Good Bye 2016

December 31, 2016

Image0211Here we are at the end of what can only be described as a weird year. Too many of the people on our planet have taken a huge right turn and it’s not pretty. Greed has taken over and self serving politicians seem to dominate the landscape.

How is  this an unusual and weird year…? Let’s start with the Brits, they managed to completely confuse themselves by voting for an exit to the EU… waking up the next day like they had a hangover and wondered what happened. The US went nuts and voted for an egomaniac and we in Australia raised the profile of a bunch of hateful liars who are intent on spreading poor even incorrect information to scare the community into thinking everyone is out the to get them. I remember growing up in a somewhat different time, most of my recollections of the 60’s and 70’s are memories of everyone getting on with the day to day and if a neighbour needed some help they just did what they could. To pretend there weren’t racists about would be naive, however as a child of an immigrant and being reasonably aware of our difference I cannot say I ever felt fear for my safety or even that my neighbour hated me and my family… yet the politicians who peddle the hate and fear of today do exactly that. We are supposed to be a more informed and educated society but the reality is, waaaaaaaayyyyy to many people get their news from shock jocks or media with an agenda. Whether that is self serving or worse controlled by media giants who want more control and less fact reaching the community. It’s time we as a community stood up and said enough is enough. We have many issues affecting us locally that have been ‘sold’ to the community as beneficial but when push comes to shove no one can define the benefit or produce the information required to ensure we do get the purported benefits.  The Moorebank intermodal will not be good for Liverpool, yes it will bring a few jobs and a few companies who rely on freight but it will also drive away potential businesses as our roads will be in gridlock the majority of the time. That’s without touching the hefty impacts such a development will have on the residents of Liverpool and our surroundings, be it air pollution, damage to our precious waterways, even the liveability of our city. Our council has spent hundreds of thousands of our rates dollars to ensure the community is aware and I can pretty much guarantee that percentage wise a very low number of people truly understand the impacts or worse even know about them… some may be aware of the reported benefits, even though the supporting documents cannot prove any such benefit. Same goes for the Badgerys Creek airport. I cannot get past the fact that if the airport is bad for the residents of Mascot and surrounding suburbs how in the hell is it going to be good for the residents in one of NSW’s largest growth areas? Especially when we won’t even have a curfew or the same restrictions afforded Mascot and Sydney’s drinking water will be directly under the flight paths. This doesn’t even touch on things like the impacts of digging coal out of the ground around the state and the immediate damage being done to waterways and the local communities. We are being sold a pup and so few actually seem to care.  The climate is in a bad way and without dramatic changes right now it’s closing in on irreversible and we, all of us, need to step up….

On a personal level I have much to be thankful for this year, my family are pretty well and cared for and very loved. The people with whom I associate are informed and passionate about the communities in which we live and the planet as a whole. Most of all they care.

There are of course things all of us need to consider changing, adjusting or being more aware of and to me that is just normal…I am grateful for the many readers who have taken the time this year to read and respond, even those not wanting to have their information shared. I am grateful for the change in local councillors and that some of  the worst have not returned. I am hopeful for a more inclusive year where more people get involved in local issues.

We do however need to ensure we are better informed, I was surprised when discussing politics with someone yesterday the amazing lack of knowledge associated with politics in this country. The associate and her colleagues had no clue that the likes of Pauline Hanson, Leyonhjelm etc make very good money out of running for federal seats. Especially if they get their 4% and don’t actually win a seat  as they get to keep the money and not have to work for it. Don’t get me wrong every political party earns at a Federal election once they reach 4%, the bigger groups who actually get people elected use that to fund lots of things within their party. We Green’s operate a little differently in that in NSW the local groups manage the funds and they generally finance future elections and the running of the  group and local issues. This I understand is very different to that of even Greens in other states and it is exactly why we at FLG were able to donate a bit of money to ensure 30 local families weren’t hungry this Christmas. For NSW Greens groups the goal is to raise awareness around issues and policies that are of importance to our communities not necessarily ‘winning’ seats although that is indeed beneficial when it comes to actually ensuring change in how politics is done in this country. Our Greens politicians are all hard working and extremely dedicated, that makes me very proud when some things we do achieve benefit the whole community.  All our local group members here in Liverpool and Fairfield do what we do as volunteers and we don’t pay staff or excessive costs for campaign materials etc. We actually manage to run our elections very cheaply and work towards ensuring politics is full of people with a passion for change not a passion for a well paid job, which sadly appears to be the goal of many other individuals and parties and something I personally rally against. The idea of scoring a well paid job followed by a golden handshake in my opinion brings out the worst in people and we should be expecting better.

Thank you all for your contributions and  your patience with my less than regular posts this year, it has been a big year in that elections are time and energy expensive.

I would like to wish you all a very Happy New Year.  2017 is shaping up to be a  big year, thankfully not an election one for us so we can focus on some of the local issues that are of most import to our local community.

Stay safe and I will see you in 2017.

 

Sign off


Last 2016 Council meeting and more

December 18, 2016

Christmas treeJust when you thought things were going to quieten down for the summer break I decided to read the minutes from last Wednesday’s council meeting. lol

9 Items were discussed in confidence, that is 9 this month 14 last month that council considers so secretive we need to be left out of any of their discussions or detail. While I accept there are things that need to be protected, like a residents name and  personal details etc, how many times can we be left in the dark and told its okay?

Mayor Waller however does plough through the agenda quickly and so far none of the meetings have ventured into the 11pm finish zone as they did in the past.

A couple of things that I paid particular attention to, of course one being the selection of the New CEO… we are yet to be told who will be managing our hefty business and all I can say is that while most of us were not privy to who were in the final three, it seemed very clear that some members of the LCIT political party were well aware. In fairness I had guessed that the present acting CEO was likely to be amongst them and her being called to speak was confirmation, however even the other candidates arrival was through a different set of doors to ensure we, the paying public, had no clue.  All I can say is appears that secrecy was not necessarily kept for all of us and when I dug a little deeper with the LCIT members they quickly realised I was perplexed that it appeared they had confidential information not available to the rest of the ratepayers.  They did say along with the ACEO, the former CEO of a named local council  and a woman were the other two… Until the formal announcement is made I guess we’re left wondering.  I do hope that if not successful the present A CEO remains in council, she is a valued member of staff from what I can see and appears to have a genuine community engagement focus, something I most certainly value as a resident. I am also very hopeful of a truly competent and capable addition to our staff.

The other thing that concerns me a little is that as your representative on the Environmental Advisory Committee a position I have proudly maintained for a number of years now, the committee is being amalgamated with the floodplain committee, something not all members necessarily favoured. That said we held our last meeting of the EAC last week and the chairperson, Cllr Harle declared he was a member of the Liverpool Action Group,  two other members  failed to declare their membership of the same group, no big deal I guess as the councillor has always been supportive of the environment,  however on reading the minutes of the last council meeting for 2016 it was announced that a former councillor  was now on the new floodplain committee, he too is a member of LAG and a long time vocal opponent of the EAC and the use of funds. For your information we  have been having a number of discussions regarding the use of the Levy. I believe as one of the longest standing members of the committee that the funds are ‘bound’ to be used specifically for environmental use, including the establishment of a community nursery and environmental centre, as you have heard me mention on numerous occasions. Our former CEO Mr Wulff appeared hell bent on absorbing those funds into a general revenue fund for use somewhere else in council, clearly stated during one council meeting. Getting the original business papers and original funding documents are proving quite a chore and have been on the request list for almost a year.I am sure there are good reasons, I’m just not sure what they are. I cannot tell you why there is so many delays however we would have had the nursery up and running a year or more ago if it had not been for the constant roadblocks put in front of the committee and now we see the former councillor may again be in a position to renew his efforts to stymie the entire environmental program if he so chose. (this is well documented here as I’ve written extensively on this before)  If, as is the norm, all members will have the ability to vote on issues before the committee LAG will now have 4 members who could potentially vote in a block and undermine the rest if the elected members. I would like to hope I am wrong however two of those members have already indicated they would like to see the funds used elsewhere rather than on the Enviro/Nursery. Just so you are aware, the nursery was to allow council to save money (our rates) by propagating and growing local species of plants and trees for use in the LGA rather than buying them commercially and the enviro centre was to be set up so members of the community could see/experience different types of home lighting, wall treatments, water saving devices etc etc  could work in their own homes with the added bonus of some of the rooms could be hired out by members of the community as a n offset for any costs. It’s disturbing to see the focus being redirected against such things, that could benefit the entire community. While I agree that one argument for more staff is valid, it is not impossible for that to be achieved as well as the Enviro/Nursery where the community could benefit from in situ examples that only a purpose built facility could provide. I have heard that a number of staff positions have lay empty for some time shows that either council is unwilling to fill them or worse no one wants to work in Liverpool.  Clearly I am not privy to the details however I would like to reassure you, as your representative I will fight for the levy money you pay goes exactly where you are paying for it to go, restoration and maintenance of the environment and to fulfil the established goals under which it was granted. No doubt if I have misunderstood the intent of some of the members or staff, they may certainly post their view here for all to see. For the record I have worked with some of these individuals  in the past and bear no malice towards any of them, I just don’t understand how one local group can potentially garner so much power in any one committee.

Council is a complex place, we have numerous matters on public exhibition presently or just closed, we need to ensure that the community is well represented and heard and I applaud the fact we can comment and am disappointed that so few actually do.

Another issue discussed was the repurchase of part of the former council chambers site. AKA No: 1 Hoxton Park Rd.   This was approved by councillors and would mean from what I could gather mean some of the staff may return to the old site if we can purchase it for the maximum cost of what we sold the entire block.

As I tweeted during the meeting council approved the renewal of the netball courts for the competitions they have secured for the coming two years. Questions were being asked as to why the courts were in such disrepair and to be frank there are a number of us who wouldn ‘t mind the answer to that question as well. All those supposed repairs done under the watch of the previous council I’m afraid, and hopefully not impinged on by the #formerpowermadmayors (I still love saying that)  stadium agenda. I guess we will never know but it is nice that the thousands of Liverpool women (mainly young women) netball players will participate in and attract a good number of visitors to our local businesses.

This is just the tip of the council minutes and I will leave it to you to have a closer look if you are interested.  http://liverpool.infocouncil.biz/Open/2016/12/CO_20161214_MIN_309.PDF

What I would like to do however is thank all our fabulous staff for their diligence and commitment throughout the year, thank them for their efforts and wish you and all of them a very Merry Christmas and a fabulous New Year. A few have left over the year and a couple will not be returning next year, some for babies others for different reasons and I wish them well.

I may not  have written as often as I should this year, be it  busy with elections etc, or saddened we’ve lost friends and I have been a little remiss in recognising efforts and achievements however we have the most amazing city, the people are second to none and we live harmoniously in good cheer and respect. I look forward to spending time with you all in the New Year and wish you safe and happy holidays. (Reserving the right to pop back in if there is something I need to share, ie a submission due on the 21st)

As always these are my personal opinions, based only on what I’ve heard and seen myself, if you have a different perspective or view, please share it and I will post it here. The more people sharing information the better imo and I would be the first to post it here if more detailed or accurate information were made available.

Merry Christmas from all of mine to all of yours.

 

Sign off


Submission Liverpool CBD DCP

December 6, 2016

Signe 2016 outdoorsHi all, I know I am posting this after the close of submission, however I do believe if you are quick you will still have your views considered.

 

I will post my submission here, sadly there are so many things one could comment on but time and reality have to show in my lack of brevity on even only a few: click here or on the submissions page.

 

Sign off


Submission re Georges River Precinct

December 2, 2016

Hi all,

 

I have finally finished one of the submissions to council due on Monday. I will add the link here and the whole document on the submissions page. I accept there are parts of it that are aspirational, hopeful even but in my opinion if we don’t ask we won’t get. I truly believe that while development and providing housing is essential as our city grows however it has to be more than how many humans we can push into every square metre of residential space. Of course as always you might have different views and that’s fabulous, even better if you share them here others can see your thoughts as well and maybe consider putting in a submission of their own     click.Here

Just for the record although I’ve suggested 30 story building limit, I’d personally prefer lower, however the precedent has been set  in LIverpool already so creating an issue where the Land and Environment Council ends up making all our decisions isn’t desireable either…. so I’ve compromised. 😦

there is another due on Monday and with a little luck and timing I’ll get that done and posted as well.

 

have a good weekend

 

Sign off


First world problems – really

October 25, 2016

Signe Westerberg Headshots (96 of 102)I have, as do many of you received my weekly dose of South west voice, the online publication of Eric Kontos former editor of the Champion. I read as always the stories he writes about issues local and those of interest. Today in my feed I was keen to read the piece posted titled http://www.southwestvoice.com.au/mp-hits-internet-inertia-werriwa/

Being the political junkie I am they are often the pieces that get my interest first… Anne Stanley is the new federal member for Werriwa however she is a long time resident, so my hope was that she would hit the ground running and begin tackling the big issues facing my fellow residents. Anne is a former Councillor, she saw first hand the issues that are impacting our community hard and really the internet is the thing she wants to take Malcolm Turnbull to task on..?  Maybe I’m old fashioned, maybe I’m pinning my hopes on the un-achievable but we have some issues I think rate a little higher on the pecking order that need to be taken to task. Homelessness, underemployment, unemployment, tenant rights, aged care, single parenting support, medical access, hospital waiting lists, TAFE, University fees, marriage equality, refugee support, local transport, banks overcharging, Taxes, a proposed 24-hr airport, the imposition of the intermodal on residents across the border and that’s just off the top of my head. Internet speeds will have very little impact on a number of groups on my list and while NICE to have and no doubt part of the growing list of inequity facing my community I was truly hoping she might start by stirring the pot on some really big issues in our community, not just tinkering around the edges of the popular. I guess that is what happens when we elect one of the two old parties, they have to conform to the issue of the day, the ones that resonate with the better off, the ones that have that tick of approval of the powers that run their parties. Alas there is hope I guess but as for a running start this one falls pretty short in my opinion.

Clearly if your opinion differs let me know, I for one rely on the internet to get my message across however the speed at which you receive it doesn’t’ rate as high on my list of things I’d like addressed today.

 

Sign off


Only a few more sleeps

September 6, 2016

2016 Signe OutdoorsCouncil elections are this Saturday, there is still much to do and I’m very keen to get some more volunteers on polling places this week. (please let me know if you can spare a few hours to help hand out) The genuine warmth at the rail station this morning was great and the fact that around 400 people got to see a snapshot of what our ideas for council are is fabulous.

I have thoroughly enjoyed working on the Carnes Hill Pre Poll station, (albeit it tiring) and meeting residents. I expect in the coming days it will get busier and busier and of course Saturday is going to be huge. My colleague Andre has been a gun on the TAFE pre poll and with the backup of some amazing Greens from local groups.

I like many of you came home to a plethora of mail from the Liberals and one from LCIT. It saddens me that even now just days out from an election the nastiness prevails. Accusations and comments that only tell half a story and to know that the chances of  both of the existing councillors being back on council only convinces me more and more that there is a real place for me and my team on this council. It is also stunning how any change over the last 4 years has now been given ownership, with no regard to the fact that there are 11 councilors, not just two old tired teams and Peter. I know that if this is the case even while in campaign mode they are struggling to tell the absolute truth or play nice out of the playpen nothing will be better on council unless there is genuine new blood and a move away from the old parties and old guard independents. There seems to be significant confidence from the old guard of their reelection and my hope is that the community will give them the good shaking up they need.

I still ask the same question, if they (those seeking your re election) have achieved little or are making enormous promises now, why weren’t they enacted upon during the 8 years these councillors have had your rates, your trust and your faith? From those we don’t know, they continue to make promises they have absolutely no knowledge they can actually keep. Neither are regulars at the council meetings and while one has attended once or twice not all is as it seems once elected.While I may not have been elected previously, I have attended all but 3 council meetings and my hope that while I’ve shared much over the last 9 years, there would be more information as a councillor available and the community would be far more informed than they are now.

One thing about elections is that it does allow you time to reflect on the things that are important and with the amazing talent of a couple of our members (Roxie and Rudge) I am delighted to be able to share with you a short video to showcase my passions for Liverpool.

More in a day or so, please let me know if you have a couple of hours on Saturday, we have t-shirts and those working over lunch will have it provided for them.  Please share the video widely, especially amongst your friends in Liverpool… we need their support and we need the genuine change in council.

 

See you at Holsworthy station in the morning.

 

Sign off


For Eileen: The Greens position on Planning

September 2, 2016

2016 Signe Outdoors

Lance

Lance

Lance and I just got a great call from a resident (sadly Lance was still at work). Eileen has some genuine concerns regarding the planning situation here in Liverpool, most especially around the size (or lack thereof) of new  blocks being released at around 350Sq Metres. These are genuine issues facing the community and as I explained to Eileen we really need as a community to have more input in what happens to our community.

On Tuesday, NSW MP David Shoebridge came to Liverpool where he and I released the fantastic Greens 5 Key Planning Principles for Local Government. Unfortunately the coverage in the local paper was minimal and none of these details made it into the small article.

When you elect a Green to council these are the principles we believe necessary to ensure the community is represented when planning decisions are made.

Eileen suggested that we do what we can to get our message out into the community, so here you go, if you, like many of us have concerns, please share this post. Time is short and there are a number of real issues the community would like some details on, so please give me a call on 0412 920 057 and I will publish your concerns and the Greens position on them right here for you to share.

 

Thanks for your call Eileen, I hope this helps address your concerns and you see fit to share it with your friends and give us a go on the 10th.

Sign off

 

 

30 August 2016
Media Release
Greens MP says Western Sydney liveability at risk unless serious planning issues addressed
“Liverpool is facing some seriously challenging planning issues mostly as a result of very shortsighted state planning decisions that don’t seem to care about the long term liveability of Western Sydney.”
“With the cap on developer contributions there are large housing subdivisions approved without essential community facilities to support local communities.” Greens MP and Planning Spokesperson David Shoebridge said:
Good planning is about far more than delivering profits to a handful of well- connected property developers. In Liverpool we have seen a number of inappropriate developments approved that do not benefit the community. Things need to change.
“Residents and the local environment need a council that will listen to their concerns about inappropriate development and then become an advocate for them, not for property developers” said David Shoebridge.
Today the Greens are launching their planning package for local government in Liverpool with 5 key planning principles and the Test for Good Local Development.
The Greens are committed to ensuring ecological sustainable development is at the heart of all planning decisions with cities that are sustainable, walkable and liveable and a focus on reduced energy consumption. Planning decisions need to be based on transparent, evidence-based assessment of proposals with fair, full and effective public participation in the process and a corruption proof planning system.
“A good development worthy of approval should answer yes to questions like “Will the development bring social, economic and environmental benefits to the community? Has there been fair, full and effective public participation in the process?” said David Shoebridge.
“Planning should be for the people not the developer, it can’t be about profit it must be about quality of life not how many humans can be jammed into one block. Parking in some of the newer precincts is a disaster.” said Signe Westerberg, Greens Liverpool Mayoral Candidate.
“Liverpool Council needs to stand up and demand a better deal from the state government and that must include being able to charge private developers the real cost of providing the full suite of community services required for new developments,” Mr Shoebridge said.
END

 

Below is the Greens  5 Key Planning Principles for Local Government
The Greens know that planning should be about people, places and the environment – not just profits for developers and their mates.
That’s why all Greens Councillors are fundamentally committed to 5 Key Planning Principles for the coming council term.
1. Ecologically Sustainable Development at the heart of all planning decisions
The principle of Ecologically Sustainable Development lies at the heart of good planning, this means protecting what is precious, and encouraging what is good and working on a precautionary principle when you are unsure of the impact. The Greens believe we have a responsibility to look beyond the “market” to balance the environment, the economy and social well-being. It is through Ecologically Sustainable Development that we can protect and enhance biodiversity while ensuring we have the jobs and housing we need. Any new development needs to be sustainable, environmentally sensitive and focus on reduced energy consumption to mitigate the impacts of climate change.
2. Ensuring fair, full and effective public participation
Despite a promise to return planning powers to communities the NSW Government has effectively sidelined community and environment groups in key planning decisions. Planning decisions are everybody’s business. When changing the face of a local area and approving development proposals, councils must embrace the local community as an equal partner. To promote public trust, interest and inclusion, councils must actively facilitate information sharing, engagement and dialogue. The Greens know that when local voices and local concerns are bypassed, everybody loses out and that’s why we will ensure that local communities are empowered to shape the future of their local area.
3. Creating sustainable, walkable, liveable cities
The Greens are committed to planning decisions that create affordable, walkable, liveable communities that are sustainable well into the future. This means ensuring appropriately assessing development decisions to approve a level of density that is human scale, appropriately placed near transport and employment hubs and provides for green open space and public recreation facilities.
4. A corruption proof planning system
Local councils must ensure that all planning decisions avoid conflicts of interest, perverse incentives or other risks of corruption. Decisions cannot be made behind closed doors whether on council or at a state government level. All elected Greens will work to reinstate third party appeal rights as one of the
key avenues for community and environment groups to hold decision-makers and developers to account. We know that property developers, real estate agents and conveyancers have no place on local councils – that is why there is not a single property developer or real estate agent among our team.
5. Transparent and objective evidence-based assessment of plans and proposals
Councils must ensure that their decisions are being based on comprehensive and objective assessments. This means not accepting at face value the expert reports paid for and written for developer proponents, but ensuring there is sufficient expertise and professional competence retained on council staff to truth check developers claims. This would provide an essential check and balance to put to the test the often inflated and unsustainable claims made by developers. In short, councils’ planning decisions must be local, integrated and above all impartial.
With Greens Councillors, you know what you get – a commitment to a planning system a where the answer to these questions should always be yes; a planning system which empowers local communities; protects the environment and creates walkable, liveable and sustainable cities for our future generations.