The Member for Liverpool, Paul Lynch accuses Councillor Harle of undisclosed interests in the Warwick Farm Precinct. (Hansard: 31-5-12)
As usual the Member for Liverpool, Mr Paul Lynch hides behind Parliamentary privilege by accusing me of not disclosing pecuniary or non-pecuniary interests. That of course is untrue, to the best of my knowledge I have always disclosed the fact that I have family members residing in the Warwick Farm area. In fact it is regrettable that I abstained from voting on earlier Council decisions when the matter of rezoning parts of the area came before Council. Had I voted, a thorough traffic study would have occurred taking all aspects of the rezoning into account, a decision that all Labor Councillors opposed. Their decision has resulted in the current condition that many residents fought against, including those that opposed the rezoning of Coopers Paddock.
The facts are that during Mr Lynch’s’ term as a Liverpool City Councillor (1987 -1995), the Industrial area behind the Warwick Farm Racing Precinct was a matter for Liverpool City Councils’ consideration and in my opinion should not have been approved. Since then, traffic problems have escalated with little done to alleviate it, despite Mr Lynch’s’ claims to the contrary, there are no traffic calming devices installed and never have been. Closing roads and forcing all heavy traffic onto another road only moves the problem, it doesn’t solve it. Numerous traffic investigations found there are no simple solutions, normal traffic calming devices are not practical in a horse training area, they only add to the existing problems. It is a difficult problem that past Aldermen and Councillors have chosen to ignore.
I raised the issue early in my term as a Councillor and on behalf of horse trainers and property owners within the area. The escalating problems of heavy traffic in Manning Street needs urgent attention and before someone is seriously injured or killed. The fact that heavy vehicles increasingly use this area only compound the problems.
In my view, the only viable solution is to provide an alternative access road to the Industrial Area. An extension of an existing road is required around the rear of Rosedale Oval. It is the only practical route that has minimum effect on all property owners in the Warwick Farm Horse Training Precinct and minimises the impact on Rosedale Oval.
I put forward a Notice Of Motion (NOM) asking Council writes to the State Government for funding to construct a suitable access road to the Industrial Area at the rear of Warwick Farm, citing that the current problems are the cause of a previous State Labor Government that sold the land and zoned it Industrial without taking into consideration access to the area. That NOM was passed by the majority of Councillors.
The proposed access road plan submitted to the State Government was one of three possible options, and in my opinion not the most appropriate. However, once a reply is received, Council will be in a better position to decide on the best possible option. I discussed that issue with those cited by Mr Lynch at a public forum.
Another proposal was to build a bridge across the Georges River providing access from Newbridge Road and linking industrial areas on both sides of the river. However the cost of such a bridge at this time is considered far greater than the proposed road around the rear of Rosedale Oval.
It would be of far greater benefit to the Liverpool Community if the Member of Liverpool chose to help the residents of Warwick Farm rather than try to denigrate me or fellow Councillors. There are numerous contradictory statements in his diatribe, not the least being the confusion of the names of people he claims to represent. That also applies to the number of residents and workers in the area, seems election fever has affected him to the extent he knows little of which he speaks. Sadly, Parliamentary Privilege is an often abused election tool.
My thanks to the Member for Menai, Melanie Gibbons for her comments.
Member for Liverpool’s continuing diatribe against Liverpool City Council; as per Hansard Papers of the 15th and 29th March 2012.
Two of the more obvious lies in his diatribe of misinformation were;
Old Council site: “Council intends to sell the land”.
Not true, public expressions of interest have been called for and extended to 31 days, closing April 10th 2012. It was extensively advertised in the media as well as Councils Website, Community Forums and Rural Information Centres. It clearly stated, “Sale, lease or any other fit purpose”, nowhere did it state that the site would be sold! Neither is there any record of any proposal to sell the site in Councils’ Meeting Minutes.
“A bad decision” to purchase the 33 Moore Street Site.
Also NOT TRUE, he fails to state that the purchase produces an income of more than $1.6 million per year and will pay for any necessary maintenance in less than two years. Most business people have praised the purchase as a clever move. Rebuilding on the old site meant zero income and a greater ongoing maintenance burden to ratepayers. There are numerous advantages in locating Councils Administration Centre in the Central Business District, accessibility, increased customers to businesses and increasing business confidence are some.
Similar comments apply to the purchase of 52 Scott Street; he describes it as “the dud deal of the century” it too produces an income, currently around $1M, which is far more than by investing the purchase price (around $8M) of the site in interest bearing investments. The Member for Liverpool also fails to understand the natural increases in property value over time. The building is currently long term lease occupied at 88%, not bad for the “dud deal of the century”. Clearly Mr Lynch and his Labor Colleagues appear to suffer from a distinct lack of business sense.
It is worth remembering that the Green Valley community (Heckenberg included) has had major road refurbishments carried out in 2010. That was due to a special $800k allocation of funds, which his Labor Councillor Colleagues in Council ALL voted against, including the Mayor. Considering Green Valley is a predominately Labor area, that decision begs belief!
Memorial School of Arts – “A plan of management”.
That was called for by Clr Stanley as a “Notice of Motion” and passed by Council, however, upon later investigations it was determined that such a costly plan is not necessary and would save Council some $40,000. A justifiable rescission motion was called for (which I signed) after Councillors were informed of the facts and reversed Councillor Stanley’s initial Motion. Clearly that reversal was in the best interests of the community. Council will decide the best use for the Memorial School of Arts after it is refurbished. Future leasing occupants, including community groups, may provide a minimum income to counteract years of accumulated financial losses for the site.
Personally, I do not support the sale of Council owned property, preferring to lease it whenever possible. I believe it should be left up to future generations to decide the best use of Council owned and operated major assets.
Ratepayers and residents need to understand that Council has to increase its income producing assets in order to meet increasing maintenance costs and backlogs. Council cannot continue to rely upon rates alone. Those ongoing cost increases are caused, to a great extent, by State Governments passing their costs onto Local Councils and then limiting their rate increase to below actual cost increases. A policy designed to make State Governments look good but at the expense of Local Councils and their worsening infrastructure. That policy appears to be designed to support an agenda for abolishing or amalgamating Local Councils. Don’t be fooled by clever talk that seems logical, but on further investigation will result in fewer benefits to locals than is currently the case.
It is sad that the Member for Liverpool uses Parliamentary Privilege to denigrate Liverpool City Councillors including his Labor Party Colleagues. Is it any wonder why some people refer to Parliament as “Cowards Castle”?
Links to Hansard here:
Council Conducted Briefing and Information Sessions:
Residents may not be aware that Liverpool City Council conducts scheduled briefing sessions for all Councillors and usually held five days before the next General Council Meeting. These sessions present critical information to Councillors that is often very difficult to convey via written information. Council Officers present reports on issues involving planning, finance and Community services to be decided upon at the following Council Meeting.
As a Councillor I rarely miss a briefing session, sadly of the eleven Councillors, fewer than five attend on a regular basis, very rarely do any of the five (now four) Labor Councillors including the Mayor attend. That begs the question, how can the non attending Councillors make an informed decision when they do not know the full ramifications of the issues that come before Council?
There are more than 100 Council briefings and information sessions conducted in a Councillors term. Of those, the Independent Councillors attend the most, followed by two Liberal Councillors, rarely if ever, does more than one Labor Councillor attend any of these sessions. These claims are easily verified by reading Councils published reports which list Councillor attendances and how they voted on most issues.
“Independent” Councillors are often accused as being “Liberal – Independents” or anti Labor and vote as a group on controversial issues. The reason for that is simply because Independent and Liberal Councillors attend the vast number of briefing and training sessions. At these sessions highly qualified Council staff, and relevant experts in their fields, present reports that allow for informal questions and discussions. These often result in a better understanding of the issues involved. It would be very difficult for any Councillor not attending these briefing sessions to make an informed decision and one that is in the best interest of the community, irrespective of the length of service as a Councillor.
Council staff prepare detailed reports for briefing sessions and make recommendations which are usually limited to; “approval”, “refusal” or “do nothing”, however during Councillor briefing sessions the initial recommendations may change due to additional information not previously taken into consideration. Councillors not attending briefing sessions and relying purely on initial Councils written information and recommendations may not realize the full ramifications of their decisions. That may lead to debate in Council Meetings that at times may get a little overheated. However, very rarely does it get to the same level encountered in State and Federal Parliaments, despite the politically motivated criticism leveled at Council by those with vested interests.
Overall Councillors agree upon the majority of issues that come before Council, it is only the rare and controversial issues that attract media attention and tend to polarize Councillors and residents alike. I believe that Councillors attending regular briefing, training and information sessions have made the best possible decisions affecting the majority of Liverpool residents. Sadly those with vested political interests criticize Independent Councillors and accuse them of political bias, when in fact that is simply not true.
As a Councillor I attend every possible Community Forum, Resident Action Group, Independent Hearing and Assessment Panels (IHAP), Joint Regional Planning Panels (JRPP) as well as my many Council Committee representations. That allows me to make decisions that reflect those of the community. While they may not always be popular, in my humble opinion they are carried out to the best of my ability for the majority of Liverpool’s 185,000 residents of which 70,000 are ratepayers and irrespective of any perceived political bias.
I am always willing to discuss any issue with residents and ratepayers alike, however, the outcome has to be in the best interests of the majority of Liverpool ratepayers and residents.
If you wish to discuss any of the above or any Council matter, feel free to contact me at any time you consider reasonable on;
Phone: (02) 8090 2646
Mobile: 0412 736 956
email: Peter Harle
or email: Councillor Harle
Cr Peter Harle JP.