Edward Mandla
Integrated Planning and Reporting and Budget Public Exhibition

Published On: 12/05/2014

I voted against this item last week after asking dozens of questions. And I do thank Council and staff for answering those questions - I think we all learnt many new things as a result.

I’m dissenting and making my comments for the purpose that next time that some more thought go into our papers and our fees and charges.

(1) This item is all about finances, assets, operational plans, fees and charges, and delivery. Yet on a night where are talking about discrimination and reconciliation I find it strange that we talk about the destructive impact of the invasion of Australia in a numbers document – it just doesn’t fit.

(2) There are 18 pages of Fees and Charges (thousands of them) – few of them would pass any sort of “pub test” or common sense test.

I picked out a couple for example. We’re proposing pool entry to be $7 for an adult, $5.20 for kids or $20.70 for a family with three kids – Yes, we give a $1.90 discount for the family.

A few lines down and there’s a per person annual pass for $854 with a joining fee of $155 – unbelievable.

As I said in Committees, this is sounding more like the Easter Show than a Council swimming pool. It was confirmed that most of these charges are a formula of CPI on CPI presumably multiplied by the Parking Rangers salary divided by 47. The fees have lost any semblance of reality.

Then there was the Hybrid vehicle discount at parking stations. When I asked how many hybrid vehicles take advantage of this. The answer came back at none! Either we lower the price and advertise or we get rid of one of endless useless council fee line items.

(3) The document is littered with what can only be described as Propaganda.

We talk about a city “connected ‘virtually’ by world class communications yet we have no plans for this and we can’t even organise free Wi-Fi in the city.

We talk about the city having new “green” industries driving economic growth but we have no plan or no idea what these industries might be – the answer of well they’re new and we’ll recognise them when we get them is school project “D” material.

Then we have the targets. The city has no chance of reducing greenhouse gas emission by 70% by 2030 compared to 2006. We know this and have discussed this endlessly. As a councillor I have repeatedly challenged the feasibility of such targets. They were subsequently downgraded to ‘stretch targets’ ? with the all the associated bureaucratic gibberish as to what a stretch actually target is.

After I kept at them as being deceiving, they were downgraded again to ‘aspirational’, which translated into plain English means ‘we’ve given up – they can’t and won’t be met.’ It’s not much of a fig leaf.

The next assertion that “the city will have the capacity to meet up to 100% of electricity demand by local electricity generation is made up on the fly”. Initially this was through our trigeneration project which the 2014 Parliamentary Inquiry into Cogeneration and Trigeneration in NSW, described as “reckless”. When trigeneration was canned our target was to be met from converting gas from pig and poultry manure in the hunter valley, and now it’s from vaporising our rubbish and making gas. I wonder which area in Sydney will put their hands up for that project.

We say “there are sufficient renewable electricity and gas resources within proximity of the city to meet all of its electricity, heating and cooling needs – yet in briefings we’re told there are no resources within the proximity of the city!

(4) Finally, there is little for businesses that are contributing 78% of the rate haul. The only real mention of business is in the context that we would like to see employers offer a range of incentives to encourage walking and cycling and that building owners need to improve their environmental performance. That’s what taxation without representation produces – that’s why the 2014 Turner Report and 2014 NSW Joint Standing Committee into Electoral Matters say we need to bring back a proper business vote for the City of Sydney.

I think it’s pretty obvious why I’m not voting for this one.

Edward Mandla
May 2014

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