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

Suspect Statistics / Terrorism

Hi SOS Members


We have recently seen newspaper reports to the effect that people living in suburbs are overweight compared to those living in high density. We have now unearthed the source of these reports, a study termed “Measuring the Health Effects of Sprawl”. It proves to be merely another example of the political spin advanced by the advocates of high density.

The study (which cost US$5 million) purports to demonstrate that people living in more sprawling, suburban areas are fatter than people who live in more dense central cities. They say this is because people in the suburbs use cars and therefore walk less. However when we look at their numbers we find they are insignificant. The difference in weight found between people living in high-density and in houses was in the range of only 181 to 907 grams! They are equivalent to walking 25 minutes more per month, or 50 seconds per day.

Western nations are of course experiencing an excess weight problem. This is measured in kilograms, not grams. And this weight gain only started happening recently - in the last 10 years whereas suburban living has been significant since the 1940s. Also, the study omitted to take into account significant factors relating to obesity such as family income – poorer people tend to be heavier. The greatest factor is considered to be a change in dietary habits - junk food.

The misleading propaganda of the high-density advocates is mind-boggling. We all know the real reason underlying the push for high density in New South Wales – money (large profits and huge donations), not consideration for our welfare. For those of you interested in further examples of this misuse - please see below.


We are all appalled by the increasing incidence of dreadful terrorist acts worldwide. SOS member Hugh Knox has written the following letter to some newspapers:

Dear letters editor

Premier Carr has not learned the lessons of history, despite his stated interest.

Lesson 1: Dictators who ignore community consensus can end by being shot and hung by the heels upside down in the town square.

Lesson 2: In world war 2, both sides were killing civilians as fast as they could go. Their targets were medium and high-density housing. That was the way to kill more civilians.

Lesson 3: Terrorists can and will strike anywhere. Nowhere is safe. Their targets so far have been overcrowded places of work or play. It is only a matter of time before they target apartment buildings.

Lesson 4: The overcrowding of cities leads inevitably to rising prices, rising unemployment, more congestion, more pollution and other environmental damage, poor quality construction, more infrastructure overload and more crime, and in addition, the increased probability of terrorist attack.

We don’t have to make the same mistakes that other countries have made. Overcrowding is not inevitable. Mr Carr’s policy of “urban consolidation” and “housing choice”, which everyone else calls “overcrowding”, is turning Sydney, which he says is already bursting at the seams, into an overcrowded slum and the very obvious target of terrorist attack.

So no one benefits from overcrowding but developers. Developers make huge donations to the NSW Labor party. How long will it take Mr Carr to grasp the fact that his betrayed supporters are not stupid, and might assume a connection even if there is not one?

Not “if” but “when” terrorists attack a high-rise apartment block in Sydney with readily available explosives, or nerve gas in the air-conditioning, killing hundreds at one fell swoop, Mr Carr and his collaborators will have much to answer for.

Yours sincerely

Hugh Knox


For those of you interested in the misuse of statistics, another example:

High-density advocates say that high-density is the major factor relating to public transport use. However studies show that if one looks at all the variables involved such as income and accessibility, high density is an insignificant factor relating to the use of public transport.

In this regard it annoys us to hear Professor Peter Newman, Sydney’s “Sustainability Commissioner” referring to greater public transport use by residents of the denser inner ring suburbs as proving that high density increases public transport use. He ignores the fact that people living in the inner ring are more likely to work in the city than those living in less dense outer suburbs. In most cases it is just too expensive and difficult to use one’s car to travel to the city and public transport is conveniently directed to city destinations. However only a minority of jobs are in the city. If the whole of Sydney were to be as dense as the inner ring, any extra public transport use would be minimal as most of the community would be travelling to destinations other than those well served by public transport. Traffic congestion would increase due to the greater number of cars (as we all know).

So density is only coincidentally associated with the greater use of public transport in the inner ring. The more important factor is nearness to city. People living further from the city centre and working elsewhere will not use public transport to the same extent, irrespective of density.

We are easily misled by high-density advocates. They can rely on people not having time to ascertain the truth or otherwise of their assertions.

Tony Recsei
Save Our Suburbs (SOS)

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