The Beast’s Monthly Mail Bag
A Message from the Minister
Change can be tough. I know when you’re used to things being a certain way, finding out they will soon be different can be a shock. I know that’s how many of you felt when you learned about Transport for NSW’s plans to make changes to buses across the south-east. But before you go and turn the page, please hear me out. Change can also be good. What we want to achieve here is a more efficient, integrated public transport network. One that is based on the hard facts of Opal travel data and not on rumours.
I know there has been plenty of confusion and claims flying around on these proposed changes and you all deserve honest answers. I am here to set a few facts straight.
For every proposed route withdrawal, there are alternatives. The majority are still buses and often are an improvement on the current timetable. Just because the route number is no longer there, doesn’t mean there is no longer a bus. For logistical reasons we have to re-number some routes, so please check out the table on mysydney.nsw.gov.au to see what your new route number is.
One example we have repeatedly heard is the claim you’ll need to take three buses to get from Eastgardens to Bondi Junction. This is simply not true. In fact, there will be a new bus running at least every 10 minutes, operating via places like Coogee, opening up new travel options. We’re keeping the most popular express services in the peak, because we know people rely on them. We know how important they are for everyone commuting into the city. We’re actually adding more express services in the morning and afternoon peaks, increasing capacity by between 40 and 45 per cent compared to 2019. Another false claim I have heard is dedicated school services are changing. Again, not true. But we do know some students take regular buses. The Transport team has reached out to more than 90 schools in the area to ensure they understand the proposal and how parents can give their feedback.
If your child’s service is impacted, let us know and we’ll point out the alternative transport option.
Finally, the claims from the member for Coogee that these changes are based on ‘some cooked up contract the state government has with the light rail operator’ are misleading and false. There is no deal to drive patronage onto the light rail. I know light rail got a bad rap, but customer satisfaction is at 96 per cent – one of the highest on any mode of public transport. Light rail services have seen a 696 per cent increase in patronage post COVID and journey times are now under 35 minutes end to end.
These changes are actually about ensuring we maximise the use of our available buses, and instead of having them run half empty along the light rail route, we free them up and use them where they are needed, creating better connections across the city and much more frequent services.
I know these changes won’t be a win for every single one of you, but for the majority, they will be a vast improvement. They will mean less time waiting at bus stops, faster journeys and more time doing what you love. I know change can be scary so please go online, take a deep dive into what this plan actually means for you and if you’re still not convinced, let us know at mysydney.nsw.gov.au.
NSW Minister for Transport
No to bus cuts in the Eastern Suburbs
On Sunday, May 30, I attended a rally at High Cross Park, Randwick, joining a large number of people voicing their concern and anger about the proposed bus cuts in the Eastern Suburbs. Those in attendance included pensioners, workers, business people and school and university students. The local state member for Coogee, Dr Marjorie O’Neill, has supported a community campaign to preserve the services and oppose privatisation. She attended and spoke at the rally, as did federal Labor member Matt Thistlethwaite. Those present have been shocked at the savagery of the cuts and their daily commuting will be directly impacted by this ill-conceived plan.
The state Liberal government’s razor job will completely cut 25 existing bus routes, to be replaced by only 11 new ones, and modify the routes of 23 others. These cuts represent a serious reduction in basic services which will particularly affect the elderly and disabled, increasing their isolation. I have a relative who lives in government housing in South Coogee. All four of the existing bus routes in her area will be abolished, to be replaced by just one. They will also frustrate and inconvenience any regular bus users who enjoy the flexibility and good access of the current system.
One rationale behind the cuts is the need to boost commuters on the eastern light rail which is currently under-used. While this service provides another option for people travelling via Anzac Parade to Central and the quay, it should not be seen as a replacement for other services. The Berejiklian government was originally advised not to build the light rail. A cabinet in-confidence document in 2012 warned that it would waste hundreds of millions of dollars and offer a low benefit-cost ratio. Yet the government went ahead bloodymindedly and its cost went way over budget. This service was foisted onto the community without proper consultation and people will now be funnelled onto it in order to compensate for the cost bungle and to justify its implementation. The light rail has a specific route – it does not go through Bondi Junction or Taylor Square, for example, and will have to be accessed through an apparently inadequate supply of feeder buses. This will require a change of transport mid route instead of the existing unbroken transits – great for the elderly and the disabled, I don’t think! And the end result may be more people opting to use their cars in frustration.
Ultimately the end game of this scenario will be full privatisation. If the current transport system runs at a loss, then what private company will want to maintain that level of loss? And job losses for transport workers will also be on the cards. The service cuts appear to be mainly affecting residents in the Randwick City and Botany areas. Am I cynical in thinking that the government doesn’t want to alienate its Liberal electorate base in Waverley, Woollahra and Bondi? At any rate it appears that the initial angry feedback from the community has given Berejiklian and co something of a shock. I won’t hold my breath in expectation of any radical rethink however. In terms of being in touch with community transport needs, this government appears to be asleep at the wheel.
Bus routes in Randwick and Surrounding Suburbs
Dear James – I am writing to you to express my concern about the proposed bus route changes in Randwick and the surrounding suburbs. In particular, I am worried about the withdrawal of routes 314, 316, 317, 373, 377 and 400.
These bus routes are no doubt used by many Beast readers, as well as children attending Waverley College, St Clare’s College, Marcellin College, Brigidine College and, to some extent, Randwick Girls and Randwick Boys High Schools. They are also used by staff working at Prince of Wales and St Vincent’s Hospitals.
I think using Opal card data to gauge how much these buses are used is flawed because many youngsters surge onto the bus without tapping their card. The driver can’t possibly police this activity, so the bus drives off full of passengers but only some have actually tapped their card.
I also think many people forget how large a suburb Randwick is. Many residents, including myself and my son, live a long walk to the nearest light rail stop. We are in Bligh Place, so we either have to walk to the racecourse or Prince of Wales Hospital to catch the light rail. The light rail doesn’t stop near Taylor Square, unlike the 373 and 377, which are both used by staff in Randwick and Maroubra to get to and from work at St Vincent’s. Many local people use the 314, 316, 317 and 400 to Bondi Junction at weekends.
I think it is also worth remembering that since March 2020 public transport use has dropped significantly due to people working from home and people using their cars more because employers such as St Vincent’s worked with City of Sydney Council to provide more parking for staff. I have written to my state and federal MPs urging them to reconsider the withdrawal of these routes.
The bus services of the southern Eastern Suburbs are relied upon on a daily basis by thousands of residents to go to work, shop locally, visit medical and other services, visit friends, go to classes of various types, visit the beaches and the many recreational facilities in the Randwick LGA. The proposed streamlined combined routes will make many of these destinations impossible to access, especially by the elderly or people with disabilities. These services, if torn out of our existence, will plunder essential living infrastructure. There is one word to describe these changes – heartless.
St Vincent’s Hospital and Elizabeth Street
Dear Editor – The light rail offers limited seating (116) for the long, slow trip to and from the city. The current 373 and 377 bus services, which are to be cut, allow most people to get a seat all the way.
There is a very real worry that transferring to the light rail from the multiple shuttle bus services will involve a rush for the limited seats and many, if they can get on at all, will need to stand packed in all the way.
Based on current bus capacities, the proposed new shuttle bus services will have a combined capacity well in excess of the light rail, and that is without counting patrons who start their journey at Randwick or further along the line. It is apparent that a disaster awaits.
ABS data shows that Coogee residents have less than half the car ownership of the national average. We rely entirely on public transport to get to diverse destinations including those served by the 373 and 377 bus services such as St Vincent’s Hospital medical complex, David Jones in Elizabeth Street, and Macquarie Street, particularly Sydney Hospital, medical specialists, the State Library and the Botanical Gardens. The light rail goes nowhere near these destinations.
The light rail exists now and it has a role, but that is limited by its route and capacity. Existing services to the eastern side of the city should be retained in some form.
“Don’t drive into the city, catch public transport.” Pollies, from all persuasions, have quoted this mantra for at least 40 years. Now, in one fell swoop, Constance has ended the ability to do so. All bus services will stop on the edge of the city, where commuters will be forced to change transport.
Commuters, outside peak hours, will now be paying two fares to reach their city destination. Time taken to travel to the city will increase as the transitions are not guaranteed to be timetable linked.
The city will die under this new system of bus services… goodbye the living city, hello deserted streets outside office hours and closed businesses reminiscent of COVID times.
The changes to the Eastern Suburbs buses beggar belief. Constance takes his scalpel to the Eastern Suburbs bus systems. For anyone living in Clovelly, North Randwick or along Clovelly Road, the changes mean that a journey into the city, outside of peak hours, will have to use two modes of transport; a bus to Railway and then a train or tram into the city.
Constance says, “It breaks my heart to see empty buses.” Well, the people who do not fill buses in non-peak periods are the old, the young mothers, the unemployed, shift workers, etc. We are no longer to have services because we don’t fill buses. Our trip must now cost more and mean a change of transport. Sorry, Constance, but as an aging citizen I object to being disadvantaged because you want to sell off our bus services (or already have).
Public transport systems are for all citizens, not the ones you decide are easiest to fill buses and raise revenue. There will always be buses running less than full, that is part and parcel of running a public service, but you wouldn’t know about this, giving ‘service’. It’s not in the man’s vocab.
Trams were suspended from use because they were inflexible and could not meet changing conditions, just like Constance.
Drastic Impact of Bus Cull
Reading the June edition of The Beast, I noticed that there was no discussion of the drastic changes to the Eastern Area bus network being proposed by the government in the lead-up to it being privatised by the end of the year. The impacts will be profound and will greatly inconvenience users. Yet, having spoken to a number of people, they usually are unaware of the extent of the changes or are in disbelief.
Coogee users will be impacted perhaps the most. Popular route 373 is culled, meaning that a journey to Taylor Square and East Sydney (St Vincent’s Hospital, Verona Cinema, etc.) will be virtually impossible for many. From Coogee, it would be bus 370 to Arthur Street, Randwick, a trek round to the light rail station for the journey to the Moore Park station, then a long hike over Anzac Parade to wait for the standing-room-only bus 396 to Taylor Square – a journey time of well over an hour on a good day, instead of 20 minutes. The alternative is a walk from the light rail in George Street. We can only pity you if you are disabled.
Even the popular bus 370 will be savaged, terminating at Darlington instead of going on to Leichhardt, meaning a journey to Glebe will now take three buses instead of one.
And don’t get me started on the problem of getting to Central from Coogee. The bus M50 was removed a while ago because it didn’t fit with the privatisation plan, the bus 372 will be removed and the bus 374 is still shown as going from the bottom of Arden Street while the 370 (373 replacement) goes from the bus station. You have to choose which bus to miss whilst waiting for the other one. We will have gone from a choice of three regular buses to Central down to just one.
The obvious purpose of the changes to the buses is to force us onto the light rail, which is clearly running below capacity because the public is voting with their feet. It is not the answer to many people’s destinations. Even the seating is poorly designed, unless you are a family of four or don’t mind rubbing knees with strangers. The carriages are designed primarily for standing passengers.
The reason given for the light rail was that it took buses off George Street. Now they want to remove most of them from Elizabeth Street, which even now has been down-graded by having the Mid-City (David Jones) stop removed. The light rail on George Street just does not provide access to Hyde Park, the art gallery, the cathedral, etc. By limiting bus access to the city, the unintended result will be a freeing up of more road space to private vehicles. Perhaps not so unintended?
A failure of the present and proposed transport system is that there is not a focus on making the buses, light rail and railway an integrated and linked up system to minimise delays and inconvenience in going from one to the other. Look at Eddy Avenue for a classic example. Why did they not put a light rail stop in front of Central Station for easy movement between three modes of transport? Please don’t say it was for heritage reasons.
Bus users who cherish the public transport system need to have their voices heard. You can refer to mysydney.nsw.gov.au to view the bus changes and map.
I was very disappointed to hear about the bus cuts proposed for the Eastern Suburbs, especially for those of us who travel out of peak periods. Mr Constance seems to think increasing frequency of the light rail services is a suitable substitution for a quick, efficient door-to-door bus service. Unfortunately, what this is leaving us in Coogee (and all around the Eastern Suburbs) with is a longer trip with a transfer. This is disadvantageous to many of us, particularly the elderly, disabled, and people with young children. I hope the state government will consider the disapproval of the community before pushing forward with these changes.
NSW State Government and Transport
Dear James – I’m sure you’ve had a lot of correspondence recently about the utterly berserk bus-cancellation scene for the Eastern Suburbs, which is intended to drive poor, unsuspecting commuters on to the deserted light rail, when all it will do is put more traffic on the roads.
We drove back from Canberra today, taking two hours and forty minutes to the entrance of the M8, enticingly signposted to “Randwick”. There were three cars on the motorway, which took us not of course to Randwick but to the start of a traffic jam at Euston Road in Alexandria. It took half an hour to get to Bondi.
What are people to do when the M8 starts to take serious volumes of traffic? Park their car in the tunnel and walk? Because they’ll be backed up to Liverpool. Of course this was all known years ago. So what was in it for the knuckleheads from Macquarie Street? I think we know.
The history of transport in London provides consolation. Rails can be ripped up and replaced with green space and tunnels blocked off.
Local Government Issues
A Corrosive Experience
After the phos-phites in May, Randwick Council now gives us another chemistry lesson along that glorious ocean walk. A relatively new section alongside the cemetery shows the ‘stainless’ steel is already corroding where different metal compositions come in contact. This corrosion can be seen to spread out from welding joints, helped by sea salt acting as an electrolyte. Counter to logic, more corrosion occurs where air is excluded, not where it is exposed. Ever noticed that if you have left a fatty residue on your stainless steel cutlery, the rust appears near and under the residue, not where the metal is openly exposed to the air? Same for the rust that appears under staples left on paper too long – under, rather than on top.
Concrete cancer, where steel reinforcing corrodes where it is not seen and rust appears in places where no metal has been lost is the most deceptive and expensive example of electrochemical corrosion. Studying chemistry could save you a motza.
Shared village project
It’s such a shame that the shared village project has been dismantled, where will everyone’s little dogs poo and wee now? I guess back on the footpaths again.
Charing Cross Upgrade
Dear James – It is fantastic that Waverley Council is planning a facelift for Charing Cross as the area is in need of love and attention. However, as an owner of a business, my biggest concern is parking, or the difficulty of doing so. I believe this should be an overriding concern in the development and planning by the council. How can shops thrive if parking becomes more difficult?
The passageway that is the lovely Charing Cross strip has an incredible array of shops, which gives great character to the area and convenience to locals. But it is a mistake to encourage more eateries as the northern sun just does not shine on the footpaths, which face east and west.
Looking at where people love to sit and eat, as in Macpherson Street, Bronte, you can see groups gather in the northern sun as this is where they want to be. There is a parklet in Charing Cross that needs to protrude into the street to attract the northern sun, but the parklet does not blend into the heritage character of the area and unfortunately takes up precious car spots.
It would be a shame to beautify the amazing array of shops that make up Charing Cross by making it more difficult to visit and park.
Councils and Money
James – Mr Roberts is absolutely en pointe (Waverley Council: You’re Not an Investment Manager, Letters, The Beast, June 2021). Councils and money are soon parted, either through incompetence – Manly Council and Lehman Brothers Collateral Debt Obligations come to mind, or Kent County Council in the UK, who have repeatedly lost so much ratepayers’ money that you could make a motza by shorting anything they buy – or some politician (usually from a state government, as observed by Paul Keating) will sniff out a pile of cash to be squandered on their personal prestige – the light rail fiasco comes to mind. Please give it back to the residents before it’s too late.
Waverley Versus The Bronte bindi Weeds
I would like to thank Waverley Council for controlling, and almost eliminating, bindi weeds (Soliva sessilis) from the grass in Bronte Park. It is now possible to walk, to and from the beach, safely barefoot on the grass without getting stabbed by the pricks. Waverley Council, please keep up the good work in the future!
My biggest worry about beach volleyball is the spread, indeed the contagious spread, of American cultural imperialism, namely the ‘high-five’. Between every point! Enthusiastic high-fives for points won, supportive ones for points lost. Players walk from one end of the court to the other and back again just to slap the flesh. A wayward serve? Let’s have a brief tap. At the end of a game? High-fives all round! Twenties? Thirties? What ever happened to just getting on with the next point?
And what about COVID? Well, high-fives are safe, it would seem. Just no kissing on court, thanks!
I would like to bring attention to the death and serious injury of a newly-wed couple at Ben Buckler and the unhygienic Third World conditions and distinct lack of duty of care to the public at Rose Bay Wharf. It is about time someone complained about real issues (not the cover of The Beast), like the two local ‘guilty as charged’ councils and their respective lame responses when put to the sword about very distressing issues that have occurred and are still occuring at present.
So, Waverley Council, now you are in the crosshairs, because the death of the Russian newly-wed husband and the serious injury to his very fortunate bride (who only just survived) are your fault, plain and simple! This could have been prevented if you showed some actual common sense and responsibility and actually cared about the coastline that is in your electorate.
Recently we all saw Dimitri with the red Speedos being bashed and assaulted by the cops for going around the temporary fence the council saw fit to place there at Ben Buckler steps during the height of COVID, yet when a serious stormfront occurs, international tourists and even some locals are none the wiser and think it is safe to walk around the rockface.
This tragedy could have been avoided completely if the council acknowledged they have a duty of care, especially in this high tourist location, to fully inform the public of natural events that, let’s face it, occur very often if you live here.
The council’s response, that it “can not patrol the whole coastline”, is very poor to say the least. More likely they don’t wish to confirm they have a duty of care, which they have abandoned because they will be found guilty as charged. If they can place temporary fences at will, wherever they choose – out the front of the kids pool after recent erosion from storms, for example – then they certainly can prevent death and serious injury around the Ben Buckler steps (fences top and bottom would be ideal). This area needs to be patrolled. Imagine if there was a full-time lifeguard of some description at Flatrock. I’m fairly sure they would be extremely busy given the large amount of people who risk life and limb at Flatrock. You would need a fully stocked first aid kit for all the cuts and wounds incurred at this spot.
So, Woollahra Council, now it is your turn to face the fact you are deceiving your voters, along with international guests and, more importantly, Australian tourists. For the past four to five years, the vast increase in people using charter vessels, ferries, party boats… (the list goes on) has increased to the point that on some days, especially on a warm summer days, there can be upwards of one thousand people milling around the Rose Bay Wharf area.
Now, we know the council is aware, because the rangers who patrol the area on behalf of the council duly inform the local wallopers to be stationed there, given the high numbers. Struth, I have even seen sniffer dogs and more paddy wagons on duty than what you would see at the Bathurst 1000. Let’s face it, there are a large amount of hoons at Bathurst, but nothing compares to the Rose Bay hoons loaded up on coke and Coca Cola during summer holidays.
So, what does good old Woollahra Council do about essential public hygiene when these large hoards of people are hanging around with no seating area whatsoever ? There’s no shade for the elderly or even a bubbler for a drink. A very poor effort, Woollahra Council. You have been aware of the mass amount of persons in the area and you still do nothing to assist the public. Instead, when you need a bathroom you are standing in rivers of urine from the public toilets that are usually non-functioning. I swear, even the early convicts had better sewage systems than Woollahra Council, yet it approves the extension of the café attached to the toilet block so that more customers can sit down and pay for a coffee instead of addressing a temporary toilet block, just like the one constructed at Bondi Beach recently, which by the way was over three months overdue in construction time.
This reminds me, how can you close the Pavilion and not provide any replacement facilities for over three months? How do you get away with it? Correction, two filthy portable dunny blocks that the disabled where unable to use.
Fair dinkum, how can you not face up to your responsibilities while treating tax-paying people like we are living in Third World conditions? You quite simply don’t give a rat’s. And how you can justify your positions within council ranks is very disconcerting, especially since you have been treating people with such disdain for such a long period.
So, my argument of death and serious injury versus poverty stricken Third World conditions is up for debate as to which council needs the bigger reaming. I myself believe a huge shift in council logic is well overdue to fully protect the taxpayers from the faceless, gutless wonders who are not doing their jobs at best, while causing damage to our region and district at worst.
We have more than enough ratepayers in the Eastern Suburbs to be supplied basic needs on a cost basis, instead of these types of services, let’s say a mobile book van, mobile medical van or pushbike lanes correctly painted, right down to having more than five trucks for flood relief and only three tonnes of sand bagged instead of the 30 tonnes required. This district is a huge area and requires more assistance than what is being dished out. I am up for a debate with the wombats who think otherwise or who have some other pearls of wisdom.
Just another Concerned Resident
Bondi Junction Bus Interchange
Why is Bondi Junction such a God-forsaken hole? First, they built that daggy and dangerous train station that was immediately obsolete – even Kings Cross has two up or down escalators and people don’t have to dodge buses. The entire concept was idiotic.
In North Sydney, you can walk from the station underground all the way up the hill without risking life and limb. The population of Bondi Junction is increasing exponentially because of the proliferation of ugly high-rise apartment buildings, but there is absolutely nowhere decent to eat that isn’t always booked out.
The correspondent who suggested converting the tired, underused mall into an eat street, perhaps like Parramatta but with edible food, and dividing the two sides of Westfield with a bus route?! Crossing the road on Oxford Street and at the station is like running with the bulls at Pamplona.
The council will say we should walk down the mall and enter via Tiffany Plaza, but human nature being what it is, that is never going to happen. Planners call the routes people insist on taking ‘desire lines’, so it’s not as if they couldn’t have predicted this.
Thank you Stephen of Bondi Junction for that interesting information in last month’s edition of The Beast about the entombed ‘non-tunnel’ still existing under the Bondi Junction bus terminal.
It is great to hear this ‘secret knowledge’ of people in the know, however that might be. One wonders if it exists in official reports or archives of government, whether local or state. But that’s another big issue.
The thing is that this lost tunnel is going nowhere at the moment. It of course is not a surprise to know that local businesses opposed anything that was perceived to detract from their commercial interests, as much as it would be beneficial to safer traffic flow out of the railway area. But really, there are no competitive outlets existing in Westfield of hardware, boot repairers, $2 shops, etc., while several bank offices exist outside of Westfield such as St George, Commonwealth, Suncorp and ANZ, along with HCF, so where’s the opposition?
People will go where they want to, and need to, not because they are funnelled into Westfield! Acknowledge they have independent minds! As it is, a large percentage walk across the bus driveway into Grosvenor Street, en route to other areas away from Westfield, some even going to Oxford Mall!
If that closed-off tunnel in the railway egress area was opened and employed for better traffic flow and convenience it would be a logical and economical use of a neglected facility and add to the safety and comfort of its ‘customers’ (I hate that term).
Will this logic happen? I doubt it. Not without your support readers. How do we do it Beast? Advice?
Other Local Happenings
LEA HILL’S LEGACY
Dear Editor – I was at Bondi Icebergs on May 30 for a planned ashes scattering of quiet achiever and competitive swimmer Lea Hill. Although crashing surf cancelled the ceremony, it didn’t stop around 90 people later giving tribute to a modest but inspiring human being.
I had travelled east to attend because of a 50-year connection through my late sister and Radio 2UW; I had little idea of “the other side” of Lea Hill and the extent of her swimming and her swimming mates. Perhaps the Bondi ozone was responsible for the electric feel of the day, but I certainly got a good dose of it.
Fox on the Rocks
Dear Beast – I’d heard about fox sightings in Coogee for a while but was still surprised to find this fox on the rocks at Wylie’s Baths the other night on May 17. He looked healthy but dazed. Maybe he ate something bad? My cavoodle said hi and he didn’t even flinch.
Response to Bronte Nippers
Hi Craig – thank you for engaging with the community by responding to my recently published letter regarding Bronte Nipper Bogey Hole takeovers of a Sunday Morning.
The reason that prompted me to write in was that your water safety people physically pushed an 8-year-old girl out of the way while she was minding her own business in the Bogey Hole. As your trained water safety person said to her, “Races are going on!”
I note you failed to acknowledge or respond to this. Instead, you asked the community to “be patient while nippers is in progress”. This “in progress” as you mention, lasts for three hours on a Sunday morning, and for most Sundays in February and March, this year meant a convergence of nipper boards and bodies in the Bogey Hole due to beach closures.
This is inappropriate and, practically speaking, not reflective of a “shared space”. This is a takeover. When the beach is closed, tough luck. Keep your boards out of the Bogey Hole. You have no business lecturing locals on patience and safety when it is your organisation making the place inhospitable and unsafe.
Ranting Bronte Dad
Hello James – It is always my pleasure to receive The Beast. I quickly go to the monthly mailbag to see what minutiae or irrelevant subjects some people get hot about, or the more interesting, informative and intelligent input we usually get.
Dear Pearl is getting a little too sour sometimes. She reminds me of our beloved leader of the opposition. But hey, she makes other people shine by contrast. Perfect.
I could add a list of unpleasant feminists also, but why bother? Let them simmer, sad sacks (remember the cartoon?).
Please allow me to write, I find your patience, integrity and courage in publishing such variety in The Beast incredibly refreshing and good. How much the rest of the media could learn from such an example! How lucky we are to have at least this one voice among us.
Remember, freedom of speech is not only for one side. Two world wars were fought to keep us free. Had our valiant soldiers failed, we could all be speaking German right now!
Dear editor – I’m writing to you regarding the Randwick Ritz, which I have attended for more than 40 years. Recently I attended Nomadland and, yet again, my cash was refused, even now that COVID restrictions have been relaxed. I find this attitude to be arrogant, lazy and bullying, even though I am aware it is legal to refuse cash.
Bus Drivers are Good People
The bus stop was about 300 metres away. I see a woman jump up from the seat and start waving at me like a crazy thing. As I get closer, I see she has a can of bourbon in one hand and a cigarette in the other. Now she’s chugging down that bourbon like a pelican swallowing a fish, and then she throws the empty can on the ground. Next, she’s sucking on that durrie like her life every last ounce out of it, then flicks the butt aside with the precision and accuracy of a Wild West gunslinger, pttewwww!
Then I arrive and open the doors, and there she is standing before me, Jeeezusss! She’s got no teeth, but she can speak. She says to me, “Owya goin’ mate? Look, I avint got me cheque yet! Can I git a fwee wide?”
I could have said a lot of things. How’d you afford the bourbon? How’d you afford the cigarettes? But I didn’t say any of those things. I don’t know her story. I don’t know what kind of life she’s had. Was she abused or neglected as a child? I don’t know anything about this woman, so I didn’t say any of those things. What I said to her was, “God bless you love, of course you can. Hop on, take a seat.”
She was happy. I was happy. That was a good day at work!
Here We Are Again
Dear James – As a retired, aged care and disability services worker, I am extremely angry about the current COVID infections – again! – in aged care, and the botched vaccine rollout for aged care and disability services clients and their carers, as well as the disdain in which the federal government appears to hold them. I can only assume that Canberra thinks the aged and disabled are expendable and cost too much money, so why bother.
Coming on top of the equally botched application of the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aged Care, this is too much to bear. It seems that this issue is beyond the feeble abilities of Canberra to deal with. Perhaps the real disability sector could put forward a team to take over the reins of government.
We may all need aged care one day – even a retired aged care minister. Oh, he’s still there?
Pedestrian crossing desperately needed
After reading Sophie’s article about the much needed pedestrian crossing in Avoca Street, Randwick (An Accident Waiting to Happen… Happened!, Letters, The Beast, June 2021), I felt compelled to write in support of this much-needed crossing.
I wrote to the Roads and Maritime Services in August 2018 requesting a crossing at this very busy location. Hundreds of people, on a daily basis, attempt to cross over from the Avoca exit of the Royal Randwick Shopping Centre. It’s very dangerous. The response I got from the RMS was completely unsatisfactory. The reply inferred, apart from that it was too difficult, was that because no one had been killed it wasn’t deemed important or urgent enough to consider. So, someone has to be killed before anything is done?
An extract of the letter follows: “Roads and Maritime Services has conducted an investigation and are unable to support your request. Installing a pedestrian crossing would require two lanes of Avoca Street to be removed from Avoca Street to accommodate the crossing. This would have significant impact on traffic flow along Avoca Street. As Avoca Street is a State road which carries significant traffic volumes, this is not a viable option.”
“Additionally, there have been no pedestrian crashes over the past five years of finalised crash data.”
After receiving the negative response, I went and saw Marjorie O’Neill about the issue. After two months of not hearing from her, I contacted her office and was then sent an apology with an included response from the RMS. The response stated RMS was doing an appraisal of Avoca Street, which would include investigating pedestrian safety. The response stated the Road Network Plan was to commence in September 2019. This reply also mentioned the line regarding crash data among other dubious reasons why a crossing isn’t possible. I had since contacted her office by email on January 15, 2020, asking how the Road Network Plan was progressing, for which I have received no reply.
A pedestrian crossing with lights was added to the Belmore Road exit of Royal Randwick Shopping Centre and outside the police station on Alison Road. It seems we have to wait until people are killed before those in charge will actually do something and take this issue with the seriousness it deserves.
Thanks to Sophie for your initiative and community concern.
This Little Piggy
Question for fellow readers near Centennial Park: Has anyone heard what sounds like a very energetic wild pig at around 2am? I couldn’t catch a glimpse, but it sure did make the puppy pee expedition in the backyard more exciting. On another note, is anyone missing a pet pig?
Massive thanks, please everyone do a CPR course
Dear Beast – A massive shout-out and thanks to the legendary and beautiful bloke who knew how to administer proper first aid.
There I was on Bondi Road, hungrier than a 17-year-old with a fake ID in the queue to the Beach Road Hotel. I swooped past the bakery en route to get a juice at the Fruitologist. While inhaling (my bad) a glorious pastry and a delicious croissant, it got stuck in-between.
I couldn’t breathe and ran inside the fruit store to grab some water to try and wash it down. Too little too late, I fell to my knees outside the Fruitologist without words – I couldn’t speak because I couldn’t breathe – trying to beg for help.
People walked casually past me, some even stepped aside like I was a madman. Maybe it’s true, but that’s not the point. Anyway, a legendary bloke stuck in the traffic on Bondi Road jumped out of his truck and gave me ‘the whack’ on the back (no Heimlich manoeuvre anymore) three times and saved my life.
James – if you can publish this so I can find this legendary bloke who saved my life, please do it. Please, if you can, please do your first aid course.
Hi – I just want to say I disagree with your thumbs down to the monarchy. You said the Kardashians are more relevant. What have the Kardashians done for charity? The monarchy raises millions of dollars for charities. Have you seen the Kardashians do anything to raise money for charities? I think I admire Queen Elizabeth more so than any of the Kardashians. From the age of 25 she has been involved in public service. All the Kardashians do is raise money for themselves – it is said Kim is now a billionaire.
Healthy Submarines and the Coronavirus Pandemic
Trapped overseas by the coronavirus pandemic, many Australians are waiting to return to Australia. But instead of getting our people – Australians – back to Australia, Scotty from Marketing is threatening them with fines and prison if they return to their own country – well, unless you are cricket player or a Liberal politician wanting a round trip to London to the G7 meeting, of which Australia is not even a member.
As George Orwell would say, some are deemed less Australian than others. They have to wait to return to Australia – and this includes children, as Australia does not have the infrastructure to accommodate returning Australians, so the official excuse goes. But why don’t we have the infrastructure?
Well, even tax money can only be spent once, and our esteemed Liberals prefer to have, for example, twelve submarines to defend us against mortal enemies like Andorra, Luxemburg, Mongolia, etc. The sum for those underwater big-boys-toys is $100 billion (Australian Financial Review).
Generally, it is assumed a fully equipped hospital costs about $1 billion. For the money, Australia could have 100 hospitals. Yet quarantine facilities are way cheaper. Australia could afford to build ten such facilities in each state and would still have plenty of money left to fly every Australian back home.
Instead of getting Australians home when needed, we get twelve healthy submarines – a great help in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. Thanks, but no thanks!
Three Strikes for Matraville Incinerator
I just read this article on your website, and I’m angry that this may happen. It simply must be stopped. I grew up in Australia Avenue and, yes, down the end of the street was sand, but not a tip. I came from a pioneer family of Matraville. The Dive brickworks belonged to my Grandfather Dive. On the Weston side of the family we have monuments at Malabar. I would go swimming in the warm water coming out of the paper mills, where my father worked. He lived to into his 80s and I’m 80 and in good health. This is unthinkable, please stop it.
Such a Shame
Woolworths Bronte opened today. Judging by the number of customers they had in store and the parking chaos as I walked past, it’s been well received. As I continued on my walk, I noticed a sign outside the Bronte Convenience Store saying, “Store closing, 50% off.” What sad news. Shame on Waverley Council for allowing this to happen.
Sent from God
I love the new Woolworths Bronte. My prayers have been answered. I’m in disability and have been diagnosed with a tumor (not yet known if it’s cancerous). I paid $8 for bread at a local convenience store and now it’s a reasonable $3.40. Come on, 200% and above markup? I always left there feeling totally ripped off.
The Bloody Crossword Again
Could you please inform your crossword designer that the word for “The property of being out of date” is not “obsoleteness”, but “obsolescence”. I have never heard anyone ever use that term.