Tuesday 1 December 2015

Further development in Green Square must stop

I am becoming seriously concerned with the continued massive population expansion and the massive proposed increase in density in the area known as Green Square. The largest urban revitalisation project, I would venture, ever undertaken in this country is occurring several precincts, including Victoria Park, North Rosebery, Zetland and Green Square. This was subject to a speech to parliament recently, the video of which you can watch here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kBXkE6FflTU&feature=youtu.be

The sum of these developments is anticipated, upon completion, to house some 60,000 residents. That is 60,000 new residents. I am talking about an average density of 20,000 people per square kilometre. To put that in perspective, a square kilometre in the City of Melbourne houses around 8,000 people. 

I accept that an increasing number of people want to move into the city. Who can blame them? Sydney is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Increasing the housing density is an obvious and logical solution. While I do not oppose development, I do oppose carelessness, and that is exactly how I would characterise the haphazard, piecemeal planning policies of successive NSW governments. These policies have not only caused unbelievable traffic gridlock but failed to address the infrastructure needs of new and existing residents.

One cannot plan for and build increased housing density without planning for the associated infrastructure. Green Square is an example of planning failure. The largest urban revitalisation project in this country is an example of planning failure. The increased housing density has been created without infrastructure, and huge increases are still to come. Apart from gridlocked streets, the schools and hospitals are full, ambulances cannot get through the streets, people cannot get on buses at peak periods and buses cannot move in the streets. It is an example of how planning has not worked.

Planning for future population density must include planning for infrastructure to support that population. Roads, public transport, schools, hospitals, water and sewerage, social services and associated infrastructure must also be planned and paid for. In Green Square the population density has increased without a corresponding increase in infrastructure. There is no funding for that infrastructure. There are no plans or solutions. It is not a solution to suggest that a light rail network could be built in the never-never. The solution is to plan and to fund. Funding can be partly by developer contributions. There must be an understanding of the infrastructure that is needed. 

Every school in my electorate is full, including Catholic and independent schools. The primary schools and all but one high school are at capacity. There is increasing demand for the Minister for Education to fund inner-city schools. People are crying out for places for their children as families move into areas where there is high population density. A moratorium on any further population density increases is needed right now. That will give the Government time to catch up. Without that, the current intolerable situation will become worse.

If you look at the skyline from the Eastern Distributor you will see the cranes in the air, that is fine, but what is happening on the ground is not fine. The million dollar apartments sold in Zetland without car parking will be the ghettos of tomorrow unless infrastructure is constructed and supported. There is nothing wrong with increasing population density, but this is an example of planning failure by successive governments that have stupidly handed the decision to developers.

Exhibition period of 'New M5 WestConnex' EIS must be extended

After the NSW Government waited for Parliament to rise before releasing the ‘New M5 WestConnex’ Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), I have written to the Minister for Planning, Rob Stokes MP, who under part 5.1 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 has carriage of the EIS consultation phase, to request an extension.

I have for months been requesting detailed studies about the impact of flow on traffic from the Minister for Roads Duncan Gay[1] and I now demand that the Government allocates sufficient time for local Councils to do the work that questionable engineering firm AECOM[2] and the Government failed to do in the EIS.

The EIS released by the Government on Friday does not contain any detailed long term traffic studies of the flow on impact of traffic emerging from the St Peters interchange into the suburbs of Mascot, Eastlakes, Kensington, Kingsford, Erskineville and Alexandria, not to mention other areas, such as to the inner city or to the east.

The EIS for instance mentions the widening of Euston Road to six lanes, but does not study the impact that those six lanes worth of additional traffic will have on suburban roads. It doesn’t consider the impact of traffic from the 60,000 new residences in the Green Square Precinct, the University of NSW traffic or even airport traffic.

They’re attempting to bury the EIS under a pile of Christmas wrap and fireworks.

The timing of this report makes the Government’s desire to avoid scrutiny plain as day. Apart from confirming our worst suspicions of this project, the EIS has raised serious questions about the viability of this project.

The Government must extend the exhibition period to allow for detailed analysis by Councils, town planners, traffic engineers and residents. Ultimately the least the Government could do is give people in our Councils, with meaningful qualifications and experience the time necessary to submit a substantive response.

This is what happens when a Government outsources its responsibilities to investment bankers. The WestConnex will be a catastrophe for our local roads. You can download a copy of my letter to the Minister here.

Saturday 28 November 2015

$17bn for 30 Seconds - Most Expensive Traffic Jam in Australia’s History

With a $17bn price tag, the Government can’t afford to get this one wrong. The WestConnex EIS released yesterday  by the NSW Government shows that the $17bn WestConnex is the most expensive traffic jam in Australia’s History.

Contained on page viii of the ‘New M5’ Environmental Impact Statement’s Executive summary is the traffic modelling which the Government is relying on the validate the entire WestConnex Project.

Yet this traffic modelling, by AECOM, an engineering firm who recently had to pay $280 million to settle a lawsuit for a similar project (see) shows traffic can be expected to improve in the St Peters area by as much as 30 seconds to one minute during peak hours.

The situation doesn’t improve for commuters relying on bus travel, with a number of services expected to see a 20% or more increase in travel times.

Roads in the St Peters/Alexandria community are already in a perpetual state of traffic gridlock.

This is the most expensive traffic jam in the country’s history.The Government is wasting $17bn on turning our local roads into glorified parking lots.

Spending $17bn of taxpayer money to improve commute times by 30 seconds isn’t just irresponsible it’s idiotic.The fact that bus services will experience delays of 20% or more is just beyond belief. At least the Government is consistent about they handle major infrastructure projects.

This is what happens when a Government outsources its responsibilities to investment bankers. This document highlights the true incompetence of the Liberal Government

Thursday 26 November 2015

WestConnex - the most expensive traffic jam in Australia's history

The NSW Government has treated us all with total disrespect and contempt by arrogantly waiting until Parliament rose for the year before releasing the seriously flawed, 319 page, Business Case for the WestConnex project.

The document reveals that total costs for the project have, to date, blown out by an unbelievable $7 billion in taxpayer money. It also shows that the Government is still not in possession of a complete map, final designs or complete traffic modelling.

The cost benefit ratio as contained in the document estimates $1.88 generated for every dollar spent, but with the rate of cost increases, it’s doubtful that the Government will ever see a return on its investment. This is not how to run a State or properly use taxpayers' money. 

This is the most expensive traffic jam in the country’s history and the Government can’t even produce a complete map or a final design for the project.

The project was initially priced at $10 billion and has now blown out to over $17 billion, almost $7 billion more in projected costs.

At this rate, the Government will be lucky to deliver the project for under $30 billion.

Think of all the worthwhile projects -- schools, hospitals, police, teachers -- we could have for this money.

At least the Government is consistent about how regularly they screw up major infrastructure projects.

This document highlights the true incompetence of a Liberal Government that can’t deliver a project on time, or on budget.

It’s like the CBD South-East Light Rail Line, which has blown out to a price tag of over $2 billion without ever laying a single inch of track.

These surfers and merchant bankers on the Government benches are content to dig up our communities for a project that their own document says won’t work. They’re like used car salesmen, trying to sell Sydney a dud or a worthless bomb.

Sunday 15 November 2015

Ron Hoenig's Heffron Gazette - November 2015

Residents should have received their copy of the November 2015 edition of my newsletter called the "Ron Hoenig Heffron Gazette". It is available for download here:

Wednesday 21 October 2015

Liberal Government goes easy on CSG Polluters

The NSW Government is today trying to sneak legislation through Parliament which would significantly reduce penalties for Coal Seam Gas and Petroleum polluters, restricting the powers of the NSW Environmental Protection Authority to prosecute offenders. 

The Liberal Party has buried deep in its bill, a provision to remove severe penalties for CSG and Petroleum polluters " "wilfully or negligently causes any substance to leak, spill or otherwise escape in a manner that harms or is likely to harm the environment" . The ability to prosecute polluters before the Supreme Court and the imposition of meaningful penalties such as prison sentences and steep financial penalties will not apply.

The Government is removing meaningful deterrents for CSG and Petroleum miners and protecting those guilty of damaging the environment in NSW from penalty. 

Whilst anyone else responsible for a spill or leak, which causes harm to the environment, can face severe penalties like prison time, the same level of penalties not apply to CSG miners. 

This is why the public loses faith in politics. The People of NSW should have confidence that the Government will stand up to CSG miners in NSW and enforce environmental protections. 

We deserve a Government which guarantees that CSG and Petroleum miners who damage our environment will face severe penalties. Offenders should feel the full force of the law.
The Labor Party supports a moratorium on CSG mining in NSW until all of the Chief Scientist’s recommendations are adopted. This is what I told parliament today. https://youtu.be/ELmn1aq7zJ0

Tuesday 13 October 2015

Council Amalgamations - Are Councils "Fit for the Future" or are they being "Fitted up"?

Labor's Shadow Minister for Local Government Peter Primrose MLC today at the NSW Annual Conference in a very thought provoking speech, really nailed it. It exposed the failed logic and suggested the real motivation behind Mike Baird and his governments attack on local councils. I could not do justice to Peter's speech so I publish it in full below.

"Thank you very much for your invitation to speak here today. 

I doubt that anyone here doesn’t believe local government can do better. But the same applies to state and federal government, and the private sector. 

Labor has already begun the process of developing and announcing its local government policies, rather than simply being reactive. For instance while Labor has already banned property developers from standing as Labor candidates at any level of government, Labor Leader Luke Foley has now called on the Premier to legislate to ban developers and real estate agents from standing at all future council elections. He has also called for campaign spending and political donations to be capped in council elections, just as it is at state elections.

Destination 2036 was the product of a genuine process of consultation. The Government met with Mayors and General Managers to work out how things could be done better. 

Then for reasons people still are not totally clear, T Corp – which essentially has the job of buying and selling debt – also got involved in assessing local councils. 

Then there was the under resourced Independent Local Government Review Panel. Its 65 recommendations highlight reforms that we should examine closely and that we all should take seriously, not just those few dealing with mergers and amalgamations. 

Even the highly respected author of that report, Professor Samson, has publicly criticised the government for being obsessed with forced mergers at the expense of other his other proposed reforms.

Most recently, the chaotic Fit for the Future programme has seen IPART assessing costly reports prepared by councils to justify their continued existence, but unable to provide the parliamentary committee with any details about precisely what models and algorithms are being used to compare and assess councils. 

And until yesterday the Government had steadfastly maintained the position that councils would not be allowed to see what IPART said about them, because the whole process and the report would be kept secret. Of course, we always knew that we would learn bits of what was in it, when selected leaks to the media started appearing bagging local councils as being unfit and deserving to be sacked. 

One thing – I am not aware of any rallies or public meetings that have been organised anywhere by citizens demanding that their councils be forcibly amalgamated. That has to tell you something about the public sentiment.

I have been joining with local community groups to demand that councils should be able to view the IPART determination and present their case to the Government as a ‘right of reply’, prior to the Government making any final decisions about their future. While the Premier still seems uncertain about the details, I am pleased that in his address yesterday that he seems to be heading in roughly the same direction. But as always, the details remain elusive. The Minister today seemed to be suggesting it will not a right of reply, but rather simply a last chance to voluntarily amalgamate rather than be forced.

The Government should allow any council deemed ‘unfit’ to put forward an alternative proposal to being forced to amalgamate. For instance, instead of blocking proposals for innovation, the Government should be encouraging councils in the Sydney metropolitan area who wish to do so, to combine with neighbouring councils in a joint organisation model. 

Can I be very clear about one thing - Labor supports structural reforms such as amalgamations, but only where they have demonstrated local support and there is a good business case. They must be voluntary. Our clear and unambiguous policy is that Labor does not support forced amalgamations. 

Yesterday Mike Baird told you that he supports very large councils, and that bigger is better. Without a scrap of evidence, indeed despite the research evidence, he maintained the fiction that rates would go down, more infrastructure would be built, and there would be free ice cream and fresh scones for all if only councils were made much larger. No one has yet been able to explain how forcibly merging two or more struggling councils does anything more than just create one big council with even bigger funding issues.

The Premier is not evil. But he is just not listening to academic experts. He’s not listening to Local Government NSW. He’s not listening to experienced general managers. He’s not listening to the great majority of dedicated local councillors. And he is certainly not listening to the many community organisations and residents. They are all saying with one clear voice – Mr Premier, there is just no evidence that bigger is better. It doesn’t matter how many times you and your Minister repeat the claim, there is just no evidence. There should be no forced amalgamation.

If Mike Baird pushes ahead with non-voluntary amalgamations, we will work with local councils and the community to oppose him. The Labor Opposition will fight to maintain due process through the Boundaries Commission process, which the government has already threatened that it wants to ‘streamline’. This process should include Local Government representation and reflect all the factors that the Boundaries Commission must consider in the current Local Government Act, including employment, local values, financial disadvantage and community identity. 

In particular, community views must be strongly considered and rigorously canvassed by the Boundaries Commission when it considers amalgamation proposals. Any legislative changes being considered by the Government regarding amalgamations should be released immediately to allow time for the community and the Local Government sector in particular, to be consulted. 

Specific infrastructure such as Local Water Utilities should remain in the hands of the local councils which own them as these utilities contribute significantly to the strategic capacity of councils.

As a former Shadow Minister for Finance, my take on the purpose behind this muddled process is pretty simple. Fit for the Future is just part of a financial fix for the state government. 

It’s not really about making local government more efficient, any more than it has been about genuine consultation with key stakeholders to get the best outcomes. 

Remember the recent cog ads the Baird Government ran about how local government was “broken” and needed fixing? These ads were not the product of a government wanting to consult anyone. They were about convincing a sceptical public that local government in NSW deserved to be punished as it wasn’t up to doing the job.

The ads were totally political and totally meaningless. But despite the obfuscation we did eventually find out how much they cost the public of NSW. The Minister finally answered my question on notice – the cost was $730,307 for advertising space, and $262,474.30 for the so called creative development. That’s a million dollars wasted on some pretty tawdry propaganda.

I will ask you this - how ‘Fit for the Future’ do you think the NSW Government would be if the Federal Government had frozen its GST payments, and at the same time loaded it up with a pile of additional responsibilities? At the very least, the NSW Government today should be leading the charge to have the Federal Government unfreeze the indexation of financial assistance grants.

The most recent cost shifting survey by Local Government NSW has identified a financial burden of $520 million per year being placed on councils as a direct outcome of cost shifting.

And this is the crux of my problem with Fit for the Future. It’s all really about moving more debt onto local government and off the books of the state government. The state government knows like everyone else that there will be an inevitable reduction in its recurrent finances over the next couple of years as the property market starts to cool. 

That’s how markets work. But unlike in the past, this time the government won’t be able to rely on the profits coming from state owned corporations to help its budget position, because these are being privatised. 

Think about what the Minister has promised.

Bigger and better councils which are Fit for the Future will be given additional responsibilities to match their improved status. Roads, maintenance of infrastructure and recurrent services that were previously the responsibility of the state will be handed over to these shiny new super councils.

The Minister has also promised that to pay for these new responsibilities, these new mega-councils will be able to borrow money from T-Corp. But of course the councils will have to pay back the loans of course, with interest along with T-Corp’s service fee.

So how do you pay it back? Well, the Minister has also promised to make it easier for these new councils to get a rate variation through IPART. So councils will be able to raise rates, to pay T-Corp for the loans they have had to take out, to pay for additional responsibilities cost-shifted onto them by the state government. 

That’s what Fit for the Future is really all about. It’s not about being made fit for the future - it’s really just about being fitted up for the future.

I will not stand before you today and promise that a future Labor Government will abolish rate pegging. It remains a bi-partisan policy, and I am not going to mislead you. But before anyone starts threatening forced amalgamations or sackings, we should have a complete review of how local government is funded in New South Wales. 

The state government set the financial benchmarks that councils were required to meet to be deemed Fit for the Future. These benchmarks were highly controversial. The government needs to be open and transparent about cost shifting, and really needs to listen to what local government is saying about finances. 

There is no magic bullet, and we may not all agree with the outcomes. But if the Premier agrees and we begin going down this road instead of the dead end of Fit for the Future, Labor will walk with him, as I believe will the whole of the local government community.

We need to begin that process by properly and honestly examining the rampant cost shifting by other levels of government onto local government. Otherwise the outcome of any reform process will be a wasted opportunity to ensure local government can deliver the services that local residents really want and need. 

Thank you for listening to me."

Thursday 8 October 2015

Planning disaster in Green Square

Mike Baird and the NSW Government have hopelessly failed to address the infrastructure needs of the Green Square Precinct development, the largest urban revitalisation project in the country’s history. 

New City of Sydney Council data predicts over 60,000 residents will be living in Green Square by 2030, almost 10,000 more people than currently expected. 

The development will have an average density of roughly over 20,000 people per square kilometre. By comparison the whole city of Melbourne is a single square kilometre and houses around 8,000 people. 

Thousands of new high density dwellings have been approved without the NSW Government delivering so much as an infrastructure plan for the community beyond a dodgy bus line. 

Nearby schools are already at capacity, and pedestrians complain daily about near misses because nobody in the Government remembered to install pedestrian crossings. 

The Government’s track record on infrastructure planning and delivery is a joke. 

For the last three years I have been warning the Government about a looming disaster in the Green Square Precinct. Well, the Liberals are in their second term and they can’t escape responsibility for the mess they’ve let unfold. 

With such massive growth in population and density, the Government must immediately act and impose a moratorium on further expansion until a serious strategy to deal with their planning failure is prepared.  

Green Square urgently needs dedicated mass-transit infrastructure like an underground metro rail line, or to simply be included in the new Light Rail development. 

They [The Government] ran a few bus routes through the area, but without so much as a dedicated bus lane and traffic at a constant stand-still residents are spending hours commuting short distances. 

And it’s not just transport infrastructure. Amenities like schools and pedestrian crossings weren’t planned either. 

This basic work should have been done years ago and is a sad indictment of the Government’s capacity to competently plan and deliver infrastructure projects in NSW. 

The Government has also disclosed plans for the new St Peters WestConnex interchange, less than three kilometres away, which will only worsen local roads by pouring thousands of extra cars a day onto already congested streets. 

Well, The Government can make a flashy announcement, and sure they sound like nice blokes, but so do used-car salesmen whilst they sell you a dud. There really must be some intellectual rigour shot back into the planning policies of this Government.

Tuesday 22 September 2015

Light Rail - High Cross Park Saved. Still more to be rescued.

Beaten into submission, the Liberal Party finally raised the "White Flag" by removing its light rail stop from High Cross Park, and putting it in from the Prince of Wales and Sydney Children's Hospital the very place I told parliament recently it should be. As you can see from the attached video, what I told parliament this whole project resembles "Faulty Towers"

Now how about saving the 100 year old trees and Centennial Park by moving the route on Alison Road, or moving the Stabling yards away from my constituents in Doncaster Ave, Kensington, as the area floods. Do you think the "Spanish Waiter" from "Faulty Towers" have worked that out yet?

Sunday 6 September 2015

Attack on open space at Centennial Park & Moore Park

Alex Greenwich MP, Lord Mayor Clover Moore, Ron Hoenig MP, Jenny Leong MP
I took a walk through the Centennial Parklands which includes Moore Park, located in my electorate, with Lord Mayor Clover Moore, Alex Greenwichand Jenny Leong.

For months now the NSW Liberal Government and Centennial and Moore Park Trust have been planning to hand our vital green spaces over to developers and other commercial interests.

I have spoken out against this blatant attack on public land in Parliament several times now and I will continue to fight alongside the community for its protection.

Public Housing tour of Waterloo

I toured the Waterloo Housing Precinct and spoke to a number of local residents.

Whilst I am pleased to see many improvements made to the community, I'm particularly aware of the ongoing need for urgent maintenance work to improve the standard of housing. Many of my public housing tenants are house proud and tell me they feel privileged to live in public housing. Its the governments task to ensure they received the quality of life they are entitled to.

If you require my assistance addressing a Housing issue please contact my office on 02 9699 8166.

Wednesday 2 September 2015

Pride so evident at Sydney City Council's Citizenship Ceremony

I was proud to join the Lord Mayor Clover Moore of the City of Sydney this afternoon to celebrate as 184 people from 44 different countries became Australian citizens.

Many people seek out a new life in Australia, and as the son of post-war migrants, I congratulate my new Australian friends and welcome them to their new home.

We are lucky to live in a multicultural society where people from all corners of the globe come together and make us all as Australians stronger, as we learn about and embrace each other’s cultures and experiences.

Alexandria Park Community School - children in danger from dangerous drivers

I met today with Principal Diane Fetherston, Junior School Deputy Principal Lucy Smith and Senior School Deputy Principal Glen Kingsley fromAlexandria Park Community School to discuss the danger posed to students by reckless drivers on Mitchell Road and Buckland Street.

I am astounded that in less than fifteen minutes I witnessed no fewer than five cars running red lights at this intersection and a number or illegal turns. I have written urgently to the Minister for Roads seeking intervention and asked Redfern Police to increase patrols at this dangerous intersection.

I urge all community members to take the time to discuss road safety with their children, and to be careful when using the road, especially around our schools.

Congratulations Marrickville Council and Marrickville SES

I was delighted today to inspect the new state of the art NSW SES - Marrickville Unit Headquarters.

I couldn't be prouder of this remarkable facility, Marrickville Council and the hardworking SES volunteers who give their time and risk their lives selflessly working in our community.

It was a pleasure to welcome Minister for Emergency Services David Elliott MP to the Heffron electorate, and join with Member for Summer Hill, Jo Haylen, Mayor Mark Gardiner, Cr Chris Woods, NSW SES Commissioner Adam Dent and other community representatives to witness the opening of this facility.

Thursday 20 August 2015

WestConnex - St Peters Interchange - a catastrophe in the making

The unplanned, uncosted WestConnex project by the Liberals was again subject to debate in the NSW Parliament. The largest public works project in history, all I asked for in an amendment I moved on behalf of a number of MP's was for the government to release planning and strategy documents to the community. The Liberals could not even do that. What are they hiding. As I told Parliament if the St Peters road interchange goes ahead a catastrophe is coming to my electorate that no government will ever be able to fix. This really has to be above politics. It is our future. This is what I told parliament.

Wednesday 19 August 2015

Commercialisation of Centennial and Moore Park a disgrace

The commercialisation of Centennial Park and Moore Park by the NSW Liberals is disgraceful. Extorting money from 17 Sydney Schools who can no longer afford to pay these ridiculous charges is quite improper. This open space gifted to the people to be held in trust by Governor Macquarie at the beginning of the 19th Century makes it the quintessential people's park. Building synthetic fields to make more money, gouging money out of children, or building another 60,000 seat stadium, as well as retaining the Sydney Cricket Ground and Allianz Stadium is a breach of Governor Macquarie's gift to us all. This is what I told parliament last week. 

Sunday 16 August 2015

Local Labor representatives meet with Rosebery residents

So many local Rosebery residents came to Turruwul Park today to meet with their local NSW Labor representatives; Tanya Plibersek,  Federal Member for Sydney and Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Councillor Linda Scott of the City of Sydney Council, and I. A sausage sizzle organised by Rosebery ALP Branch made it such a great day.

Botany Bay City Council's "thank you" to volunteers

It was a pleasure to join Botany Bay City Council and Michael Daley MP for a morning tea to say thank you to some of our local volunteers. It was a privilege to be amongst these very special people who do so much to assist others in our community.

Launch of Brian Injury Awareness Week at Our Big Kitchen

Rabbi Dovid Slavin, Ron Hoenig MP, Cr Charles Teo AM
I was delighted to attend the launch of Brain Injury Awareness Week 2015 that was launched in NSW jointly by Brain Injury and Our Big Kitchen.

In 2015 the week turns its attentions to a neglected minority of survivors of traumatic brain injury, Particularly women - for whom assault is a much more common cause of brain injury than for men. In Australia, 1 woman is killed by her current or former partner every week.

What happens to those who survive?

The launch heard from Dr Charles Teo AM, neurosurgeon and Director of the Centre for Minimally Invasive Neurosurgery at Price of Wales Hospital, Nick Rushworth, Executive Officer of Brain Injury Australia, Rabbi Dovid Slavin, himself a survivor and Rebecca Sciroli a survivor.

Rebecca such an impressive young lady told of her horrendous attack by her step father with a claw hammer to the head and her long road to survival and her daily fight against spasticity. 

One in three woman who present with head injury in Australia are victims of Domestic Violence. As Dr Teo told the launch; any injury to the brain is never repaired. The brain is the only organ that cannot repair itself. Domestic Violence is just the most insidious form of head injury. Society has been far too slow in addressing this violent and aggressive behaviour in the home. So much of this injury is unreported. Early intervention and access to support services and government funding is urgently required.

Friday 31 July 2015

Save the Alexandria Hotel - Community claims early victory

I welcome the City of Sydney Council,  this week issuing an Interim Heritage Order for a period of six months, in response to community outrage over the proposal to destroy the Alexandria Hotel.

The Alexandria Hotel is currently under threat from a property developer who plans to demolish the historical building to make way for 28 new apartments, with no provision for parking.

I also thank the hundreds of community members who joined the call for action. 

 Sydney City Council received a Development Application, to demolish the Alexandria Hotel to make way for a four story apartment complex with NO parking provisions in June. 

At the beginning of July, I wrote to each City of Sydney Councillor, including the Lord Mayor, urging Council use their powers under section 25 of the Heritage Act 1977 (NSW) to apply an Interim Heritage Order on site of the Alexandria Hotel. 

I also wrote to Alexandria residents with instructions on how they can make their objections on the DA proposal known to Council. 

The fight to save the Alexandria Hotel is far from over. This is only the first step. An Interim Heritage Order is temporary. It gives Council time to ascertain the true heritage significance of the site, and assess whether the Alexandria should be listed as a heritage item under the relevant Local Environment Plan. The developers have now appealed to the Land and Environment Court. This fight is far from over.

Thursday 25 June 2015

Ron Hoenig Heffron Gazette

Residents will this week receive their copy of the January 2015 edition of my newsletter called the "Ron Hoenig Heffron Gazette". It is available for download here.

Wednesday 10 June 2015

Congratulations Anne-Maria Slattery OAM

Presenting the 2015 Heffron Woman of the Year
Congratulations to Anne Slattery, the 2015 Heffron Woman of the year who in the Queens Birthday Honours list has been awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for service to the community of Botany Bay, and to social welfare groups. Anne is just a truly remarkable woman. I have set out her tremendous contribution to the community as announced by Government House.

City of Botany Bay:
President, Botany Historical Trust, since late 2012.

St Vincent de Paul Society:

President, South East Sydney Region, since 2012.
President, Daceyville Conference, since 2011; Founding Member, 2009. Reconstituted Daceyville Saint Vincent de Paul Conference.

St Michael's Catholic Church, Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney
Sacramental Program Catechist, since 1990.
Scripture Teacher, Daceyville Public School, 2000.
Author, 'The History of Saint Michael's Parish Daceyville 1913-2009', 2010.
Parishioner, since 1940s, and serves as a Reader and Eucharistic Minister.
Former Parish Councillor and represented the Parish on the Archdiocesan Parish Committee, 2000.

Teacher, New South Wales Department of Education, approx 40 years (retired). Served as teacher and head teacher at JJ Cahill Memorial High School, Mascot, New South Wales, 'for 33 years'.

Monday 1 June 2015

St Peters Road Inchange Disaster

The NSW government must now see sense and abandon that absurd proposal to construct the St Peters Road Interchange as part of their WestConnex proposal. As readers of  blog know I have been a ferocious critic of the WestConnex proposal from the time it was announced in 2012. As late as January earlier this year I again my my views known as I do often in parliament. However, the St Peter Road Interchange is really a recipe for a crisis. In January wrote http://ronhoenig.blogspot.com.au/2015/01/stop-six-lane-m5-east-tunnel-destroying.html. Last week I made my views known to the parliament. The video of what I said is at https://youtu.be/JohwHjzxEDQ

Thursday 14 May 2015

How stupidity and belligerence of politicians can undermine judicial independence

I sometimes think that if the public really knew how the government and parliament really worked, they would have a fit. Maybe they do. That might be why they have a low regard for politicians.

This week when parliament was considering what the Attorney General said was a "part of the Government's regular legislative review and monitoring program" I genuinely asked for the government to rethink some provisions as the NSW Bar considered "… it would substantially undermine the concept of an independent judiciary. .. such a fundamental and undesirable alteration to this State's constitutional fabric (is) unacceptable." 

Pretty serious you might think. I could have saved my breath The video of what I said is here. Judge for yourself. http://youtu.be/zGV5Xx8_YC8

Friday 13 March 2015

Liberal's "Uniformed Agents" try to break up Centennial Park residents meeting with their local MP

Some Centennial Park residents meeting with Heffron MP Ron Hoenig last night
Last night I met with local Centennial Park residents at the edge of Moore Park who wanted to speak to an MP about their concerns with the activities of the Centennial & Moore Park Trust something I have been doing regularly.

Centennial Parklands was gifted to the people of NSW by Governor Macquarie in 1811 for the benefit of the people of Sydney and future generations. It is overseen by Centennial & Moore Park Trust.

Whilst a number of residents were present talking to their MP, a ‘uniformed agent’ of Liberal Environment Minister Rob Stokes disrupted the meeting and ordered residents and I off Centennial Park land. Residents had to move 40 metres to comply with the request, including an 87 year old man.

Centennial Park is the people’s Park – residents are entitled to speak to their MP about their concerns with the management of Centennial Park without being set upon by politically motivated uniformed agents of the Liberal Party, it was a blatant attempt to silence them.

Residents meeting with their Member of Parliament is the most fundamental principle of our Parliamentary democracy, holding this meeting on the people’s land their right.

Centennial Park is not the private domain of the Centennial & Moore Park Trust. It is the quintessential people’s Park and this attempt to stifle free democratic debate is nothing short of undemocratic.

The residents I was speaking with were actually explaining their concerns they have with the Park, including the $38 million wastage on the Albert Tibby Bridge, the commercialisation of the Park, their fear that parts of Moore Park would be handed over for a car park and the gouging of money out of school children for their use of the Park.

The concerns raised by residents are justified. When the Trust and the Minister have refused to provide me with a briefing about the activities of the Trust, someone has something to hide.

It is interesting that on the eve of an election that the Liberal Minister sends his guards out to try and silence me. It is also interesting that their action follows enquiries by the Wentworth Courier about criticism I have made of the Trust in Parliament.

It is no wonder that locals are suspicious of the activities of the Centennial & Moore Park Trust when the people’s representative is thrown out of the people’s Park.

The Liberals’ attempt to silence me won’t work. I will be back next week meeting residents again.

Sunday 8 March 2015

NSW Labor to rescue TAFE as students hit with prohibitive TAFE fees

Thousands of students in my electorate have been hit by the Liberals’ with massive increases to course fees kick in at the start of the term this year.

Students would benefit from an affordable and well-funded technical and vocational training system under Labor’s $100 million TAFE Rescue Plan if Labor is elected in 3 weeks time.

Within one term, a Labor Government will:
  • Abolish the Liberal’s ‘Smart and Skilled’ privatisation program;
  • Reverse the Baird Government’s TAFE fee hikes;
  • Guarantee funding to TAFE by capping the amount of public funds that can be contestable by private operators at 30 per cent; and
  • Commission a landmark review of education and training in NSW after Year 10.
TAFE is critical for people looking to finish high school, get further education or re-train for a new career.

Many people across my electorate who rely on a strong TAFE system to get the skills they need to find a rewarding job.

But since 2011, the Liberal/National Government has cut $1.7 billion from education and training, sacked 1100 TAFE teachers and support staff, cut TAFE courses and slashed class contact times and drastically increased student fees by up to thousands of dollars. 

The Liberals’ damaging reforms have seen courses cut and staff sacked – and as of this week, fees are rising significantly. I know people in ELECTORATE who have had to take hefty loans to complete their courses – or have made the tough choice not to go back to TAFE at all.

Labor knows that quality education is the key to a good job and a fulfilling life – that’s why Labor will invest in training and make TAFE affordable.

Labor will reverse the Liberals’ fee increases, wind back the privatisation of TAFE and stop the course cuts and fee hikes, so TAFE is accessible for all.” 

Key Points: 
  • As technology changes, equipping the workforce with the skills required for the jobs of today and those of the future is an urgent challenge for NSW. We need a strong TAFE system to train our young people, to prepare them for fulfilling jobs. 
  • Since 2011, the Liberal/National Government has cut $1.7 billion from education and training, sacked 1100 TAFE teachers and support staff, cut TAFE courses, slashed class contact times and drastically increased student fees by up to thousands of dollars. 
  • These impacts to TAFE are a result of the ‘Smart and Skilled’ program of market-based vocational education and training where TAFE must compete for students and funding with private providers.Within the first term of government, Labor will abolish the ‘Smart and Skilled’ privatisation program, reverse the Liberals’ TAFE fee hikes, guarantee funding to TAFE by capping the amount of public funds that can be contestable by private operators at 30 per cent; and commission a landmark review of education and training in NSW after Year 10.