Minutes of General Meeting – March 9th 2017

Northbridge Progress Association Inc.

Minutes of General Meeting held at Northbridge Golf Club on Thursday 9th March 2017 commencing at 7:45 pm

Attendance:

As per attendance book: 29 Members; 14 Visitors

Apologies:

Mayor Gail Giles-Gidney, Angelos Frangopoulos, Helen Gulson, Fiona Daunt

Quorum:

The Chairman noted that a quorum was present

Chairperson’s Welcome:

Rob Coote, Chair, welcomed members, guests and visitors especially the guest speaker, the Federal Member for North Sydney, Trent Zimmerman MP, and our three Ward Councillors – Rachel Hill, Hugh Eriksson, John Hooper – as well as Councillor Angelo Rozos (Middle Harbour Ward).

Suspension of Standing Orders for the Guest Speaker

Guest Speaker: Trent Zimmerman MP

The Chairman introduced Trent Zimmerman, who has been our Member since 5th December 2015 and is very experienced, having worked since 1993 as Advisor to Senator the Hon Robert Hill, then as a Consultant on Public Affairs and after as Advisor to MPs Peter King and Joe Hockey. From 2011 to 2015 he was Deputy Chief Executive Officer and Director of Transport Policy, Tourism and Transport Forum.

Trent Zimmerman took the floor and thanked the chairman, councillors, members and visitors for welcoming him. He feels that Northbridge has a real sense of community and that the Progress Association is doing fantastic work. He also praised The 202, saying it was excellent.

War Memorial Park – Presentation of Flag

As the war memorial has been recently refurbished, thanks to the RSL obtaining a grant, it was decided to ask Trent Zimmerman to formally present a flag from the Federal Government. Bronte Pollard (RSL representative for our area) had the pleasant duty of receiving the flag and announced that there would be a ceremony the next day, Friday 10th March, at 9.00am sharp for the flag raising. Representatives from the Department of Veteran Affairs and the Mayor will attend, and everyone is invited.

This is an interesting time, in the Chinese sense, said Trent Zimmerman, to be in politics. He feels things are not well reported because the media is changing. Fewer newspapers mean fewer journalists specialising – they are now all generalists – and the important news gets swamped. Therefore, an opportunity like this for face to face contact is a valuable means of communication. He said we could be proud of the fact that Australia has had 26 years of continuous economic growth, living standards have doubled, and female participation has increased. However, in 40 years time, we will face the challenge of maintaining our standard of living, health care costs will double, and there will be a much higher percentage of the population requiring aged care. The economy is in transition, changing from manufacturing and the mining boom which followed. Now we rely on the service sector – currently 80%, whereas 50 years ago it was 50%. He believes there are opportunities for agriculture and tourism, educational and financial services and natural gas, but we need the right government policies. As we have always had a very small domestic market, we have relied on overseas trade, and this must continue and be further developed. No nation, he said, can constantly be in deficit, as the trend has been recently, and we cannot live beyond our means. Therefore the government has some tough decisions to make – on pensions and superannuation, for example.

Questions were invited from the floor. Topics discussed included renewable energy, sustainability and climate change. The government is committed to the Paris agreement, and we are on target with a plan to reach the goals set for 2020. We will need power, and it will come from various sources. The energy market regulator will play a role. It was suggested that legislation is necessary for the federal government to take control from the states, to avoid such fiascos as the recent electricity shortages in South Australia and the question of coal in Queensland.

The subject of $104 billion in charity donations was raised next. Trent Zimmerman said the government was looking at the tax regime and he mentioned the importance of flexibility so that both small community-based charities and large organisations can use the money most effectively.

Affordable housing is another problem which needs the cooperation of local, state and federal governments if it is to be solved. The effects of foreign investment and vacancy taxes on unoccupied units could be considered. Rent relief was suggested as a means of ensuring that teachers and nurses could afford to live on the North Shore. Trent Zimmerman acknowledged this is a difficult issue, but said the government would not want to damage investment in housing.

The subject of tax reform was also raised, and Trent Zimmerman said there were no radical reforms on the horizon. He spoke of a corporate tax package which would benefit small and medium enterprises and boost employment. He also said that overseas investors are seeking low rates of corporation tax and the government aims to reduce it eventually to 25%.

There was no time for further questions, but Trent Zimmerman said he would be very happy to come back another time. In the meantime, he encouraged everyone to email questions to him.

The Chairman thanked Trent Zimmerman for taking the time to speak to the meeting. Members appreciated it and found it interesting.

General Meeting opened at 8.30 pm

Minutes of Previous Meeting:

The Minutes of the previous General Meeting held on September 1st, 2016 were approved at the AGM on November 23rd, 2016 and are currently available on the website.

Matters Arising:

There were none.

Councillor’s Reports:

Our four Councillors offered to speak to people informally at the end of the evening and said they would comment on issues as required when raised.

Other Community Issues / General Business:

Rob Coote reported on the following:

Boat Parking:

The NPA made a submission to WCC when they sought an opinion from the community regarding the parking of boats on trailers in our streets. Parking of trailers (of any kind) is not included in WCC’s Parking Strategy. Current State Legislation allows boat owners to park for 28 days in one position, after which they have 15 days to move. It is not enforced and has become a problem. Feedback to the NPA was overwhelmingly in favour of enforcement. The Federation of Willoughby Progress Associations has asked WCC to approach the State government with a view to changing the law, and it is hoped they will make some progress. Members gave examples of boats and trailers causing blockages and sometimes parked dangerously. Councillor Rozos agreed it was a problem in other wards, not just Sailors Bay ward. He also said that if amalgamation goes ahead with North Sydney and Mosman, the subject will have to be discussed with them as well.

Child Care Centre 58-70 Sailors Bay Road:

WCC refused this development application. No further progress was achieved at a conciliation meeting on 23rd February. It now goes before the Land & Environment Court on 27/28 March.

46-50 Strathallen Ave:

Still no progress after a conciliation meeting.

147-151 Sailors Bay Road (Orana):

The developer wants to increase the height. The NPA opposes and has sent a submission to WCC.

Northbridge Branch Library, Sailors Bay Road:

WCC are seeking ideas for community use. The deadline for submissions is 10th March 2017.

Planning Strategy for the Future of Willoughby:

This presents a good opportunity to provide feedback on the Chatswood CBD and Local Centres, particularly on how housing should be handled in our area. Most of Northbridge is zoned R2, but higher density has been proposed. Submissions close on 17 March. Rob encouraged everyone to look at the website and use “Have Your Say”.

Recording of Council Meetings:

There was an article recently in the North Shore Times about this. At the next WCC meeting, on Monday, 13th March, it will be discussed again. Everyone is encouraged to attend. Currently, if access to recordings of council meetings is required, it must be paid for. WCC should, as many other councils do now, use webcasting, which is an excellent way to demonstrate transparency.

Northbridge Plaza Council Car Park:

Malcolm Lye asked if there was any progress on this. Councillor Hooper said that WCC applied to IPART for permission to charge a special levy on Plaza businesses to maintain the car park. However, there will not be a ruling until after the question of amalgamation has been resolved.

Tree in Minimbah Road:

Ron Hicks asked whether the Council has a policy on how long a dead tree can remain there once it has been made safe. He referred to a particular tree in Kameruka Road which had been poisoned, made safe by the council and then left there – almost as a punishment to the community! Additionally, there are some public areas with water views which have been obscured by the growth of trees. Councillor Hooper confirmed that concerning views, there is a policy which applies to buildings, but he is not aware of a policy for bushland.

Northbridge Baths – cost of new pontoons:

Max Menzies wanted to know whether the law has been broken regarding the replacement of pontoons at Northbridge Baths. Councillor Hill explained the situation. She said the contractor had gone out of business before the work was completed, so another contractor was brought in to finish the job. The correct process was not followed – it should have gone to the Council. Councillor Hooper confirmed that there was a breach of the Local Government Act. He said the management of the contract was not carried out well and a report was being prepared that will show what went wrong and how it can be improved. The report is expected in May. Reg Caldwell stated that in his opinion the pontoons are no good for swimmers and are not safe. He is in contact with the council, and he said he told them this 18 months ago. Councillors Hooper and Hill offered to discuss his concerns in more detail after the meeting.

Northbridge Community Fireworks:

This year the fireworks will be held on 13th May.

Next Meeting

The next General Meeting is on Wednesday, 7th June 2017

The Meeting Closed at 9.20 pm

Chairperson: ………………………………………………………. Date: ……………………

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