Archive for the ‘North West Rail Link’ Category

Today I wanted to send out a big Thank You to Gladys Berejiklian.

For those of you who don’t know her, Gladys is the NSW Transport Minister and is widely considered to be one of the Liberal Party’s strongest members in the NSW Coalition Government.

The reason for my wanting to thank Gladys is for showing us how the Coalition fix things, that way we will know what to expect if we vote in an Abbott Government that says they are going to fix things.

Gladys has been kind enough to fix up the safety on Sydneys public transport system, here’s how she did it.

Gladys decided that having the dedicated transit officers was not good enough for public safety, and thought that putting real police on our trains and ferries would have a rapid impact on commuter safety.

It has.

Commuters safety has been drastically compromised because the number of police patrolling transport is approximately half of the governments own targets for next year. The targets for next year are for 610 officers, according to a 7 News report the current number is 317.

The sceptical among you may think that Gladys and the Coalitions decision to sack an entire workforce of transit officers and replace them by giving existing police more responsibility was a case of O’Farrell wielding his axe and cutting costs at the expense of ordinary citizens, but no… less is more when it comes to passenger security apparently.

I don’t know what would make Gladys seriously think that asking police to put their hands up for the role of patrolling transport was going to work. Cops don’t join the force to ride on trains all day and night or stand on empty platforms. Cops want to chase bad guys, solve crimes, bust drug dealers and something that gives them a sense of serving the public, and if it involves a bit of an adrenalin rush, great. What they don’t want to do is ask kids if they have a ticket or ask teenagers to take their feet off the seat.

Gladys "So this is what the inside of a train looks like" Berejiklian

Gladys “So this is what the inside of a train looks like” Berejiklian

The result of all this is that no cops seem to want to fill the role, in fact internal adverts for the role within the police force for the southern region in June had not one response. This has meant officers are being seconded to transport patrol, taking them off the streets and the beat while violent drunks terrorise the city streets after being evicted from pubs and clubs each Friday and Saturday night. Taking them off patrol and response teams while motorcycle gangs turn our suburban streets into shooting galleries, as the search continues for missing Police Minister Michael Gallacher.

You will be pleased to know it’s not just the rail that Gladys has “fixed”, she has done a knock up job of fixing Sydneys ferry services as well.

The Sydney ferry service was in disarray according to the Coalition and Transport Minister Gladys was coming to the rescue and promised to fix it.

Fixing it apparently meant privatising it. What a surprise.

Once again, just because the Coalition flogged Sydney Ferries off and took a pile of cash to help them achieve yet another budget deficit, don’t go thinking this was a cash grab, certainly not…. This was about fixing the ferries and improving service.

So, let’s see how Gladys and the Coalition went with their “fix”.

In the year since the selling off of our public asset, there have been some startling changes:

• A 50 per cent increase in service cancellations that aren’t due to bad weather or fog;
• Customer complaints have risen by 27%
• Five collisions and groundings this year, versus zero the previous year
• Not a single ferry service is meeting the on time running target. Not One

To pay for these “fixes” commuters are being charged more for their ride (if it shows up), despite both Berejiklian and O’Farrell assuring us fares wouldn’t rise after privatisation. In fact fares have skyrocketed and are due to rise again shortly.

Those who commute from the Inner West are being asked to cough up an extra $416 per year in fares, and for those living out West where they have O’Farrell himself as Minister, fares from Parramatta and Rydalmere have shot up a whopping $884 per year.

Funnily enough those travelling from Tony Abbotts electorate, on one of the busiest ferry routes, the Manly Circular Quay route are also being asked to shell out an extra $884 per year.

So how do the Coalition look after the Federal Leaders constituents you may ask, well read it and weep…

• 13,980 fewer passengers catching the ferry in the first year of the privatised service;
• A cut of 176 ferry services;
• 36 per cent increase in ferry delays; and
• Service cancellations are up 50 per cent.

If that’s how they look after Tony Abbotts voters, what chance do we have?

With results of what the Coalition call “fixes” like that, it is no wonder that Shadow Minister Penny Sharpe is jumping up and down.

Penny has let fly at the government in recent days stating;

“One year into the privatisation of Sydney’s ferries, passengers are paying higher fares for increases in cancellations, customer complaints, collisions and groundings,”

“The O’Farrell Government signed an $800 million contract with the new operators to privatise our iconic ferries, but it is delivering poorer services for commuters and visitors to our city alike.”

Ms Sharpe also raised another interesting point when she said;

“Commuters have every right to be worried about this Government’s other plans to sell off parts of our public transport network.”

A valid point indeed with talk of all kinds of areas under threat of possible privatisation, such as the CountryLink rail service.

Shadow Minister Penny Sharpe - keeping the public informed of the real facts

Shadow Minister Penny Sharpe – keeping the public informed of the real facts

Even transport that doesn’t even exist yet is under threat under a Coalition government.

The North West Rail link was to be a two storey publicly owned underground rail service that took commuters from Sydneys North West to the city.

Now it is going to be a single story privately owned shuttle service to the already overcrowded North Shore Line. Under Gladys’s watchful eye we have seen the costs blow out, the capacity almost halved, a completely different gauge of rail being used so it can never be incorporated into the existing rail network, a few kilometres a “SkyTrain” already being referred to as the “graffiti wall”, and a tunnel bored so small to make future expansion impossible without shutting down the whole service for years.

In addition to this we will have to see the existing Epping to Chatswood line downgraded to suit, and it also means the Parramatta to Epping line can never be built.

All this for a service that is slower than the current bus service and will dump people at Chatswood where they will have to hope to board an already overcrowded train.

Gladys Berejiklian has been touted many times as one of the best performing Ministers in O’Farrells team. It must be hard to shine and stand out amongst such a fine team of Ministers.

For starters there is the publicly masturbating Arts Minister George Souris, then there’s Environment Minister Robyn Parker who thinks logging is good for Koala’s, that makes her pretty special in my books. Health Minister Jillian Skinner whose office is evacuated at the threat of a few nurses delivering her a cake. Education Minister Adrian Piccoli a man who publicly signs a pledge to maintain TAFE funding in his campaign and then slashes TAFE services as part of the Coalitions $1.8 Billion Education cuts which cost 800 TAFE workers their job. The previously mentioned Emergency Services Minister Michael Gallacher, whom I believe is the first Minister in Australia to ever have his Party actually booed out of Parliament by a gallery full of police, quite an achievement indeed . Gallacher also made the decision to close Fire Stations around the state during a heat wave and spate of bushfires, forcing communities to rely on volunteer services and fire services from other area’s which were left unprotected. The Attorney General Greg Smith who insults the victims of paedophiles and supports priests charged with sexually assaulting multiple young children, then puts forward legislation, now passed, so that most victims of these paedophile priests will never be compensated. Minister For Community services Pru Goward who has overseen what many have described as a public housing crisis and has brought about such  chaos in the Department Of Community Services that child welfare is at arguably its lowest point ever and there has been talk of Federal intervention being required. Not to mention the Treasurer Mike Baird who has a 100% success rate for delivering budget deficits after inheriting a surplus, and famous for losing a Billion dollars, quite the financial conservative.

It is certainly more than enough to drive one to drink, which of course is exactly what Finance Minister Greg “Pearced as a parrot” Pearce did.

Pearce sobers up to front the media with Barry

Pearce sobers up to front the media with Barry

So far I would go so far as to say that Berejiklian has the “Sadim Touch”. For those who are unaware of the term it is the opposite to the” Midas Touch”, which is basically to say that everything she touches seems to turn to crap.

All I can say is if this is how the Coalition go about fixing things, we will be in dire need of a renovation rescue after one term of an Abbott government should he win.

If it comes to that, I reckon New Zealand is looking good….

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Many of you will have read some of my previous articles on the utter travesty of mismanagement that is the North West Rail Link, if not there is a category dedicated to it on the tabs on the left of this page.

Things have gone from the sublimely stupid to the utterly ridiculous as Barry O’Farrell, his Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian and what has been described by many as the most dysfunctional government in the States history, complete with a publicly masturbating Arts Minister, a treasurer that loses a billion dollars, an environment minister that thinks logging is good for koala’s, and a drunk on the job finance minister, try to cobble together a piece of infrastructure that is already seeing its budget blown out before a single piece of track is laid.

The latest announcement regarding the North West Rail Link has been met with responses of “Surely you can’t be serious?”.

Well I am, and stop calling me Shirley…

Gladys Berejiklian would like you to meet the driver of the North West Rail Link shuttle service, some of you may even recognise him.

All Aboard

All Aboard

That’s right, the Auto-Pilot from the classic comedy Flying High is to make a reappearance right here in NSW. Gladys has puckered up, re-inflated him, and put him in charge of all the trains running on the lines that are promised to be built sometime within the next two decades.

In what can only be described as an act of utter desperation to save a few quid, it has been decided that the rail service will be run remotely. Kind of like a big Hornby train set that we had as kids and old eccentric men still play with.

The Rail Link which should be here in time for our grandchildren to enjoy, will be in Australia’s longest tunnel, and it has been designed so well that there are very few places for emergency exits. I would have thought that in the age of terrorism that this would have been of concern, particularly from a political party that tries to convince us that every asylum seeker boat that arrives is potentially full of terrorists.

In fact, the tunnel that is to be bored is so narrow that in the case of a fire, power outage, derailment or any other emergency anybody with mobility issues will have great difficulty making the long voyage to an emergency exit. In fact, those in wheelchairs will have to leave their wheelchairs behind, they simply won’t fit. Those in wheelchairs will have to hope for a miracle recovery so they can walk, or rely on other passengers to carry them, that won’t be humiliating at all I’m sure.

Gladys hopes barry won't make any more dumb promises she has to keep...

Gladys hopes barry won’t make any more dumb promises she has to keep…

Now we are told that the trains will be unmanned by any employees of State Rail, or whichever company the Liberals sell the line off the when they privatise it against their election promises, not even a driver.

This can only mean one of two things, ensuring their own staff by not putting them in harm’s way on the trains, or they are just cutting costs at the expense of public safety.

In other North West Rail news, residents around The Hills District have been told by their local MP”s via local press how construction is under way on the link.

The only construction has been fencing with North West Rail Construction signage all over it. I’m sorry, but erecting safety fencing does not equate to construction in my mind, nor does knocking down buildings.

“So what is on the other side on this fencing?” you may be wondering.

Of the two sites that I have seen, one of them is a park, the only one in Castle Hills centre, now it is fenced off. I guess the Hills Shire will have to change its name from “The Garden Shire” to The Construction Zone, only problem with that is that there is no construction occurring within the fences.

The other “Construction Zone” is the Hills Centre, a now fenced off shell that used to be a facility used by local schools, drama groups, dance schools, charity groups, and many more community groups.

Hills Centre as it used to be...

Hills Centre as it used to be…

This vital piece of community infrastructure has been compulsorily acquired by the NSW Government, who no doubt paid less than they should have for it due to negotiating with a council made up of a bunch of mostly wannabe Liberal politicians, desperately seeking a ladder to climb.

Possibly the most pathetic of these is Deputy Mayor Andrew Jeffries. This parasite has shown time and time again his total lack of any consideration of community needs or interests, and proven over and over that he will put his own needs before others. Jeffries is the protegé of Federal MP Alex Hawke, little wonder then that there is no Liberal Party arse Jeffries won’t pucker up for.

Clr Andrew "where's my kneepads?" Jeffries

Clr Andrew “where’s my kneepads?” Jeffries

Councillor Jeffries defended the decision to not replace this community asset by saying in council that it did not make a profit, as if that is all that matters.

Jeffries stated

“…if it wasn’t for the Hills Center the Council would only be in debt of 15 million.”

as if that justified stripping it from the community.

Mr Jeffries forgets that some things are more important than profit, particularly when dealing with public facilities.

I’ve yet to hear a councillor talk about how profitable the public toilets in a park are, or how much of a killing they make on a sports field, the turnover of street lighting, or the windfall from fixing up potholes, but guess what? Councils all over the country still do these things because they are important.

Clr Jeffries should stick to what he knows, and perhaps design kneepads for those who spend a lot of time on their knees, leave the big decisions for the grown-ups, something he proves himself not to be every council meeting.

There is now a Facebook Page dedicated to saving the Hills Centre that is linked here, and a petition also linked on that page.

But the Hills Centre is just one of numerous issues with the link, residents of the Hills Shire and NSW have been fed a diet of misinformation and political spin since this project was first announced as an election promise.

Below are some of the promises from the O’Farrell government and the reality of the situation, supplied in a media release from the Shadow Transport Minister Penny Sharpe.

PROMISE

REALITY

NWRL was promised to be a direct rail service to Sydney CBD. NWRL is a shuttle service to Chatswood with no direct link to the city for decades, if ever.
NWRL will be run by Cityrail. NWRL will be a privatised service.
NWRL will use cit101679037″:”101681033″%2 NWRL will be using single deck trains that are not compatible with the rest of the Sydney network. In single deck trains 2/3 of passengers will have to stand for their journey. In double deck trains 2/3 of passengers get a seat.
NWRL will improve travel times for commuters in the NW. A study from the University of Sydney has done modelling showing that beyond Cherrybrook it would be faster to catch a bus than catch the train.
The NWRL trains will have drivers. In the longest rail tunnels in Australia, these trains will be driverless endangering passenger safety.
The NWRL is future proofing Sydney’s rail network. The decision to bore tunnels that are too narrow for double deck trains means that the NWRL will never be able to be integrated into the rest of the Sydney network. For example, there will never be able to be a joining up of the NWRL with the Richmond line and the work underground at Epping means that the Parramatta to Epping Rail Link will not be able to be built.

Ms Sharpe also stated;

“The O’Farrell Government has made 43 announcements about the North West Rail Link since being elected, yet this project still has no start date and is not fully funded.”

A great point indeed. In fact it is like a big carrot being dangled before the electorate combined with smoke and mirrors spin behind it to make it seem like there has been progress when there has been none.

If I had one criticism of Penny it is that she is letting them off too easy with this list she has put out.

Residents were also under the impression of the rail being underground, instead we now have what has been imaginatively named the “SkyTrain”, which will sit on top of what has become known as the graffiti wall before its even been built.

The current single story "SkyTrain"

The current single story “SkyTrain”

We were also told that this link would mean that the Epping to Chatswood line would be upgraded as a result. Now we find that it is being downgraded to light rail from heavy rail, so that it can be sold off with the rest of the line.

Essentially taking some of City Rails newest infrastructure that is publicly owned and selling it off, after down grading it so it will be too expensive to convert back.

Residents were also convinced that the rail would blend in with the environment and that the stations were to be discreet in appearance. Now we have monstrosity stations that will be about as subtle as a cold sore, but will likely blend in with the 18 story skyscrapers of “affordable housing” planned for the area.

Geez, that looks discreet...

Geez, that looks discreet…

We also face the prospect of a diminished bus service as the government cuts back on the bus services in the area to force people onto the privatised NW Rail.

Liberal Government number crunchers working out what bus services to scrap must be now starting to worry about their figures, as their early rail capacity numbers were based on the two story trains promised, as in the early “SkyTrain” picture below. Not on the single level ones we now will be stuck with because of cost cutting and boring the hole too small when they finally get to that stage.

The original "SkyTrain" propaganda showed 2 storey trains

The original “SkyTrain” propaganda showed 2 storey trains

Not only that, we have skyscraper apartment blocks as tall as Chatswood’s skyscrapers planned, although considering most of it is cheap apartments Chatswood is probably a bad choice of comparison, more like a super-sized Strathfield.

Don’t take me the wrong way however, I am all for a rail line, I’m sure it will be good for local business. In fact it is already having an impact. Many businesses in the Castle Hill business district have already seen their rents go up 20% as a result of the NW rail, despite it being at least a decade away. This has already seen some businesses close and others downsize.

Children being rescued last time this government was left in charge of a train in the sky...

Children being rescued last time this government was left in charge of a train in the sky…

Residents now face the prospect of a longer and vastly more expensive trip to work, that is also not as safe as the current voyage. This doesn’t sound like progress to me, no matter what way you spin it.

However despite all this, I am not opposed to the Rail Link at all, I just wish it had been left to someone who knew what they were doing.

The current State government sure as hell don’t….

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Like Wixxyleaks on Facebook here

I hear a lot of complaints about the media in this country, most of them revolving around bias. It is true that the Federal Opposition appear to have the loudest voice in the media currently, with the exception probably being the ABC and the Independent media online.

The media tell us that this is important as it is the oppositions job to hold the government to account, and the press also plays a major role in that process. This is fair enough I guess, but it is a rule that doesn’t seem to apply in NSW, as the opposition don’t seem to have an outlet for their voice here.

Maybe the press don’t think that Barry O’Farrell and the Coalition need holding to account? There are some exceptions, but it would be nice if the press could actually practice what they preach, even occasionally.

Personally, I think they need to be held to account, in a major way.

When describing the NSW Coalition Government I hesitate to use the word incompetent. The reason I hesitate, is that the word incompetent actually contains the word competent, and I would hate to give the false impression that any part of the Coalition we have running the circus sideshow we call a state government at the moment contains anything competent at all.

The motley crew of would-be politicians who make up this Coalition, the same bunch who needed the auditor general to find the $1Billion they lost have screwed up epically yet again.

Only a fool could misplace $1Billion. A fool and the NSW Coalition I mean....

Only a fool could misplace $1Billion. A fool and the NSW Coalition I mean….

The underground one day, above ground the next North West Rail Link has once again highlighted this governments total lack of ability to handle anything that may involve a dollar sign somewhere down the track.

The government that pitched itself as the “financially conservative party” have taken 13 straight budget surpluses from the former government and delivered two budget deficits.

They have done this while “misplacing” a billion dollars, giving $300 Million in tax cuts to pokie machine operators, giving $5.3 Million in rent cuts for jettys to those with a boat in a house on the harbour, spending $4.43 Million on furniture for treasury, and a whopping $230 Million on Consultancy.

Conservative indeed.

This week, it has emerged that there has been a bit of a blowout in the figures for the North West Rail Link. A whopping $35 Million blowout.

A breakdown of the contracts that have blown out and are now costing we the taxpayer money we would have rather seen go to health or education can be seen via the pdf linked below.

Nth West Rail Link cost blow outs so far

It needs to be remembered that this $35 Million is only these contracts and only now, how many more do we have to look forward to blowing out moving forward? This rail link has years and years to go before coming even close to being finished yet and figures are already blowing out to this degree.

No matter how many times we hear local politicians and local Liberal councillors blowing smoke up our arses and telling us how happy they are with the Rail Links progress, people are not stupid. Knocking down a house is not construction, making expensive brochures is not progress, it is spin and bullshit, and taxpayers are not impressed at all.

Construction or destruction? Local Libs Google it....

Construction or destruction? Local Libs need to Google it….

How much track has been laid? How much of the tunnelling is underway? How many stations have had construction started? None, none and none are the answers.

So the taxpayer is expected to fork out the $35Million based on the delivery so far of not a goddamn thing? This is nowhere near good enough. One can only imagine the blowout in costs once something actually happens that might be considered progress.

Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian, Premier O'Farrell, and another man seek the advice from one of barry's expensive but trusted consultants

Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian, Premier O’Farrell, and some other bloke seek the advice from one of Barry’s expensive but trusted consultants

In the meantime questions are being raised as to whether the line is going to be a backwards step. Some who wanted the line originally, such as many residents from Kellyville who have now seen plans for the stations have now changed their mind. Most now think that this line will create an $8 Billion eyesore and make their life harder, as well as putting greater pressure on the areas housing, schools, and services.

The below clip gives an insight into the thoughts of many locals.

As a local, I will tell you how I will be affected once the rail is going and the bus services are cut by the 60% figure the government has quoted.

I live in the Hills Shire, I currently have a 5 minute walk to a bus stop where I can catch an express bus to and from the city that takes approximately 15-20 minutes. Alternatively I can walk to the end of my street in about a minute and catch a bus that stops in more places but will put me in or take me out of the city in around 30 minutes.

After the North West Rail Link is completed, I can make my way to either of my two closest stations, Cherrybrook or Castle Hill, hopefully a bus service will be in place to do that, or it will be a roughly 45-60 minute walk. Then I would catch the rail link to Chatswood where I would get off, that trip is estimated at around 20 minutes. There I would change trains and board an already overloaded train to the city, which will take another 25 minutes at least, assuming I can squeeze on the first train at Chatswood. Two trains and a bus if I’m lucky, and more than double the trip time.

The crowding of the trains at Chatswood is no exaggeration either. Chatswood sits towards the end of the city run for the North Shore Line, trains are overcrowded on this line already before another rail line dumps more traffic in also.

Does that sound like a step forward to you? $8Billion well spent?

I for one am not so sure.

Last Saturday a large group of angry residents gathered in MacArthur Park at Kellyville. Angry at the Hills Shire Council and the State Government for selling them out.

The issue is with Lot 301 Samantha Riley Drive Kellyville, where a major development appears to be being pushed through against the wishes of residents.

This is development applications O’Farrell Government style, and it is nothing short of riding roughshod over local residents. Given this is also one of the safest Liberal seats in the state, it is fair to say that voters expected a bit more loyalty, a bit more respect, and a damn site more honesty than what is being delivered.

The development in question includes 2 high-rise blocks of residential dwellings, each one 25 storeys high. There is, as yet, no plans by council, or state government, to upgrade the road to cope with the thousands of extra vehicles that will pour onto the already overloaded Samantha Riley Drive next to the T-Way car park. Then again, there are no planned upgrades to the road to cope with extra traffic here if the North West Rail Link ever happens either…

This will cause chaos not only on Samantha Riley Drive, and congestion in surrounding residential streets, but it will also add another clogged artery on Old Windsor Rd. You see, this is not just a residential slum being planned, it is actually meant to be a Town Centre, complete with a supermarket and all. Imagine Old Windsor Rd as traffic banks up to try and access the area via one roundabout and across a T-Way.

This development would also be completed over a decade before the proposed North West Rail Link became operational. “State Government, it seems, is keen to send people to the area on mass, but has no plans to increase or improve public transport or roads before the rail link is complete” one resident pointed out.

Residents have also noted that the flood zone, which the site stands upon, was important enough for the State Government to be “forced” to impose a Skytrain on the area, rather than underground as per resident’s wishes. However this flood zone has not stopped the planned construction of residential properties, and plans for these properties include underground car parking.

Does the O’Farrell government think these cars will float, or is this their idea of a modern day car wash? Either way, resident’s are not buying it.

To put things into perspective, there is no building currently in Parramatta that is 25 storey’s high. Not one. Parramatta is supposed to be Sydney’s biggest business district outside of the city/North Sydney, yet they don’t need skyscrapers of this size.

Those who visit Chatswood often, may be shocked to hear that the tallest buildings in Chatswood, the 2 Zenith Towers, are 21 storey’s high. This local development is to be even higher. It is also interesting to note that the high rise buildings at Chatswood arrived rather gradually. When I worked there, I was in the tallest building at the time which was 12 storey’s.

Out here in the North West though, the new Liberal Government under Barry O’Farrell, are going at it like a bull at a gate. Residents in the area were upset with the proposed 6 storey devolpment, so the New South Wales Minister for Planning and Infrastructure, decided to change it to 25 storey’s instead. Are we being punished in this region for something, it sure as hell feels like it.

Coming to a garden near you

The area in question is a residential area, with no building over 2 storey’s high. The planned skyscrapers will be mere yards from current residential properties. Far from being in keeping with the areas character, this development will forever change it.

Visitors to the Shire coming in via Old Windsor Rd will form an instant impression of the area as they wait to turn into Samantha Riley Drive.

On the Blacktown council side of Old Windsor Rd they will see a large park, complete with gardens, ducks, a pond, and a large fountain. Cycle and walking paths surround the park, with families playing, riding, and walking on them.

On the Hills Shire side, under council and state government plans, they will see a concrete jungle. A multi level concrete commuter car park, similar to that at Seven Hills station, and across the road, 2 25 storey eyesores with residents socks and underwear drying on their balconies. Nice.

One resident at the rally queried whether council were going to have the gall to continue to call the area “The Garden Shire”. “Maybe they have a sense of irony” the resident suggested.

What has also infuriated local residents is the lack of interest or care from council, the councillors, and the Local MP’s.

Liberal Clr Michelle Byrne was the only representative of any level of government to attend any of the resident action group meetings, none of them showed up for the rally, although ALP Clr Raymond Harty did send his apologies, as he had to attend the State Labor conference. It has since been confirmed that Labor councillors intend to fight the proposal, which is most welcome indeed.

Former Mayor, and Liberal Clr Mike Thomas did not respond at all to any correspondence despite it being his ward, nor did any other councillor respond, aside from Michelle Byrne. State Liberal MP’s David Elliott, and Ray Williams also showed no interest whatsoever.

David Elliot is a struggle at the best of times to be blunt, I did not expect too much from him. Rumour has it when he is in his electorate office he needs a map, a GPS, and a guide just to find his office door.

Ray Williams is also a bit slow on directions. It was only recently that he discovered he lived in a Sydney suburb after all, he was claiming taxpayer money for a living away from home allowance to stay in Sydney City. He thought he lived in a rural community. Ray probably thinks the North West Rail Link is a part of the CountryLink service…

One thing that the residents were keen to point out is that this is just the start for the Shire. “Those who see our actions as a NIMBY thing should think again” one lady remarked, “we are not the only ones who this will happen to, this Shire will end up like Surfers Paradise without the surf or sand”.

She may well have a point. There are current plans by the new State Government and council for hi-rise developments in Kellyville, Baulkham Hills, Castle Hill, and Rouse Hill.

Former Mayor, and current Councillor Mike Thomas in May 2011 said “Many of our residents will find they have a high density development next to their home. This is unacceptable. Fortunately our new State Government is currently removing this terrible policy”.

On the contrary it would seem, under a Labor State govt people got to fight to maintain their areas character. That’s why these things have not been an issue until now.

Clr Mike Thomas has failed to respond to any resident’s correspondence on this matter.

I hope Mr Thomas backs residents as his words would indicate he should. He is the only councillor for this ward we have not heard from.

We live in what is called “The Garden Shire”, we need all the help in the world to keep it from becoming the Concrete Jungle.

Sorry folks, it appears I may have been wrong about something…

Some of you may have read my posts regarding NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell’s massive unfunded promise of the North West Rail Link. I have had a lot of negative things to say about the decision to put a 4km stretch of this rail link above ground through a residential area. The section of the rail link the Liberal State Government has imaginatively called the SkyTrain.

An Eternal Optimists Impression Of The SkyTrain

 

My views have apparently been misguided in regards to the “SkyTrain” section of the North West Rail Link. As I will endeavor to explain.

I am however, not alone in my mistaken state, The Hills Shire Councils official position is the same as mine, that the 4km stretch from Bella Vista to Rouse Hill should be underground, as the public were expecting.

The Hills Shire Mayor Greg Burnett, who despite my having the occasional shot at, really is a decent well-meaning bloke, despite being a Liberal Party member ( I guess we all have our shortcomings),…. Anyway Mayor Burnett has gone on public record many times with the view that the Hills Shire would prefer that the SkyTrain idea be trashed, and the line be underground where the vast majority of the public expected and prefer it to be.

However, it seems after talking to some local businesses and local residents we have all been mistaken, the SkyTrain will be welcomed by many residents, and will give many businesses a boost.

Talking to some local parents the other day most expressed their enthusiasm for the SkyTrain, saying it would “Encourage their kids to play outdoors”. They think it will encourage their kids to take up a new hobby, and take an active interest in the arts, particularly painting.

I thought it was worth asking some of the kids, so I went to a park nearby where the kids hang out with their skateboards. I had a brief chat with about a dozen kids about the SkyTrain and was encouraged by their interest.

These were just your average kids, you know, baggy pants, hoodies, skateboards under their arms, some had backpacks that seemed to rattle when they moved…. But these kids were enthralled by the idea of the SkyTrain, they were almost salivating at the prospect.

It is fantastic to see such an interest from the youth. They were full of questions about how long the SkyTrain section was, how big the pylons holding the rail up in the air were, whether the pylons were steel or concrete, whether the area would be fenced off or if there was easy access, what kind of safety surveillance would be used…. They had a real interest which I thought was fantastic.

Not only is the SkyTrain good for families, it is also good for local business. I spoke to several local businesses who were all looking forward to the SkyTrain being completed, and all stated that it would not be good to have the rail underground as the vast majority seem to believe.

These businesses have asked that I not use their real names for fear of a negative impact on their business, or for fear of getting in trouble at their work. So I will use false names to express their points of view

Dave, is a young father from Rouse Hill who is excited at the thought of the SkyTrain, and could not speak highly enough of the concept. He is expecting his workload to go through the roof and thinks he will have to employ more staff, which is great news for the area. Dave works for himself, and has owned and run his own graffiti removal business for 3 years now. Dave says the bus shelters bring in some work, but nothing on the grand scale a SkyTrain promises.

Local glazier Tim, was just as excited. although he wouldn’t go into detail as to why he thought his business would increase, as he had concerns over an Environmental Impact Study or something… He just thought that there would be a sudden and huge uptake in requests for double glazing.

Speaking to staff at the local Bunnings was also encouraging, they expected to see huge growth upon the SkyTrain being built, particularly in the paint section. In fact there was talk of tripling the size of the spraypaint display and stock to cope with the expected increase in demand. That’s pretty impressive….

Garry, who is a plasterer who has been doing it tough since Barry O’Farrell brought in his own version of Workchoices is also optimistic. Garry told me that since O’Farrell and the Liberals started stripping away the entitlements of the public service employees, things have been tough, as a large sector of the public now don’t want to spend money and attempt to do the work themselves, like on the dumb reality TV shows. Garry says that the vibrations from the SkyTrain will be brilliant, he is expecting years worth of work from cracking cornices and walls.

It is not only hardware and trade services getting excited either.

Salespeople at electrical retailers The Good Guys, and Harvey Norman are also looking forward to the SkyTrain. Not only are they expecting many local residents to have to upgrade stereo equipment to cope with the extra noise, there was another unexpected surprise….

The building of hundreds of cheap high-rise apartments, in order to boost population density to attract investment for the rail link O’Farrell can’t pay for, has come as a welcome surprise. Not only will this bring in new customers, but due to the height of these apartment blocks, many current residents will have far less access to sunlight. This means extra sales of things like clothes dryers and heaters. Brilliant.

Given that these apartments will be cheap, local bottle shops are also excited as they are expecting a lot of young people to move in and share accommodation. This will increase alcohol sales enormously, as local parks fill up with older teens keen to have a drink with their mates. It is excellent to see the SkyTrain having a social impact as well. Also expected to benefit are local shops that sell small bottles of juice, although some locals have raised concerns that their garden hoses may constantly shrink or go missing….

So it would seem this SkyTrain may not be that bad for local business, I had no idea…

Maybe it is just as well the electorates concerned have 2 of the laziest State MP’s ever, Dumb and Dumber, on crack… I speak of Ray Williams, and David Elliot, both Liberal members. Clearly there are actually a few people who will be cheering the fact that these 2 excuses for MP’s have absolutely no respect or regard for the overwhelming opinion of their electorates.

Two local State MP’s that we can always rely on to do nothing, and that sadly, is no mistake…

Tell me Lies

Posted: January 23, 2012 in North West Rail Link, Politics

Hi there trendsetters, hip shakers, and sports fans, I trust you all enjoyed your time off, and have recovered from any drastically large uplift in the volume of alcohol consumed…

I have been a bit absent of late, and it’s not for the religious reasons that you are no doubt assuming…. I have actually been rather busy, despite the holidays. I have been doing something that our local Liberal MP’s may have read about in a book, I have been out talking to residents.

For those of you who don’t realise, I live in Sydney’s Hills Shire. Don’t get me wrong, I quite like it here, but living in an area that is dominated by Liberal politicians, and religious nuts, often one and the same, it does have its occasional drawbacks.

So, “what have I been so busy chatting to people about?” You may well ask…Well allow me to explain.

Here in the Hills Shire, in February and March last year, we all heard time and time again how wonderful things were going to be with a Liberal government in control of the state. Things were finally going to get done around here now that our local MPs, in particular David Elliot, and Ray Williams, who suddenly appear at election time, now get to experience being a part of government, rather than opposition. Streets would be repaved in gold, birds would sing, the sick would be healed, I was ready to start bathing in champagne, but alas, things have not turned out quite the way we had hoped.

The big promise of the supposed North West Rail Link, has been an absolute farce under the control of the same incompetent party that brought us Sydney’s Airport Link line, you may have heard of it, nobody uses it. I talk of course of the Liberal Party. This is a party that would struggle to plan a pub crawl, let alone a multi billion dollar piece of infrastructure.

It is interesting to note, that the opposition spokesperson for transport, Penny Sharpe, has spent for more time in the area talking to residents, community groups, and businesses, than the Minister who is supposed to be in charge Gladys Berejiklian.

This rail link, we were promised, was going to put the Hills Shire on the map. It was going to be state of the art, an underground line that would have little to no impact on the environment, or the landscape. It was going to ease the transport system in the area, boost employment, and give our local economy a kick along. All of this and publicly owned to keep the cost of using the service to a minimum.

Now, that has changed considerably… Now we have a promise the O’Farrell government can’t afford, so privatisation is back on the table. Suddenly there is to be huge impact on environment and residents as the final few kilometres are to be above ground… So high above ground in fact the idiots running this project have now dubbed it “Skytrain”… I kid you not… It has gone from being underground, to being on Cloud 9.

To their credit, the artists impressions release by the O’Farrell govt, make it look nice. The train all nice and clean gliding over parks and trees…. The reality could not be further from the truth.

A govt artists misguided impression

The reality is, it will be a noisy, graffiti covered railway going though cheap hi rise housing… No parks, no trees, just another noisy train rattling through a slum.

Maybe I should explain…

In order for this inept excuse for a state government, the same government whose Environment Minister states that logging is good for Koalas, to raise money to pay for their promise they need investors. Alas, this kind of investment comes from people who actually think before they make promises. Private investment companies, such as Macquarie, or the Federal Government, who now under Labor, are quite prone to actually researching before making decisions.

What these investors require before they spend either their money, or taxpayers money in the case of govt, is to be assured that it is a worthwhile investment. The main way they determine this is by a population density ratio.

This ratio says that you need a certain number head of population in the region per $million spend, for it to be a worthwhile investment. Unfortunately for Barry, and those of us who live here, the area falls a long way short.

The solution by the Liberal dominated Hills Shire council, has been to rezone vacant land, in areas like mine, to allow for cheap apartments. This way they cover the foolish promise of a foolish Premier, and protect the local Liberal members from the dramas associated with a huge promise broken by their leader, by bringing in a huge amount of new residents.

The large vacant area near where I live was to be small retail, cafe’s, restaurants, and a motel, this sounded great and the residents were all happy with that. Just before Christmas however, the councillors voted to change the zoning, and now we have 6 storey apartments going there.

The plan is to put all these people in as fast as possible, years, probably over a decade ahead of the rail link. In the meantime there are no plans to increase public transport in the area, no plans to increase capacity on the roads. The local government seems to assume these people will not own cars, and will just sit in their apartments all day, and never leave…

Guys, and Gals, may I be so bold as to suggest a little bit of planning might be in order… Or better still, go back to plan A restaurants and cafe’s, plan B is utter crap.

Houses in the area range in value from $800K to $1.2 Million. So locals have invested a great deal in their decision to live here.

These residents have gone from having the promise of an underground railway within walking distance, and restaurants and cafe’s at their doorstep, to having a noisy graffiti covered eyesore on top of them, and a slum that blocks out the sun and the sky, built right next door. It is nothing short of a disgrace.

To say these residents have been betrayed by both the Liberal Party and the Hills Shire Council is an understatement of epic proportions.

I have spoken to 3 local Real Estate agents regarding this, and all 3 of them have stated that if the cheap housing goes ahead, houses in the area will drop in value anywhere between $150K to $200K.

To make matters even worse, the area is a flood zone.

The imbeciles running the state now, have said that this is why the rail has to be above ground, due to the flood zone. Tunnels can’t possibly go underwater… Clearly none of the Liberal MP’s attempting to run this state have ever noticed that little thing called the Harbour Tunnel… But hey, it’s cheaper to go above ground, and after all, they don’t have to live here…

Alas, even though their colleagues recognize flood zones, our local Liberal MP’s and Councillors don’t. Clearly they think cheap housing and flood zones go together like roast beef and gravy… Stack ’em high and see if they float, seems to be the attitude. It was only 12 months ago we saw the once in a hundred year floods hit Queensland, do these Councillors have that short a memory span, or is it just Liberal Party policy not to care?

When council elections come up in a few short months, residents here will remember who stood for the community as a whole, and who decided to betray residents in order to prop up a failing Premier. We will also remember who puts a developers wants, ahead of the community’s needs.

Thank you for your patience and support.

I will keep you posted.

Train Long-Suffering

Posted: November 19, 2011 in North West Rail Link, Politics

The comments earlier this week from former Liberal Premier and now head of Infrastructure NSW, Nick Greiner tell us a story that we wish we didn’t have to hear, but a  story that is becoming harder to ignore on a daily basis.

That story, is the story of how NSW elected one of the worst governments in history on the back of lies, propaganda, misinformation, and a smear and fear campaign only surpassed by Dr No himself, Tony Abbott.

Below is a link to the article in the Herald, which takes the form of a candid chat with Infrastructure NSW Chief Nick Greiner.

 http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/sydney-nsw/north-west-rail-link-is-political-says-nick-greiner/story-e6freuzi-1226196137327?sv=5d5eda06d5529bfa9b595584e7a588b1

Reading the article, you get the impression that Barry O’Fail promised more than he could afford, a bit like your kid sitting on Santa’s knee and being told that Santa would bring them Jet Ski’s, a motorbike, and maybe a horse as well….

Lets face it, Barry didn’t have to do much to beat Labor at the election. The Labor Party in NSW was self destructing, the press were out to crucify them, and even the charismatic Kristina Keneally couldn’t save them, despite being incredibly popular in her own right, and having the strength of character, and the brains to be one of the greatest Premiers this country, let alone state, has ever seen. Despite Labor being unpopular, Kristina was preferred Premier in all the polls until right near the end, showing just how little people thought of Barry, despite their despising Labor.

Barry could afford to relax and play everything low key in the lead up to the election, and he did, after all he had no need to stick his neck out with things like policies. However, there were 2 things he kicked up a major fuss over. The North West Rail Link, and privatisation.

The North West Rail Link, or the North West Fail Link as it is now becoming known as, is a project worth an estimated $9 Billion, Barry it seems, is determined to fast track this rail link despite his bank balance falling about $10 Billion short.

The other thing Barry made a huge song and dance about during the campaign was privatisation, in particular the “Great Electricity Sell Off”, where the Labor Party, under Keneally, sold the power generators. He even called for an enquiry on it to see if the state had been shortchanged. Now taxpayer money has been wasted on that enquiry, it turns out Keneally did the right thing.

Kristina Keneally, was adamant that the rest of the power network, including the poles and lines, stay in public hands. However the campaign by O’Farrell and the Liberals on this issue truly upped the ante, and turned the masses against Kristina, nobody it seemed wanted the states electricity assets sold.

Less than 9 months later, NSW should be ready for a bundle of joy after we were so wholeheartedly screwed by the election in March, instead we are now looking at getting screwed even harder.

According to Nick Greiner, and as the head of Infrastructure NSW he would know, Barry has some decisions to make regarding his promises.

Even after Barry has turned the state into a garage sale, privatising Sydney Ferries, parts of Sydney Water, the desalination plant, Dept Of Community Services, and much more, he still can’t pay for the Nth West Rail Link.

Barry could privatise the Rail Link and screw over the people of the Hills and North West… That could be a good option for him, as the Hills area electorates are all safe Liberal seats. So he probably wouldn’t lose any seats out of it, after all when Greiner screwed the area over by making the M2 the only motorway at the time where you couldn’t claim your tolls back, and also locking out competing infrastructure, preventing a rail link being built, they didn’t lose a vote.

The electorates there are so safe that the Liberals could have retarded monkeys run in these seats and still win. In fact, one only needs to chat to members like Ray Williams, David Elliott, Dominic Perrottet, and Federal Member Alex Hawke, and it is clear they didn’t even aim that high…

Here are some of them with Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian at the Nth West Rail Information Centre in Castle Hill. Mr Perrottet seems to be looking at something in Gladys’s hair, Mr Elliott just looks confused, and Bart Bassett is looking intent, after all he just wants the damn thing built so he doesn’t get busted drink driving anymore…. Still at least the Information Centre is in Castle Hill, the phone info line is based in Melbourne, probably due to the people in Melbourne knowing more about the local area than it’s Liberal members…

The other options Barry has are more sell offs. Tony Abbott said he wouldn’t sell his arse, and I’m guessing Barry wouldn’t either, Barry just plans to sell ours for us instead.

So what is Barry planning to sell? The rest of the electricity network? City Rail? Country Link? Sydney Water?

Does this video put together by the Baillieu Government for Chinese investors, promoting the Avalon Rail Link which the Victorian Liberals promised and can’t fund give us any clues? After all Ted and Barry are as thick as thieves…. I thought we were striving for public ownership, not Chinese ownership.

It is about bloody time that Barry showed us some of this transparency he keeps talking about and come clean with us.

Meanwhile, the new Liberal Mayor of the Hills Shire, Greg Burnett, has been telling all and sundry how pleased he is with the progress on the Nth West Rail Link by the new State Government, his comments appearing in all the local papers. The progress he speaks of is core drilling, testing the soil and rock to determine the suitability for tunneling.

Mr Burnett clearly has a bad memory, or is content to treat the citizens of the Hills like morons by promoting blatant lies. The core drilling he speaks of was actually started by the previous Labor Government well before the March election.

The only thing the current government has done is procrastinate. Then again, who can really blame them, after all, they have no money for it, and they’re still figuring out what went wrong the last time they, The Liberals, attempted a rail line in NSW, the epic failure Sydney Airport Link.

I have some advice for Barry, and his ship of fools. Why doesn’t he appoint the NSW Labor Party as project managers for the Nth West Link, at least they have experience building successful rail lines.

According to NSW Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner,  “The only thing that is non-negotiable about the North West Rail Link is that it will be delivered on time as promised in the lead-up to the election”. Geez that’s comforting, the route, costs to use it, parking for  users, private or public ownership, number of services on the link, position of stations, security, public safety features…. all these things are still negotiable?

So far O’Farrell, Greiner, and the Libs have delivered nothing more than spin and drivel.

NSW is sick of it…