Posts Tagged ‘Greens’

Response from Justine Langford (Greens)

November 12, 2014

Justine was the first candidate to respond with answers to our questions.  Here is her reply in full & unedited:

1. The Greens believe that the decision making process around the
artificial-turfing of Arlington Reserve was extremely poor. Council
decisions should never be made in this way. The Greens on council
worked actively with residents to highlight the extremely poor way
this project was approved and to expose its true cost. We repeatedly
raised the risk of the massive cost blow-out of the project – which of
course occurred. There should have been a more thorough investigation
of the costs before the council voted. The escalating costs will
result in the oval having to be used more often which will further
impinge on the amenity of local residents.

2. The Greens support prioritising residents and not-for-profit
sporting clubs when using local fields. With the Arlington project we
were extremely concerned that the Council risked effectively
privatising the site by making a multi-million dollar update for the
primary benefit of for-profit (professional) sporting clubs. Whenever
a development proposal of sporting space occurs it is important that
all affected members of the local community are consulted regardless
of their financial clout and network of influence. When a development
of a sporting field in a densely populated area is proposed it is
critical that a thorough examination of the competing needs of all
local residents occurs and that proper environmental and social impact
studies are completed and there should be clear caveats that any
negative impacts be addressed. I believe that if elected as a Greens
councillor I have a responsibility to ensure that council activities
have positive impacts on the environment.

3. The Greens support sustainable infill development. This means
development near public transport, for example, but {within reasonable
limits} (that does not exceed the Local Environment Plan). It also
means that infrastructure needs to keep pace with development and
developers need to be charged proper fees to fund things like extra
green space needed to serve larger populations. For example The Greens
on council voted against the current LEP (Local Environment Plan)
because of concerns that the new height limits on buildings were too
high and that heritage worthy buildings were not protected. Since
these new height limits were allowed the Greens on Council have
struggled to ensure that even these height limits (are maintained) and
the often inadequate rules in the LEP are complied with. Unfortunately
the Labor and Liberal candidates on the current council are in my
view, uncritically pro-development. The Arlington Reserve is an
example of a development that exceeded a number of important
restrictions in the LEP.

4. The environmental impact of any proposed development needs to be
seriously considered by Council. The Greens believe that green space
and public amenity needs to be prioritised. Clearly the negative
environmental impacts of laying artificial turf on Arlington Reserve
were not prioritised by the non-Green Councillors when they supported
this proposal.

5. I do not believe it is appropriate for a group of councillors to
vote together in a block, especially when what they are voting on
contravenes their own party policy. I also note that binding caucus
voting is not allowed by the Local Government Act, and strongly
support that provision of the Act.

6. Councillors are elected to represent the community – so they must
be available to residents through various communication channels. I
believe councillors should be accessible via email, phone and social
media. Councillors should make judgements based on the information
provided, including Council policy and recommendations, resident views
and representations – not just on their party affiliation.

7. The Greens councillors all have Facebook accounts and their emails
and phone numbers are publicly available. Unfortunately councillors
are not very well resourced and nearly all have full time jobs outside
of Council. Councillors receive vast numbers of resident requests and
do not have access to paid staff, so some don’t reply to all
residents. If elected I would make myself available to residents and
would aim to respond to any contact within 24 hours.

8. The primary role of Councillors is to represent all residents. Any
correspondence with residents should be party-neutral. Councillors
have a responsibility to respond equally and fairly to all residents,
no matter who they voted for in the local election. If elected I would
liaise with local residents and keep them informed of any issues. The
process and decision-making that we saw around Arlington Reserve
should never again be repeated.

4 Candidates, 8 Questions, only 2 Replied. You decide.

November 12, 2014

Due to the untimely death of Councillor Emanuel Tsardoulias, this Saturday 15th all West Ward residents are required to vote in a by-election to elect a new candidate to the vacated Council seat.  Although Arlington Recreation Reserve has now been artificially turfed and the issue now largely a historical one, the “experience” left several lingering questions in the minds of both organisers & local residents alike, including the 1500+ people who signed our petition in 2012-2013, and the several dozen who gave written submissions in response to Council’s report on options for Arlington.

In short, the events that transpired during our efforts left significant questions about governance, the rational selection of a site suitable for conversion vs the “emotions” of the home teams involved, Council finance policy in the obvious face of project budget uncertainty, community consultation, and what priority, if any, is given to the environmental considerations in any project presented to Council.
The Candidates:
So we came up with a few questions and sent them to all 4 candidates running for this seat.  Those candidates are:
Daniel Barbar (Labor)
Jim Salem (Australia First Party)
George Andrade (Liberal)
Justine Langford (Greens)
(this is the order selected by the Aust. Electoral Commission, as they will be on your printed voting slips on Saturday)

Only 2 of those candidates have responded – Justine Langford (Greens) and Daniel Barbar (Labor) – and their replies will be posted in the next couple of posts to this blog.  We urge you to read them carefully, as we think they provide a decent insight into the mindset of these 2 candidates.

In short, one candidate answered the questions as we presented them, and one did not.  We will leave you to evaluate for yourself the reasoning given by the candidate who did not, and whether there was a reasonable expectation that they could have engaged in the non-issue-specific nature of most of the questions as we posed them.

As for George Andrade (Liberal), we have gone to significant lengths to obtain contact details for him, but he has not made himself contactable, nor replied to two emails (one containing the questions) we believe would have been received by him.  It is unfortunate that Mr Andrade, despite what is likely to be a strong allegiance to the soccer fraternity, decided not to address the broader issues that go far beyond the ‘seed’ Arlington issue. (And in case you’re wondering, Question 8 came about due to the behaviour of Councillor Rosana Tyler (also Liberal).)

And Jim Saleam (Australia First Party), well, we’ll leave you to google him yourself.  Mr Saleam also chose not to reply to any of our questions.

Here’s the 8 questions sent to all 4 candidates.  In following posts will be their replies.

1- Council’s proposal to artificially turf Arlington Reserve, as voted, placed the project cost estimate at $950k.  The Save Arlington Reserve group vociferously drew Council’s attention to a wide range of cost items that hadn’t been itemised, or even mentioned, that risked the project’s budget “blowing out” during its construction period.  Council proceeded regardless (but as always on this issue in 2012-2013, only by virtue of the Mayor’s casting vote resolving an otherwise evenly split Council).  Unfortunately this is indeed what happened – $2.3M, and counting.  Do you think this is an acceptable manner for Council to make decisions on expensive infrastructure projects?
2- What is your prioritisation of the needs of sporting clubs (whose members may or may not be local LGA residents), and the needs of local residents, when it comes to (re)development?  Or when it comes to cost of access/use?  What of local schools, some of them desperately needing green space for a variety of activities, but being unable to afford it?
3- In areas that are already “medium density” or higher, where nearby parks are already serving a higher density of population than other less dense areas, &/or in areas not well served by associated infrastructure (like parking & easy traffic flow) do you think it’s appropriate to approve (re)development projects that place even further pressure on these resources, or indeed effectively remove access to them by the broader community, in preference to higher paying consumers?
4- In Marrickville Council’s report to Council in early 2013, it itemised 16 criteria for environmental impact consideration of the Arlington proposal.  The artificial turf option had worse environmental impact in 14 of those 16 criterial (compared to retaining natural turf), and yet Council voted to proceed with the artificial turfing proposal with absolutely no response or plan to address these impacts.  How highly do you priorities the environmental impact of Council’s decisions & activities?
5- Do you think it is appropriate for a group of Councillors consisting of more than one party affiliation to vote together in order to block the motions of a third Party, even when the motion may indeed be within the stated party policies of one or the other blocking party?  Do you think this constitutes anti-democratic behaviour?
6- Do you think all candidates for public office in Marrickville Council should make themselves available to their potential constituents via published phone &/or email contact details &/or a social media presence that foresters public communication with the community, or do you think it’s reasonable that constituents make their determination based solely on the candidate’s party or political affiliation?
7- Once elected, do you think it is reasonable for constituents to be able to access their elected representatives via social media, such as Facebook?
8- When a community member wishes to engage with an elected Councillor on any given topic, even privately, do you think it’s reasonable for that Councillor to ask who that community member voted for, and then decline contact/communication because the community member did not vote for that Councillor?

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