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Save Our Sydney Suburbs (NSW) Inc.
News Release July 2004

A world of waffle and donations

Hi Members

We need to be active in reacting to the unsubstatiated propaganda being bandied about. Here is a letter that we managed to get into yesterday's Sydney Weekly Courier (20 Wednesday 2004) followed by the article that provoked it.

Sydney Weekly Courier 20 July 2004

Caroline Pidcock says an answer to our population dilemma is high-density building "which will allow more people to use less land" (Courier 14 July). She refers to dense European cities such as Paris, Rome and Barcelona as good examples of how people can live happily.

The reality is otherwise. People in these European cities mostly move out of their units into free-standing dwellings as soon as they can afford to do so. What is more, if Sydney were to be at the density of such cities, a mere 5 km would be shaved off its 45 km cross-section. One has to ask, is such a tiny gain worth all the high density pain? Considering the land area in Australia, this is like a flea on an elephant.

High density advocates seem to promote their policies with motherhood and apple-pie. Facts, it seems, are not relevant.

Dr Tony Recsei


Sydney Weekly Courier 20 July 2004
Lost in space: 2004 is the Year of the Built Environment. So what does that mean?
Report: Caroline Pidcock

As people living in the city, with its buildings, roads, transport infrastructure and man-made parks, we are all participants in the built environment. The quality of this environment and how it is managed is becoming increasingly important as the population grows and we run out of green- field sites around our cities. The NSW Year of the Built Environment Web site says: "The Year of the Built Environment is about encouraging Australians to celebrate and understand how structures, buildings and streetscapes make a difference to their quality of life. "It is about fostering a sense of community and purpose by setting directions for a positive and sustainable future.'' Maybe this is a good idea -- but how? And why? Especially for someone who is not directly involved in the built environment? In the city, higher-density building, which will allow more people to use less land is being touted as an answer to our population dilemma. However, the dense cities of Europe (such as Paris, Rome, Barcelona etc) that have been touted as good examples of how people can happily live in close proximity to each other did not come about by accident. The dense cities that work are based on good design. They understand the need for well-considered buildings that take account of good planning, privacy, regard for solar access, daylight and ventilation. They also understand the importance of the quality of the spaces between buildings and how they contribute to the public space of the street. The dense cities also have a well-informed population which actively and knowledgeably participates in the debate about what should happen in those cities and promotes good initiatives. YBE is about engaging the people of Australia in issues such as this. The many talks, events, exhibitions, articles that are being delivered are aimed at offering a range of ways for this interaction to occur. This is your chance to be involved and contribute to a better future.

The Year of the Built Environment Web site is Caroline Pidcock is chairwoman of the NSW Steering Committee for the Year of the Built Environment, president of the NSW chapter of the Royal Australian Institute of Architects and adjunct professor at the University of NSW. Her practice, Caroline Pidcock Architects, deals with projects throughout the State. This is the first of a series of articles by her that the Courier will run on the Year of the Built Environment.

Many members will have read of the controversy regarding the shopping centre the State Government wants to close down in Liverpool, a short time after Planning Minister Craig Knowles opened it!
The Greens have issued the following press release on this subject with the emphasis on the subject of political donations that SOS publicised on TV in 2000.

Westfield. Big favours for Federal ALP's biggest donor?

Donations from Westfield to both State and Federal ALP* [*Source: TheGreens political donations research project]

To State ALP:

Year Company name $Donation
1999-2000 Westfield Holdings $2,000
2000-2001 Westfield Holdings $22,000
2001-02 Westfield Holdings $16,800
1998-99 Croissy Pty Ltd (A Frank Lowy company) $75,000
2002-03 Croissy $75,000
2001-02 Westfield Design & Construction $2,750

TOTAL $193,550

To Federal ALP:

Year Company name $Donation
1998-99 Croissy $75,000
1999-00 Croissy $75,000
2000-01 Croissy $150,000
2001-02 Croissy $300,000
1999-00 Westfield Holdings $5,000
2000-01 Westfield Holdings $11,000
2001-02 Westfield Holdings $25,000

TOTAL $641,000

Greens MLC Lee Rhiannon has described the Government's forced closure of a factory outlet in Liverpool, that will benefit a nearby Westfield shopping complex, as a gift from Premier Bob Carr to Mark Latham's election campaign.

The Greens research project on political donations has revealed that Westfield, along with its CEO Frank Lowy, is the single biggest corporate donor to Federal Labor.

"In this federal election year the major parties will run very expensive campaigns," said Ms Rhiannon.

"Donations the size of Westfield's CEO Frank Lowy's could buy a considerable amount of advertising space for Federal Labor.

"From 1998 to 2002, records indicate that Westfield and its subsidiaries gave at least $641,000 to Federal ALP and just under $200,000 to NSW Labor.

"Of course Premier Bob Carr will vehemently deny that donations from corporations hold any sway on the decisions made by his Government.

"If decisions are made by the Government of the day benefiting a big corporate donor like Westfield, while leaving 450 people out of a job, then the public has the right to feel duped and more than a little suspicious.

"If this decision really was made to benefit Westfield, then some tough questions need to be asked of the Premier, starting with how much Westfield and Mr Lowy have donated in this election year alone.

"The period just before an election is when donations to the two major parties really hot up, yet voters won't have any idea of what companies are giving and of how much they're giving to well after Election Day," said Ms Rhiannon.

More information : Cate Faehrmann 9230 3551 0412 207 043

Tony Recsei
Save Our Suburbs (SOS)

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