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Save Our Sydney Suburbs (NSW) Inc.
News Release October 2003

End of Working Harbour?

Hi Members

The Daily Telegraph and the Sydney Morning Herald have given considerable coverage to Bob Carr's announcement that the end is nigh for Sydney Harbour as a working harbour. The activities will be moved to Port Kembla. However the previously mooted expansion of the Botany Bay terminal is still to go ahead. This is in spite of vigorous Botany Bay community opposition to this further addition to that already overstretched bay and industrial area.

If efficiency and environmental matters were any concern, the planned expansion of Botany Bay would be repositioned to Port Kembla and Newcastle and Sydney Harbour would be left with its current facilities. However we all know what Bob Carr's real reason is for shutting down the working wharfs in Sydney Harbour. These facilities will be replaced in the main by yet more high-rise. More urban consolidation, more traffic congestion, more sewage overflows, more electricity blackouts, more profits for developers, more political donations.

Jo Holder, a member of the Protector of Public Lands committee writes:


Banishing freighters, container ships and tugs from Sydney Harbour is like banishing trains from the railway system. It would leave an empty shell.

Filling the waterfront more bland apartments built by major donors to the NSW ALP and Liberal Party adds insult to the injury of this government's
unprecedented sell-off of public land and our social capital.

Who was consulted when Bob Carr decided to kill one of the Pacific¹s great seaports? Were we asked if we wanted public harbour land sold to
property developers? ALP members and the Unions weren't asked. Only property developers and Patrick Stevedores appear to have been asked.

The harbour is public land. It is not to be privatised by Carr selling this public land to his mates in Meriton, Lend Lease and Trafalgar Properties.

T (02) 9331 6621

SOS member Graham Lewis writes in today's Sydney Morning Herald (8 October);

So the Carr Government is going to "enhance" the harbour by converting the container shipping area into "public space and residential housing". If what happened to the old power station site next to the Iron Cove Bridge is an example, then I'd prefer the container shipping to stay.
The gross overdevelopment of the Iron Cove site is a blight on the harbour and a demonstration of an outcome when developers build too close a relationship with a government whose party arm has become addicted to political donations from developers".

Graham's letter is accompanied by a cartoon.

This morning Alan Jones of Radio 2GB questioned the reason for the phasing out of Sydney Harbour. I managed to get a "phone-in" and suggested that the juggernaut of overdevelopment was the reason. Alan agreed and referred to the resulting overloading of infrastructure. I said Save Our Suburbs has been fighting overdevelopment for years and that our current batch of politicians will be retired by the time the lack of infrastructure really starts to have an effect, leaving their successors to cop the problems.




Keep your letter under 150 words.
Include your name, address and a contact number for verification.
Takes ... 30 minutes.


"How do you feel about the decision to end Sydney Harbour's life as a
working port?"


This will influence the paper's allocation of resources to covering key
issues of privatisation, coastal, environment and urbanisation policy.

Working harbour to go in trade-off
By Nick O'Malley and Geraldine O'Brien
October 6, 2003

Sydney Harbour's life as a working port will end in 2012, with the Premier, Bob Carr, announcing yesterday the Government would not renew the leases of the three remaining container terminals.

He said stevedoring leases at Darling Harbour East, White Bay and Glebe Island will end when they fall due in 2006, 2007 and 2012, respectively.

Stevedores were being encouraged to move their operations to Port Kembla, while Botany Bay and Newcastle would also be expected to expand, Mr Carr said.

"This is an economic windfall for the [Illawarra] region, creating up to 2000 jobs," he said.

The decision also frees 33 hectares of valuable harbour foreshore for development. The Government has flagged using the windfall for a combination of housing, open space and "iconic development".

Mr Carr said some of the land would be used to realise the Government's plans for an unbroken run of harbour foreshore from Woolloomooloo to the Anzac Bridge.

A spokeswoman for Patrick Stevedores said the company had been discussing the move with the Government for months.

She said Patrick would move most of its operations to Port Kembla as soon as the Government had improved the port. Plans have been made to expand warehousing, improve port facilities and extend berths.

The state secretary of the Maritime Union of Australia, Robert Coombs, said the first he heard about the plan was in the audience at Mr Carr's address
to the NSW ALP conference.

"We're angry," he said.

Mr Coombs said although he welcomed growth for the Hunter and Illawarra, up to 500 Sydney-based jobs could be lost.

He refused to rule out industrial action unless those jobs were guaranteed.

He said the Government was keen to reap financial rewards from releasing land to developers and to appease powerful community groups opposed to the
noisy harbour industry.

"It is a complete backflip on the Government's talk about keeping this a working harbour," he said.

The Premier's announcement means the working harbour - which has been a defining characteristic of the city since 1788 - will be phased out in favour of development.

Previous developments have been strongly criticised for the profusion of undistinguished medium-density housing. Opponents say the public space that is provided is often a narrow foreshore strip that is so overwhelmed by the scale and bulk of development that it appears private.

The Sydney architect Richard Leplastrier said in opening the Working Harbour exhibition at the National Maritime Museum last week that more than 40 industrial sites on the harbour and Parramatta River had been cannibalised for "a blather of mindless housing . . . with keycard access".

Loading at White Bay docks. Photo: Phil Carrick

He said it was all very to well to say there is 10 metres of public space in front of the developments, but the public view of the harbour is "obscured by the gin palaces of the martini set".

The Darling Harbour container wharves were "the last big open stretches of waterfront left in the city", Mr Leplastrier said. "Do we want that chock-a-block with housing and development of rather questionable design quality, or can we put it to better use for the citizens of this city in the future?

"We should be thinking not five years ahead but 50 years ahead . . . Any harbour without a genuine working waterfront is undoubtedly a harbour without a heart."

In the past 20 years, the harbourfront space devoted to maritime uses of all kinds has more than halved.

This story was found at:

Tony Recsei
Save Our Suburbs (SOS)

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