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Wednesday, 15 August 2007
Page: 151

Mr LAURIE FERGUSON (7:50 PM) —In a typically thoughtful contribution today, the member for Port Adelaide very strongly emphasised his local involvement and background. Similarly, living in Granville and growing up in Guildford, I very much identify with the area where I reside. I think it is very necessary that the few politicians who do not live in the electorates they represent should be mindful of the imposition of their ideas on the residents who do not share their situation. I refer to the recent moves by the state government with regard to increased housing densities in the South Granville area. Historically, I have been a strong supporter of the presence of public housing in my area. I believe that it is better to have a dispersal of people throughout communities rather than have whole suburbs of single mothers and unemployed people who have similar social problems and reinforce each other’s behaviour, and therefore cause social problems. At the outset, I say that I strongly support public housing, and I support the need for greater housing densities and the use of public housing areas in South Granville and Guildford, where we see single blocks inhabited by 70-year-old pensioners et cetera. There is a need to consolidate some of these areas.

However, I do express concerns about a lack of leadership in the way that this will be delivered. People pontificate loudly about the need for increased densities, basically surrendering before the fight starts and conceding the ground totally to the housing department rather than mobilising the resistance of residents and assuring a reasonable compromise in any outcome.

If you look at my area, the people who now talk about the need to have more roads through our area or to widen existing roads so that we can have these increased densities have no understanding of the history of our area. People such as my predecessor, Tom Uren, state member Jim Flaherty, Councillor Paul Garrard and, to a lesser extent, me have historically resisted the encroachment of further roads in our area. We think that Woodville Road, Parramatta Road and also Clyde Street, if anyone knows Sydney, are enough for our area. It is very dangerous for people who do not have the same circumstances and will not be affected by these changes to advocate them.

I want to also refer to the performance of the Parramatta City Council in regard to Woodville Road. I drove down this road the other day. What did I see? I saw a new block between Lackey and Farnell Street, with the total ground floor, supposedly for retail, abandoned, vacant blocks on the corner of Park Street and Earl Street, a derelict house on the corner of Cleone Street, vacant blocks on Linthorne Street and on the corner of Park Street and Macarthur Street.

This is a failure in planning by the Parramatta City Council. The council failed to counter the situation  on the main road of Sydney in which a well-advanced tree disappeared to make a retail outlet—John Cootes, a major furniture business in our electorate—better seen by drivers and more visible to prospective buyers. A convenient fire destroyed a historic home at 324 Woodville Road. Once again, I question what the council is doing on these matters.

Every weekend near Kenelda Avenue there are 40 or 50 cars in the streets because of an informal, illegal retail outlet which is not paying rental like everyone else and not paying rates, but there has been no action taken by the council. Along Woodville Road we have decisions being made by  planners and councillors who do not live in the area and who have no local contact, and it has become Slumsville, New South Wales, because of the failure of the Parramatta City Council. Just because the general manager receives more money than the Treasurer of this country, you cannot say that he is totally responsible. There should be political leadership in the council to start doing something about these matters.