To the 200+ (official records show at least 191 signed in but there were more than that) less the 5 representing the developer who turned up on a dark and stormy Monday night, on behalf of BRAG I wish to extend the biggest THANK YOU!
I’m going to break one of my own rules and get a little emotive in this post. I’m also aware that the developers read our website so I’ll welcome them as well.
It would be fair to say that when the spectacular (but fortunately brief) electrical storm hit at about 5:30PM and I was hurriedly trying to print my speech an expletive or two escaped my lips – worried that people wouldn’t bother to turn up at the meeting but even more concerned a power cut would hit and I’d be trying to read my speech off a thumb-drive.
The car park looked very empty at about 6:30PM, had we thrown a party and no-one was coming? Looking inside the council building I saw many of the faithful and felt so much better. I was a little concerned when neighbours failed to recognise me – apparently it was the suit and tie? At about 6:55 the queue at the sign in table had grown to out the door and the room was already 3/4′s full. Everyone was so encouraging and seeing Peter Brown (speaker #1) and Tony Hunt (number 2) also dressed in suit and tie (not pre-arranged I assure you) made me feel much better. Seeing the developer in jeans and jumper also helped.
A quick chat with the council ensured that a fair hearing would be available provided the developer got equal time and we were off. Peter stepped up and spoke eloquently and passionately about traffic, parking, public amenity and a few other things – all I remember is “this development is flawed and must not be approved” – get a theme and stick to it.
The applause that greeted the culmination of Peters speech was amazing and spontaneous, we could feel the love in the room. Tony then delivered what was the most technical part of our objections, he had everyone in the room at “hello”, errr, at “I hold 3 degrees including a masters in environmental science” - I think I heard the “Oh S#!t” from the opposition from where I was sitting! Tony managed to make the noise report look like the ridiculous thing that it is, mixing tech-speak with explanations and pointing out the obvious flaws in a way that showed research, understanding and passion – well done that man! The council bench were furiously writing notes and most interestingly nodding at points as they were made. Exit stage left, round of applause.
I don’t remember much of my time up there, more the times I looked up from juggling my notes and the annoying microphone to see the faces looking back and the attention that was being paid. It was a rush to be up there and to finish without making (I hope) too big a fool of myself. I must add at this point, that only a little of my speech was my own work, several ghost writers had their pens in my ink so to speak – Tony Hunt and Cherry and Robert Gibson are mainly responsible if it was cr@p!
3 – nil, developer up to bat.
Michael Ledzion told me after the event that he didn’t expect it to be like it was, but I think I can sum it up best as saying it was like he brought a waterpistol to a thermo-nuclear war…..I won’t bore you with the gory details as I have an obvious bias but his consultants didn’t seem to help matters much and then it was onto the Q&A round.
Speaker after speaker either made valid points or asked questions that seemed to get either no answer or a poor response. The room was extremely well educated on the issue and cause and effect – our cause was helped endlessly by a representative from the Darug who advised that the Darug were against the development – the lifeboats were being inflated on the developers benches. For those that have been following my private joke about the French (don’t ask) you can imagine what went through my mind when a (beautiful) french accent was heard to announce she was from Ourimbah where she runs a similar venture – torpedoes away but not in our direction as I expected but rather a dead centre blow on the good ship Go Ape’s evening cruise.
We were brought back to reality with a thump when the councillors, quite rightly reminded us that this is a DA process and still has to processed accordingly – we await the report from the night and the DUA submission – the fight is not over but I have to admit we put up one hell of reasoned, researched argument. This process may be flawed but for the moment it’s the only one we’ve got and on Monday night proved that there is always a reason and a way to fight perceived injustice.
I won’t bore you with too many more details, only to thank all of those who assisted on the night, Lynda for my bottle of water, Paula for the Save Bidjigal Reserve badges and a huge hug for both Tony and Peter.
To Di Gorman for the website and her work in the background, Greg Carson and all of the volunteers for the petitions and flyers. Jeff Gorman and Peter Brown for printing same. To everyone else who have assisted, encouraged or just maintained the rage – maintain it for a while longer – I’m not entirely convinced this is over by a long margin as yet – stay tuned.
THANK YOU ALL