Tag Archives: Iskandar

Banning bottled water? How Marrickville Labor Councillors blocked it

By Max Phillips

I’m watching with interest as the Southern Highlands town of Bundanoon has decided to ban the sale of bottled water and Premier Nathan Rees sniffs a populist moment and bans bottled water in NSW government departments.

bottled-waterIn April, The Greens moved a motion on Marrickville Council that would have banned Council from distributing bottled water, educated the community about disposable plastic containers, and installed modern drinking fountains for people to fill containers with filtered tap water.

Unfortunately, the Labor Councillors and conservative independent Councillors Macri and Hanna voted against this amendment.  The vote was tied and the Mayor Sam Iskandar used his casting vote to defeat the ban on  bottled water. 

From the minutes of the April Council meeting:

The MOTION was put to the vote and was TIED.
For Motion: Councillors Olive, Byrne, Kontellis, Peters, Phillips and Thanos
Against Motion: Councillors Iskandar, Macri, O’Sullivan, Wright, Tsardoulias and Hanna
The Chairperson used his Casting Vote and the MOTION was LOST.

The main reason Labor articulated that they would vote against the motion seemed to be Councillor Wright’s distrust of Sydney tap water and the fluoride that is added.  That and their penchant to vote against anything The Greens put up.

Now they look pretty foolish, when even the Labor Premier says that we should be discouraging the use of bottled water!bottle on road

Labor in Marrickville like to say they are progressive and ‘Labor Left’, but often their decisions make you wonder.  Expanding car parks in Petersham, cutting the bike budget, laying astroturf at heritage Arlington Oval in Dulwich Hill, and voting against the motion to ban bottled water.  There isn’t much that is ‘progressive’ on display!

Stopping Marrickville Council from stocking and distributing bottled water is a no-brainer.  Those who really want it can always bring their own.

Bottled water is bad for the following reasons:

  • Litter and land fill
  • Oil use in production
  • Carbon emissions in the transportation of bottled water (water is a heavy product)
  • Plastic finds its way into the oceans where in some areas there is more bits of plastic than plankton!
  • Economic – it is an unnecessary product
  • Health – lack of fluoride for younger people can cause problems.

Many cities and councils around the world have banned the use of bottled water in their institution.  Paris, Florence, New York, Los Angeles, Liverpool (UK), San Francisco, Toronto.

A modern filtered water in the Manly Corso

A modern filtered water fountain in the Manly Corso, Sydney

Even the Local Government Association of NSW wants to discourage the use of bottled water.  But does Marrickville Labor listen?  No, they’re stuck in a reactionary anti-green rut and are looking pretty foolish now.

Manly has installed excellent filtered water fountains encouraging people to refill empty bottles.  The motion moved by The Greens would also have seen similar fountains installed in public places in the Marrickville LGA.

For more information read the motion Distribution of bottled water and public water fountains that went before Marrickville Council in April.

The Greens will move another motion to stop the distribution of bottled water at Council events at the July Council meeting.

Vote in the smh.com.au poll on bottled water.

Video on plastic accumulation in the oceans:

“Every piece of plastic ever made since the 1950s still exists…”

update someone sent me these facts:

In 2004 154,000,000,000,000 litres of bottled of water was sold worldwide. It took 81,000,000,000 barrels of oil to make the bottles that held that water and released 2,500,000 tonne’s of CO2 into the atmosphere.
•       It takes three litres of water to make every litre bottled water.
•       86% of plastic water bottles end up in landfill.
•       Bottled water costs about 10,000 times the cost of tap water. I’ll say that again – bottled water costs about 10, 000 times the cost of tap water. I can’t think of any other product on earth that we get pretty much for free but that we choose to pay a 10,000 mark up on.
•       Humans spend $100,000,000,000 dollars a year on bottled water. It would cost roughly 1/3 of that to provide clean and safe drinking water for every person on earth.
•       Bottled water is not better for you. We have some of the best tap water on earth here in Australia and tap water faces far stricter quality standards than bottled water does. In fact 40% of bottled water is just tap water with additives.

Marrickville Council to master plan McGill Street precinct at Lewisham

On Tuesday night two Green motions were put before Marrickville Council.lewishamcolour02

The first motion was to have Marrickville Council commission a master plan for the entire precinct between Old Canterbury Road and the Goods Line in Lewisham.  A master plan will provide an alternative vision for the urban renewal of the area, with appropriate height and density limits to complement the surrounding community, as well as provision for open space and traffic management.

The second motion confirmed Marrickville Councils official opposition to the Lewisham Towers development, called for it to be assessed by Council rather than by the Minister for Planning under Part 3A, and wrote to local MPs requesting their support for this position.  A similar motion had been voted down by a combination of Labor and Independent Councillors in March.

Unfortunately, it was a busy council meeting and the motions were not debated untilChambers 10.30pm. Despite the hour, residents of Lewisham were present in the gallery and two residents spoke to the motions.

The motion for a master plan was supported unanimously. This is excellent news and council staff have already started to put it into action.  The Greens will be working to ensure community participation is incorporated into the master plan project.

The second motion became the subject of heated debate as Labor Councillors opposed it and supported the use of Part 3A to assess this development.  Independent Councillors Hanna and Macri (who have all but signed up to the ALP) also opposed the motion saying it was ‘political’.

Labor Councillors seemed more intent on defending the local state member and the NSW state government than they are on genuinely representing the local community (not just on this issue).  So they blew hard on their defence of the state government’s pro-developer planning regime and the use of Part 3A for the Lewisham Towers.  They, along with their allied Independents Hanna and Macri, attacked The Greens for leading the community campaign.

Councillor Iskandar (ALP)

Councillor Iskandar (ALP)

Perhaps the lowest moment came when the Mayor Sam Iskandar (who also happens to represent Central Ward which includes Lewisham) began banging on the table and raising his voice in an angry defence of Part 3A.  To me, it seemed his angry speech was directed as much at the residents in the gallery as at other councillors!

It is a pity the Mayoral anger and bluster was undermined by his poor understanding of how Part 3A works, including the ability of the Minister to refer developments back to the local council, and the effect that Part 3A has in bypassing the community and removing democracy from the planning system.

The final vote was tied again with the 5 Greens and Independent Councillor Dimitrios Thanos for the motion, and four Labor and Councillors Macri and Hanna against.  The Labor Mayor then used his casting vote to defeat the motion.  Clearly loyalty to the Labor Party is more important than representing constituents in Lewisham and elsewhere.

The community campaign will go on regardless of the politicking, and the master plan that will now be developed can serve as a focus for the community to communicate their vision for Lewisham to the Department of Planning, the Council and to all prospective developers.

You can read my press release on the two motions here.

Councillor Max Phillips

The McGill Street precinct Lewisham

Master Plan for Lewisham to challenge Towers development

18 June 2009 – Media Release

Strathfield flats (12) webMarrickville Council will commission a master plan for McGill Street precinct in Lewisham to provide an alternative vision for the area that challenges the proposal for multiple towers and a supermarket mall.  The Greens motion for a master plan was supported unanimously by all councillors on Marrickville Council.

“The master plan for the McGill Street precinct at Lewisham will provide a clear and comprehensive vision for the area that complements the existing community,” said Greens Councillors Max Phillips.

“The Greens are confident that a Council master plan will more genuinely reflect the community’s vision for the area and challenge the developer’s greedy plans to build towers and a supermarket mall.

“The land along the old goods line is a good place for urban renewal, but it must be in scale with, and complement the existing community, and not overwhelm local roads or hurt local shopping strips.”

The second motion stating Marrickville Council’s opposition to the Lewisham Towers development and requesting that it be decided by Marrickville Council, not by the Planning Minister under Part 3A was tied 6 – 6  (5 Greens + Thanos for vs 4 Labor + Macri & Hanna against).  Labor Mayor, and Central Ward Councillor Sam Iskandar then used his casting vote to oppose the motion.

“I’m surprised and disappointed that the Labor Councillors, and Councillors Hanna and Macri voted against this motion,” said Greens Councillor Max Phillips.

“Given the depth of community concern about this development and the obvious use of Part 3A to bypass council and the community, I would have thought Labor and Independents councillors would side with the local residents.

“The Marrickville Labor Councillors seem so intent on protecting the local state member and her government, that they fail to recognise the genuine depth of community concern on this issue.

“The No Lewisham Towers campaign will continue regardless, and I hope all local councillors will be supportive and constructive.”

Contact: Councillor Max Phillips 0419 444 916

Labor backs Part 3A assessment for Lewisham Towers!

flats small webThe Labor Mayor of Marrickville, Sam Iskandar has finally come out against the Lewisham Towers (after considerable community pressure), yet strangely he backs the Part 3A system that strips Marrickville Council of the power to actually do anything about this massive overdevelopment [see article from The Glebe below].

Either the Mayor does not understand how Part 3A works, or he is happy for his Council and the community to be bypassed by this greedy developer.

There is little point in wringing your hands about such a development and then placing your faith in the Minister to do the right thing – especially with the current state Labor government’s extreme pro-developer record.

Mayor Iskandar seems to believe that Marrickville Council is only capable of deciding on small developments and that big developments should be shifted to unelected panels of technocrats or the Planning Minister whose party has recieved millions in donations from developers.

The Greens believe the opposite to be the case.  It is precisely because this proposed development will have a big impact on the surrounding communities that it is so important that it be assessed by locally elected councillors with strong community input.  Perhaps Mayor Iskandar has drunken too much of the Labor Kool-Aid and has forgotten why we have local democracy?

The Marrickville Labor Councillors need to work out whether they are serious about representing the local community, or whether they’re just the local franchise of the lousy state government.

Councillor Max Phillips

Towers plan too big - mayor