Monday 28 January 2013

International Holocaust Memorial Day

On Sunday I attended and addressed the International Holocaust Memorial Day to commemorate the liberation of Auschwitz organised by the Australian Association of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Descendants together with Ambassadors and Consul Generals of many countries and United Nations representatives.

It was a very special moment for me, as my mother the late Edith Hoenig was a holocaust survivor and I was asked to join them on this day to share her story. My mother was only 16 when along with her entire family she was taken by the Germans to Concentration Camp. My mother was the only member of her family to survive. She was separated from her parents on the first day and never heard anything about where they were or what they were doing until after she was liberated. Only then did she learn that her parents had not made it to a camp but along with almost a 1000 of others they were striped naked, shot and buried in a mass grave.

Looking at my family tree shows the devastation. Two generations wiped out, with the exception of my mother, an aunt and cousin. 

Joined by my son Benjamin it was an honour to be among such amazing people whose stories of survival are an inspiration to us all. 

"Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it.” Wise words from Edmund Burke, Dublin, 1729-1797. 

The story of the holocaust must be told so that it is never repeated. The importance of such days will continue to grow and the stories of those who survived must never be lost.

The video of my address can be see at
Ron Hoenig recounting the story of his mother
Ben Hoenig the 3rd Generation lights one of 6 candles to
commemorate the murder of the 6 million jews.

Police Recognised for outstanding service

It was an honour for me to attend the Central Metropolitan Region Zone 2 Awards Ceremony earlier this month with Acting Police Commissioner Nick Kaldis, other senior police officers and Acting Police Minister Chris Hartcher to recognize those members of the NSW Police Force who have made a significant contribution to NSW in maintaining the peace and good order of our society. 

At the ceremony 39 Awards were presented to both uniformed and plain clothed members of the service. The recipients were from all ranks: From Sergeants, Constables and Detectives. 

Most of us pay little attention to the Police in our state unless we hear some media story criticizing their actions, or when we find ourselves in a situation and we need their assistance such a car accident or burglary. But everyday there are policemen and policewoman who dedicated their working life to keeping us, and our community safe: Or as safe as some of the “lunatics” that co-exist with us allow them too. 

But I can assure the local members of the NSW Police Service that your community respects the work you do and deep down, each night, we give a silent thank you that you are out there patrolling our streets, protecting our community and doing all within your power to keep us safe. Not an easy task in today’s society … it is not an easy job in today’s society. But it is a job that must be done. And, I salute not only those that received awards on this day but each and every one of you who have put up your hand and said “I am here to serve.”

St George Coptic Church Visit

The Coptic Christmas is observed in accordance with the Gregorian Calendar and takes place in early January. I was honoured to join the members of the St George Coptic Church for their Christmas Eve Church Service accompanied by Marrickville Councillor Morris Hanna.

In addressing the congregation I expressed my personal sentiments as to what I believe Christmas is about in our multi cultural society. Christmas whether celebrated on December 25 or in early January, is a special religious time for many and as a community and a country we must respect those beliefs. For those in the community who do not hold the same beliefs, Christmas should not be ignored or diminished it should be embraced. The Christmas ideals provides a time for family and friends to come together, and for communities to come together, to reflect on the year that was and the year that is coming.
My attendance also gave me the chance to express my condolences to the community on the passing of the Church’s leader, His Holiness Pope Shenouda the Third. A visionary leader of his church he will be remembered for the dedication and perseverance his displayed in building links of cooperation between faiths in difficult circumstances. 

But looking forward the Church can be rightly pleased with his successor in His Holiness Pope Theodoros the Second. 

As I said it was a privilege and honour for me to be include on this special occasion and I thank the Reverend Fathers and the Coptic Congregation for giving me that opportunity.

Daceyville turns 100!

Ron Hoenig with the performers
 Daceyville turned 100 years old in 2012. In terms of history, Daceyville was the first public housing estate to be built in Australia. Indeed, a special piece of legislation created it, which the then Governor gave Royal Assent on April 24, 1912. Just seven weeks after the then Governor, who had the very impressive title and name, The Rt Hon The Lord Chelmsford, GCMG, affixed his signature to the Bill to make it an Act, work began in Daceyville. It’s continued ever since. 

There were so many firsts in Daceyville but one stands out – it had the first planned cul-de-sac in Australia, Colonel Braund Crescent. The suburb is just about split, as far as street names are concerned, between soldiers (from Generals to Corporals) and Captain Cook, the Endeavour and those who sailed on her.

The celebrations at Dacey Gardens featured a period dress costume and cooking competition as well as rides, stalls, displays and entertainment. Attending with Acting Mayor Cr George Glinatsis, and Mayoress and former Premier Kristina Keneally it was a great day with lots of entertainment combined and lots of history. 
Ron Hoenig and Mayoress Kristina Keneally with the Daceyville Birthday Cake

Kristine Keneally, Ron Hoenig and George Glinatis (left) cutting the cake

Local fireman joined the fun

Our Local firemen joined in the fun despite their concerns about the State Governments cuts to services. They were there to help educate the community on how to protect themselves against fires. Many a youngster enjoy climbing over the fire truck and sitting in the drivers seat. 

The day also gave me the opportunity to catch up with some of our local Fireman and discuss their concerns with the State Government’s cuts that are seeing some local stations left unmanned. A reliable and speedy Emergency Services is vital in our area given our close proximity to the Port and Airport and a number of major chemical and petrol industries.

Saturday 26 January 2013

The WestConnex $10 billion lemon. Why should future generations pay for this incompetence?

The $10 billion WestConnex lemon continues to expose the O'Farrell Liberal government as I wrote last week as a "lazy government that does not have the intellectual ability to govern NSW or solve the serious infrastructure problems that this state has." 

In a well written article in todays Sydney Morning Herald by Transport Reporter Jacob Saulwick entitled "WestConnext solution falls 8KM short", at Mr Saulwick points out: 

"The O'Farrell government's WestConnex road project faces mounting criticism because it does not actually go to Port Botany, despite being sold as a solution to the congestion in the area." 

I wrote last week that it was"beyond belief that the Commonwealth has to fund $25 million for a study because the O'Farrell government has not done the work it was elected to do." 

Remember the Liberal government is selling Port Botany Bay and Port Kembla, and every other state asset it can get its hands on, to pay off state debt so they can borrow to construct massive infrastructure projects like the WestConnex and North West Rail. The only problem is their proposals do not address how they will solve a massive congestion problem at Australia's major seaport and airport. 

Finally Mr Saulwick exposes that "the closest WestConnex goes to Port Botany is about 8 kilometres from the port, at the point where it veers north through Arncliffe on the western side of Sydney Airport." 

I am not an opposition frontbench spokesman trying to get a run in the media. I am simply trying to point out that the O'Farrell Liberal government is about to lumber the people of this state with a massive liability that will have to be paid for by future generations. A massive liability to fund a solution that will not solve the problem in a key area. In 10 years time when the public wake up and realise that Mr O'Farrell has sold them a lemon it will be too late. Mr O'Farrell will be long gone.

Friday 18 January 2013

$25 million wasted for the Westconnex lemon

Finally there is someone in the media that has commenced some scrutiny of the O'Farrell government's Westconnex $10 billion proposal. In an article in today’s Daily Telegraph by Simon Benson 

As soon as the Westconnex proposal was announced in October last year I described it as a "$10 billion lemon" at The announced proposal did not demonstrate in any way how it was going to address the chaos that is clogging Australia's major seaport and airport. 

I could not imagine how the NSW government could ask for money from the Commonwealth for a project in these circumstances. Now Mr Benson reveals in his article that the Commonwealth, "still has concerns that initial plans for the so called Westconnex did not address vital congestion issues particularly around Port Botany". As a result the Commonwealth is to provide $25 million so the NSW government can work out whether its proposal is a viable. 

What has Infrastructure NSW been doing for 18 months? The Premier announced this proposal with all the media fanfare as if his government had the solution to Sydney's major infrastructure backlog. It is beyond belief that the Commonwealth has to fund $25 million for a study because the O'Farrell government has not done the work it was elected to do. 

This government is a lazy government that does not have the intellectual ability to govern NSW or solve the serious infrastructure problems that this state has. 

The people of NSW punished the Labor Party in March 2011 for its performance in office, and rightfully so. However, in their anger what the people did was elect a government with no plan and no direction, other than the ones that sound good in the media.