Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Australand - WA Corruption and Crimes Commission

Evidence given before the WA Corruption and Crime Commision:

The Australian Financial Review (19 and 20 February 2007) reports on evidence given before the WA Corruption and Crime Commision. Property Developer Australand's senior executive in Perth, Chris Lewis admitted he put together a deal for Australand to secretly bankroll the election campaign of a Perth mayor, Mr Stephen Lee. Mr Lee was an open supporter of the contraversial Port Coogee $900 million Australand residential development project south of Perth. Via a front company, Australand secretly payed $43,000 to the election campaign of Mr Lee. A taped phone call reveals Mr Lewis saying "I just don't know whether I should be speaking on the phone" to which the person he was speaking to replied "Oh I see, yeah alright well mate. No, its probably a better idea not to speak on the phone". The person he was speaking to was disgraced former West Australian premier Brian Burke.

It seems the millions of dollars of donations to political parties that are reported according to the law are only the tip of the iceberg.

Paradise Lost


According to surveys about fifteen per cent of people in Sydney prefer to live in units. Through its draconian dictatorial actions the State Government is trying to force more of Sydney's population to live in units. Councils that do not rezone single residential lots to multidwelling get their planning powers taken away. The horrifying consequences are described in over 1 1/2 pages in the Sydney Morning Herald (26 February 2007).

The Herald describes how a resident and strata manager who tried to get the developer of the units he is living in to fix defects was bashed by two men with baseball bats. As a result he was in hospital for several days, is convalescing at home and has resigned as strata manager. This is not the only such case.

Sydney's deputy Lord Mayor is quoted as saying "Noise, partying all night, people throwing up on your doorstep or in the communal spa pool, illegal short-term rentals, parking rage and squashing 10 people into a two-bedroom apartment are just the tip of the iceberg. And don't forget, as you drag your neighbour through the often ponderous Fair Trading complaints system, you still have to live next to these people. It must be like living through a divorce where neither party moves out."

The articles report the biggest problem is that the Government's decisions are skewed to favour developers, who are by far the biggest donors to the main political parties. The state ALP has received more than $9 million from developers since 1998-99, according to calculations by the Greens, and the NSW Liberals and Nationals received almost $6.5 million.
"You don't hear much about the problems because the people who are affected are terrified bad news will harm the value of their homes," says Ray Newey, chairman of the Highgate apartment building in The Rocks. "And the people who should be speaking out for them - their MPs - have been bought off with the millions of dollars donated to party funds."

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Letters not published - February 2007

From: Jenny Yule
To: SMH Letters
Sent: Monday, February 26, 2007 8:49 PM
Subject: Battle for NSW article: Let Sydney Grow ...

Dear sir/madam,
So developers say "Let Sydney grow or lose $6b"? (SMH, 26 Feb). How about "let Sydney grow and lose what is left of our clean air, green space, and quality of life? Let Sydney grow and watch our traffic system deteriorate even further and social problems associated with overcrowding escalate. Let Sydney grow and witness a rise in stress and pollution related diseases. Let Sydney grow and marvel at the way the developers' pockets bulge and the political parties' funds overflow. It is clear the Department of Planning refuses to develop our beautiful city appropriately and is hell-bent on high rise and maximum density. I say let Sydney be.
(Mrs) J. Yule


From: Tony Recsei
To: SMH Letters
Sent: Monday, February 26, 2007
Subject: Strata Living: A paradise lost

Our lost paradise is not restricted to strata living ("Strata living: a paradise lost", Herald 26 January). The entire community is facing the destruction of our Australian way of life. That wonderful and rare attribute in an increasingly overcrowded world – adequate space, is being wrung out of our neighbourhoods.

Only 0.25% of Australia’s land surface is urbanised. However the Planning Department dictatorially rams more and more high-density multiunits into protesting communities under the threat of taking away their councils’ planning powers.

The only people who benefit are the developers who build this cancerous high-rise and the politicians who receive their donations.

Tony Recsei


21 February 2007

To the Editor: Sydney Morning Herald

Re: Co-operation essential to great Aussie dream (21 February)

ALP Housing Shadow Minister Tanya Plibersek notes that the scarcity of land in Sydney does not explain why costs are high in other parts of Australia . True enough. However, house costs are high elsewhere in Australia because similar land shortages exist elsewhere in Australia. This is documented in reports by the Urban Development Institute of Australia and the Residential Development Council. Costs are high in Perth, Brisbane, Adelaide and Melbourne because of planning induced land shortages in Perth, Brisbane, Adelaide and Melbourne. Land for development has escalated in cost more than any of the 90 elements of the Consumer Price Index and more than double that of petrol. Prices do not rise with such a vengeance where supply is permitted to respond to demand.

In turning their backs on the Great Australian Dream, state governments have driven the cost (including interest) of the median price house up by from six to 11 years of gross annual household income (median), and that in just 10 years. The mechanisms vary. In Sydney, there are direct and ideological urban consolidation plans, while in Perth, a less direct, yet just as destructive bureaucratic morass is the cause of the land shortage. There is simply no hope of restoring the Great Australian Dream without dealing squarely with the problem of government strangled land supply.

Wendell Cox

Co-author, Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey

Visiting Professor, Conservatoire National des Arts et Metiers, Paris


To: letters smh
Sent: Monday, February 19, 2007 9:09 AM
Subject: "developer" violence charge

Dear Editor

A domestic violence charge that would "name and shame" all offenders? (Iemma recycles $2b pledges, February 19)

How about introducing a developer violence charge at the same time, Mr Iemma?


Anne Wagstaff

Friday, February 16, 2007



They have been telling us for years that high-density is "more sustainable". But...

The following letter was published in the National Post newspaper in the USA, Thursday, February 15, 2007

Two bad ideas from British Columbia
National Post
Published: Thursday, February 15, 2007
Re: It's Time To Talk About Urban Density, Sam Sullivan, Feb. 13.

Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan's wish for higher density carries a heavy price. That is already evident in Vancouver area house prices, which are among the highest in the world, relative to incomes, principally because of the region's densification-favouring policies. It is not a foregone conclusion that higher densities are more environmentally friendly. In Sydney, Australia, for example, it has been found that greenhouse gas emissions per capita are lower from detached houses than from high-rise residential buildings. The U.S. Oakridge National Laboratory found that doubling the density of urban areas would do little to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and that vehicle technology improvements were a far better course.

And if all Canadians were to abandon their cars and sport utility vehicles, the nation would still fall short of achieving its Kyoto Accord targets. Sometimes it helps to take a good hard look at the data, without preconceptions.

Wendell Cox

Notes: The energy study referred to is: "Multi-Unit Residential Building Energy and Peak Demand Study" by Paul Myors, Energy Australia with Racheal O'Leary and Rob Helstroom, NSW Department of Planning, October 2005.

This study shows that greenhouse gas emissions in high-rise per person averages 5.4 tonnes of CO2 per year, nearly double the 2.9 tonnes per person per year in detached housing. Other studies show that average per capita water usage is no higher in single-residential than water consumption in high-rise.