market vibe to Randwick. Boost the local economy every month, bring lots of people out into the streets, fun for young and old. I live close and I’d be there often. More please, Randwick Council!
Bronte Cutting Walkway
I just wanted to say cheers to Robert Sharpe for his insightful comments on the Bronte Cutting walkway in last month’s Beast. My additional comments probably aren’t so eloquent but I would like to add that the general conversations that I have been having with the locals who I chat with regularly (I am currently Uber driving) is that it’s ugly, ugly, ugly.
We have coped without such facilitation forever. Yes, there are more people doing the walk, but people aren’t idiots… well, mostly. Just be careful. Surely there is another way that safety can prevail instead of this waste of money and vital space?
If someone comes to your door offering to do some gardening or roofing or whatever, please do not invite them back. We had a man come to the door a week or so ago. He said that our vine was growing into our guttering and needed trimming. He would do it for $150. I told him I was a pensioner and so he said okay, he would make it $130 and be back the next day at 1pm.
He came back with a number of men, all dressed in yellow t-shirts. I paid him the $150 (no change given) and he climbed a ladder in the front of the house, then came back with photos of a nest in the gutter and damage to the roof. He said they could fix all that and it would cost me “five”. “$500?” I said. “No, $5,000,” he replied. So I told him that there was no way I could pay that – could he give me a quote and I’d contact the insurance company. Then another, younger man came in and told us that they were very busy (in other words, they couldn’t wait for insurance).
My husband said it was a con and he got very angry. Finally they left. We had to get our usual plumber in to fix the damage they had done – tiles off, etc. This cost $430. The vine was not cut back.
These men were English. The first one I spoke to was short and tubby with dark hair. The young, aggressive one was younger, fair skin, a reddish complexion. There was also a big, fat man wearing dark glasses and holding his hand across his face, who wandered into my office at some stage. He wasn’t wearing the yellow uniform. Another man in uniform was thin with a beard.
I gave them my email address and asked for a quote to be sent. Nothing arrived. I emailed my neighbour, who is in the police force, and she told me to contact the police straight away. They paid us a visit the next day. I put the information on Facebook and was told that these people are doing this all over Sydney – usually English or Irish men.
My cousin in England told me that it is rife there. I knew nothing of this and so am writing this to you in the hope that people reading it will be on guard, especially old people who would easily be prey to this scam. Love your magazine – especially Pearl.
One Person’s Crap is Another’s Treasure
Hello The Beast – I was reading the Monthly Mailbag from your April Edition and I saw the first letter, ‘Rubbish Rummaging – Illegal or Just Gross?’ Well, I can tell the anonymous writer that, for some, rummaging through people’s recycling bin on a council strip is perfectly fine and legal. As each container, can or bottle can earn 10 cents for the recipient, whomever is doing it either needs to do it for the cash or for some other artistic reason.
As for the legalities, the council bins are the property of the said council. Once you put the bin onto the nature strip anyone can rummage through it or even add to what is inside the bin. It’s the same for when people dump items on the footpath or nature strip – they are anyone’s for the taking – and also for anyone that dumps items in front of St Vinnies on the council footpath. It isn’t stealing.
So, as this writer has an issue with people rummaging through their garbage on the nature strip, the council cannot actually do anything about it. It would be different if someone was going onto your own property to rummage, which is obviously illegal.
No Votes in Poo
For those of us who live by the beaches, in Gladys’ great rush to create infrastructure for the state there is one project that is obviously missing: the one that deals with the ever increasing number of bottoms in this city.
The effluent overflowing into the seas and polluting our beaches is not reported, even if it is monitored. The offshore outflows are now old and built to handle a much smaller population. Our original sewers were built in the 1800s, so when is the government going to fix the problem and build new sewage processing plants and increase the sewers in size so they don’t overflow when Sydney gets rain events like yesterday? Why should we swim in crap, Gladys?
I went into my local (non-franchise) convenience store in the Eastern Suburbs to buy a newspaper recently. The owner was thinking of closing after nine years. He didn’t look happy. He sold milk as cheaply as possible but couldn’t match the $1 a litre milk at Coles, had already stopped selling bread, nobody bought newspapers any more (except me), snacks were sitting on the shelves… Down the road, several shopfronts are for rent and other shops look similarly empty, except for hair and beauty shops and cafes.
10 to 15 years ago there was a thriving shopping strip selling furniture, antiques, homewares, musical instruments, jewellery, kids’ clothes, kitchens, books, vintage collectables, art and even a children’s book shop. There were also specialty cake shops, butchers, several bakers, specialty bread and fruit and vegetable stores. Despite a significant increase in the local population most of these have gone. No doubt lease increases are partly to blame, online shopping has taken over and tastes have changed as the area has gentrified.
But there are still lots of reasons to shop local: saving money on petrol and vehicle costs, as well as the reduction in pollution and easing of traffic congestion for a start; it can cost less in the long-run to buy food when needed instead of buying cheap bulk food and throwing half of it away; more money stays in the community; local business owners donate more to local charities; there’s a friendly face at the local shop that contributes to a sense of community; and buying locally encourages more consumer choice.
Council could also do more to support local shops. Pop-up parks, more (and improved) street furniture, shade trees, marketing of local shopping areas, more pedestrian crossings and regular street fairs (not just at Coogee) come to mind. Hopefully more people might walk down the street soon instead of driving to Westfield.
Response to letter from Anthony Bosch
Anthony Bosch (Letters, The Beast, April 2019) needs to do better research before he presumes to “highlight” my “history”. I am the convenor of the Bondi Beach Precinct, as well as a committee member of Rescue Bondi, which is a residents’ platform. Both of these organisations are apolitical and are open to all residents, regardless of their political leanings, to voice their concerns and lodge objections whenever their residential amenity is under threat. The precinct is supported by Waverley Council who distribute any motions passed at meetings to the relevant departments.
The New Year’s Eve concert at Bondi Beach had a huge impact on residents and visitors to the beach. The ugly fencing that went up weeks before, the excessively loud music – which initially continued until 3am – and the drunken and drugged anti-social behaviour resulting in people urinating and vomiting in the entrances and gardens of unit blocks and private dwellings was not supported by the majority of the residents who were most affected.
With the ice rink, we were against it being on the beach. The move to the pavilion was eminently sensible. Our objection to the beach placement was supported by the power having to be turned off when the tide dangerously reached the structure, plus the loss to local businesses due to the ice rink providing its own alcohol and food.
Rather than being against licensed venues, I actually work with small bars and restaurants, owners and managers, licencing police, council staff and residents to get a good outcome for everyone. And we objected to the BWS being open 24 hours a day.
I hope this sets it all straight, Anthony.
Organic is the Way to Go
Hello (again) – I was also interested in what Anthony Bosch had to say in his letter, ‘LK and the Organics’ in the April edition of The Beast. Some of his letter was interesting, but I was fascinated with his organics stance with Waverley Public School and their pro-organic ideas.
Organic food is produced without the use of conventional pesticides, although they may use something with a natural base as a pesticide. GMOs are something that the jury may be out on, but modifying food genetically is something that may be damaging. The actual studies are inconclusive, but one doesn’t have to be a scientist to know that GMO corn, soy, canola and wheat may be damaging the animal kingdom. For example, in the United States, where GMO products are created, the bees are dying.
I am an advocate for organic food as I feel it is better nutritionally. Organic chicken is much lighter in taste. Not everything has to be organic, but with high incidences of cancers in the world, and conventional chemicals not helping the human body as we ingest them, wouldn’t organic be a better option? Educating children about organics and even the environment is a great thing to do.
Council is not the Electoral Commission
Dear Beast – I have a funny tale to tell. The setting is the council chambers, the administrative centre of local government areas. We have people in the queue waiting for payments, lodgements and that sort of thing. The next person in the line goes up to the customer service person.They say, “I am here to vote.”
That used to be me – the customer service person. I would look perplexed and guide them outside and around the corner or nearby, to where there would be people with placards, signs and how to vote cards – even people wearing special t-shirts.
Where I was working (inside the building), it was devoid of anything to do with an election of any kind, so I’m not sure exactly where they were going to vote. All I had available were tables and chairs. I am talking about the state and federal elections, and its pre-polling. I would get a lot of walk-ins and even phone calls about where people should vote, or whether their details on the electoral roll were up to date. I worked for the council, not the New South Wales or Federal Electoral Commission, I would say.
It seems it has happened again. I have friends that work at some councils in the Eastern Suburbs and they tell me that they got calls about voting – where they should vote, whether their details were up to date on the electoral roll and what they should do if they can’t be there on election day. This was for March’s New South Wales election.
Council may allow the hiring of the halls for an election, but has nothing to do with the said election. With the federal election coming up, hopefully councils are not bombarded with people calling up or coming into council to vote. Because if they are, they don’t need to vote – they need to get their heads examined.
If It’s Not On… It’s Not On!
Hello The Beast – I am not sure if this is a letter or an editorial. Anyway, here we go…
There is a drug on the market, through prescription, that is a preventative for HIV. It is called PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis). It is taken daily for people who do not have HIV, to protect themselves from getting it. I work at a sexual health clinic and we have seen a complication with this drug. Many who take the drug are a wide range. Many are gay and bisexual men, but some are even men and women who are heterosexual. However, it is mostly taken by gay and bisexual men. It seems like the miracle pill to avert another HIV/AIDS crisis that began in the mid ‘80s in Australia.
So what is the problem? Many have taken the pill, but there are an unlucky few that have still acquired HIV. Also, like any pharmaceutical, there are always side effects, and as it is a newish drug we still don’t know all the side effects. The general ones are diarrhoea, liver and kidney malfunctions, and even nausea and dizziness. But the main issue is the increase of other STIs.
Cases of syphilis and gonorrhea are on the rise and are not always 100 per cent curable due to the way superbugs are now present. People who have unprotected anal sex and are on PrEP are also increasing the chances of getting syphilis and gonorrhea. I have many friends using Grindr and Tinder and have observed that many are interested in hooking up unprotected, as the willing participants point out that they are on PrEP.
I think we need to still educate the masses about safe sex. Unfortunately – and I see it in the clinic I work in – it isn’t getting through because of this drug.
We don’t want to see, in a year or so, people that can not be treated for STIs due to superbugs, where high level antibiotics would be needed but could be more harmful on the body. I would recommend condoms still for people that are more sexually adventurous – it may just save your life.
Thanks pearl for the welcome words in your article last month (Under the Influence, The Beast April 2019). I feel like I’m drowning in constant self-absorbed social influencers who mask their greed with likes and follows. Your article has given me a little pep up! Have a great week.
Pearl Under the Influence
I’m 100 per cent on board with Pearl starting an Instagram page to share standard social courtesies to the ignorant masses.