I cannot think of another week when decent Australians have had more cause to hang their heads in shame than this week just past. The Australian Crime Commission delivered its report to Parliament, and before a line-up of chief executives from all codes of sport outlined how gambling, corruption and drugs had infiltrated every code of sport, and by not identifying any code, team or player, left all Australian codes and sports persons under a cloud of suspicion.
Two of Australia’s major soccer teams faced each other in an Adelaide match, but $49 million was wagered on the result by Singapore gamblers. This is out of all proportion to what these teams would normally attract from gamblers.
The Fairfax investigative Reporter Kate McClymont, last Thursday tweeted: “OMG! Macca stood to gain $4 million from the Obeid’s coal deal, $330,000 from the forest’s deal; $55,000 from the V8 Supercars, $35,000 cash, and loans.” (which never needed to be repaid). That tweet was just recapitulating part of the saga of corruption that the week before had revealed the Obeid family would corruptly obtain $100 million from bribing the minister to declare their newly purchased farms to be eligible to become coal mines. There was other evidence stating that corrupt practises would bring other corrupt businessmen over $500 million in returns.
What lack of integrity this all reveals among significant and wealthy men. The Bible uses several different words over 500 times declaring that God demands integrity of his people. Sometime it is translated as: “simplicity,” “soundness,” “completeness,” rendered also “upright,” “perfection.” It is translated “integrity” (Genesis 20:5, 6 1 Kings 9:4 Psalm 7:8; Psalm 25:21; Psalm 25:12; Psalm 26:1, 11; 41:12; 78:72 Proverbs 19:1; Proverbs 20:7), in all which places it seems to carry the meaning of simplicity, or sincerity of heart and intention, truthfulness, uprightness. It is one of the words on the breastplate of the high priest (Exodus 28:30 Deuteronomy 33:8 Ezra 2:63 Nehemiah 7:65), one of the sacred lots, indicating, perhaps, “innocence” or “integrity” .
Note how in the drama of Job, God describes Job: (2:3) “Then the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job? No one else on earth is like him, a man of perfect integrity, who fears God and turns away from evil. He still retains his integrity, even though you incited Me against him, to destroy him without just cause.”
The word “integrity” does not occur in the New Testament, but its equivalents may be seen. In the above sense of simplicity of intention it is equivalent to being honest, sincere, genuine, and is fundamental to true character.
Dr James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, says “integrity is the word for our times! It means keeping our promises, doing what we said we would do, choosing to be accountable, and taking as our motto, “semper fidelis” the promise to be always faithful.” If there are tides in the affairs of men, this is the time to rediscover integrity.
Integrity is the bedrock of social relationships. When we can no longer depend on one another the future becomes bleak. We say “When the time comes, you can count on me.” But we are discovering we cannot trust governments, corrupt police, many friends, and sometimes our church. There is a dearth of integrity.
We despise the person whose private life does not reflect his public image. We despise the politician who misappropriates public money. We despise the policeman who solicits bribes. We despise the school-teacher who is a paedophile. We despise the educated business-woman who tells racist jokes. We despise the family man who abuses his wife and rages at his children.
We do not accept hypocrisy between public talk and private action, between moral claims and immoral acts, between open demands and closed deeds, between inclusive statements and exclusive works. What you are is not what you say you are, but what your deeds show you are. Your word must be your bond. That is integrity. With God, integrity counts! But personal integrity is a rare commodity.
Insurance companies state one out of every five motorcar write-offs are deliberate acts by the owners. Workers Compensation cases are inflated by bogus claims. Female absenteeism for sickness and injury peaks four times a year, just prior to each lot of school holidays. We live in a deceitful society, where truth is hard to find. Apart from the church, few are calling for a new standard of public morality, community behaviour, and personal ethics.
The key is the practice of intentional integrity. You can have a better family life and career success by being a person of intentional integrity who consistently applies ethical standards to conduct. You need to avoid the pitfalls of conditional integrity. You must not compromise personal character, competence, or commitment. Do not capitulate to conditional integrity when under fire, being honest only when it’s convenient. This is promoted as the way to get on in life, marriage, and business. Yet we see the tragic results of selective dishonesty. Small lies, deceptions, and improprieties lead to fraud, theft and serious social problems.
Few professions have fallen so low in public perception as politics. Politicians are suspected of lying, immorality and hypocrisy. The Morgan Gallop Poll (No 1706) reveals only 14% of people trust a politician’s word. Federal Member Craig Thomson has been charged with 154 cases of fraud from his Union’s money being spent on brothels, prostitutes and porn DVD’s. He said to his electors, “Trust me.” They did, and he repaid them with a disgusting lack of integrity.
Former Senator Graham Richardson said lying was necessary about leadership and policy splits. It is “what is required of modern successful governments”. But the Westminster system levies heavy punishment on MPs who lie in the Parliament. The political system in a democracy becomes corrupt if politicians do not tell the truth. Lying makes political management of the news easier, but it also creates crassness, deceit and opportunism. One of the justifications for parliamentary privilege is that the Parliament must be a place where the truth is spoken, fearlessly if necessary. The acceptance of lying as a political weapon corrupts the political process.
There is a new film out, “Lincoln”. Abraham Lincoln, “Honest Abe”, suffered more political defeats than any politician I could name before becoming President of the United States. The one thing that caused people to finally vote for him, was that on a matter of great principle, they knew he was a man of complete integrity.
In a deceitful society people lie and cheat motivated by greed, that is their nature. But those who follow the way of Jesus Christ commit their lives to Him knowing that truth is essential to character, that truth is essential in the fulfilling of our purpose, and that those who listen to truth belong to Jesus Christ. Rediscover integrity through Jesus Christ.
HOW A $55,000 BRIBE CAN REFUTE A LOGICAL ARGUMENT.
Evidence at ICAC indicates that the reason why Minister Ian Macdonald approved the V8 Supercar racing at Sydney’s Olympic Park at Homebush, was that the promoters secretly bribed him with a gift of $55,000 to have him controversially approve taxpayers spending $35 million on the track instead of using the existing race track at Eastern Creek.
While in Parliament I had met with the people who live in Homebush and Newington, with scientists and conservationists, and with the promoters of the Eastern Creek Raceway and frequently argued in Parliament that Macdonald’s decision was illogical and a huge waste of taxpayers’ money. Minister Macdonald abused and sneered at me, always refusing to answer my questions about transparency. Now ICAC reveals I was close to the bone and the envelopes in his pocket were the reason why he rejected what was common sense. Here is part of what I said in Parliament:
V8 SUPERCAR RACING AT SYDNEY’S OLYMPIC PARK HOMEBUSH. NO 1.
Reverend the Hon. Dr GORDON MOYES [2.31 p.m.]: “I speak to the Homebush Motor Racing (Sydney 400) Bill 2008 because it is a matter that has exercised my mind ever since hearing about it. The object of this bill is to facilitate the conduct of an annual motor race at Homebush, to constitute the Homebush Motor Racing Authority and to confer functions on the authority, and for other purposes.
Sydney Olympic Park is a wonderful development of which the citizens of Sydney and the whole State are justly proud. It is a jewel in the New South Wales crown, and it took a lot of time and tax dollars, very careful design for the creation of a green and sustainable site, and effective implementation to bring to life the dream of so many people. Now it is thoroughly established and thriving. It is a masterpiece of excellent planning, enjoyed by over 8.5 million users annually as a place to take one’s family for picnics, jogging and walking, exploring the historical sites and attending various cultural events. It is an excellent facility for bird watching, riding bicycles, and other healthy activities—the kind of activities for which we fund health promotion campaigns to convince the people of New South Wales to participate in. The people of New South Wales have responded wholeheartedly and taken up these activities at Sydney Olympic Park. The people of Sydney and New South Wales love their Sydney Olympic Park, and make excellent use of it.
Changing the essential character and purpose of Sydney Olympic Park by converting it into a V8 supercar racing area is not just a local issue; it is an international one—which may surprise members of the House. Let me explain. Australia has entered into international trade agreements with Japan, China, and South Korea—nations that are otherwise in danger of overdeveloping every single metre of natural space within their borders, even those wetland areas that have been used for millennia for annual migratory purposes by the species of migratory birds that live in all our countries.
Most bird species are seasonal in their habits, and spend the winters in the warmer climes and the summers in the cooler ones. They are transnational citizens, seeing the stretch from Australia up the flyway to Korea and Japan as their home. They deserve acknowledgement from us, and access to their habitats. If not, they will die—because this land is where they rest, feed, mate, raise their young, and prepare to return north when it is time. If this parkland is destroyed or made uninhabitable by pollution or noise, they have nowhere else in the Sydney Basin to go to perform the basic activities of life.
In Asia it has been reported that many birds have been observed simply dropping dead from the sky, starved and exhausted, while flying further in the fruitless search for appropriate sites after theirs have been heartlessly built over. To prevent this terrible scenario from occurring here, Australia has entered into trade agreements with these Asian nations, with all signatories agreeing to protect the environments of the migratory birds that use their areas. Such agreements include provisions that expressly state that the Government shall “seek means to prevent damage to such birds and their environment”. Well these are those birds, and this is their environment that we pledged to protect internationally—here in the ponds and grasses of Sydney Olympic Park. Phil Straw, the Vice Chairman of the Australasian Wader Studies Group, wrote to inform me that:
“A team of ecologists from Birds Australia, the Australian Museum and a number of universities worked in close association with the Olympic Park Authority to coordinate one of the largest development and restoration projects in the world to provide a world-class wetlands, and wildlife habitat in balance with recreational venues, sporting facilities and the commercial sector.
This work at the Sydney Olympic Park has attracted worldwide attention for its excellence, notably from planners from China and other parts of Asia where similar restoration and habitat creation projects have been underway. That is all under threat now, as extensive research has proven that noise from motorways has a detrimental effect on nesting birds, and the noise from a racetrack is likely to result in species leaving the area. This would be a tragedy after so many years of hard work by some of Australia’s top ecologists and planners.”
Peter Marsh, the New South Wales and ACT Chairman of Birds Australia, wrote to me and I quote:
“All animals depend on sound to communicate, navigate, avoid danger and find food. Human-generated noise can alter their perception and so interfere with their normal functioning, and harm their health, as well as alter reproduction, survivorship, habitat use, distribution, abundance, or genetic composition. Although the noise impact from the proposed supercar races may be over a short period of time, the abrupt disturbance and volume of these impacts may be enough to frighten them away. This would be extremely serious.”
We owe it to the other nations to which we are pledged through treaties, to the people of New South Wales, and to the birds themselves, not to destroy any aspect of this place. To breach those agreements would be very bad form, internationally, and would give the other nations carte blanche in their turn to do the same.
We have to do the right thing, not only because it is right but because of our responsibility to meet and model the highest standards of international citizenship regarding such international treaties. So it is, you see, an international environmental issue. Pointing out that fact should be enough to change the nature of this debate, but it may not, so I shall point out several other drawbacks of the plan to transform Sydney Olympic Park into a raceway.
The removal of hundreds of beloved and beautiful trees, landmarks to the local residents, is a terrible thing. Every healthy mature tree in the urban environment is working hard to filter our pollution-filled city air of car exhaust and industrial fumes, making the air breathable, and making the city liveable. The preliminary estimate of trees destined to be destroyed to make way for concrete barriers and race roadways is in the hundreds. With so many absolutely barren places in this brown land why would we seriously consider the destruction of a beautifully treed area that is considered by all to be an ideal green precinct? That the race organisers promise to replace the trees later means nothing. A mature, living tree now is worth more than all those promises of future tree planting activity that may or may not be honoured. The air filtering which provides a healthy atmosphere, the shade, habitat, beauty and pleasure they provide now, is needed and desired by the affected animals and humans alike on an ongoing basis more than ever. Experts maintain that the removal of the maturing trees will set Sydney Olympic Park back 20 years.
Besides the trees, and the estimated 140 species of birds living in the Sydney Olympic Park area—many of which are considered threatened or endangered—there are also the endangered bell frogs and plant species. Worldwide the health of frogs is used as an ecological indicator of environmental health—something like the canary down a mineshaft—and these creatures are already under threat from human activities. The fact that they have found refuge and are able to live in this area attests to the success of the area as a green and sustainable environment. It costs hundreds of thousands of dollars to make the right environment in the Sydney area for the frogs. Any damage to the Narawang wetlands habitat at Sydney Olympic Park will be exponentially damaging for the frogs.
The State and Federal Governments have a plan that is in effect until 2010 to protect this habitat for the green and golden bell frog. The frog is listed as a vulnerable species under the Commonwealth Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 and as endangered under schedule 1 to the New South Wales Threatened Species Conservation Act. These frogs breed mostly in the brick pit. The run-off from the proposed race car pit area, which is slated to be located next to the brick pit, potentially will damage this environment with ethanol, oil and gasoline waste. No technology presently exists that can entirely prevent the damage, despite assurances from organisers and the Minister that environmental socks will be placed to soak up the waste. The trees, birds and frogs are all under threat from this proposal.
Hundreds of companion cats, dogs and birds live in the 9,000 homes around this area. These creatures are exquisitely sensitive to noise; many are terrified by thunder. Can members imagine the effect of loud screeching of tyres, careering of racing cars, and unpredictable noises? It would be very harmful for them to be bombarded with the high decibels that are expected. Reacting in alarm, the pets may try to escape and injure themselves in the process. They may be hit by cars or lost, or even fly into walls in terror as they seek to get away from the noise. Even if they stay safely indoors, they still will be at the mercy of the noise, which they perceive as threatening. Such noise easily permeates and penetrates residential walls as if they were not there. The predictable, planned noise of organised motor sport should be isolated from population centres.
The inevitable spillage of oil, petrol and other waste that will seep into the ground or down gutters will make its way into the recycled water plan, which may cause problems that potentially will cost taxpayers millions of dollars to fix. Pollution of that water is unconscionable in our drought-affected State. The air pollution generated from the planned use of E85 fuel, which is a blend of 85 per cent ethanol and 15 per cent unleaded petrol, is unhealthy for people living in close proximity to the track.
In this era of climate change and in response to the deadly global threats of increasing greenhouse gases, it would be far more sensible to discourage all non-essential human activities that produce massive amounts of pollution. Motor racing should go the way of the gladiatorial games. It belongs to another age, one on which we look back and shake our heads in wonder. Excessive noise pollution will be imposed upon the human population as well—upwards of 95 decibels from 300 cars racing for three days—as well as 1,200 semitrailer movements in and out of the park to set up and dismantle the concrete barriers plus all the temporary stands. This expense will have to be repeated every year. Tax payers have to pay for it all every time.
Exposure to excess noise is known by medical science to raise heart rate and blood pressure and to contribute to human anxiety. It should not be inflicted on the population as if it were of no importance. Using earplugs from a chemist is of no use in such a situation. Commercial tenants who have leases with clauses guaranteeing quiet enjoyment will be barred from seeking compensation under the proposed legislation, as the new authority will be able to circumvent all planning and environmental laws to ensure it can do whatever it wants. The fact that the Government has made this exemption against all planning and environmental laws indicates that it believes it could be sued for compensation over that issue. The Government has not wanted to allow citizens legal action as we had with Luna Park, so has made it unallowable.
Additional concerns have been reported to me in hundreds of emails and letters from appalled residents across the State about issues such as problem driving and street racing. Our city and suburban streets are already deadly to innocent drivers, with deaths being caused regularly by uncontrolled and apparently uncontrollable car racers. But rather than discouraging racing, the Government wants to set up an activity in our streets that lionises racers. Do we really want to inspire more of them? The answer from the public is a resounding “no”.
There are also aesthetic issues. Every year seven kilometres of temporary concrete barriers and fencing are to be erected and dismantled. Other States were promised the same thing, but the concrete barriers were eventually made into permanent fixtures, as it was too expensive and too much trouble for race organisers to continue to erect and remove them every year. Guarantees were made in writing that permanent barriers would never occur, but they did. Members can have a look around Albert Park in Melbourne. The same empty promises very likely will be made in this State. That is their proven modus operandi. Further, many of my constituents have pointed out all the prudent economic arguments.
The State will expend up to $30 million on an activity with no guaranteed economic return or full-scale economic modelling at a time of unprecedented international monetary meltdown. At a time when our State hospitals are desperate for money, when massive job cuts are planned across the area health services, when our education sector is suffering, when pensioners live on a pittance, when the Department of Community Services constantly complains it is under resourced, when the State transport infrastructure is creaking under the weight of an increasing population, when unemployment is on the rise, when public servants, police, fire-fighters, nurses, teachers and ambulance officers are refused a real wage increase, the expenditure of $30 million on a race is not good stewardship. It is appalling for the Government to use taxpayers’ resources to fund a car race at this time.
In this time of financial crisis New South Wales residents believe it is absolutely critical for us to fund core services as a priority. That is the only moral and ethical thing to do. I remind the Minister that this weekend the final race in the V8 Supercars series this year will be held at Oran Park. As only two drivers of two vehicles can win the series, how will this weekend’s final benefit the economy of New South Wales? The history of the V8 Supercars races in other States has been abysmal, leading to regular large losses by taxpayers over the years. We should ask the people of Victoria about their experience with Albert Park.
The Hon. Ian Macdonald: That is not V8s, that is F1s.
Reverend the Hon. Dr GORDON MOYES: They also race V8s.
The Hon. Ian Macdonald: They are invited to participate. It is not their race. It is F1s. Get your facts right.
Reverend the Hon. Dr GORDON MOYES: The Grand Prix did not deliver value for money for Victoria. The Victorian Auditor-General in a 2007 report found that spending by the anticipated big spenders did not outweigh the costs to Victorian taxpayers of staging the event. That is not about the type of cars; it is about the expected expenditure of those who come to see it. The Minister has been unable to give the right figures.
For example, the touted massive television exposure worldwide was found to be a totally false claim as the audiences dropped each year. They predicted 500 million in 1996, but it was only 100 million in 2008. This sport is losing sponsors and supporters. Perhaps that is why the New South Wales Government is getting such a hard sell from the organisers. Even the on-site patronage figures are exaggerated, as they include multiple entries by people who leave the site and return, the media, the police, the security, the race teams, the catering staff, people with free passes and so on. All of them are counted in the attendance list, which was touted by organisers to be 300,000 people.
The real number was the same as for any grand prix-type race around the world, that is, from 80,000 to 120,000 over three days. As far as the expected benefits of attracting tourists to Melbourne, the Auditor-General was unable to identify any benefits from the expected tourists. Visitors staying at overseas-owned establishments are not injecting money into the local economy.
The organisers boasted that restaurants and cafes would be overflowing, but that certainly did not happen for the businesses around Albert Park, which suffered a serious loss of business during the racing. In fact, that is probably the reasoning behind the section of the proposed legislation that blocks compensation claims from businesses around Homebush for the losses they are expected to suffer during the races. This is backed up by a survey of 327 traders around Albert Park that showed that 25 per cent reported increased business, 29 per cent noticed no change and 46 per cent—almost half—reported losses to their business during the racing.
Assurances that there would be a cap on government contributions at $30 million do not take into consideration other costs, which are likely to be many, such as the provision of security services; the major advertising campaign to attract people to the event; infrastructure upheaval such as resiting more than 100 light poles and electrical cables for street lighting and domestic supply; as well as the expected removal and replacement of bus shelters. The people who write to me are appalled at the way their concerns are being ignored and belittled by both the Premier and the Minister for State Development. Their quiet neighbourhoods are being threatened with an inundation of unbearable motor noise, road chaos, crowds and the usual loutish, antisocial behaviours that accompany such spectacles, particularly when there is alcohol available.
For up to 10 weeks of the year there will be limited use of the park by citizens who have incorporated it into their daily lives: six weeks are required before the event for setting it up, and four weeks are required after the event for pulling it down. This involves work crews and their semitrailers coming and going for that period of time and it means that regular users of the park will be unable to access their usual areas, including commuter cyclists using the Bay to Bay cycleway connection to the Parramatta cycleway that passes through the Olympic Park. Residents are also concerned that they will not be able to park outside their homes when the crowds flock in and that the Olympic Park station will not be able to cater for the influx of spectators to the race. The station is far too small and not enough trains run in and out of it.
In general it has been noted that the type of people interested in V8 supercars are not big users of public transport: they want to drive their own supercar. Much more space is available for sufficient parking at Eastern Creek, particularly with the new off-ramp from the M4 and an entrance from Wallgrove Road. Residents point out that if buses are to be provided it will be yet another cost to taxpayers. People are very concerned that residential and commercial property values will decline sharply in surrounding suburbs if this goes ahead, because most people simply would not choose to live next to a racetrack. Residents wonder if they will be compensated for this fall in the value of their properties. We know the answer to that question will be no, they will not be compensated. The Minister suggested to residents that if they did not like having the race in their area they could just rent out their place during that time and leave the area like many people in Queensland apparently do. At least the Minister was admitting that people want to get away from these events if they can possibly manage it.
But that ease of mobility is not how most working or retired people’s lives work. The Government’s attitude is not respectful of residents and families in these areas. This is not social justice. There has been no significant public consultation and the residents have a right to be heard when they say they do not want a V8 supercar racetrack there. The Sydney Olympic Park Authority Act has strong environmental protection measures that will require special legislation to be enacted to bypass it to allow the race to proceed, and that is precisely what the proposed legislation does.
The Sydney Olympic Park Authority has already voted on this issue and rejected unanimously the proposal for the race happening there, but their stance has been ignored. How can that happen? The Sydney Olympic Park Authority is the authority responsible for managing and maintaining the park as a lasting legacy for the people of New South Wales and it is not right that this decision that will devastate the park is being taken out of its hands.
Furthermore, the local councils around Sydney Olympic Park—Parramatta, Strathfield, Auburn, Ryde and three others—have wholeheartedly opposed the Government’s plan. My understanding of the very basic foundational premise of the concept of democracy is that people get a voice, both directly and through their elected representatives, in what happens to them, their tax dollars and their environment as well as the actions taken by their leaders. Is that what is happening here? It is more like the following definition of bullying: to force one’s own way aggressively or by intimidation without regard to the feelings of the person or people on the receiving end.
Most of my constituents are not against V8 racing—nor am I. But I am against holding it at Sydney Olympic Park when there is already a purpose-built track at Eastern Creek International Raceway, where the population density is much less. I believe that the Eastern Creek site is far preferable for this event for a number of reasons. It is an excellent facility that is already owned by the Government; it already has two large car parks and has room for more, so that any money spent there will be an investment, improving year after year the facility that is already owned by the people of New South Wales.
Eastern Creek is a specialised motor racing area already booked throughout the year by commercial organisations, trade shows, and for driver training as well as racing. It operates at a profit and the accumulated surpluses are enough to contribute to the funding for the desired resurfacing of the racetrack. There is easy vehicle access from both the M4 freeway straight into the car park and from Wallgrove Road. Using the Eastern Creek site will enable a variety of motor races to be held in different configurations without any set-up or dismantling costs involved, and it inconveniences very few local residents.
I was interested to read a V8 fan’s Internet blog called V8central, which has some interesting comments that clearly show that what I have said is also the opinion of many V8 fans. The following comments ware made:
“Let’s face it, the track plan they have in place for Homebush is pathetic.”
Another enthusiastic writer wrote:
“Wait until they see how limited the viewing is at a street circuit like Homebush.”
Another comment was:
“The NSW government has no clue—they go from one bungled decision to another. If they approve a race at Homebush at least we can say they’re consistent, I guess.”
Another blogger wrote:
“Homebush will see the government wasting taxpayers money on an event that is unwanted by a lot of motorsport fans, environmentally unsound and has all the hallmarks of being a very boring track.”
Another V8 supercars fan wrote:
“Still unbelievably frustrating as a NSW tax payer—millions of our dollars are going into a 3 day event rather than our infrastructure and permanent motorsport facilities that have a year round benefit.”
If, as demonstrated by these quotes, even the V8 supercar racing fans are not excited about having the race at Homebush, then there should be a serious review of the Government’s intentions. I will not support a bill that allows V8 supercar racing to be established at Sydney Olympic Park against the will of the park authority, the local councils, the local citizens and the fans of V8 supercar racing. I cannot support the bill.
You must realise that these arguments were agreed to by many Labor politicians, but Minister Macdonald supported by the right wing led by Eddie Obeid, prevents any ALP member publicly agreeing or supporting what citizens rightfully want.
SYDNEY OLYMPIC PARK V8 SUPERCAR RACES No 2.
Reverend the Hon. Dr GORDON MOYES [5.20 p.m.]: “The Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts is currently accepting public comment regarding the proposal to convert Sydney Olympic Park into a street circuit for the V8 supercar races. The public had 10 days to submit a comment from when it was posted on the departmental website on 6 March 2009, so only five days remain. Submissions must be directed towards the very specific terms of reference, which include: Is the area of national significance? Is it home to migratory bird species? Would the event damage protected wetlands? Does the area shelter ecological communities or threatened species? In the case of Sydney Olympic Park the answer is a resounding yes to each of these questions.
I have submitted my own comment to the proposal, but today I point out a number of questions left unanswered in the proposal that maybe of more interest to locals. Firstly, I note that no noise impact studies were done for human beings or domestic animals in the area around the parklands and that any noise testing undertaken involved testing during events at the showground or parkland, such as the Big Day Out, which generated no more than 51 decibels of noise and had no effect on the birds. Racing cars generate noise in the order of at least 90 to 95 decibels, so the proposal has purposely glossed over the real noise threat of the supercar event to birds and other wildlife.
Secondly, the timetable included in the proposal has the preparation work starting seven weeks before the race but elsewhere the document states that work will start 13 weeks before the race. I wonder what is supposed to happen between 13 and eight weeks before the race and why it is not detailed in the timetable proposed. In all, I note that the community will be disrupted for 17½ weeks for an event that will only last three days!
Thirdly, the removal of immature trees is part of the proposal. Local councils define immature trees as trees under five metres, with any tree over five metres protected by the Tree Preservation Act. The spotted gums along Australian Avenue, which the proponents intend to remove, are all over five metres tall—I have checked this—so they should fall under the Tree Preservation Act. In any case, the proposal does not stipulate a time frame for removal of the trees nor any mention of where alternative trees will be planted. Residents would like to know exactly how many trees along each median strip are to be removed.
A number of safety concerns have been raised. The proposal being assessed by the Commonwealth department does not stipulate when the road lane markings and cycle lane markings will be removed and replaced. This includes stop and give way signs, which are basic to road safety. These heavily used roads will be expected to re-open at 6.00 a.m. on the Monday following the race, so very little time is being given to have all the signs replaced. That poses a major safety issue for automobile traffic and cyclists. I ask whether that risk is one that road users of the area should be required to face. For whose benefit are we risking their lives?
I would like to raise many more points of concern to the public but instead I encourage residents and all other concerned citizens to read the proposal. Hopefully people can find it on the website of the Commonwealth Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts under “EPBC Act”, which appears in the left-hand column of the site. If people click on “Latest Referrals and Public Notices”, which can be found on the top right-hand side, they will be taken to a page entitled “Invitations to Comment”. They should then scroll down to “V8 Supercar Events”. Those who make it that far should receive a medal!
I ask those who read the proposal to please consider making a comment to the department on the plan to hold V8 supercar racing in Sydney Olympic Park, which was never designed for this purpose. It is my firm belief that this proposal is seriously wrong and I hope the department does not permit the event to proceed. Rather, the event should go to the purpose-built racetrack at Eastern Creek.”
On all three pieces of legislation, the ALP, The Liberals and the Christian Democratic Party (Rev Fred Nile) voted together to support Mr Macdonald. Only the Greens and myself opposed the legislation.
These comments of mine were directed to the then Minister Mr Ian Macdonald who rejected them without consideration. The ICAC evidence now reveals why. Whatever penalty the ICAC commissioner decides will not be enough for those who fleece the taxpayers, accept bribes, and benefit from the proceeds of crime.