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Thursday, 21 August 2003
Page: 19258

Ms VAMVAKINOU (9:52 AM) —With the bill to sell off Telstra—the Telstra (Transition to Full Private Ownership) Bill 2003—currently being debated in the chamber it is perhaps timely for me to raise a local issue for my electorate of Calwell. It concerns Telstra's proposal to build a 30-metre mobile tower in Ardlie Street within the Attwood Estate. Attwood is one of the more well-to-do suburbs of my electorate, with a high level of home ownership, high individual and family incomes and comparably high levels of education. Attwood is also a culturally diverse, aspiring estate made up of a fairly young population. Two-thirds of households are couples with children, and one-third of residents are under the age of 18. So it should be no surprise to us that residents have banded together to oppose this proposed tower. The residents are well-organised, articulate and very reasonable people, and they are led by local residents David Daniels and Joe Hafner, who are becoming increasingly vocal on behalf of the Attwood residents in opposing the erection of this 30-metre tower in their neighbourhood.

Naturally, they are concerned about the risks. Much has been written and not much has been proven about the risks of electromagnetic radiation and the effect that it may have on the health of people who live within the vicinity of a mobile tower. In particular, there has been concern over the years about the effects that radiation may have on children's health. The residents are also concerned about the effect this cumbersome and somewhat unattractive 30-metre tower will have on the appearance of the estate. Their concerns are no different from those of residents of other places when Telstra decides to build a tower in their region or neighbourhood, but the residents of Attwood have been dealt an additional blow in this process because they have not been properly consulted about the proposal.

The residents claimed that only eight out of some 1,500 households received a letter about the plan. Of course, responsibility for inadequate consultation must also rest with Hume City Council, which, together with Telstra officials, seems to have considered consultation with residents as a secondary concern. The actions of local residents should be applauded. They have taken up the fight for their community. They have organised public meetings and petitions, and they have taken their plight to the local media. I am certain that the battle against the proposed mobile tower will make their community stronger, as it has led to the very first discussions concerning the creation of an Attwood residents' association, which, in all communities, is a very worthy initiative. Telstra and Hume City Council should take some time to talk to residents to address their concerns and, by all means, allay their fears about the effects of this project on their community. They should consider the fact that these people overwhelmingly reject the installation of the tower. (Time expired)