The Beast’s Monthly Mailbag
Traffic Chaos out of Control
It’s about time Waverley Council introduced a form of compensation for local residents suffering from the inconvenience of major development work in the municipality.
With the massive demand for the café strip in Macpherson Street the area has turned into a traffic nightmare in the mornings, and during peak hour cars are gridlocked up for almost a kilometre at times due to the major work being done at St Catherine’s School.
Massive trucks are continually trundling up from Darley Road and local motorists face major delays as their movements are stymied by traffic controllers giving these juggernauts right of way into the massive hole in the ground.
Why can’t the truck movements be restricted to after 9am and before 2.30pm to allow for uninterrupted school drop-offs and pick-ups and ease the regular bottleneck in morning peak hour?
Local streets are also suffering and residents without the luxury of off-street parking usually have to find a spot well away from their homes due to the influx of tradies working on private houses. It’s not the fault of the tradespeople as they are only doing their jobs and they need to access their equipment.
Council should look at the Development Applications and assess whether more than one development in the same area at the same time is feasible, and whether it will cause major problems to nearby residents. If it does, put one DA on hold until the first major work is done and then let the next one begin.
During this current COVID crisis more people are staying at home, and if they have to go out they should be able to return to within a reasonable distance of their residence without development taking precedence over local needs.
$324,000 – A LOT OF Beers!
We now know that Bronte SLSC has a small active membership and that there is significant community opposition to the expansion of its private clubhouse planned by its governing body. That being so, our Council, before supporting any new plans, should read and then reread the realistic contributions to The Beast by “Concerned Narc” (Letters, The Beast, July 2020) and “Brian” (Letters, The Beast, August 2020). They highlight the disconnect between surf clubs as we have fondly known them and their grandiose and commercial future as promoted by those who now control some of them.
While the existing footprint would now seem to be Council’s intention for the community and private club facilities, the question arises as to whether the upstairs floor space, exclusive to the club, should be maintained or reduced. As is manifest, that area of the clubhouse is not often utilised by or available to club members (except at a price) and is excessive to the needs and requirements of a surf club. Also, as the present building is adequate, any replacement should be no higher.
During its 2018/19 financial year this private club’s bar sales were remarkably about $324,000 and its income from hiring the clubhouse function room about $124,000. It received almost $83,000 for hiring out the kiosk, which sits on community land in a building paid for by the public. Should the community fund the provision of facilities that have an obvious commercial purpose for the benefit of a private club? Like “Brian” (Letters, The Beast, August 2020), I wonder what the club’s future role is meant to be.
Additionally, toilet and shower facilities exclusive to members are in the same building as, but separated by an internal wall from, those for the community. I have yet to hear a contrary argument to the suggestion that the club and the community should share those amenities, thus avoiding the cost and space taken up by duplicating facilities which are side by side in the same building but with separate entrances.
It really boils down to the extent to which a private and members only club should be the recipient of community funds and be allowed to exclusively occupy parkland. In my view, both trespasses upon the public should be minimised.
Bronte SLSC Development
Dear Reader – As a six-year member of the Bronte Surf Life Saving Nippers Club and this year’s girl’s vice-captain, I have personally greatly benefited from this amazing community-focused club. No matter what you believe about the Bronte Surf Life Saving Club, if you live in Bronte, you know how much the beach means to the community.
This is especially true for the children and nippers like myself who use the beach, not only on Sundays but almost every day. Whether for a surf, swim or run, the beach is a huge part of our lives. And if you agree that a huge number of the nearly 800 children that do nippers and rely on the beach to maintain a healthy lifestyle, then how is it that you say that we shouldn’t have the appropriate facilities? For you to expect that a club that has grown in size as much as Bronte, with limited funding and resources, with parents volunteering their time and effort so that children can learn healthy habits and proper lifesaving skills to protect our community, and not need something in return to continue is illogical. Instead, we are being cramped in a very small clubhouse, unable to hear over the voices of people filling the room that does not adequately meet the club’s needs. The 10 per cent increase of space in the renovations and a shifted bathroom would make a world of difference to the children who love Bronte.
As I am moving into under 14s I have seen hundreds of children move through Bronte nippers. Since I have been with this club, I have witnessed fellow nippers in my age group that do things I wouldn’t have thought possible. For example, last year Miki Bianchi assisted with an after-hours rescue at age 12. She could not have done that if she had not had the training of the Bronte SLSC.
There are so many things that go on at Bronte that people don’t even realise. Yes, the new surf club will cost a considerable amount of money, but what a good way to assist in the livelihood of the people of our community, something that would indeed give back in a way we can only see in the skills and culture of the club.
Not allowing the development of the much-needed facilities for the hundreds of children that do or will do nippers is very short-sighted. Bronte nippers is a part of the community – my community, your community, our community – and our culture, and in order for the club to continue to thrive, we need these renovations and expansion of the clubhouse.
Ready and Willing
I agree with Tina Harris (New Breed of Dog Owner, Letters, The Beast, August 2020) regarding the existence of considerably more dog droppings on our popular public pathways recently, particularly in the Randwick municipality. On many mornings the beach walks along Coogee through to Gordons Bay are full of little poops, which are sometimes difficult to avoid stepping on.
I have also noticed an increase in owners allowing their dogs to walk unleashed along these popular walkways, which naturally leads to no responsibility taken for cleaning up when a poop is dropped.
If Randwick Council doesn’t have the resources to take action against these ignorant dog owners, then as a regular walker I am willing to don a hat, wear a badge and book their arses – if Council empowers me!
Searching for the Source
Jonathan (Strange Noises, Letters, The Beast, August 2020) – I hear them too! And I can’t fall asleep sometimes as it can be quite loud. I looked for the source for weeks and gave up. I thought I was crazy so it is good to see that I am not the only one, though it does not help fixing the problem I guess. I just use earplugs, which are not always enough but it helps.
In response to Jonahan’s letter (Strange Noises, Letters, The Beast, August 2020), I too have noticed a new siren-like buzz since around May. I live next to the Prince of Wales Hospital where there is a major building site on Botanty Street. I am guessing this construction site may be the source. Is it survey or radio communications? I intend to ask when I next walk by the building site.
Hi – I just wanted to say, regarding the strange noises and Jonathon’s letter (Strange Noises, Letters, The Beast, August 2020) that I hear it too! On Birrell Street, Bondi, and many people are saying the same on the Bondi Local Loop Facebook page.
Ambient Noise at Dawn
Hello Jonathan (Strange Noises, Letters, The Beast, August 2020) – We were interested in the information you shared with readers of The Beast regarding the strange noises.
We can’t help you solve the mystery of the strange noise but can assure you that we hear it too, and hear it frequently. However, one gets used to it, and most of the time we just ignore it.
We moved back to the Randwick-Coogee area three years ago, having first lived here back in the seventies. During the forty years in-between we resided in Watsons Bay, Woollahra and also Annandale.
During our Watsons Bay years – our best (and longest) ones in Sydney – we used to hear an ambient noise at dawn. We lived on the top of the cliff on Old South Head Road. We were told it was tinnitus or imagination, but we eventually discovered that it came from fishing boats going out to sea, the noise coming from the tunnels under the cliff.
But back to the present… our son, who has never moved from this area since the seventies, claims that everybody is aware of the “white noise” in Coogee. We have been wondering, as you have, whether it comes from the Optus tower. We happen to have one on the top of our roof, and our flat is on the top level of the building. I can’t tell you when we became aware of the ambient noise, but it was well before G5 became an issue.
After reading your letter I did a couple of tests. I compared the sound in the flat and on the balcony (overlooking Coogee and the ocean). The noise was the same. I then walked to the post office on Perouse Road and could hear no difference in the noise on the road and in our building. So, we are not any closer to an explanation. Thank you for raising the matter in The Beast.
With our best wishes,
Ivan and Barbara Barko
We’re not Alone
I too occasionally hear that high-pitched sound described by Jonathan (Strange Noises, Letters, The Beast, August 2020) late at night around 10-11pm when all is quiet, depending on the wind direction. And I’ve heard it before May 1.
As I live just two blocks from The Spot and Prince of Wales Hospital, I’ve often thought it may be coming from the hospital, given all the electronic equipment they have, so Jonathan is not alone in hearing strange noises!
The Music Never Stops
In response to Jonathan from Randwick (Strange Noises, Letters, The Beast, August 2020), I live in Bronte, and for the last at least three or four years have been submitted to the noise described by him.
It is a sort of humming/droning sound that just goes on and on during the night. I am a light sleeper who also suffers from insomnia, and that ‘music’ that never stops is extremely frustrating; you can not get away from it. I too would very much like to know what causes it and if it can be stopped.
The Lazy Fox
Hi guys – The strangest thing happened today, it was almost 10.30am and the electrician doing work at my house called out to me to come and see what was hanging out around the pool – a good sized fox! He’d been drinking from the pool and had managed to jump over the glass fence to get in.
Once he realised he was being watched, he casually made his way to the fence and made a few attempts to leap up and jump the glass fence again. Ironically, my sons name is Fox, so he was pretty chuffed to spot one lurking around the house! I’ve got a few good photos if you’re keen to see them.
Dear Beast – Over the past few years I have been part of a crew working around some of Waverley’s reserves and bushland remnants, including Bronte Gully, the Cutting, the boardwalk, and Hugh Bamford Reserve. This work has now ended, and I just wanted to say goodbye, and to mention some of the people who have made the work more interesting.
First, hats off to the youngsters around Bronte Gully. The little primary school kids who love nothing better than to come straight from school to our recently terraced and planted slope, which they run up and down, gleefully trampling the seedlings. Their obviously libertarian parents do nothing, but why would they – they weren’t watching anyway.
And the bigger kids are well on their way to being just as community-minded as their parents. There is something to admire in these industrious teens – they are not like their parents in one way, that is they openly and actively destroy the environment, rather than doing so covertly by way of voting and purchasing decisions. As soon as we plant some native shrubs, they come and rip them out or trample them. And they go further, ripping out the sleepers holding the sandy slope in place. Kids represent the future, and the future looks damaged, eroded, and very weedy. And rubbishy. Question: has a kid ever put their used bong in the bin?
Of course, we blame kids for everything, however it was an adult from Hewlett Street who chopped down the trees in Bronte Gully between him and an uninterrupted view of the beach. This anti-environment crusader makes a valid point: there is no use being entitled if you don’t put that entitlement into action. Let’s have a vote. What is more important: the community, or being entitled? By the way, another question: why couldn’t a tree be part of the view?
Special mention to the dog owners. Like the bloke at Calga Reserve who takes his dog for an early morning ‘walk’ into the bushland where we have to work. Onya mate! Or the many all-of-a-suddenly phone-preoccupied owners who just don’t notice what their dog is doing. Or the bewildering and not uncommon owner who picks the poo up, puts it in the bag, then lobs the bag into the bush! I’ve tried, but I just can’t work these ones out. Could someone who does this please explain?
And kudos to the employees who are responsible for the grassy areas around our coastal reserves. With their bespoke, total hands-off approach, they never let a month pass without increasing the plant diversity in these areas. Why cultivate a monocultural lawn when you can just sit back and watch as a diversity of weeds appear?
I know how Council could save money: just stop spending it on needless projects such as trying to convert the former rubbish tip that is Bronte Gully into native bushland. The community don’t want that. And the thousands saved could be added to the multi-millions spent on a new clubhouse, or something.
Sarcasm aside, sincere thanks and best wishes to the many nice folks I have met while working around here, who do support and encourage environmental care. I wish they were all like you.
Dear James – While welcoming a broad spectrum of opinion in your excellent magazine (although Pearl sometimes pushes the boundaries), I was quite surprised to read the misleading and ideological article in your August edition by Andrew Bragg about superannuation (Super and The Pandemic, The Beast, August 2020).
The Superannuation Guarantee scheme introduced by Paul Keating is an excellent way to help people live comfortably in retirement. Now, being in my late 70s and having started Superannuation contributions in my 40s, the money put away, plus a small part pension from the government, allows me to live with dignity and confidence in the latter stages of my life.
No, Mr Bragg, the restrictions caused by COVID-19 are not yet easing, so we will not return to normal in the short-term. While admitting that allowing people in need to draw on their superannuation in times of crisis is a good thing, the concern must be that people will struggle later in life as their balances are decreased.
Firstly, to argue that superannuation has damaged home ownership is a furphy. High home prices in Sydney and Melbourne, for example, have had a huge effect on denying first home buyers getting into real estate. Also, if we allow people to dip into their super to buy a first home, this will increase the pressure on prices.
Next, the cost of superannuation to the government is part of the budget process and was designed to benefit the wage earner who pays less tax on contributions. We must expect the government to forgo revenue if we are offering a benefit to contributors.
Thirdly, superannuation obviously does significantly reduce reliance on the pension. The argument should be to expand and increase superannuation deductions so that more people are provided for in retirement.
Fourth, I don’t quite understand why Mr Bragg thinks there is an unholy alliance between industry funds, unions and the ALP. If the industry funds are outperforming the private super funds, surely this is to be applauded as the members will receive greater returns.
All in all, the article smacks of a politically ideological position that is out of touch with people’s needs and expectations.
Fading Without a Splutter
Andrew Bragg’s article (Super and The Pandemic, The Beast, August 2020) recommending drastic changes to compulsory superannuation is more notable for its errors and omissions than its content – more fake news from another faux politician.
What he omitted to say was that compulsory superannuation has given low-income Australians access to investment options previously out of reach, countless finance industry jobs and the various government taxes arising from them, and relief for big investors from seeking funds overseas with a consequence that interest payments stay in Australia.
Also, compulsory super contributions are not the single cause of reduced home ownership. Houses are the best asset class to own in this country, because the principal place of residence is not subject to wealth tax, capital gains tax or death duties. It is the least taxed of all assets and this is what is pricing housing out of the reach of many. We know that conservative governments were responsible for abolishing these taxes. Like Andrew, his ideas are bound to fade into history without a splutter.
How COVID-19 destroyed the Liberal Party
Australia’s Liberal Party follows a catechism-like belief system consisting of four elements. The Coronavirus has destroyed all four. Belief number one is that the free market is seen as the panacea for almost all social issues. If we let the free market deal with the Coronavirus thousands will die needlessly.
The second belief system is deregulation – ending red tape! What we need against Coronavirus is the exact opposite – we need regulation on social distancing, on which facilities should open or close and when, etc. The Corona pandemic demands more regulation, not less. Take regulation away and chaos reigns.
Thirdly, the Liberal Party advocates smaller government – no nanny state! Take the state’s ultimate regulating force – the police – away and Coronavirus-infected people will try to cross the Victoria-NSW border until the police stops them. We depend on police, state and state-run hospitals.
Finally, there is privatisation. John Howard sold us private health and he deliberately created conditions forcing people into private health, but healthcare for the rich is not working, as the USA has shown. Americans pay more for health than we do, only to get less in return. The USA has 440 deaths per million, Australia has five. The Coronavirus has comprehensively destroyed the Liberal Party’s belief system.
Dear Editor – Back at the height of the lockdown for the pandemic I wrote to Coogee’s local member Dr Marjorie O’Neill and asked while there was little traffic on the Eastern Suburbs streets if she could use her influence to review right-hand turning arrows on some of our major intersections. Just to name a couple: Frenchmans and Clovelly Roads, Carrington and Clovelly Roads, and Coogee Bay and Carrington Roads. I heard nothing back – not even a “Bugger off” email. I take it as a sign she has no influence!
So, I write to The Beast, where I know there is influence: come on Randwick and Waverley Councils, could you please erect right-hand turning arrows at least at those intersections? I’m sure there are more than just those ones too. These are probably state government roads, which is why I thought the local member could have had some influence. Oh well.
Now the traffic is starting to return and it won’t be long before it’s back to dangerous levels. Could you please act before we have deaths or serious injuries?
Dear Melissa – I am very sorry you have not yet received a response to your query. Please understand that during the pandemic when you wrote to us, we were receiving up to 800 emails per day. My office had to triage emails as many of my constituents were experiencing serious health and housing crises, and some were unable to work, pay rent or were stranded overseas.
My office has contacted Randwick Council on your behalf and are awaiting a response. If you would still like to discuss right-hand turns, feel free to contact the office again and I would be happy to help.
State Member for Coogee
Never Less important
Imagine my delight to read that the ABC is a national treasure. Why do I have to pay for it then? For tiresome CNN anti-Trump diatribes? Check. For Glastonbury-woke from the Ministry of Truth? Check. For gormless commentary on economics from “celebrity” presenters? Check. For half-baked climate change hysteria? Check. For sumptuous appointments at the Palace of Ultimo while news and regional services are cut? Check. For lifestyle fluff and frippery? Check. For a journalist cohort to the left of the Greens? Check.
Rupert Murdoch? Really? Is this 1987 when Jean Kitson was allowed to be funny? When Quinton Dempster was calling out the venal grubs of Macquarie Street? Instead of old obsessions, better to fight the unaccountable social media cartel. Better to muster support for the ACCC in their pursuit of the digital carpetbaggers. Better to let the audience choose to pay for the ABC beyond its role as an essential service.