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The Queensland Government and the Brisbane City Council plan to allow developers to turn Queensland's historic Yungaba immigration hostel into yet another luxury gated residential housing development against the overwhelming objections of local residents.
Included below is a letter from Delend Cuddihy of the Yungaba Action Group.
Dear Yungaba supporters and friends,
In these days leading up to December 15, the date set down for the hand-over of Yungaba to the developer, it seems appropriate that this act of despoliation will happen in the season of Scythrops novaehollandiae.
The largest parasitic Cuckoo in the world, Scythrops novaehollandiae, migrates to Queensland from overseas between August and October each year. This fearsome bird, with its raucus cry -- listen to the audio file (191K) here. -- strikes fear into the hearts of local birds as it seeks out nests, destroys eggs or eats the young, and then lays its own eggs in the nest. The youngScythrops chicks don't evict the host's young or eggs from the nest, but they simply grow faster and demand all the food, thus starving the others. Then, through deception and gluttony, they grow to full, awesome size and depart Australia.
Just so, the reign of the Scythrops novaehollandiaedevelopers and profiteers has descended on Queensland - with the sale and redevelopment of Yungaba, the 30 story highrise developments in West End, the sale of public forests, ports, motorways and parts of the rail network and, now the announcement late last week that the State's National Parks are to be opened for eco-tourism development. See the Courier Mail story "Parks Tourist Storm Looms" of 25 Nov 09.
To paraphrase Tony Fitzgerald's recent warning, Scythrops novaehollandiaeare already in the nest of Queensland!
Queenslanders have but a short time for our voice to be heard, to raise our own storm in protest at this despoliation.
Yungaba Action Group invites you to join us in
Demonstration on the grass on the river side of Yungaba at 10am -- 12.30pm Sunday, 13 December 13.
Can you help us spread the word of this demonstration? -- see poster attached (pdf 168KB).
Perhaps you could spread the poster to your friends, family, through your networks, facebook etc? or print copies of it and paste them around your neighbourhood?
Or perhaps you could ring the Government Call Centre on 131304 to have your comment recorded and reported.
Whatever we can, wherever we are, with whatever we have, we must act now to protect our heritage and culture.
Delene Cuddihy 0402 597259
See also: www.yungaba.org.au, "Yungaba's is a history that should not be lost" by Australian author David Malouf in the Australian of 5 Dec 09, "Ghost of Cloudland back with a vengeance" by Rosemary Sorensen in the Australian of 5 Dec 09, "Govt rejects tag of 'red-neck developer'" by Tony Moore in the Brisbane Times of 5 Dec 09,
#update" id="update">Update, 11 Dec 09: Bulldozers already on site,
Delene Cuddihy writes:
Dear Yungaba Supporters & Friends - Remember the Belle Vue & Cloudland?
The bulldozers are already on the Yungaba site.
Come to Yungaba on Sunday December 13th at 10am to protest this blow to
Let them not say that we didn't stand up for our History and our
Culture. Long Live Yungaba!
#update2" id="update2">Update, 30 Jan 10: Yungaba sold, but fight not over
Delene Cuddihy writes:
Dear Yungaba Supporters and Friends,
As 2010 begins, I would like to wish you all the best for the coming year. And let us hope that reason and love of heritage prevail this year and Yungaba will be saved for the Queensland public. This dishonourable act against our culture and history by our own representatives will continue to be told in the annals of Queensland history for generations to come: see today's Q Section in The Courier Mail:
On December 15, the State Government finalized the sale - Yungaba now belongs to Australand. When I attended Yungaba for a television interview on December 15th, the television crew was not allowed to film the interview in front of the building. So much for the much vaunted claim that this development will retain the heritage of Yungaba and benefit the community! The alienation has started already!
Thanks to all those who attended the Rally on December 13th - it was a
big ask of our supporters at this time of year and in the heat of summer
- see Courier Mail article "Yungaba sale settles but action group fights on" of 15 Dec 09 by Margaret Wenham.
Approximately 70 people attended over the two hours of the Rally and after much discussion, decisions were made on two courses of action to continue to fight for Yungaba in spite of the impending sale:
- to seek an urgent deputation to the Premier to ask for a stay of action on the gutting of Yungaba and to present alternative proposals for public usage;
- to seek to explore the establishment of a community fund which would work to obtain financial pledges from the public in order to "buy-back" the main Yungaba building so that the unique 1800s immigration depot interior is not gutted but rather retained and developed as an immigration museum;
As regards 1. - unsurprisingly, the silence to our request is deafening.
In the meantime, Yungaba's cause has gained the support of many prominent Queenslanders and Australians. With the aid of these people, we are appealing directly to Australand to save Yungaba for the people. Australand have advised us that it will cost them $13 million to refurbish Yungaba, plus $5.3m to build an Auditorium in the Yungaba Carpark. Surely they will be interested in saving $19m for their shareholders, as well as saving Yungaba for the people of Queensland? Therefore, as regards 2. - if you are interested in the formation of a community fund - please contact me.
We have written again to the Lord Mayor suggesting that he can now deal directly with Australand to secure Yungaba for his Multicultural and Indigenous Museum. So could you contact him again on lordmayor [ AT ] brisbane.qld.gov.au to let him know that there is widespread community support for this? Many people continue to sign the petition on our website and to tell their Yungaba story.
Please encourage your family and friends to sign the petition and to tell their Yungaba story - http://www.yungaba.org.au/stories.html
These stories and petitions are invaluable - as they are the bedrock that reassure us that Yungaba is a just cause and worth fighting for - and add strength and momentum to our cause.
It's not over yet!
dc [ AT ] yungaba.org.au
Ph: 040 2597259
This was originally published on this site on 15 Jun 08.
The Queensland Government have entered into a contract with a private developer, Australand, to sell them the magnificent Yungaba building and grounds for around $10 millions. Australand have had their development application approved to construct 180 units on the site. They will construct 10 residential units within the main Yungaba building, retaining the exterior façade but shutting it away in a gated community. They will construct a theatre for multicultural use in the car park.
Brisbane City Council Approval
Australand's Development Application 964931 (see www.brisbane.qld.gov.au) was approved, subject to conditions, on 14th December. Australand have made representations to BCC about the Approval conditions and negotiations are in progress. These may be completed shortly. Groups and individuals who made submissions on the DA will then be invited to submit an appeal within 20 days.
Yungaba Action Group
In July 2007 we made a submission on the DA (along with some 80 other objectors) and are preparing to appeal when the invitation arrives from BCC. We have retained a legal team who have kindly reduced their fees pro bono. We are fundraising for the legal action and have held a Yungaba Immigration Museum evening at City Hall on May 25th and are holding a Yungaba Concert on June 14th. We plan a fund-raising river cruise stopping at Yungaba on August 23rd.
Our correspondence with the Queensland Government continues to be blocked by bureaucratic regulations that can be applied (but are not applied in similar situations that have their approval). We are proposing that Yungaba is restored and operated as a vibrant museum with the visitor standing in the shoes of an immigrant around 1890. The building would operate much as it was designed for, with groups arriving, being welcomed and briefly accommodated in the dormitories for theatrical re-enactment. The Department of Works is blocking this proposal by invoking the Building Code (which is normally relaxed for historical buildings).
When appeals were being heard to Australand's first DA, the application was ‘called-in’ by the government. Subsequently, Australand put in the current DA, removing a building and adding a theatre but has been successful in proposing a swimming pool in the grounds and significantly more units.
Yungaba was the first building listed on the Heritage Register but the Heritage Council has not seen fit to protect it from being gutted. The interior is unique, with separate dormitories for single men and women, and with separate family quarters. It is the only surviving purpose-built nineteenth century immigrant reception centre in Australia. Our information is that members of the Heritage Council wanted to protect it but the council's decision was made to conform with government wishes
Yungaba Action Group was incorporated in 2007 to keep Yungaba and its grounds for the people.
Yungaba Action Group, PO Box 5564, West End, 4101.
Treasurer: Guido Cifaly
President: Delene Cuddihy, mobile 040 259 7259
All donations would be gratefully received
#WhatYouCanDo" id="WhatYouCanDo">Appendix: Yungaba Action Group asks you to nominate Yungaba as a site worth retaining
Dear Yungaba supporters and community representatives,
Many thanks for your support for the Yungaba cause - it is very much appreciated & Yungaba has not yet been handed over to the developer - so there is still hope. We held a very successful fundraising concert last Saturday (thanks to all who came) and are rejuvenated to continue the fight!
The Brisbane Courier Mail ran an article yesterday on pages 24 and 25 called "Brisbane's story told by its landmarks: but we're losing our heritage".
Unfortunately the article didn't even mention the loss of Yungaba. However, we have a chance to remind them of it in a big way -
By Yungaba supporters and community members nominating Yungaba as a site worth retaining on the Courier Mail feedback form - go to
For those of you who submitted your story, or a comment on our website, it would be great if you could submit something similar on the Courier Mail feedback form. They might use some of these for their letters to the editor. And it will remind them of Yungaba. It's unbelievable how a building with links to at least one in ten Queensland families is completely ignored by the Courier Mail.
Hoping you can help us - it would be great if you could also send this on to a few of your friends - even if only to two, it will help us generate the groundswell that is needed to bring this to the attention of the media and the government.
Del Cuddihy, 22 Jun 08
President, Yungaba Action Group
Greater Brisbane — Darren Godwell BHMS MHK currently serves as an Advisor to the World Bank on community development and lives in South Brisbane. For the first time in history, the majority of the world's population is living in cities. The challenges of city living have been with us for thousands of years but obviously we’re finding ways to deal with them.
In 1924 the Queensland parliament amalgamated the cities of Brisbane and South Brisbane plus a slew of other towns and shires to create the City of Greater Brisbane. Brisbane has usually been behind the eight ball when confronted with the pressures of population growth. In its first decades Council couldn't find enough money to pave streets, source sufficient water or sewer our suburbs. Clem Jones' election in 1961 came with a promise of the city's first town plan, paving the roads & laying sewers.
Today, the pressures of population growth again push the City of Greater Brisbane. How are the city's residents and ratepayers responding this time around? Unlike the 1960s, Brisbane is awash with plans. Politicians crafted the SEQ Regional Plan with its prescriptive Local Growth Management Plans. Every year City Hall employs hundreds of staff and spends millions of dollars to draft, consult, engage, write and implement plans. However, the modern City of Greater Brisbane demands more than bitumen and flushing toilets. People only choose to live in cities when they offer something better. Last century's civic preoccupation with roads, rates and rubbish was required but its not sufficient for our future.
Greater Brisbane will have to harbour a resilient city economy, protect a unique Brisbane lifestyle and sustain lives that are better for living in this city versus Barcelona, or any other city that competes to retain the most talented, creative, hard-working residents. This competition to offer something better is the civic challenge of the today.
Our new circumstances demand new ways of seeing the challenges of living in cities. Traffic congestion isn't a problem, the failure to have regular, reliable commuter solutions is our problem. The drought isn't a problem, the failure to have water management that befits the planet's driest continent is the problem. The skyrocketing price of petrol isn't a problem, the failure to unhitch our city economy from car dependency is the problem. Increased population density is not a problem. The problems come when we ignore the principle of local leadership over local development.
The closer to people's immediate lives we can empower residents the better off our streets, neighbourhoods and Greater Brisbane will be. The evolution of Brisbane's civic development will take us out of city hall redtape and towards greater responsibility for local development initiated by locals. Vibrant neighbourhoods and safe streets are created by ordinary people living their lives in the homes they love. Everything we do as a city must make these lives better for being lived in Brisbane.
It’s time to take the next steps towards making the city of Brisbane greater.
There was a fascinating pay-off in James Sinnamon's predictably unsuccessful bid for Lord Mayor in the recent Brisbane elections. In his "Courier Mail provides 'boring', yet unbalanced, coverage of Brisbane City Council elections"#main-fn1">1 (March 17-20, 2008) correspondence between Sinnamon and Emma Chalmers, the Courier Mail journalist responsible for much of that paper's election coverage, provides a valuable sociological tool for what it reveals about the media and politics.
Teachers, students, and citizens, take note.
Mr Sinnamon's dialogue demonstrates that the Courier Mail does not treat all candidates in an election equally.
In their defense that newspaper might say that equity and fairness are up to the formal process of the election and that newspapers just publish the news.
But some might say that it is the mainstream press that determines the outcome of elections, or at least, who is really in the running, which is not the same thing as who is actually running.
On page 11 of the Courier Mail of election day Saturday 15 March, journalist Emma Chalmers asked: "Have these been the most boring Council elections?"
In response, James Sinnamon points out that Ms Chalmer's coverage of the elections made them boring. He later says that he realizes he cannot hold Ms Chalmers responsible for everything that is wrong in the Brisbane Courier Mail's coverage of Brisbane council policy and practice, but, as he adds, he can only address these problems by asking the journalist questions, taking her work at face value.
Indeed, how responsible is Ms Chalmers for the quality of political analysis in her articles? In an Anglophone world of internationally syndicated political blanding, Emma Chalmer's writing is entirely appropriate. There is a theory (which seems self-evident) that media owners choose media editors and those editors choose the journalists in a self-perpetuating cycle of intellectual and political supineness#main-fn2">2.
If crucial elections are reported in an incredibly boring way, Mr Public will hold them in contempt, and protests about democracy and the information distribution monopolies will remain minimal.
Can others recognize these trends? For so many Australians, compared to television and sports, electoral participation remains a chore of mysteriously over-rated importance because, due to the destructive skill of mainstream media, this supremely interesting area which would normally eclipse Neighbours, since it is about real neighbours, comes across as if it does not concern anyone but a few blandly suited men, who have inexplicably risen to the top of the pile. In the case of the Brisbane Mayoral Elections, only two men in suits were given more than token importance. One looked as if he strayed out of a men's clothing ad, and the other, in shirt-sleeves, a salesman ready for the Saturday morning customers. Apart from these minor differences in style, there was little to tell them apart.
Yes, it was not the election which was boring; it was the exceedingly limited but repetitive coverage.
For this election contained a really new, important 'angle,' indicative of a fundamental desire for political and economic change. And that was that FOUR candidates, not just James Sinnamon, declared that they had policies against population growth.
Of course these candidates for a major policy change ran right up against the big vested interests in a business-as-usual outcome for the Brisbane Council election. Those vested interests are the property development industry and its upstream and downstream dependents, which include the Courier Mail. Many are grouped under the umbrella of The Australian Property Council. Such industries have chosen to structure themselves around continuously increasing population growth, without which most would not survive.
To this end they naturally prefer mayors and councilors who will not seriously challenge their objectives. "Can Do" Newman has been giving them what they want and telling Brisbanites that this is what Brisbane needs, for years now, in what the Property council of Australia describes as the "Council's high quality working relationship with the State Government" and "the cooperative relationship between the State Government and Liberal Lord Mayor Campbell Newman."#main-fn3">3
The other candidate taken seriously by the press, Mr Greg Rowell, a retired professional cricketer, and the ALP counterpart to Campbell Newman, has been employed by the Property Council of Australia as a 'senior policy advisor' since 2005, working "extensively with the State Government and Brisbane City Council." #main-fn4">4
The Property Council sent questionnaires to all the candidates, promising a later press release. The questionnaires were, not surprisingly, looking for supporters of more and more development, with fewer restrictions and fewer costs to developers.
Four candidates openly stated they opposed the unfettered development resulting from the turbo-charged population growth which blights Brisbane and costs ordinary people money, time and comfort, ruining amenity and the natural environment, raising the cost of housing, water and land.
Four candidates lined up to represent the side that opposes growth.
Yet Newman and Rowell were promoted as the only show in town through mainstream media's extremely boring treatment of this potentially riveting, not to say crucial, election.
Ms Chalmer's view of the Brisbane elections gives almost no coverage to anyone other than what she calls, the 'major contenders'. She writes, "we have an obligation to adequately scrutinise the promises being made by the major parties and major contenders." But not the major issues, apparently.
Democracy in Paris and in Brisbane: two different systems
Brisbane can't hold a candle to the recent mayoral elections in Paris. There the press treated respectfully a 27 year veteran street mendicant in the swish suburb of St Germain des près (6th arrondissment), and he actually retained 3.7% of the votes.
That is, at 577 out of 15,000, slightly fewer than James Sinnamon, who, with almost no publicity, achieved less than one per cent of the Brisbane vote.
The big difference for these two unknowns was in the attitude of the press and the public towards democracy and values over social and strategic position.
French mainstream media has nothing like the connections to property and population growthism that afflict Australia and other Anglophone countries. The French electoral system also permits many more parties and individuals to make a running.
This is perhaps not surprising in the country which symbolised a successful revolution by storming the Bastille in 1789, only one year after Australia became a penal colony for political prisoners of poverty. Child of the revolution, himself, politician and author Victor Hugo wrote Les Miserables, in which escaped convict, Jean Valjean, imprisoned for stealing bread, becomes Mayor by popular demand because he is so good and kind.
Here is how TFI, French television online, reported on the person and policies of Jean-Marc Restoux, street-dwelling candidate for the Parisien mayoral elections:
"Even if he doesn't have the political bearing, he has the rhetoric and the determination. His remarks are well thought out, his words are well-chosen, his ideas considered. [They quote him:] 'Today, in the 6th arrondissment, buildings are resold to luxury brand-names, rather than being made into public housing. There is nothing left here except luxury businesses'.(...). 'Exorbitant rents push old people out. We must, at all costs, maintain the local businesses, in the knowledge that wealth lies in their diversity', he exhorts, wishing 'to show another way to people' and to integrate into the social dialogue more people who, like himself, survive precariously . Among his ideas is one of encouraging people to mentor and assist people in difficulty. 'That those who are able to, assist the homeless by offering them a place to live with low rent and help with administrative tasks, providing a leg-up for them. It should not be forgotten that accidents in life can happen to everyone.' #main-fn5">5(My translation)
A different land-use planning and housing system
At least in Paris property speculation is severely hampered by speculation and inheritance taxes and the state has an obligation to see that everyone is housed. This year it became possible to sue a European state if you are homeless. Paris does not have the insane problem of out of control development and mass immigration from other states and the rest of the world, albeit it does have a problem with family reunion and a stock of 'clandestins' which ebbs and flows with the seasons. Not only are citizens owed shelter by the State but so are any legally present immigrant workers. Population-building for the simple purpose of enriching land-owners would cost too much to publicly funded programs for ordinary citizens to allow it to happen. Paris real-estate does have a problem of its capacity to attract the rich, chic business and the corporations, which have an upwards impact on rents. But France and Paris ceased to pull down buildings to intensify development when they abandoned their costly policy of population numbers-building in 1973. Since then the accent has been on restoration and structural insulation. In fact, over the period 1973-1975, due to the pull-back by the state from the policy of expansion and intensification of development, many developers and builders went broke. Those who survived adapted to a relatively steady-state situation. No major influence in France developed power through population building in the past 35 years.
Australian information production, treatment, and distribution
In Australia a few semi-dynastic media owners have obtained from successive leaders what amounts to a license to control the distribution of most of the information in the country and to decide what will be treated as important and what and who will be sidelined or ignored.
Our political, legal and business figures depend on those media-organs for almost all their profile and influence. By providing the powerful with a voice, the media derives more power through their authority. From this arises a situation where the public has been educated to take seriously only candidates who have press profile. To gain that profile, public figures (with the possible exception of notorious criminals) are generally notable for saying nothing which will make the media look upon them unfavourably. This seals the situation where the media confers authority upon certain ideas, individuals and industries, in a rim of brilliant limelight, whilst casting a shadow over most of the rest of the planet and its people, plants and animals.
This might not be so awful, were the media merely a dynastic system, ruled by variously colorful or petty kings. The problem is that the media is a monster network of corporations of which newspapers, television, radio and digital media are only the face and mouth. Behind this public façade are financial, land and commodity interests permeating every facet of human enterprise. Perhaps the most fundamental and far-reaching of these interests is the property development empire that the great bulk of Australian print media is intimately involved with.
Whilst many readers probably are aware that newspapers carry huge amounts of real-estate adds, and those readers may assume that those papers are therefore reliant on the patronage of property marketers, few realize that the situation goes much further even than this.
The fact is that Australian newspaper corporations now own and control the bulk of Australian property marketing on an international level. Our newspapers do not rely on getting advertisements; to a large degree they control the Australian portal to the entire world property market because they control the distribution and diffusion of information about this market and for several years they have been in the business of actually marketing the property market itself at local, national and global level.
This has been made possible on a level never previously conceived of due to the global Internet, through property dot coms like www.realestate.com.au and www.domaine.com.au, but also through very rapidly converging and mushrooming of industries and professions across government and private sector, so that we have, for instance, on the one hand, at the Federal level, the National Foreign Investment Review Board (NFIRB) positively facilitating foreign investment in local real estate and facilitating purchases by temporary immigrants for high turnover, and, on the local level, realtors touting local property internationally with the assistance of privatised migration agents and local solicitors, and at State level (where land use planning is controlled), organizations like the Property Council of Australia (APC), closely involved with determining government policy.
In a document called its "Report Card," summarising policy, the APC demonstrates nationally coordinated planning and international objectives, and massive reach for political power in every area of Australian politics. It is clear from this report that the APC believes it is responsible for major press articles and detailed government policies in areas of tax, planning, trade regulation, and international borders (to name just a few big areas). What is still not clear is whether there are any direct business links to media ownership or control. #main-fn7">7,#main-fn8">8
With knowledge of the evolution of this system of corporatised government and media, one finds oneself wondering if the Australian Property Council (and its dependents, allies and similars) run Brisbane (among other states) and the Courier Mail helps them. Unless it is that the Courier Mail (News Ltd/Murdoch) runs Brisbane and the APC helps it. If this is the case, with the entire city and region given over to aggressive property development, one cannot help but wonder if any real government or citizens remain, or whether the whole Brisbane region (and indeed Australia) has simply been transformed de facto into privately owned, publicly managed real-estate, inhabited by renters and rate-payers with no more real say in government than feudal serfs.
I should conclude by saying that I do not think this situation is hopeless. I do not for a minute believe that the property development lobby groups and the media are consciously homogeneously malevolent forces. What I do hope is that, by bringing the impact on government and the environment of their perseverative success to public notice, I will stimulate a conscientious response to solving this problem. It will take serious electoral coverage and voter involvement on the one hand, careful government and law-making, and serious cultivation of overlooked principles of ecological and democratic well-being by the property, finance and media industries. For the good of Australia and for the good of the world, the Australian property industry and its dependents, must turn off their overly successful money-making machine and start to plan for the winding down of business to one of consolidatory long-term infrastructure maintenance in a consolidated democracy. It is time to stop growing bigger and taller. It is time to grow up and become responsible and kind.
#main-2" id="main-fn2">2. "The House of Representatives Select Committee on the Print Media report, News and Fair Facts The Australian Print Media Industry (March 1992) acknowledged the importance of editorial independence, but rejected calls for legislative requirements for mechanisms to support it." Kim Jackson, "Media Ownership Regulation in Australia," Analysis and Policy, Social Policy Group, Parliamentary Library, Australia, http://www.aph.gov.au/library/intguide/SP/media_regulations.htm
#main-3" id="main-fn3">3. pcalive.netattention.com.au/act/page.asp?622=280779&E_Page=17720
#main-5" id="main-fn5">5. See tf1.lci.fr/infos/elections-municipales/0,,3721508,00-clochard-qui-voulait-etre-maire-.html
#main-7" id="main-fn7">7. In its report card, which summarises policy, demonstrating nationally coordinated planning and international objectives, and massive reach for political power in every area of Australian politics. It is clear from this report that the APC believes it is responsible for major press articles. What is still not clear is whether there are any direct business links to media ownership or control. www.propertyoz.com.au/PowerHouse2010/Congress2007_Reportcard.ppt
#main-8" id="main-fn8">8. In its online policy publication, "Powerhouse 2010 advocacy priorities, 2006/2007", www.propertyoz.com.au/PowerHouse2010/Congress2007_Reportcard.ppt, APC National President informs members that "In our tenth year as the Property Council, your association's political influence continues to grow and pay dividends in advocacy wins. 2006/2007 sees a big focus on economic development, infrastructure, tax and cutting red tape." The claim is borne out in this remarkable document, which indicates that the APC takes responsibility for stimulating various state governments to engage in what the many environmental and democracy activists would call extreme levels of development, debt and population growth.
Here are some extracts:
"Governments will cut property taxes when presented with persuasive arguments for economic growth.
Over the past two years the Property Council negotiated close to $1.7 billion of property tax cuts with state Labor governments. The Property Council's goal is to increase the tax savings pyramid every year.
"Kick starting the growth debate
Ten years ago, urban strategies, economic development and infrastructure were off the agenda. Now they will dominate political debate for the next decade"
"Long term growth strategies
After months of lobbying, the Sydney metro strategy has been released incorporating three quarters of our recommendations, along with draft plans for other regions and key regional cities."
"Plan to Deliver Melbourne 2030
The Property Council stepped in to fill a policy vacuum in the Melbourne 2030 debate by releasing the discussion paper, Plan to Deliver Melbourne 2030. We are now in discussions to make these recommendations a reality."
"Melbourne 2030 demonstration projects"
Melbourne 2030 gained momentum after the Victorian Government agreed to Property Council calls for the development of demonstration projects, such as the Dandenong Transit City."
"Increase use of borrowing
The Victorian Government almost doubled borrowings to deliver much needed infrastructure. The Government's recognition of the benefits of sensible borrowings comes after years of campaigning from the Property Council."
"Land Tax thresholds increased
The Property Council has ensured that the State Government honour its commitment to increase land tax thresholds for individual land tax payers in line with rising unimproved values, saving private investors hundreds of thousands of dollars in land tax each year."
Representations, submissions and public comment by the Property Council have resulted in the State Government acknowledging the need to reduce the considerable water and sewerage infrastructure backlog and undertake structural reform of these council owned businesses."
Brisbane's Courier Mail newspaper recently posed the question "Have these been the most boring elections?". This triggered an exchange of e-mails which began when Independent Mayoral candidate James Sinnamon wrote an open letter to the Courier Mail's City Hall reporter. See further below for Emma Chalmers' #reply1">reply and James Sinnamon's further #reply2">response.
Dear Emma Chalmers,
On page 11 of the Courier Mail of election day Saturday 15 March, you asked:
"Have these been the most boring Council elections?"
Given that your newspaper has systematically excluded any views which clash too markedly with the orthodoxy of the Courier Mail's editorial writers, is it any wonder?
And given the striking similarities between the policies of both the Labor Party and the Liberal Party, I would have thought that the Courier Mail, if it had wanted to inject any excitement into the campaign, let alone be objective and balanced, would have given more coverage to alternative views about how our city should progress.
As far as I can tell, all that Brisbane residents were able to learn from the pages of Courier Mail newspaper of my policies was contained within one sentence at the end of your article "Newman wary on rates as Rowell dithers on costings" of Friday 14 March#main-fn1">1 :
"... Mr Sinnamon ... wants a population cap."
Have I missed something?
It's not as if I had not provided you with material about me and it is not as if I didn't have something to say that was not relevant to the campaign or that was not different to what had been said by others. I sent you two media releases including links back to my web site (candobetter.wikispaces.com, candobetter.net #main-fn2">2). You interviewed me at City Hall on Thursday 14 March and you would have heard my contribution to the debate amongst the candidates.
Why was it not possible for your articles not to have fleshed out my views a little more? As examples:
- Why couldn't you have reported my point, backed up by the views of the Local Government Association, that it would have been impossible for Greg Rowell to keep his promise to keep rates at less than the rate of inflation without sacrificing current service levels service if population growth continues#main-fn1">3?
- Why couldn't the point I made during the debate on Friday, linking of Brisbane's current crisis of extreme housing unaffordability to Queensland's population growth, recklessly encouraged by Lord Mayor Campbell Newman, the BCC Labor Councillors, the Queensland State Government and, I would add, the Courier Mail, itself, have been reported in Saturday's Courier Mail#main-fn4">4?
- Why couldn't the point raised by members of the audience, and taken up by me, about Campbell Newman's failure to honour his 2004 election promise to Cannon Hill residents to save Minnippi Parklands, have been reported?
I will concede that I have been far less prolific than I wanted to be, due to time constraints, but I still believe that what I did provide you with certainly warranted considerably more than less than half of one sentence of coverage.
I believe that Lord Mayor Campbell Newman's unprecedented personal triumph of yesterday owes much to the Courier Mail's unbalanced reporting of the campaign and its unbalanced reporting, in past years, of issues at stake in Saturday's election - the North South Bypass Tunnel, the Hale Street Bridge, population growth, clearing of bushland, the water crisis, housing unaffordability, the second airport runway, the proposal for a new passenger ship terminal to cater for luxury passenger cruise ships, the bizarre proposal to entomb one third of the Brisbane River adjacent to the North Bank under concrete, etc.
As a result, Lord Mayor Campbell Newman intends to take this result as a mandate to continue with his extravagant plans to construct an alternative transport network underground and many other plans which, if not stopped, will destroy what remaining quality of life Brisbane has left to offer and its long term sustainability. Mr Newman's road infrastructure plans, given their ever-escalating costs and the ongoing depletion of the world's stocks of petroleum, make as much sense as the construction of pyramids by the Mayan rulers in the midst of the growing ecological crisis which was to ultimately destroy their civilisation.
The Brisbane residents will learn, to their cost, of the mistake they made on Saturday, and, when they do, I think many will reflect upon what factors influenced them to vote the way they did on Saturday.
As one intending to stand for office in 2012, I will have a lot to say about this in coming years. Will the Courier Mail be prepared, from now on, to report more objectively on these issues than it has in the past?
Finally, I have posted this to my web site. If you don't believe I have been fair to you in this letter, you are welcome to state why. I will post any response from you immediately below this letter, if you wish me to. Also, please feel welcome to phone me about this.
#main-fn1" id="main-fn1">1. See "Newman wary on rates as Rowell dithers on costings", Courier Mail, 14 March 2008. I would also like to point out that I don't think the photo of me does me justice. I did cooperate with the cameraman by looking down at him at an odd angle. I would have with appreciated either being advised to pose differently or having a better photo of me selected.
#main-fn2" id="main-fn2">2. The domain names begining with 'candobetter' predated any thoughts of my challenging 'Can Do' Campbell for election as Lord Mayor of Brisbane. I would have chosen 'wecandobetter.net', but that was taken. Nevertheless, I believe that Brisbane residents would have found the domain name to have been true of myself had I been elected.
#main-fn4" id="main-fn1">4. See "Newman's Liberals close on Brisbane majority", Courier Mail (online) of Friday 14 February. This story was at the URL www.news.com.au/couriermail/story/0,23739,23376890-952,00.html, but is seems that the story at that location has been over-hastily removed and replaced with the story Landslide means Campbell Newman must deliver promises of Saturday 16 March.
Emma Chalmers response of Monday 17 March
Thank you for taking the time to put together a comprehensive email.
From what you have written it appears that you have already made up your mind about the reasons you feel that you didn't get adequate coverage during the election, so I don't feel that there is much I can say that will change your view.
As you would appreciate, we have many demands on space in our paper and, while a number of mayoral aspirants around Queensland would have liked greater coverage, we have an obligation to adequately scrutinise the promises being made by the major parties and major contenders. I note you secured 700 votes on Saturday.
As you would also appreciate, even if you were to be elected Lord Mayor, the agenda of one of the major parties would end up prevailing because you would not have the numbers on the council floor to push through your policies.
I will point out that you did manage to get your photo prominently in the paper on Thursday, a feat not managed by the bulk of the mayoral aspirants in Queensland, let alone in Brisbane.
Emma Chalmers, City Hall Reporter
James Sinnamon's further response of 20 March to Emma Chalmers
Dear Emma Chalmers,
Firstly, thank you for having taken the time to read my e-mail and respond to it. I have posted it to my website, immediately below my original letter. Please let me know if that is not OK. You are, of course, welcome to respond further, as is anyone else who wishes to either defend or criticise the Courier Mail's recent coverage of the Brisbane City Council's elections.
You wrote: From what you have written it appears that you have already made up your mind about the reasons you feel that you didn't get adequate coverage during the election, so I don't feel that there is much I can say that will change your view.
I believe that, to the contrary, I can fairly state that I am always open to persuasion by the evidence. I try to live by Keynes' dictum:
"When the facts change, I change my mind."#reply-fn1">1
At the moment, the overwhelming evidence is that, for the past four years at least, the Courier Mail has not provided balanced coverage of the issues at stake in last Saturday's elections. These include, as referred to in my earlier e-mail, the North South Bypass Tunnel and the Hale Street Bridge, in favour of which the Courier Mail has repeatedly published editorials, ignoring mountains of contrary evidence provided by experts, concerned citizens, and affected residents. I will pursue this further below.
You wrote: As you would appreciate, we have many demands on space in our paper and,while a number of mayoral aspirants around Queensland would have liked greater coverage ...
If you had only slightly reduced your newspaper's lavish, uncritical and fawning coverage of almost every word coming from Campbell Newman's campaign machine, I believe that you could easily have found the the space to give the independents more reasonable coverage.
Whilst I appreciate the Courier Mail's efforts to cover all of the local Government elections in Queensland, the Courier Mail is principally a Brisbane newspaper. So I would have thought it should have been able to manage, at one point over the past four weeks, to print a modest profile of each of the Mayoral candidates. If the local newspapers, B magazine, Qnews, with much more limited space, could have managed to do this then why not the Courier Mail? Certainly this could have been done with utmost ease on-line.
You wrote: ... we have an obligation to adequately scrutinise the promises being made by the major parties and major contenders. ...
But the fact is you did not. A case in point is the story of Thursday 13 March "It's plane to see, this Mayoral race has gone green" with a photo depicting Lord Mayor Campbell Newman accompanied by Virgin Blue flight attendants in front of a aeroplane pushing trolleys with seedlings . That planting a few trees around Brisbane can in any way offset the destruction of vegetation caused by land-clearing and infilling residential developments in the suburbs of Brisbane, let alone Mr Newman's efforts to make Brisbane more car-dependent than ever before, is hotly disputed by many. This is classic greenwashing. In case you wish to better understand how corporations and governments employ greenwashing in order to cover up their environmentally harmful activities, can I suggest you read the transcript#reply-fn2">2 of Radio National's Background Briefing documentary "Greenwashing" of 10 February 2008. The point made by Cannon Hill residents and myself during Friday's debate about Campbell Newman's failure to honour his 2004 election promise to protect the Minnippi Parklands was certainly relevant and, I believe should have been reported on those grounds alone.
In regard to the Hale Street toll bridge, far from scrutinising the case for the Hale Street Bridge, the Courier Mail has enthusiastically clamoured for the bridge to be built and has systematically censored from its pages nearly all views critical of the bridge.
The Courier Mail did not publish the media release#reply-fn3">3 of 24 February from the "Stop The Hale Street Bridge" group nor did it publish the informative and well-written feature article "What price for City Hall accountability?"#reply-fn4">4 submitted by Darren Godwell, President, West End Community Association on 5 March. Moreover, David Bratchford of the "Stop The Hale Street Group" tells me his letters are not published, including one in response to an editorial in favour of the Bridge.
Whilst the Courier Mail does, on occasions, carry stories about some of the more overt adverse consequences, including the traffic chaos anticipated in the Hale Street Bridge's construction and cost-blowouts, they seem to be quickly forgotten by your editorial writers or when pro-bridge propaganda from Mr Newman is reported.
The case for these extravagant white elephants in the face of looming world-wide depletion of petroleum supplies simply does not exist. I believe that if the Courier Mail had scrutinised Campbell Newman's case for these projects and his overall record, as you claim to have done, he could not have won last Saturday's election and those who had unambiguously stood against these polices would have received a much higher vote.
These examples are only the very tip of the iceberg of the Courier Mail's unbalanced reporting in favour of Campbell Newman.
You wrote: ... I note you secured 700 votes on Saturday.
My point of contention still stands. I had views which differed substantially from those of the major candidates and I believe that the Courier Mail should have reported those views, especially as you, yourself, had correctly observed how boring your unbalanced focus upon the major candidates, with little tangible policy differences, had made your coverage of the campaign. Had this happened, I believe my vote would have easily been much higher.
You wrote: As you would also appreciate, even if you were to be elected Lord Mayor, the agenda of one of the major parties would end up prevailing because you would not have the numbers on the council floor to push through your policies.
Thanks. I greatly appreciate that you have taken the trouble to speculate on an outcome that may not have been likely last Saturday. Had I had been elected, I think it would have also been likely that City Council would have consisted of many councillors other than those from the major parties. If, to the country, the council were to have been dominated by the major parties, I would, nevertheless, have continued to argue within the council and publicly for policies I believe to be in the best interests of the people of Brisbane. In such an unlikely scenario, I would hope that my views would be reported by the Courier Mail. As I believe my reasons to be sound, I see no reason why I would not have gained broad public support, in which case there would be no reason to assume that the Councillors could not be convinced to support my policies.
In contrast, I believe that if Campbell Newman's polices of the past four years had been truly in the interests of the people of Brisbane, then he would have had little difficulty in overcoming what he has labelled as 'obstruction' on the part of Labor majority leader David Hinchliffe. In most cases the reasons for Hinchliffe's 'obstruction' was well-founded community opposition to his white elephant projects, which, as I repeat, was not fairly reported in your newspaper. I believe that Lord Mayor Campbell Newman can count himself lucky that, instead of standing up for the affected communities, Hinchliffe gave in to him. I don't believe Campbell Newman would be Lord Mayor today, had David Hinchliffe stood his ground.
You wrote: I will point out that you did manage to get your photo prominently in the paper on Thursday, a feat not managed by the bulk of the mayoral aspirants in Queensland, let alone in Brisbane.
Of course I am grateful, but I had expected some publicity in return for my effort to be at the City Hall for that event. However, I was, frankly, aghast when I saw how that photo#reply-fn6">6 turned out. I did not recognise myself until after I had read my name under the caption under the newspaper. Others, who knew me, tell me that they were barely able to recognise me either. Perhaps, I have to get used to the fact that my thinning hair doesn't always lend itself to the photographic portraiture I would wish for, However, the Quest Newspaper photographer took some effort to make sure the photo he took turned out well. If your photographer had let me know how looking down at such an odd angle but not at the camera in the way I did had affected my appearance, I would certainly have posed differently.
I also believe that words describing what I stood for would have been more helpful to me than even a photo which had turned out well.
Finally, I realise that you may not necessarily be personally responsible for all of the matters of which I complain. Nevertheless, I have to deal with these issues at face value.
I still greatly appreciate the time and effort you have taken and your courtesy.
#reply-fn2" id="reply-fn2">2. See transcript of Radio National's Background Briefing documentary "Greenwashing" of 10 February 2008 at www.abc.net.au/rn/backgroundbriefing/stories/2008/2155943.htm.
#reply-fn3" id="reply-fn3">3. See "Hale Street record set straight in runup to Gabba ward election" of 24 Feb 08 at www.stopthehalestreetbridge.com/downloads/media releases/HSL_media_release_240208.pd, candobetter.net/node/336.
#reply-fn4" id="reply-fn4">4. See "What price for City Hall accountability?" of 5 Feb 08 at www.stopthehalestreetbridge.com/downloads/media releases/OpEdPieceFeb2008.pdf, candobetter.net/node/337
#reply-fn5" id="reply-fn5">5. See www.ecq.qld.gov.au/elections/local/lg2008/BrisbaneCity/results/Mayoral/summary.html
#reply-fn6" id="reply-fn6">6. See www.news.com.au/couriermail/story/0,23739,23369923-3102,00.html
In the televised debate amongst three of Brisbane's Lord Mayoral candidates Greg Rowell, Jo-Anne Bragg and Campbell Newman, on Thursday 6 March Newman stated his wish that Brisbane eventually be like Vancouver on Canada's West coast. Vancouver also has a reputation amongst public transport advocates of being a highly livable city. How deserved is that reputation? (Also at )
In a letter to a friend, Tim Murray, an expatriate of Vancouver, who now lives in a more laid-back rural community on Quadra Island to the north west of Vancouver relates his experiences of a past visit back to Vancouver.
The naked truth about a world class city: Letter to a friend
Brishen, re. Vancouver, 17 February 2007
I have a lot to say about Vancouver. Walk away from it for just two and one half years and the change is phenomenal. The volume of cars is crushing. Rush hour is constant. It used to be that I could wait for it to subside to do my errands between 9 and 3pm--no more. Sure the city has many amenities, many choices, but the logistics of getting there make it nightmarish. I stayed in my highrise in the neighbourhood I grew up in. The building I worked in for 29 years and left in 03 is now solid townhomes. The house I owned and renovated so carefully is gone, in favor of a monster house with not a speck of grass or room for a single tree, worth close to a million. All this done in the last three years. I found the same situation with the house I grew up in. My father owned it from 1947 until we sold it after his death in 2002. It had a large yard with a garden and beautiful trees. Now it's a million dollar Italian palace of 8000sq. ft. and a huge garage in the lane---no yard visible. The local Safeway store was demolished in favor of a store three times its size. The 990 sq ft. condo I have that my nephew lives in is now worth $100,000 more than when I left it two years ago. That's capitalism. You bust your ass working for honest wages and it takes for ever to save $100,000. But you sit on wealth and in your sleep your money makes money. Sound fair? Yet this is the system everybody loves. Can you believe that this pitiful condo is assessed for more than my property on Quadra? The system thinks that living in an insane impersonal, hectic, crime-ridden, rat-race is more desirable than living here, hence my property there is worth more than my place here. Go figure. The rest of North Burnaby also looks like booming Shanghai. All along the Skytrain route highrises have mushroomed. The population level will explode. The irony is, the monorail was supposed to take people out of their cars, but there will be so many more people, the monorails will be filled to capacity and the roads will be choked as well.
Of course I spent most of my time at the multi-million dollar vet clinic--a huge facility with cutting edge technology. There are two billion people in the third world who have never seen a CAT scan, an ultra sound or even a doctor, but folks like my self are spending megabucks on their dogs for these diagnostic tools and the highly specialized staff. One night I took my dog out for a walk from the facility and discovered a man, obviously homeless, sitting in a doorway of a business. He commented that I had a nice dog. I brought my dog up to him so he could stroke him and began a conversation with him. I thought about the incredible boredom and loneliness of his predicament. No one talked to him. They avoided him. The police harassed him. He was an intelligent young man. I gave him all the cash I had explaining that I had just spent $800 on my dog so I should be able to give something to a human being. I know it would not solve his problem but at least it would make his day. I told him that I was disgusted by the fact that billions of dollars of development were being spent in this neighbourhood yet there were more and more guys like him living outdoors with nothing. He said there were no easy answers, thanked me, and I went. What I want to conclude from this is that Economic Growth does not, never has, and never will solve poverty. The mal-distribution of wealth is the result of a lack of political will, not resources. If anything, history shows that a booming economy widens the gap between social classes, not only between the very rich and the very poor but between various levels of the middle classes themselves. Once I sell my condo, and I will burn my bridges to Vancouver because I could never afford to buy back into it. Prices just keep rising. The case against Economic Growth is not just an ecological one--economic growth fails even by economic measurements.
Two more vignettes. One morning I took a blood test at a neighbourhood clinic. I brought my Quadra personality with me. I sat down next to a man and shocked the hell out of him by striking up a conversation. He was taken aback. After he answered he resumed his silence. I persisted with another question and another until I broke down his wall. After 15 minutes he warmed up to me and when I got up to go after my name was called he got up and followed me and grabbed my arm. He had something to add to his story. Where I live everybody chats with everybody.At the blood clinic on Quadra the whole waiting room becomes a forum. But at my condo when I got into the elevator people who shared my floor with me for two years would get in and look straight ahead without saying a word. City people think this way of relating to people is normal and besides, they have so many shopping opportunities don't they?
The other incident took place the very first time I came into Vancouver. I hit a wall of freeway traffic, arrived at the clinic, sat down. Then along comes this woman in her late twenties. She's wearing high-heels and those sickly long painted finger-nails. Yep. This must be Vancouver alright. These women by their dress and their cosmetics betray the fact that they are totally cut off from nature. Quadra women garden, hike, kayak and chop wood. Their clothes are functional and they have little time for fashion statements. Vancouver is a space ship. A bubble with its own environment. And the woman who sat across from me at the clinic is typical of the millions who are feeding the consumer economy with their addictive shopaholicism.
My sad impression of this growing cancerous necropolis is that it will not be stopped until its host--the environment--dies. The people who live there are sleep-deprived, workaholic, zombies fuelled on a caffeine-overdose fully committed to their artificial lifestyle because they can't foresee its provisional nature or imagine alternatives. We can lobby, we can educate, we can polemicize--but the great masses of Canadians we are trying to reach live in these urban fantasy worlds. What we mean by quality of life--what we know to be an authentic meaningful quality of life--has no meaning to them. When we tell them that a Canada of 40 or 50 million people would not be a pleasant place, that farmland and habitat would be lost to housing, how can that have meaning to people who don't mind living like sardines in a sardine can, as a tenant in 12 story highrise in a forest of highrises in a city of two million? Quality of life for them is not wildlife habitat-- its access to a Big Box store. I am returning then to a point I made a long while ago to you. I will make it again but this time I will borrow a line from Don Chisholm in his article The Growth Paradigm: "A sane world would be guided by our natural spiritual affinity toward nature and by science." Science is a powerful tool, and we must use our logical, rational mind to fight the system. But as Keith Hobson said, we have had a surfeit of scientific papers. The data apparently is not persuasive. What we have to do is tap into that other tool kit in our brain, our mystic understanding of the world, that Capra alluded to. As human beings we have had, until the Industrial Revolution tore many of us from the land, in Chisholm's words, a natural affinity for nature. That's why the World Wild Life Fund is able to make its emotional pitch. Our connection is still there. But for those living in the major urban centres it is tenuous, and that is, I think, our problem. How do you get zombies to buy into the concept that Canada has a carrying capacity when they think that their milk originally came in a carton or that the locally produced food they eat is not contingent on stopping urban sprawl?
PS Re my dog. After paying $800 on consultations and ultra-sound, the surgeon offered me the option of solving my dog's problem after I paid $400 for a biopsy and $1200 for CAT scan. If the biopsy did not reveal rampant cancer, he would perform radical surgery, relieving him of his left back leg and half his pelvis. Even then, cancer might be discovered. I rejected the option out of hand. A labrador retriever who cannot chase after balls and sticks and swim in the water for want of a leg and a pelvis would be like chopping off the hands of a concert pianist. I took him back home where he will live on until he is in obvious discomfort and then he'll be put down in my own living room. It will hurt me to see him go, but it would kill me to see him mutilated. Hopefully that was the last trip to Vancouver I will make in my life. I'm dumping the condo by remote control
It is not only renters and home buyers who are suffering from rising land values these days.
Three years ago Latrobe Street Paddington was run down. However, a number of hard-working local businesspeople have set up retail stores there and, in doing so, changed its character. Businesses include the Urban Grind coffee shop, which attracts loyal customers from as far away as The Gap, the Green Tangerine women's accessories store, the Mary Rose Gift Shop, Pet Supplies and the Biome organic life-styles store. These businesses have striven to sell locally produced products in preference to cheaper overseas imports. They have worked cooperatively and have been in the practice of making joint trips interstate in order to obtain merchandise.
Now, as reported in the Westside News local newspaper of 20 February 2008#main_fn1">1 these businesses have become victims of their own success. Landlords have recently demanded rent increases which have forced four of these businesses to close down and threatened the viability of two more. The annual rent of Urban Grind, which will be closing down, was increased from $42,420 to $59,943 in one hit. Another's rent was raised from $54,000 to $90,000 and the rent for a business in nearby Given Terrace was raised from $89,000 to a staggering $228,000. Local real estate agents have actively encouraged landlords in raising these rents.
This business community fears that this will be the start of a trend which could see the whole character of Latrobe Street changed as chain stores move in.
A group to fight to preserve the Latrobe Street retail community has been set up, but will not be able to save four of the businesses from being closed down. Whilst legal avenues to challenge these sudden rent increases exist, they simply did not have the resources to utilise them.
How to end fleecing of small businesses by landlords?
At a public meeting at Bardon Hall on 20 February, all three local candidates contesting for the Brisbane City Council Ward of Toowong expressed sympathy and pledged to do what they could to help. Sitting Liberal Councillor, Peter Matic, somewhat at variance with prevailing philosophy of the Liberal Party, suggested that the businesses form a union. Other local government candidates in attendance who showed sympathy for the Latrobe Street retailers included Yvonne Li from the Labor Party and Anne Bocabella from the Greens.
However, how these businesses can ultimately hope to prevail against the economic forces that are increasing the value of the land under their feet is hard to envisage unless legislators are prepared to tackle those forces head on.
The rent hikes faced by the traders are part of the price to be paid for the runaway property boom of recent years. The wealth gained in this boom did not fall out of the sky. Rather, it had to have been taken out of the pockets of other Australians.
Objectively, property speculation is of no benefit to the Australian community as a whole. Accordingly, Brisbane City Council, as well as state and federal government policy, should be aimed at reducing, rather than increasing its scope within our economy. Furthermore, they should cease actively fuelling real estate hyper-inflation by allowing record levels of overseas immigration. Whilst immigration proponents like to pretend that they are motivated by lofty motives of compassion for new arrivals seeking to begin a new life, the reality is that they want high levels of immigration#main_fn2">2 to drive up the demand for real estate.
Interim measures to mitigate the effects of rising land values could include:
- Local, state and federal governments becoming the landlords themselves and cut out from the equation, private landlords. Governments, as far a possible, must retain every piece of property they currently own with a view to making these available to suitable small businesses.
- Set up a Council funded fighting fund, so that businesses, such as Urban Grind, which do have good prospects of legally challenging excessive rent increases within relevant government jurisdictions, can do so.
For my part, if elected on Saturday 15 March I will adopt these and whatever other other measures I am able to in order to curb such excesses on the part of rapacious landlords.
Candidate for Lord Mayor of Brisbane in the 2008 elections
James Sinnamon, a grass-roots environmental activist has nominated to stand for Lord Mayor of Brisbane.
James is standing because of his growing alarm at the way the political leaders who wield the levers of power on our behalf have fallen abysmally short of the task before them. Instead of acting to prevent the terrible looming environmental catastrophe threatening us all, they are making the problem worse.
Liberal Lord Mayor Campbell Newman's Brisbane City Council administration is about as bad as they come. He pays lip service to lofty goals of sustainable, but in fact undermines the achievement of this goal.
His most harmful policies include:
- A massive program of the most inappropriate infrastructure imaginable given the looming threat of Peak Oil, namely the construction of a virtual parallel underground road transport network at an astronomical cost to Brisbane's ratepayers and road users.
- The encouragement of continued rapid population growth in spite of the obvious serious problems caused by past population growth.
Sadly the Labor 'opposition' is little better than Newman. In 2006, after making pretences of opposition to Newman's North South Bypass project, they caved in and voted for them, in the case of the NSBT even before the residents of Brisbane were able to see a contract that, according to David Hinchliffe penalty clauses that would make Brisbane ratepayers liable for millions of dollars should they have not wished to proceed with the agreement.
Whilst the Greens should be the obvious alternative to these two dismal choices, they have proved unwilling to initiate the kind of broad grass-roots coalition that would be necessary to defeat the Labor and Liberal Councillors.
At best the Greens can hope to hold the balance of power on a new Brisbane City Hall. This could be a start towards something better, but still, a long way short of what James Sinnamon believes should have been possible.
If he doesn't win on this occasion, James Sinnamon hopes to use the occasion to give prominence to the issues he sees as important and to encourage the formation of a grass roots political movement that he hopes will in the not-too-disant future make it possible for ordinary Brisbane residents to take City Hall out of the hinds of the stooges of property developers and corporate interests.
If you would like to help, please get in touch.
For further information on the campaign, please visit the related web site candobetter.wikispaces.com.
Independent Mayoral candidate calls for root cause of housing unaffordability to be tackled
Media release 3 March 2008
by James Sinnamon : Independent Candidate for Mayor of Brisbane>
2008 Brisbane City Council Election
James Sinnamon, an independent candidate for Lord Mayor of Brisbane, called upon Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to tackle the real cause of housing inflation rather than to apply band-aid measures at the expense of taxpayers.
"When all policy is supposed to be driven by hard economics, it is astonishing that the added demand for housing caused by record high immigration is barely discussed," said Mr Sinnamon.
"Back in 2004 when profits from property investments momentarily slumped, the property sector demanded, and got, from Prime Minister John Howard, record high immigration. As a result, Australia's population has risen by a further 1.2 million in just four years, housing costs have hit the stratosphere, and housing repossessions have reached 800 per week with a further 300,000 households at risk with the latest threatened interest rate rise."
"Property investors have got their wish," said Mr Sinnamon, "and the rest of us are paying the price."
"Mr Rudd needs to decide whether he will continue to serve the interests of the property sector or whether he will provide ordinary Australians with affordable housing, but he cannot do both."
Contact phone 0412 319669
For further media releases, visit candobetter.wikispaces.com/Media
1. "She's one in 21 million as Australia comes of age", Sydney Morning Herald, 30 Jun 07 and Australian Bureau of Statistics population clock.
2. An economist representing the real estate industry on Radio Australia's "Australia Talks back" of Wednesday 20 May 2004 said repeatedly that increasing immigration would fix the claimed woes of property investors.
3. House Flu , The Age 24 Feb 2008
In little more than a generation, Brisbane's skyline has been transformed into a ghastly inhuman wall of office blocks and high rise residential apartments. Today, much of Brisbane resembles a war zone as established business districts and neighourhoods are further trashed as this process is continued, along with a spate of more recent white elephant infrastructure projects, all at a horrific cost to our local and global environment.
A small, but welcome, pause from this breakneck pace of over-development occurred when Labor Premier Anna Bligh on 23 February, as reported in Brisbane's Courier Mail Newspaper, responded to a public outcry against the threatened destruction of Brisbane's Regent Theatre. The 80 year old Regent Theatre was to be effectively destroyed in order to make way for an AU$800 million 38-storey commercial high-rise at the back of the Regent Theatre. However, Premier Bligh used rarely enacted legislation to stop this. The legislation allows the Queensland Government to force the private developers, Multiplex and ISPT, to keep the Regent cinema operating regardless of whether or not they wanted to.
As welcome as Premier Bligh's stance is, it is sadly out of character with her overall record. Anna Bligh and her predecessor Beattie who have embraced a 'growth at all costs' mind-set which has no regard for the preservation of Brisbane's quality of life or the well-being of future generations. Both the Queensland Labor Government and Campbell Newman's Liberal Brisbane City Council administration have ridden rough-shod over community objections to many other inappropriate infrastructure and housing developments. These include the Suncorp Stadium, the Hale Street Bridge, the North South Bypass Tunnel, the Airport Link tunnel, Brisbane Airport's second runway, the conversion of the publicly-owned Yungaba migrant hostel into a private gated community, Minnippi Parklands, the Traveston Dam, the Wyaralong Dam, etc. In 2005 the residents of Maleny endured an invasion of 150 Queensland Police so that the Woolworths supermarket, opposed overwhelmingly by local residents could be built.
However, on this occasion, instead of ignoring the wishes of the Brisbane community, the Queensland Government has supported them and even the equally pro-development opposition leader Laurence Springborg has endorsed Anna Bligh's stance.
However, another force for relentless over-development, namely Brisbane's Courier Mail newspaper, owned by US citizen Rupert Murdoch, has chosen not to relax its stance and has harshly criticised the Premier in an editorial "Protection in name of popularity" of 26 February.
The Courier Mail editorialists believe that the right of the developers to profit from the further disfigurement of Brisbane's skyline is more important than the wishes of of Brisbane residents to retain what little is left of their heritage. It stated:
... but does that then give the State Government the right to dictate to a profit-driven private sector developer what sort of business it can or cannot operate on the site? Presumably, one reason for the proposed redevelopment is that a 30-year-old four-cinema complex is a less profitable use of the land than a 38-storey office tower.
From the point of view of society at large, few profits are to be had from these projects. Instead, they merely facilitate the transfer of wealth out of its pockets into the pockets of the likes of Multiplex and ISPT, whilst massive quantities of greenhouse gases are pumped into the atmosphere, particularly during their construction phases, and the earth's scarce and diminishing stocks of fossil fuel and metals are exhausted. In no more than a generation, these high rise structures will be inoperable as the necessary fossil fuels become ever more scarce and will stand just as much as monuments to to the folly of today's political and business leaders as do the pyramids built on Central America's Yucutan peninsula stand as monuments to the folly of the leaders of the failed Mayan civilisation.
The Courier Mail editorialist then argues that the taxpayers of Queensland to make up for the shortfall in profits:
Now it is quite possible that the developers might be able to rethink their proposal and decide they can make it work, with the Regent intact. However, if Ms Bligh feels so strongly about preserving the whole of the theatre complex, then perhaps she should be arguing the case for some sort of government underwriting – not something we would support – rather than simply sticking it to the private sector, as it were.
In reality, the evidence shows that it is today's taxpayers and ratepayers, as well as future generations, who subsidise the profits of developers, because they are forced to foot the bill for the infrastructure made necerssary to service such developments.
The editorialist also effectively accused Premier Anna Bligh of pandering to populism, when it asked:
But is it possible that this whole exercise is less about protecting fond memories and more about good old-fashioned, politically motivated playing to the crowd?
The Courier Mail editorialists no doubt prefer leaders who know better than 'the crowd' itself what is good for them, hence their past support for the North South Bypass Tunnel, the Hale Street Bridge, "Work Choices", the privatisation of Telstra and Queensland's Energex electricity company, high immigration, the Iraq war, the Traveston Dam, forced local government amalgamations, etc.
Independent candidate for Lord Mayor of Brisbane
Thanks Jason for posting this. The original article is entitled "Saving the Regent Theatre earns Queensland Premier the wrath of the Courier Mail" and can be found at http://candobetter.org/node/342
However, the article is not actually a plan to save the Regent. That appears, thankfully, to have been done by Premier Anna Bligh. I meant to use the occasion to give due credit to a politician in whom I otherwise see very little of merit, also to comment on the anti-democratic pro-developer stance of Brisbane's Courier Mail newspaper.
Whilst normally supportive of Bligh, when she does the bidding of powerful vested interests, the Courier Mail was hostile to the Premier's out-of-character decision on this occasion.
The following letter was posted to the Courier Mail Newspaper in response to its beat-up story (see "Luxury cruise passengers forced to wade through water", editorial: "Unroyal Welcome") about the lack of terminal facilities for luxury cruise ships on the occasion of the docking of the Queen Victoria near the grain terminals. The letter was not published. Amongst the four short letter published, none raised environmental objections to the luxury cruise industry.
Brisbane no more needs a new luxury passenger ship terminal ("Tourists sure to harbour a bit of resentment", 27 Feb) than it needs the North South Bypass Tunnel, the Hale Street Bridge, a second airport runway or any of Lord Mayor Newman's other extravagant white elephant projects.
If the world were not on the brink of environmental calamity, then perhaps a modest upgrade to the facilities near the grain terminal would be in order, however, a far more responsible stance by the Brisbane City Council would be to actively discourage the international luxury cruise industry, with its scandalous waste of non-renewable natural resources and its unacceptable additional output of greenhouse gases.
Independent Candidate for Lord Mayor of Brisbane
- one will be filled with wads of cash by named after actual developers who have donated to the Liberal and Labor Parties
- a second will have a giant question mark as to what donations are coming in right now that the public does not know about
Media Release, 24 February 2008
Members of the campaign to scrap the controversial and discredited Hale Street Link toll bridge project are unhappy about some 'misleading' ALP local government election materials which appear to claim credit for outcomes achieved by the campaign.
"Let's be quite clear about this," said Stop the Hale Street Bridge Alliance spokesman David Bratchford, "every hard won concession gained by the campaign has been due to the untiring efforts of the ordinary citizens who contribute their time to it."
"Our elected representatives only responded to the pressure we placed on them, and should not be claiming credit."
"Among our supporters are members or supporters of all political parties, but our campaign is non partisan and beholden to no political party," said Mr Bratchford.
"Nevertheless we feel it's our civic duty to highlight the differences between the political parties on the Hale Street Link toll bridge project."
"This project is highly unpopular in the inner southern suburbs and is shaping as a key election issue in the Gabba ward."
"When electors decide how they'll vote in City Council election on Saturday 15 March we ask them to compare the policies of the candidates and their parties on the HSL project."
"So far only the Greens#hs-fn1">1 have come out against it."
"It's a pet project of Liberal Lord Mayor Campbell Newman and his backers in the engineering and construction industry."
"And despite some political game playing, the Labor majority in council has voted for it and supported it all the way, even if Councillor Abrahams was allowed to vote against it. The ALP's shameful track record in the council chamber speaks for itself. Talk is cheap; actions speak much louder."
"Before they nominated as candidates in the election both Greens candidate for Gabba ward Drew Hutton and Greens Lord Mayoral candidate Jo Bragg were very active in the campaign to stop this unpopular and discredited project."
"HSL is opposed by the overwhelming majority of locals, with over 90% of the several thousand public submissions on the project received from the inner southern suburbs saying it should not be built, " said Mr Bratchford.
"It's not too late to stop this expensive white elephant - send a clear message when you cast your vote in the 15 March election."
For more comment and information:
David Bratchford - 0403 339 777
About the Stop the Hale Street Bridge Alliance
An alliance of residents, parents, business people and community organisations to raise awareness surrounding the proposed CBD toll bridge. The Alliance's city-wide strategy challenges the spin and questions the claimed benefits of the project.
#hs-fn1" id="hs-fn1">1. In fact, James Sinnamon, Independent candidate for Lord Mayor, who helps administer this site, has long been an active opponent of both the Hale Street Bridge and the North South Bypass Tunnel.
Media release by Tristan Peach, Greens Candidate for Hamilton Ward
22 February 2008
Labor and Liberal plans to bulldoze a beautiful stand of mature hoop pines and gums at the eastern end of Kalinga Park are unacceptable and unnecessary, says Green Candidate for Hamilton Ward, Tristan Peach.
The trees are a stunning feature of the area, provide shade for park users, habitat for wildlife and are an excellent carbon sink for North Brisbane. The trees are in the section of park next to the intersection of Sandgate Road and the East-West Arterial.
Mr Peach has previously organised a petition to save the park and helped write a submission on the Airport Link impact statement, both of which were ignored by Council and the State.
“These trees are part of the area’s heritage and are highly valued by the community. I am the only candidate who is working to save them, while the other two candidates support their destruction” said Mr Peach.
“I am promoting a solution for North Brisbane that will address transport issues as well as preserve our valuable natural environment,” said Mr Peach.
The Greens’ transport plan for North Brisbane includes light rail along Lutwyche/Gympie Road, improved cross-city bus services and better cycling and walking options. It was released in September 2007.
“People in Hamilton Ward have a clear choice: they can vote Green for a cost-effective transport solution that won’t destroy the park, or they can vote Liberal/Labor for a transport project that will destroy the park and increase congestion on the East-West Arterial, Stafford Road, Gympie Road, Newmarket Road and various local streets,” said Mr Peach.
Kalinga Park is not the only natural area that will suffer – trees and green space along Kedron Brook (behind Kedron State High School) will also be bulldozed to make way for Airport Link.
Article by Darren Godwell, President, West End Community Association
This article, written on 5 February 2008 and published here on 24 February. It was submitted to the Courier Mail but not published. The Courier Mail Newspaper supported both the Hale Street Bridge and the North South Bypass Tunnel. This article can also be found as a Micro$oft Word document on www.stopthehalestreetbridge.com/media.htm.
The State government's Co-ordinator General report on the inner-city toll-bridge at Hale Street paints a picture of an auction where the price keeps on rising well after you've made the final bid.
"For the HSL to proceed would require an increased project budget above that of the $245 million approved by Council".
At the last council election candidate Newman made a $180 million promise to build a toll-bridge. Today Lord Mayor Newman says it'll cost $450 million.
The report's measured tone rings alarm bells - "it may be necessary for a new financial analysis.to ensure the project is good 'value' and is able to service the cost of project with the toll revenues collected."
The Co-ordinator General's insight tells us City Hall is having difficulty coming to grips with another major project. Sadly, if Newman persists the end result will be either a larger subsidy from the pockets of Brisbane's ratepayers through more rates increase or a top-up from the taxpayers of Queensland. So it's either the pockets of ratepayers or the pockets of taxpayers.
"Most projects of this size in recent times have been subject to significant cost-escalation pressures...It is likely that this project was also finding significant cost pressure and difficulty of remaining within the Council-approved budget."
The Lord Mayor's new alternative is to scale-back the approaches onto the bridge.
Logically, the State government finds that "a reduction in project scope is likely to result in reduced benefits [and] the project business case will need to be revisited to ensure that the 'value' of the project is acceptable"
Here's the rub. To test for "value" and to consider its "acceptability" before the local Council election we'll need to see City Hall's "project modification report". But Council's revised report is not due until the 20th March - five days after the election.
The Co-ordinator General rightly asks are we getting 'good value' from ratepayers' monies. To figure out what's 'good value' we'll also need to know if the project works.
The independent umpire reveals that City Hall made interesting choices from the beginning: "BCC did not seek the assistance of the Coordinator-General. BCC instead undertook a voluntary assessment process. However, a 'voluntary assessment process' may not necessarily be conducted with the same robustness and rigor."
Rigor was never to bother this process. Process became a rude joke when the Mayor's staff solicited big business and interstate relatives to make submissions supporting the proposal.
The latest revelation is City Hall's obligations under the "conditional approval" by the State government. Specifically, filing an acceptable "traffic management plan" for both construction and operational stages. Including a "public transport management plan" to detail impacts on non-car commuters.
We now know City Hall has only assessed a portion of the traffic impacts. Amazingly, the Coordinator General reveals, this project is only half tested. There is no assessment of the traffic impacts on the southern end.
"BCC was not asked to and did not submit a traffic management report for the proposed southside works. I note that Main Roads do not intend to request a traffic management report for these works as, in their opinion, any impact would be on local traffic only in the immediate area."
This finding points to the Labor majority in Council who approved the project without the full information on all of the impacts.
South Brisbane Councillor Helen Abrahams is left out on a limb by not knowing the impacts on local businesses, streets, suburbs and constituents. To a lesser degree, the local State Member, Anna Bligh, is also exposed by this oversight.
The Coordinator General recommends that State government compel City Hall for a traffic management plan for the southern side. This plan is critical to making an accurate assessment. The final report may prove unpalatable reading for the people of the Gabba, Highgate Hill, South Bank, South Brisbane and West End.
Once every four years, people hold their Lord Mayor and local Councillors to account. To do this properly, in the interest of seeing public monies well spent, the people of Brisbane will need to have all the pieces, traffic and financial, on the table before the election.
Published in Westender on 3 February 2008
‘When debating city planning four years ago candidate Campbell Newman declared: “[the community] wants choice. The prescriptive way will lead to bad outcomes” (12 February 2004).
The West End Community Association (WECA) calls on Council & Lord Mayor Newman to: scrap that pitiful draft Kurilpa Plan document and take up the community’s vision.
Public comment on the Brisbane City Council’s draft plan closed on Friday 1 February. The draft structure plan offers City Hall’s view for the future of South Brisbane for the next twenty years.
‘Architects and urban planning experts agree that the document is a flaccid proposal,‘ said WECA President Darren Godwell.
‘City Council proposes to plonk the population equivalent of Gympie (15,000 - 20,000 extra people) into a pocket of South Brisbane,’ said Mr Godwell, ‘with little of the infrastructure needed to maintain a sound quality of life for such a massive increase in population.’
‘City Hall has made no provision for schools, child care centres, civic places, green spaces or parks. There is no commitment to housing key workers, there is no planning for affordable housing and there is no provision within this redevelopment for essential services –ambulance, police, fire.’
‘Nor is there any additional provision of effective, efficient mass transport,’ said Mr Godwell.
“Since 2001 WECA has solicited public & community views on how local leadership should lead local development. This vision for the area formerly known as Peel Street Structure Plan has been presented to City Hall again.”
Its time to get smart about Brisbane’s continued development.
See original article for WECA’s Vision for the Peel Street Precinct
The West End Community Association (WECA) is a non-profit, non-aligned, incorporated association of residents advancing the neighbourhood’s liveability. WECA also sponsors many community initiatives.