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Save Our Sydney Suburbs (NSW) Inc.
News Release August 2005

Changes for the better?

Hi SOS Members

Now that Bob Carr has left the stage, announcements about new and prospective appointments and resignations are coming in thick and fast.

Narcissic Bob Carr always gave the impression that he was more interested in himself than in the people of New South Wales. His culture of spin had to rub off onto the rest of government. This is nowhere more evident than in the Planning Department which goes to extraordinary lengths pretending to "consult" the community while it actually does the bidding of developers specialising in multi-unit development.

Deputy Premier Andrew Refshauge is departing too. He was Minister of Planning when I confronted him at seminars. He tended to read out guff written by his department that was easy to shoot down.

His successor, heavy-handed Craig Knowles is leaving. And Knowles's under-minister Dianne Beamer is being demoted. She is most notorious for the Orange Grove affair over which she is still facing ICAC findings. She also justly deserved the derision heaped onto her by the community for her ridiculous claims - for example that the fifty units being forced onto Marshall Avenue residents would "ease traffic" in that tiny street. I battled unsuccessfully for a year to get an interview with these ministers but they avoided me like the plague.

The Herald tells us "Mr. Knowles's trusted offsider, Jennifer Westacott, director-general of Infrastructure and Planning, is also understood to be leaving for a job in the private sector. Mr. Knowles had relied heavily on her for her work on the Metropolitan Strategy". Her predecessor, Sue Holliday, occasionally tried to counter our accusations through the media such as on Quentin Dempster's Stateline ABCTV program. However Jennifer Westacott always kept her head low and never offered herself as a target. Her department went to extraordinary lengths to exclude me from the Metrostrategy consultation process, as detailed in our newsletters of September 2004.

The editor of the Sydney Morning Herald, Robert Whitehead, is also stepping down. His "Campaign for Sydney" strongly promoted high-density advocates sustainability commissioner Professor Peter Newman and Professor Ed Blakely. These high-density proponents have always failed to counter our challenges to their claims, resulting in the reasonable assumption that they cannot do so. I have strong suspicions that Mr. Whitehead has been responsible for the Herald refusing to publish any recent opinion pieces and letters or make any reference to my recent article in the journal People and Place.

Once the replacements for these positions have been announced, we will do our best to try to make appointments to see them and explain what we feel should be done to appropriately plan for New South Wales’s communities.

Tony Recsei

President, Save Our Suburbs

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