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Air Pollution (Sydney Morning Herald, June 2003)

We might have hoped for a more informative response from Simon Chapman, professor of public health, to the article by Paul Sheehan (Car Alarm: why can't we breath freely, Herald June 9).

Eastern Europe and China may have low asthma rates but any attempt to directly compare their pollution rates with ours is misleading. Surely, in health terms, air pollution is what actually gets into the lungs, not what floats in the air.

The methods currently used to monitor particle pollution are unable to distinguish between relatively harmless mineral dusts and soot (large particles which rarely enter the lungs) , and the much finer particles of wood smoke, 'smog', combustion products, petrol and diesel engine exhaust and cigarette smoke, all of which are harmful.

If there are local differences in dose responses to particle levels and 'pollution', then the cause of this difference may well provide the key to the prevention of illness.

Vehicle exhaust pollution may be worse than passive smoking as a public health risk. With its responsibility for urban development, public transport, road and tunnel construction and vehicle registration, this Government could significantly reduce vehicle exhaust pollution, yet many of its policies act to increase rather than decrease the problem.

Mark Curran
Earlwood, June 10


Compact city equals more cars, not buses (Sydney Morning Herald, 29 May 2003)

Bruce Judd claims that compact cities are more ecologically sustainable due to increased use of public transport ("How apartment living grew up", Herald 28 May).

The use of public transport just cannot be expected to meet the requirements of all the trips people have to make. This is exemplified in a city much admired by compact city proponents. The planning authorities in Portland, Oregon admit that in spite of all efforts, the use of public transport there will only increase from the current 3% to 6% of people’s journeys. Car traffic though, will increase from 4 million to a massive 7 million daily trips.

More of something in a constrained space increases crowding. Portland’s traffic congestion is already horrendous - approaching that of New York. This congestion increases air pollution including fine particulates that are extremely carcinogenic.

It is high time that objective fact-based engineering replaces the emotional ideology driving our city planners.

Tony Recsei
Warrawee, May 28

Policy leads to pollution (Sydney Morning Herald, 23 May 2003)

Your article "River sleuth despairs as sewage pours into bay", Herald 22 May describes plastic bags, soft drink cans and "lumps of faeces as big as golf balls" floating in the Georges River resulting from our recent rain spell. The magnitude of this pollution is a direct consequence of the State Government's high density policies.

The stormwater drains and the sewers of our suburbs were designed for the original population numbers and building structures. Under its urban consolidation policy the Carr Government is forcing hugely increased population densities into these suburbs without improving the infrastructure. The sewers cannot cope with the increased number of people and have a much reduced safety factor. Add to this the vanished gardens that are now covered with tiles, bitumen and concrete. There is now much less open ground to absorb rainwater. Some of this rainwater then rushes into creeks carrying pollution with it. Some enters the overloaded sewers and causes them to overflow.

Yet the Government keeps on telling us that their high-density policies are resulting in a more sustainable city.

Tony Recsei
Warrawee May 22


Council wants veto on poker machine increases (Sydney Morning Herald, 27 February 2003)

"I think gambling has gone to extremes in NSW." MONICA WANGMANN Ashfield Councillor

A Sydney council has voted to stop the spread of poker machines. Ashfield Council voted this week to regulate gaming machines in clubs and pubs and to veto any plans to increase their number in the local area.

This would include keeping poker machines away from family areas and moving ATMs away from gaming rooms, said Ashfield's Mayor, Mark Bonanno.

The motion was driven by concern about the impact of gambling on vulnerable people and local families, said independent Cr Monica Wangmann, who proposed it.

"I think gambling has gone to extremes in NSW", she said.

But Cr Ted Cassidy said he had voted against the motion because he did not believe councils could restrict poker machine numbers.

Under current rules, any hotel or club seeking to increase the number of machines must commission a social impact assessment. (An application for more than four machines requires a more extensive study, with possibility for public comment.) Councils can comment on applications before they are determined by the Liquor Administration Board.

The director of the NSW Council of Social Service, Alan Kirkland, said he hoped the board would take note of opposition from councils.

"The State Government needs to give councils the full powers to reject additional machines where they think that's in their community's interest", he said.

Cr Bonanno said the council would require that machines were kept away from family areas in hotels and pubs, would regulate advertising and noise and the positioning of ATMs.

The general manager. of Wests Leagues Club, John Edwards, who said the club, was not seeking any further gaming machines, questioned whether councils could regulate poker machines.

A spokesman for the acting Gaming Minister, Michael Egan, said councils could only regulate machine numbers through the social impact assessment process.


Mass Distraction (Daily Telegraph, 20 February 2003)

American foreign policy has been a weapon of mass distraction for the NSW Government as it faces an election next month, diverting attention from Bob Carr's weapon of mass destruction, his urban consolidation policy. Others call it overcrowding, and it has already destroyed vast areas of Sydney.

The people who lose most in this race to overdevelop are those on modest or low incomes, most of whom are Mr Carr's own supporters. No one benefits but developers.

Hugh Knox

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