Thursday, July 14, 2016

Open letter to Mike Baird: Sydney Light Rail & Due Diligence

(Anzac Cove, 25th April 1915)
Dear Premier,

What with the ignorant destruction of our living ANZAC memorial on Anzac Parade and Alison Road, I along with so many others are now heartbroken by the decimation of the iconic Tree of Knowledge this week.

How could this have been approved and sanctioned? How come even Randwick council had no idea that this was about to take place?

Photo: tree of knowledge (Jayne Leadbetter)

Looking back over the past couple of months it now seems that the federal election campaign provided us with some political-expedient respite from your municipal ecocide but of course once the news of Malcolm Turnbull's return to the Lodge was announced this week, the chainsaw onslaught resumed without warning and in the dead of night - we should have seen that coming.

Once again we find ourselves asking questions about the whole Sydney light rail exercise, and we are not prepared to be fobbed off ... we want answers.

Given the excellent bus service that Randwick used to enjoy on a separate bus lane along with an excellent separate cycleway and the fairly free-flowing car boulevards of Anzac Parade and Alison Road, clearly in a nutshell, it was quite obvious to the world that Randwick and its environs were well served by a decent public tranpsort network ...

So my questions are:

1. Why did you start renovating an excellent existing public transport network in an area that had an excellent existing public transport network?

2. Why did you not start your light rail project in an area of Sydney that was poorly serviced by public transport? ... and goodness me, there are plenty of those.

3. Is the Sydney Light Rail project actually a 'public transport' project or are we going to be plagued by yet another 'Public Private Partnership' (PPP) which will turn out to be equally expensive as the current PPP train service to Sydney airport (Domestic and International)?

4. How useful will the Sydney Light Rail network actually be given that its carrying capacity is known to be considerably smaller than the existing public transport bus network?
It appears to me that there is a significant disconnect between the expectations held by the public and and those held by the government as to what a good public tranpsort network should be. I mean I would have imagined that the ordinary person on a Bondi tram, oh whoops, there isn't one anymore; ok the ordinary person on a Randwick bus, oh whoops, there won't be one very soon; ok the ordinary person thinking about catching some form of public transport to or from Randwick, I would have imagined that they would be expecting that if their government was building a new and costly transport network, this new shiny transport network would be a considerably better one than the existing one that's being replaced. Word on the street says this is not going to be the case. Word on the street is convinced that this new transport project will not meet a 'proper public transport brief.'
6. Was due diligence carried out by your relevant government department before you procured the services of the current conglomerate of multi-nationals for this project?
In an open letter to the children of Sydney and NSW, I went through some of the various transport entities engaged in this current decimation of our heritage listed trees and living war memorial, and it would appear that some of them have quite a few cases to answer for bribery, corruption and ineptness both here and overseas.
We want a public inquiry now on this Sydney Light Rail matter, and you need to seek an injunction to halt your contractors' work whilst the matter is being reviewed. To continue as you are would be unconscionable. Many of us feel we have been misled and deceived, and as NSW voters we are entitled to respect and consideration from you and your government.

As a daughter and a granddaughter and a great-granddaugher of military men who all lost their lives while serving their country (England, in my case), I take war memorials very seriously, and politicians who rock up on Anzac days and Remembrance Days clutching theirs hearts and looking tragic do not cut it with me especially when in another part of their lives they are overseeing the desecration of memories and history.

We have not remembered those soldiers who marched from their barracks in Kensington down Anzac Parade to the boats that would cart them to faraway lands to fight wars for a faraway country; we have not honoured our dead.

We have trashed their living memorial.

We have forgotten.

Photo: End of an era, the Tree of Knowledge (Mary McAughney)

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

John McCrae

Please, Premier, grant us a public inquiry into the Sydney Light Rail project, its construction, its eventual operation and its actual necessity.

Yours as usual in tears and motivation,
Sue Abbott
Scone, NSW

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