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Labor Right Mouthpieces,
Thanks for your comments. We are always interested in hearing divergent viewpoints. Nevertheless, we must disagree with your overstated praise of public transport.
It's a pity you felt the need to descend to baseless insinuations. We are nobody's mouthpiece and nor do we receive 'kickbacks', as you put it. We extend you the courtesy of believing your views are sincerely held, and we are entitled to no less.
The New City
> James Bolton
You are right when you say that Labor hasn't been doing the right thing.But your conclusions are wrong. Labor hasn't been representing its supporters, not the bleeding heart left or the working class conservatives.
Labor wants to blame inner city elitism for their loss of relevance. But that's waytoo easy. 'Inner city elitism' is just an expression for ordinary people having to do it for themselves because they can't rely on the party to do theright thing. What are those people supposed to do when Labor no longer listens?
Are they meant to be like good Catholics and just sit still, shut up andhave faith?
If you are only concerned about your mortgage and worried about interest rates then whynot vote Liberal?
The Labor Party has been taken over by hacks and apparatchiks who havehad no time for rank and file contributions. Heaven forfend. They have
principles and it shows. Why would any smart person with principles wantto join the Labor Party at the moment? What influence could one person
on the policies and functioning of this party? How could that person be
preselected for a start?
Sorry folks, if I want to vote for the Liberal Party (which I certainly would never do), I am not going to give my vote to the Alternate Liberal Party. I don't believe Howard would have been able to achieve as much of his evil deeds as he has, if it hadn't been for the Hawke/Keating 'reforms'.
For example: we so badly need the People's Bank
back in govt hands to
keep the insatiable other banks in line (the CBA is, of course, probably
the worst in Australia now for out-and-out greed).
> Christina Ritchie
To the Editor, New City
> Christina Ritchie
I refer to your article "Bell tolls for Leichhardt ratepayers" in the June edition, Neighbourhood Diary section.
It was certainly a terrible error of judgement by Leichhardt council that has cost ratepayers approximately $10m, paid to Bezzina Developers, for two small blocks of land at Bells Foreshore. It is understandable that local residents did not want luxury apartments built on this prime land adjacent to the East Balmain wharf. Already there are too many expensive apartment blocks on Sydney Harbour foreshore land. However, Leichhardt council should have realised that the value to ratepayers of spending $10m on much-needed infrastructure and services is far superior to hanging on to Bells Foreshore and the staggering cost this has now incurred. The cost to ratepayers of $10m was never envisaged when the unit development proposal was first opposed. Mr Stamolis' comments on the decision are welcome and I agree with your sentiments re the "silliness" of council. Let's hope lessons have been learned and this expensive exercise will not be repeated.
> John Stamolis
2. Bells was the most expensive purchase EVER made by Leichhardt Council and what did we get . two blocks of land (in an area already very well supplied with open space and, some of the best harbourfront open space in Sydney). The $10m could have purchased a new aged centre AND a new childcare centre AND a new library, better local footpaths etc.
3. At $5m per block, I expect that this is the MOST EXPENSIVE land purchase EVER made by any Council anywhere in Australia (on a square metre basis).
4. Council not only made the purchase but delivered a HUGE $5m PROFIT to a
developer, ALL out of ratepayers funds!! Residents are not happy about
5. I am still unable to convince Council that the money spent on Bells should have been used to purchase other more important needs across our broader community.
6. The potential risks/gamble of public money by Council showed a poor level of financial responsibility. If you look at articles over the past 3-4 years, Council played a poor financial gamble saying the purchase should be $4m, then it became $6m, then $8m and finally its $10m . We hope.
7. Only a very small number in our community are aware of this purchase. Of those that knew, there was strong division as to whether the Council should make the purchase.
8. Last year our municipality was hit with the largest EVER rates increase on our community (many were hit with 24%-28% rates increases!), justified on the basis of infrastructure improvements, while, at the same time, $10m was allocated to a small area to give developers huge profits.
9. I stood amongst a rally of 200 people, held by the Reclaim Bells
Foreshore Committee questioning their focus. This was not an easy thing
> Joel Kotkin
Hi...I am very interested in what you guys are doing. Attached is a recent LA Times piece that may be of interest. I am also starting a major set of research papers
on upward mobility in the US and also specifically about Houston.
> Senator Kim Carr
Letter to the Editor, The New City
The basic thrust of my paper is that the Commonwealth should once again take some responsibility for the health of Australia’s cities. This includes considering the impact of its own decisions, such as the approval of retail developments in airport precincts and the level of support provided to refugees. It also includes a commitment that a future Labor government will undertake a collaborative partnership with state, territory and local governments to plan and coordinate housing and urban development activities more effectively.
I am pleased that, in introducing my paper, you describe it as comprehensive. It is a shame that the comprehensive nature of the paper is not reflected in your assessment of it, which largely seems to consist of taking sentences and half-sentences out of context to support a pre-conceived conclusion which is based on the false premise that ‘sustainability’ is all about the environment.
To start with, you state that I emerge “as a raving fan” of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Environment and Heritage’s Sustainable Cities report, because I say that “Labor strongly supports the vision of the committee”. What you fail to note is that the vision Labor is supporting is explicitly stated to be that: “sustainable cities of the future will be vibrant urban regions which are economically productive, environmentally responsible, and socially inclusive.” I find it difficult to imagine that anyone would oppose such a vision and I note that supporting this vision does not imply support for every aspect of the Sustainable Cities report. Indeed, less than two pages later, my paper questions the conclusions of the committee in regard to the role of the Commonwealth Government.
In relation to the ‘suburbanisation versus consolidation’ debate, you suggest that I state that the debate “must be managed “in an environmentally, economically and socially sustainable way””. The full paragraph from the paper has a rather different tone and is, I would suggest, in many ways consistent with your own position:
The reality is that people have diverse housing preferences. Demand will continue to grow in all Australian cities for inner-city living and also for stand-alone suburban houses. The important issue, in a policy sense, is to manage both the expansion of fringe suburbs and the increasing density of inner suburbs in an environmentally, economically and socially sustainable way.
The message here is that we must do better than the poorly planned, energy and water intensive developments that have too often characterised both new outer suburbs and high-density projects in our cities. The discussion paper goes on to discuss a range of practical measures to achieve this, including improving the provision of infrastructure (for example, public transport and storm water systems) to new fringe suburbs.
The strategy that you claim I have used Orwellian language to describe is actually a proposed National Settlement Strategy. Again, the quote is taken out of context and ignores the fact that the purpose of the proposed strategy would be to understand settlement pressures and plan for expected trends, so as to avoid the ad hoc responses to rapid population growth which have, in the past, caused significant environmental, social and economic problems. If you are opposed to researching expected population trends and planning to meet them in the most effective way, you are by all means entitled to express that view, but it would be more honest to do so in a direct manner.
Two other points are worth noting from your critique.
First, you state that Recsei is “on the mark” in saying that “At the very least it is necessary that sustainability and other objectives be defined and performance indicators set. … Full social cost accounting should be undertaken with external costs included.” Such an approach of defining objectives and identifying performance indicators is exactly the approach being adopted by Labor in proposing the national settlement strategy and a national sustainability charter. Evidence-based responses to the critical issues facing our cities and towns are exactly what Labor is advocating.
Second, you state that “if our leaders were foolish enough to swallow the sustainability spin, they would certainly jeopardise the jobs working people need to even contemplate home ownership.” From an environmental perspective, one can only hope that this furphy has been put to rest by the Australian Business Roundtable on Climate Change report released on 6 April. Failing to meet the environmental challenges that we face is what will cost jobs and GDP.
Your statement also reflects an extremely narrow interpretation of the term ‘sustainability’, which is inconsistent with the way it is understood in the literature and the way it is being used by Labor. Because sustainability actually encompasses economic and social aspects, it is fundamentally about securing our future prosperity, providing opportunity for all and supporting the vulnerable. It is, in fact, all about creating jobs and making sure people are equipped to take advantage of them.
The jobs of working people are certainly under threat in Australia today, but that threat is from the Howard Government’s extreme industrial relations agenda, not from Labor’s efforts to ensure Australia’s cities remain liveable and prosperous into the future.
Senator Kim Carr
> Michael Gormly
I notice there is no mention of public transport in your
growth-without-limits scenario. Do you envisage yet more petrol-guzzling
commuters traversing an unlimited urban spread, destroying our
Are you happy to pay for the all-new infrastructure when NSW is already
about 50 years behind in its basics? Whence 'affordability?
> Andrew Clark
It is interesting that you criticise the use of sustainability in language as you say it lacks the social context of infrastructure, and issues for social justice, education and health. Sustainability is not another abused word from post-modern economic rationalism at all. On the contrary, it underpins the need to uphold a social fabric, as we are, after all, are the people. The poor are neglected. Few poor people can afford to pay tollways. Maybe that is because so many are homeless and even afford to drive cars. So cut the pretence, the crap, and actually do something outside of the anthropological armchairs in Sussex Street.
Your comments are full on middle class rhetoric, wafer thin on substance, and not once did you mention the poor or social justice issue, just a vague reference once or twice. All this article spoke of was in language of numbers. You are the number crunchers betraying the people, not the Greens.
This is not the language of results or responsibilities. Nor did it speak of solidarity, freedom, or the need to unite. Yet it is obviously a Labor website titled "independent". Every article written by an ALP person, and so many references to the ALP totally makes a mockery of this site's own title. You need to review this as people will see the pretence as an indication of propaganda that is misleading.
To say that the ALP should lean away from the Greens, that would be interesting in a hung Parliament after the next elections. What makes the ALP think that the Greens would have an alliance with the ALP, if it can't even back the Kyoto treaty? You don't have them hostage as your scapegoat, or a possible ally. The relations between the two party will divide as you move further to the right. This will push your party so aggressively to the right is not winning the ALP any friends, it is isolating itself even more, making it impossible to keep its factions together, and vulnerable to inevitable defeat in the next state election in NSW, and almost definitely in Queensland. The Queensland election shows polls so far against the ALP, it might find itself with the highest landslide against it in Australian history! Too many mistakes! Too much arrogance! And no, you are not talking about people at all, you are talking about demographics. People are not numbers.
So cut the crap and look again at the meaning of sustainability.
> Hugh Pavletich
Just a brief note to congratulate you guys on your excellent website – which I came across for the first time last evening whilst doing a google search. Its a great credit to all involved and hugely helpful with the current debates surrounding urban issues in Australia and elsewhere. I have sent copies of it around the key people on my email list.
Your editorial on the hazy term of “sustainability” is simply superb. I do hope Chris Steins pops it up on Planetizen.
I do hope you people communicate with Dr Tony Recsei of SOS Sydney. Like me, Tony hadn’t known of your website before and is most impressed with it too.
Keep up the great work guys.
With best regards,
Co author – Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey www.demographia.com
> Joel Kotkin
I saw your site and appreciate the mention.
You should pick up papers like the NY Times or Toronto Globe and Mail for contempt for middle class dreams.
Keep up the good work.
Hope to meet you when I am next in Australia, likely this November.
> Tony Recsei
Your March editorial "Is environmental sustainability socially unsustainable?" in which you point out some examples of language manipulation for ulterior motives is much appreciated. It is heartening to see the manipulative verbal spin of politicians and the bureaucracy clearly exposed.
On the other hand I must point out that you misleadingly cast Save Our Suburbs in the image of groups whose motive is restricted to their own benefit. Save Our Suburbs opposes "overdevelopment" – development beyond the capacity of existing infrastructure to service and opposes high-density development that is forced onto communities when it cannot be demonstrated that this development will be for the overall greater public good.
I have been trying unsuccessfully for over six years to ascertain what benefit the policy of urban densification will bring to the general public. Successive Ministers and Director-Generals of Planning have been quite unable to answer this. The question was persistently posed to ex-Sydney Sustainability Commissioner Professor Peter Newman and to ex-Metropolitan Strategy Convenor, Professor Ed Blakely who likewise proved unable to answer it. These individuals are not able to point to any high-density comparable city in the world that does not suffer from the problems they imply high-density policies will alleviate. The questions posed and points made in my People and Place articles of June and December 2005 have not been satisfactorily responded to.
It is unsurprising that localised resident action groups that support Save Our Suburbs usually have motives of personal advantage. NIMBYism has its place. Man is a semi-social animal with concerns both for the self and for others which frequently conflict. The concern of Save Our Suburbs however, focuses on the whole community. The evidence continues to point to urban densification being detrimental and we will oppose this policy unless it can be demonstrated otherwise.
It would be much appreciated if you would bring this to the attention of your readers.
Save Our Suburbs (SOS) NSW Inc
> Owen McShane
A great website.
> Michael Sheffield
I was introduced to your site by a client (Exec Director of one of your
linked orgs) during an interview for an article which I am writing.
see what you are doing and best of luck with the venture.
> Geoff Ward
I read you contribution in OLO (Online Opinion) this week and so found The New City. Your aims interest me, in particular discussion of
the disproportionate exercise of political, economic and cultural power by inner-city interests on urban planning and national, state and local politics.
I have no barrow to push, am not professionally involved, but for effective governance of this country I think we need a strong opposition, preferably from a board based party/s.
I had an article published in OLO which I will attach. It may or may not be of interest to yourselves but I think it is on or around your recent OLO article.
Any comments appreciated.