Local RSL club’s plans in the NSW Governments hands Reply

by Philippa Martens

Local community members gather at a rally outside the Bronte RSL. Photograph by Philippa Martens

Local community members gather at a rally outside the Bronte RSL. Photograph by Philippa Martens

The community battle to preserve Bronte’s Macpherson Street shopping strip, under threat by a proposed redevelopment of Bronte RSL, continues.

The proposed redevelopment of the Bronte RSL began in October 2012 at a Waverley Council meeting held on site. Stephen Lightfoot, Co-founder of Save Bronte, was there.

“It was pretty rowdy, about 300 people turned up and everyone was anxious to know what was going on,” he says.

Save Bronte was formed to ensure the local residents concerns were heard. Mr Lightfoot says Save Bronte’s vision is to keep the Macpherson Street shopping strip as a neighbourhood centre with a focus on local shops for local people.

The Bronte RSL developer has now gained approval from NSW Department of Planning for a ‘spot rezoning’ of the site to allow for a six-storey residential, retail and RSL complex. At the same time, a community-approved Waverley Council proposal for a compliant residential, retail and RSL complex has been awaiting approval since August 2013.

Mr Bruce Notley-Smith, local Liberal MP for Coogee, has supported the Waverley Council proposal from its inception.

“The Waverley Council proposal should be approved and any proposal should comply with current zoning laws,” he says. Mr Notley-Smith believes the pre-gateway process is flawed, that it’s an “inappropriate mechanism to have in planning law” and he feels strongly that it breaks his party’s election promise to give planning powers back to local councils, he says. There is no justification for the Bronte RSL proposal to be sitting in the Department of Planning’s office. It should be dealt with at the local level, he says.

The pre-gateway process is currently under review by the NSW Department of Planning and Environment. A spokesperson for Pru Goward, the NSW Planning Minister, said the review is ongoing and taking place to ensure the process was “targeted at matters of regional significance”.

Tom Cha, owner of Bronte Food Centre, a mixed food business in operation for 14 years near the RSL site, says of the proposed redevelopment, “It’s not good for any small business around here, this is a small village. It’s also not good for children’s safety with more traffic, parking issues and trucks to come.”

Erin Verinder, manager of a herbal dispensary a few shops up, agrees. “There’s a real sense of community here, people know each other’s names and like the home-grown and local shopping experience.” However, Ellouise Tyrrell, who owns a property management business, said she didn’t want to comment, as it was “too controversial”.

Whether or not Bronte RSL is deemed to be of regional significance is a debate that continues to sizzle away, according to Stephen Lightfoot. For a suburb of 30,000 residents, many believe the local club is too small a fish to fry. For now, it’s a waiting game to see who gets out of the frying pan.

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Opal Card: commuters ask questions Reply

by Cecily Huang

A sign of the times

A sign of the times

A 433 bus arrived at Railway Square. Jerry Wang, a new international student from UTS, got on and took out his Opal card, but the driver shook his head, and said, “Sorry, you can not use Opal card on this bus.’” Jerry sighed and searched for coins in his wallet.

The Opal Electronic ticketing project, costing $ 1.2 billion, was officially launched as a trial in December 2012.  Since September 1 this year, 14 paper tickets for  train, bus, and ferry routes are no long be sold.

More than 700,000 Opal cards have been now issued, but the customers can only tap on 2,890 buses of 5,000 buses across Sydney. The aim is that the rest will be on line by the end of this year.

Jerry Wang was lucky, as the driver gave him a free ride this time. However, many Opal cardholders would have to get off to buy paper ticket in a convenient store for pre-paid buses without Opal card installation. It is not yet as convenient as promised by the Government.

Ann, a passenger on 431, said, “I am not getting an Opal card until I can use it on every bus.”

Michael, a bus driver of 431, said, “We have not installed it on this bus. I don’t know why it is so slow in this area.”

In November 2012, Gladys Berejiklian, the Minister for Transport, said, “London has the Oyster, Hong Kong has the Octopus and from next month Sydney will have the Opal card. ”

Opal card mass rollout in Sydney is quite late, comparing to the other cities in Australia – seven years after Perth’s SmartRider, six years after Brisbane’s Go Card, five years later than Melbourne’s Myki, and two years behind Adelaide’s Metrocard.

Beijing opened its first subway line in 1969, 43 years after Sydney’s first stations of St. James and Museum. Beijing started to implement its smartcard, Yikatong on its subway in 2003. Most of public transactions were made using Yikatong by 2006. By 2008, all Beijing taxis were required to accept Yikatong payment.

Hong Kong’s Octopus Card, started in 1997, now can be used in multiple ways, such as with taxis, purchases in shops, fast food and so on.

The NSW Government wants 33,000 monthly, quarterly and yearly ticket buyers to switch to the Opal card. Opal card offer discounts including: off-peak train discount of 30 per cent – after your first eight paid journeys in the week, all further travel is free, and on Sunday you only pay $2.5 for an entire day trip.

However, these discounts do not seem to offer savings to people commuting between home and work during peak hours. Instead, the frequent traveller’s weekly expense on public transportation increases after using Opal card.  According to NSW Labor’s statistics, commuters who previously used MyTrain Yearly, are like to be financially worse off – up to $440 if they travel more than 65 km.

A Transport for NSW spokesman said, “Around 90 per cent of customers will be the same or better off under Opal.”

Registration is optional in other states in Australia and users can easily choose an unregistered card. However, Opal card’s required online registration system allows law enforcement officials to obtain a customer’s personal information including where and when user has travelled without a warrant.

The concerns of many commuters include: the need to be registered; the seeming ability of the government and police to track commuters’ movements once they are registered; and the fact that registration does not offer commuters any real benefits.

New hope for Newtown’s vandalised trees Reply

by Sue McCreadie

Recovering robinia tree in Leamington Avenue. Photo: Sue McCreadie

Recovering robinia tree in Leamington Avenue. Photo: Sue McCreadie

The first day of spring brought hope to Leamington Avenue in Newtown when new buds appeared on two of the 14 robinia trees that were poisoned earlier this year – an act that Sydney City Council had warned could see the offenders fined up to $1.1 million.

The Council now believes most trees will recover. Those that do not will be replaced in the next few weeks.

The Council planted the trees in March after holding community consultations last year. A number of residents opposed the plan at heated public meetings because of concerns about the impact on parking, traffic and sunlight.

Council workers discovered the trees had been poisoned the day after they were planted in March. A Council flyer distributed to residents said, “High levels of the herbicide glyphosate were detected in samples from the bark and leaves of all the trees.”  Glyphosate is the active ingredient in the weed-killer Roundup.

The Council invited residents with any information to come forward.

Local resident Donna Scott said she was physically sickened when she heard what had happened. “Apart from anything else, it’s a very animal friendly street and we were concerned pets could be affected,” Ms Scott said.

Council workers regularly flushed the soil around the trees after detecting the poison and the soil is being closely monitored.

Penny Paul, a local resident and horticulturist, said that the poisoning was a brazen act. “It’s good news that there are some new buds but I am still concerned about whether all the trees will survive.”

Ms Paul said she was fully supportive of the Council’s tree planting policy.  “I think the concerns that residents had about things like the garbage trucks getting through haven’t come to pass and most of them would now have come round.”

The trees were relatively mature and the planting reportedly cost over $10,000.

Following community consultations last year, the Council reduced the size of the planter beds to address resident concerns about parking and traffic, and conducted a shade study, which it said demonstrated there would be no loss of light.

The Council maintains that increasing canopy cover over paved surfaces is a good way to lower the amount of heat that radiates off roads and pavements and that it helps to reduce hydrocarbon emissions.

Leamington Avenue was chosen because it is one of the widest streets in Newtown. The Council is looking at a number of other streets that are wide enough to accommodate ‘in road’ planting with minimal impact on traffic and parking.

Leamington Avenue was last at the centre of controversy in 2010 when the State Government threatened to demolish 35 homes on the rail side of the street to make way for a rail tunnel. Residents mounted a successful campaign to quash the proposal.

Much more than a football match Reply

by Alessandro Zheng

Fans of the Italian champion team Juventus follow them around the world. Photograph by James Willamor used under Creative Commons licence.

Fans of the Italian champion team Juventus follow them around the world. Photograph by James Willamor used under Creative Commons licence.

Football fan William Salim travelled from Indonesia to watch the mighty clash between Italian champion team Juventus and the Australian A-league All Stars at the ANZ Stadium on August 10. As honorary president of Juventus in Indonesia, he was happy to see his team beat Australia 3-2.

“I am very happy to join in this wonderful event,” Mr Salim said. “Before coming to the stadium, I buy three kits in the shopping centre, ne for me, two for my sons.”

As Mr Salim knows, football is an important part of the culture in the world. The Iuemag website shows football, played by over 250 million players in over 200 countries, is the world’s most popular sport. Research by the website Top-end-sports shows that the most popular sports in Australia are Australian Rules Football, followed by cricket, and then football, that is, soccer.

While football brings lots of things to the community, such as vitality and fun, it does much more to promote sports equipment industry.  As Richard Tse, a salesman at a Sydney retail sports store, said, “Sales of football equipment are more than we ever expected. I think the FIFA World Cup started a trend. During this year, a lot of advertisements on TV and radio motivated people to engage in the activities.” He said he sold some 500 Juventus kits during thie event.

Devoted fans who live for the game are another reason for football’s success. Robert Wellington, of Event Development at the ANZ Stadium, said, “ I appreciate that 55,364 fans came to see the match and created such an amazing atmosphere in stadium.”

The same happened in last year’s contest between Manchester United and the A-league All Stars, with approximately 80,000 fans at ANZ Stadium. That event resulted in media headlines.

“This is the importance of such successful sport event,” said Mark Ellis, football director at the International Soccer Academy. “Football is a sport that the family can enjoy; and it is a good topic of conversation between colleagues and classmates.”

Tourism is another industry that has benefited from big sporting events like the Juventus A-league All Stars contest. Hundreds of visitors poured into Sydney for the event, stimulating increased business at the city’s hotels, restaurants and shopping centres. As William Salim said, “I came to Australia because of this event. Now I have fallen in love with Sydney and I will come again as soon as possible.”

Doggone, pet owners face ban Reply

by Nadyat El Gawley

Gavin Gatenby and his Dingo Jesse (left) at Sydney Dog Park in St Peters. Mustapha Altinci and his rescued Rhodesian Ridgebac (right) at Hawthorne Canal Reserve, Leichhardt. Photographs by N. El Gawley.

Gavin Gatenby and his Dingo Jesse (left) at Sydney Dog Park in St Peters. Mustapha Altinci and his rescued Rhodesian Ridgebac (right) at Hawthorne Canal Reserve, Leichhardt. Photographs by N. El Gawley.

Leading animal and transport advocacy groups have criticised the sudden decision by Transport for NSW to ban dogs from the light rail in the inner west.

The ban has come after months of allowing commuters to take their pets on the light rail since the service opened in March.

Michael Wright, from Animal Medicines Australia, says the decision was “regrettable”.

“It would be disappointing if we approached human animal interaction in an overly risk-averse way,” he said.

Dulwich Hill resident and dog owner Charlotte Manne was planning to visit Leichhardt’s dog park by light rail and was unaware of the ban.

“We have very few dog parks, so you need a bit of community engagement to find out what we actually want,” Ms Manne said.

NSW Greens senator Jamie Parker said he was at a loss as to who made the decision and why, and indicated that he will be seeking clarification.

A number of residents have voiced their anger at the ban, including a pensioner who

had to make a four hour trip on foot as, when arriving at the station, the pensioner’s dog was banned from the light rail, according to Senator Parker’s spokesperson.

Dogs NSW said state governments are “unresponsive” and “out of step” with the times. Brian Crump, of Dogs NSW, pointed out that Australia has one of the highest incidence of dog ownership in the world. The latest survey by Animals Medicines Australia, Pet Ownership in Australia 2013, shows dogs to be the most common pet, with 39 percent of households owning a dog.

“We believe public opinion would support dogs on public transport,” Mr Crump said.

Animal welfare consultant Maryann Dalton believes there’s plenty of room for discussion, saying that if the Government introduced a policy of allowing dogs on public transport, there could be special carriages or services available to accommodate animals and their owners.

Gavin Gatenby, co-convenor of Ecotranist Sydney, said the change will increase pressure on the authorities to provide services. The non-profit group points to European countries where dogs are able to travel on public transport.

“It’s just regarded as part of life,” Mr Gatenby said.

Dog owner and Leichhardt resident Mustapha Altinci said, “If it’s possible in any other country, it should be allowed in Australia.”

Piano to stay as symbol of store’s image Reply

by Grace McCarthy

David Jones’ grand piano: a continuing symbol of the store’s image.

David Jones’ grand piano: a continuing symbol of the store’s image.

Despite the many changes initiated by the new owner of David Jones, South African company Woolworths, the store’s grand piano will remain as an emblem of the venerable retailer’s elegance and sophistication.

The decision by chief executive Ian Noir to keep the piano and pianists as a feature of the flagship store in Elizabeth Street reinforces David Jones’ commitment to its image as a retailer of style and quality.

Dr Jannet Pendleton, Senior Lecturer of Public Communication at the University of Technology Sydney, says, “The piano locates the store within the range of the great elite department stores. It continues the image of the brand that DJ’s has long enjoyed.

“David Jones would want to be seen to be offering a premium shopping experience,” she says.

On a recent Monday, Erica Dalton is playing Maurizio Angelozzi’s ‘Nottorno Postumo’, filling the room with a warm air of sophistication and grace. Ms Dalton, 59, has been playing at David Jones for 24 years and says she is frequently approached by customers. “They absolutely love it, they’ve always loved it,” she says.

Ms Dalton, who studied classical piano until the age of 45, says all three pianists at the store decide what they play but generally she performs “more contemporary pieces in keeping with the times”.

Many patrons consider the grand piano one of the store’s most “enthralling features”.

Marj Steffel, 56, who has been traveling to DJs from her North Shore home for the last 19 years, says, “It always offers some respite from the loud music played elsewhere; it’s nice to see where the music is coming from.”

Gina Wallis, 46, says, “The piano playing has always made me feel that little bit more sophisticated; it carries a real element of class with it.”

Coniston massacre: forgotten history Reply

By Thi Ngoc Ha Nguyen

Time to acknowledge the Coniston massacre

Time to acknowledge the Coniston massacre

A group of Indigenous people has raised their concern about the need to recognise the Coniston massacre at the same time as Gallipoli is commemorated.

“We need both black and white Australians, we need to be accepted and understand what happened there, that women and children were killed there and why they were killed and why justice was not found,” said Ray Jackson, President of the Indigenous Social Justice Association, at a two-day conference held by the UTS Centre for Cosmopolitan Civil Societies from 28 to 29 August, 2014, in Sydney.

The conference, entitled Gallipoli to Coniston: Remembering Frontiers, was the first of its kind. It marked the Coniston massacre which took place on 18 October, 1928 near the Coniston cattle station in the Northern Territory. It was the last known massacre of Indigenous Australians and one of the last events of the Australian Frontier Wars.

For Aboriginal people, the events of 1928 are of significance.

On 25 April every year, Australia commemorates ANZAC day as the national event to remember all Australians and New Zealanders who fought at Gallipoli during World War I. But it is a commemoration of warfare outside the country.

“Coniston [massacre] does not receive any interest,” Mr Jackson said.

“[It’s] not forgotten history, it’s hidden history, it is different. It is denial,” said Aboriginal activist Lyle Davis.

But historians and scholars agree the Frontier Wars need to be recognised, according to Professor John Maynard, of the Wollotuka Institute, University of Newcastle.

Speakers also touched upon the role of the country’s education system. Some said the review of the National History curriculum may threaten the future of this approach since there are conflicting opinions on how to explore different aspects of Australia’s past.

The conference’s long-term goal is to open up the ceremonies held for ANZAC day to recognise The Frontier Wars in Australia.

Peace and harmony at the Cherry Blossom Festival Reply

by Danni Ma

Cherry Blossoms. Photo by Danni Ma

Cherry Blossoms. Photo by Danni Ma

People from different walks of life enjoyed the cherry blossoms and the Rose Garden at Auburn’s Japanese Gardens, and the variety of musical performances, demonstrations, workshops and activities during the Cherry Blossom Festival in August.

Traditionally, Japanese gardens became places to stroll and enjoy the peace and beauty during the Edo period in the 17th and 18th centuries. Japanese sakura, (cherry blossoms) bloom once a year for about two weeks, providing a beautiful spectacle that attracts many visitors to the gardens.

Greg Hodges, Curator of Auburn Botanical Gardens, says, “This is the fourth year, and it doubles in size every year; we get good publicity. It’s a very popular festival.”

In Japanese culture, cherry blossom is the symbol of life. “They shake the trees for good luck and so the petals falls down. We stop them shaking here, so we don’t lose all our petals,” Mr Hodges says. The Auburn gardens have up to 18 different types of cherry blossom trees.

Jenny Cheesman, the art coordinator on Auburn Council, says, “We don’t have a Japanese population here at Auburn, but the Japanese garden is known its beauty, so it’s a place for local people to come to visit. We are really pleased to have so many visitors over this Cherry Blossom Festival weekend.”

Visitors seek peace and pleasure at cherry blossom time. Photograph by Geoff Livingston used here with Creative Commons license.

Visitors seek peace and pleasure at cherry blossom time. Photograph by Geoff Livingston used here with Creative Commons license.

Kieran Smith, an IT student studying in TAFE, is addicted to Japanese cartoons and comics. So during this festival, he dressed up as a famous Japanese comic character with golden hair. “I’m keen on cosplaying,” he says. “The Cherry Blossom Festival provides a great stage for us to show others know more about Japanese culture.”

Holly Chen, a Chinese volunteer at the Botanical Garden, has been a volunteer for almost seven years. She likes helping people and really enjoys the experience.

Resident Susan Browne, says “I visit three times a week, and I always stay here for a whole day with my husband during the Cherry Blossom Festival. It puts me in a great spirit and I forget all the sad things.”

Wiyna Jould, a shuttle bus driver said, “It’s great fun, it’s enjoyable, and we get people from all over the world. At this time of the year, the cherry trees are particular beautiful.”

Lebanese coffee – strong and sweet Reply

by Saimi Jeong

Mella Hassarratti: open house for neighbours, friends and family

Mella Hassarratti: open house for neighbours, friends and family

When the Hassarratti family moved into a three-bedroom house in Hornsby, they were the only foreigners in the area.

The Lebanese newcomers were called “foreigners” despite having been granted citizenship in 1936, the year they moved in. “Dagos” and “blackfellas” were among their other names.

One day, a boy stood on the edge of the road and chanted at little Mella Hassarratti, “God made niggers, he made them in the night; he made them in a hurry and forgot to paint them white!”

Mella cried and cried.

“What are you crying for, Mella, for goodness sake?” her brother Charlie asked. Mella told her brother about the boy up the road.

“You go out and say, ‘God made white people without thinkin’,  that’s why they’re all stinkin’!” advised Charlie.

Mella, now 82, is amused by the thought. At the time, it had offered a moment’s consolation in years of torment and isolation.

She remembers only five other households in Australia from the Hassarrattis’ village of Bane, in the holy valley of Qadisha in northern Lebanon, and all were driven here by poverty. But arrival brought with it the task of finding employment.

Mella’s father, Louie, went from one odd job to another. “He had a lot of guts to even leave his village to come to an unknown country,” Mella reflects. More…

 A time to chase birds Reply

by Matthew Burgess

A family picnic in the park: a time to chase birds. Photograph by Ventdroit used under Creative Commons licence

A family picnic in the park: a time to chase birds. Photograph by Ventdroit used under Creative Commons licence

From the shadowy past of Sydney’s underbelly and Redfern’s The Block, there has been a remarkable change in the inner city that’s inviting and relaxing. Once a hangout for drug addicts, drinkers and the disaffected, Prince Alfred Park symbolises the new inner city, a sanctuary of colour and peace, a place for friends and family to gather and enjoy their surroundings.

Mark Foy, Director of Belle Property in Surry Hills, has noticed the change. “Over the last 10 to15 years, it’s become more family focused.” Mr Foy suggests an increase of retail and social amenities has pushed the previous demographic of young, single individuals from the area to make way for families.

Young mother Amanda Lane, a Redfern resident who runs through the Prince Alfred Park nightly, isn’t worried about the area’s notorious past. “There are some places I wouldn’t go at night, but here is fine.” Noticing some homeless people lying on the grass, she says, “They’re just enjoying the park as well.” More…