Mike Baird - our local MP and the State Premier - resigned on January 19 in a move that surprised everybody.
The state's top job is now in the capable hands of Gladys Berejiklian, Australia's first female Liberal Premier.
And Manly will face a by-election to choose our new representative.
Good For Manly President and former Manly Councillor Candy Bingham said Mike's open, friendly approach would be greatly missed.
“Mike Baird was totally committed to our community, and worked tirelessly. In more recent times it was clear that his arduous duties as Premier made it more and more difficult for him to service his electorate”, Mrs Bingham said. "We have him to thank in particular for the long overdue Northern Beaches Hospital and the B-Link bus service which will go some way in helping to ease traffic congestion on the Northern Beaches", she said
History of State Seat In Manly
Manly is often considered a safe Liberal seat, but it was held by two independents - Peter Macdonald and David Barr - for sixteen years until Mr Baird won the seat in 2007.
It even changed hands completely between 1978 to 1984, when Labor's Alan Stewart was the Manly MP.
However at the last election, in 2015, Mr Baird won 75% of the vote after preferences, with Greens candidate Clara Williams Roldan a distant second with 25% of the vote.
At the time of writing potential candidates had not been announced, however there is a lot of speculation as to who will stand!
“I think what locals will be looking for is a representative who is connected to the community,” Mrs Bingham said. “What party they come from is less important than their ability to work hard for their electorate, listen to the community and understand local issues”, she added.
Based on community research, it would seem that council amalgamations is one issue that would not be a game changer here in Manly.
This is despite anti-council amalgamation activists threatening to “turn Manly into Orange” and rally against the Liberal Party unless the forced council mergers are unwound.
“I really think people have moved on from that,” Mrs Bingham said. “At the time of amalgamation there was some concern that Manly’s voice would be lost in one big Northern Beaches Council. However I believe that the lack of resistance to amalgamation in Manly was not due to apathy, but rather that people were wanting a change from the Wong/Hay stronghold on the Council". (Henry Wong was the General Manager and Jean Hay led the Liberal bloc which approved many unpopular projects - a number of which have subsequently been terminated by the new Council's Administrator).
The by-election will take place in the next few months.
What would you like to see in Manly's new Local Member?
At the Council meeting tonight, Administrator Dick Perrson stated that the amateur swim clubs would not be required to pay new lane hire fees for the rest of this financial year, following a stalemate in negotiations between the Council and the Clubs.
It was stressed however that the matter would need to be re-addressed for the 2017-2018 financial year.
With a number of the Clubs under threat of folding, this is a welcomed, although temporary reprieve for the Clubs. Let's hope a satisfactory outcome can be reached in the new year.
Is it fair that local not-for-profit swimming clubs, which have been operating in Manly for 80 and 100 years, should be expected to pay excessive lane hire fees in addition to entry fees?
That's the debate that has caused a total stalemate between the new Northern Beaches Council and the three amateur swim clubs which use the Manly Swim Centre.
The 22 week swimming season was scheduled to start early in October, but Manly Swim Club, Manly Women's Swimming Club and the Manly Diggers Club have not been able to use their traditional home at the Manly Swim Centre Boy Charlton Pool.
The deadlock is over just how much is a fair fee for non-profit clubs to pay. The Council wants $53.00 per lane per hour, in addition to entry fees which have been estimated to tally around $80,000 annually.
The Clubs say they just can't afford it and they will probably close. They are concerned that they are been hit with huge fees because the $27.3 million indoor facility, which they don't even use, was so over budget.
In contrast, a survey of other amateur clubs using council pools elsewhere in Sydney, pay no lane hire or a nominal fee plus entry.
"This is a clear case of where the amalgamation of the three councils has not served Manly. While the former Manly Council strongly supported the amateur swimming clubs, it seems the new council is focused purely on service fees. It's Council's role to provide facilities for the community - not to price local groups out of existence", said former Councillor Candy Bingham.
It is understood that local member Mike Baird has met with the Clubs and the Council but that no solution has been found.
Meanwhile, the swimming season is well underway and the Clubs have no where to swim.
It's a disgrace.
Leading up the State election, Manly became the target for ‘No Coal Seam Gas’ campaigns with the focus squarely on our local member, and Premier, Mike Baird.
The campaign to stop energy companies trashing our land and water runs on front line resistance in the bush, backed up by strong city support.
In Manly we were responsible for a lot of that support.
Locals filled St Matthews Church for a coal seam gas rally, and packed a screening of the anti-CSG film Frackman. And 250 people volunteered to knock on doors for the recent Giant Community Survey, which reached 8,000 Manly households.
The results, which were delivered to Mr Baird the following week, were overwhelming. Over 95% of respondents said they were worried about our farmland, forest and water and wanted the government to do more to protect them from fracking.
Shortly afterwards Mr Baird cancelled three of the four CSG licences covering Sydney's water catchment area.
Fierce community opposition to fracking in last month's state election was responsible for the demolition of the National's vote in northern NSW, after decades in power. It propelled the Greens to victory in two inner city seats, and produced strong results for green candidates in Manly and throughout the Northern Beaches.
Pablo Brait, Community Organiser of the Nature Conservation Council of NSW who co-ordinated the campaign said Manly people made a huge contribution to the anti-CSG fight, but the battle isn't over.
The largest of the CSG exploration license in our water catchment area is still there. As well a commercial CSG field at Camden, virtually a Sydney suburb, is having devastating effects on the houses nearby. Towns like Gloucester and Bulga in the Hunter Valley and beautiful Leard State Forest in north west NSW are all under threat.
A volunteer group has now been set up in Manly as has been done in many other suburbs of Sydney, to keep the pressure on to have all exploration licences cancelled in NSW.
Good For Manly, joins the Manly community in calling for a total ban on fracking or coal mining in water catchments, productive farmland and native conservation areas.
“Seeing the movie Frackman was a real eye-opener for me. It really brought home the unacceptable dangers CSG mining has on our water and environment. We are already seeing evidence in Queensland and NSW just how harmful this process is, and the harm it does to our environment,” said Good For Manly Councillor, Candy Bingham.
“It really is an issue that should not be political. Fracking must be stopped in NSW”, she said.
"Councils throughout NSW, Queensland, South Australia and Victoria have all put their opposition to fracking on the record," Cr Candy Bingham said.
"It's disappointing that Manly Council has not done so. Particularly as there's no doubt about what Manly residents want."
Want to know more? You may find these links interesting:
1. State subsidies and royalties: http://www.tai.org.au/content/mining-age-entitlement
The TAI report at the link above looks at state-based (there’s also federal government) subsidies to the mining sector. It also talks about royalties. See page ten of the report.
The headline figures are:
· In 2013-14 NSW got $1.5 billion in royalties from mining, which is only 2% of state revenue. That is, mining is not as important to the NSW economy is the mining industry says it is.
· NSW spent $136 million in subsidies for this same sector that financial year.
2. Narrabri CSG project: http://ieefa.org/briefing-note-narrabri/
This briefing note looks at the likelihood of the Santos project in the Pilliga having any impact on NSW gas prices (they conclude it won’t).
3. Coal seam gas economics: http://www.tai.org.au/content/fracking-future
Twelve months ago The Australia Institute did an excellent review of the economics of coal seam gas. It looks at gas prices, economic activity and jobs. See link.
4. Upper house gas inquiry is here: http://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/gasinquiry
The Manly Hospital Community Advisory Group, established by Local Member and Premier Mike Baird, would like to hear your views on the proposed use of the Manly Hospital campus site once the hospital is closed in 2018.
Some of the suggestions so far include affordable housing, an art and culture centre, aged care support, drug and alcohol support and rehabilitation and a GP Super Clinic.
Add your views by completing the survey here.
About the new Northern Beaches Hospital
The Northern Beaches Hospital is to be built on a 6.5 hectare site at Frenchs Forest, bounded by Frenchs Forest Road West, Warringah Road, Wakehurst Parkway and The Forest High School
The hospital will have capacity for 423 beds and will deliver surgical, paediatric, obstetric, inpatient mental health services and hold an emergency department.
The NSW Government has committed to commencing construction of the new Northern Beaches Hospital’s Frenchs Forest campus by 2015, with it opening in 2018.
You can find out more by downloading the Fact Sheet below.
A simple survey undertaken by the Good For Manly group clearly shows that locals don’t want a car park built under Manly Oval.
Circulated widely, including by the Chamber of Commerce who support the Oval car park, the survey asked four simple questions. So far 754 people have responded with a clear message: No Oval Car Park 75.20%, Keep Whistler Street Car Park 71.58%, Revitalise the laneways in Manly 92.30%, Have a referendum to decide 81.00%.
Strong opposition is building against Manly Council’s 2015 Plan that has at its core the demolition of the centrally located Whistler Street car park and the building of a $34million new car park under Manly Oval. This week former Mayors of Manly, Sue Sacker and Peter Macdonald, publicly came out against the project.
“The community are angry. They don’t believe they have been listened to by Manly Council. Despite hundreds of letters against the Oval car park project, a public meeting attended by 400 people, 8 out of the 9 active resident precinct groups voting strongly against the car park and complaints lodged with Mike Baird’s office, the Liberal majority on the Council seem hell-bent on pushing this through”, claimed Independent Councillor, Candy Bingham.
The four independent Councillors, Clrs Barbara Aird, Candy Bingham, Hugh Burns and Cathy Griffin, submitted independent expert reports to the Office of Local Government raising serious questions about the viability of the Manly 2015 Plan.
“We have come to the conclusion that Manly Council is under estimating the financial cost, construction risk, and community opinion, and over estimating its own ability.” Clr Bingham said.
A final assessment on the Oval Car Park project is expected to be received from the Office of Local Government shortly.
The Manly community will lose its much-loved local hospital when the new Northern Beaches Hospital opens in 2018. However the Manly Hospital site will not be sold off to private developers - it will be retained for community use. That's the promise from local MP and State Treasurer Mike Baird.
And the community will have a say on the future of the 7 hectare, hilltop site.
The Manly Hospital Community Advisory Group has been set up to facilitate community discussion, with group member Denise Keen kicking off the consultation process at recent local resident precinct meetings.
Speaking at Little Manly precinct meeting this week Ms Keen said that while nothing has been ruled in, some things have definitely been ruled out.
"We have no preconceived ideas about what happens on the Manly Hospital site," Ms Keen said.
"But there will not be a hospital or a trauma centre on the site. That's not going to happen. And we are not selling it off to developers."
She said ideas put forward so far include mental health facilities, a wellbeing centre, a rehabilitation centre, affordable housing, aged care facilities and a centre for terminally-ill children currently being cared for at Bear Cottage, but who are obliged to leave once they turn 18.
Suggestions from the precinct meeting included moving the Royal Far West Children's Home up to the hospital site, and handing hospital land between the cliff line and Collins Beach back to the National Parks and Wildlife Service.
Other options include attracting innovation to the site, particularly information technology, or a village-style development with restaurants and cafes. All the buildings on the site, except those with heritage listing, are slated for demolition, meaning purpose-built facilities can be built once the site's future has been resolved.
Local member Mike Baird has said he favours, but is not committed to, building aged care facilities, and disability service provider Sunnyfield has already expressed interest in the site. The advisory group, which had its first meeting late last year, aims to engage the broad Manly community in the discussion and identify two or three options to put before the state government.
The group is chaired by Kathryn Ridge of Ridge legal. Members include representatives from Manly Council, Manly Community Centre, Salvation Army, HEAL Northern Beaches, Manly Hospital Auxiliary, Just Better Care and Manly Chamber of Commerce, as well as Manly MP Mike Baird and community members Judith Burgess, Anne Lanham, Robert McKenzie and Denise Keen.
The Little Manly precinct meeting also discussed the Northern Beaches Hospital redevelopment project after hearing speakers for and against the project.
The new Level 5 hospital is progressing at the Frenchs Forest site, despite ongoing concerns about traffic congestion and the destruction of rare bushland and vital wildlife corridors.
Dr Michele Franks, Director of Emergency Medicine at Manly Hospital and Clinician Lead on the Northern Beaches Redevelopment Project said there was no doubt the Northern Beaches needed a new high-level hospital.
She said the current set up of two small hospitals - one here at Manly, the other at Mona Vale - meant medical services were split up and complex treatments were not able to be provided. She said the new Northern Beaches Hospital would have a total of 420 beds, of which at least 250 would be public - a big increase from the present situation of Manly and Mona Vale providing a total of 250 beds, of which 170 are public.
Responding to community concerns about the lack of emergency medical facilities in Manly after 2018, Mr Baird has suggested a 24-hour GP clinic at Queenscliff, which would at least provide treatment for minor illnesses and injuries.
More information about the Manly Hospital site and the advisory group is at mikebaird.com.au/mhcag Residents can email the group via email@example.com
Concerns about the scale, cost and design of the proposal have been expressed by community groups, including Manly precincts (resdients' groups) and the Northern Beaches Breakers Water Polo Club, which trains at the pool.
Manly precints' joint meeting last month described the swim centre plan as "not addressing community needs". The meeting asked the council to consider other options "with a view to deciding on a less expensive and more appealing swim centre".
The Manly Access Committee, which considers the needs of people with disabilities, and the Breakers club, which missed out on a dedicated water polo pool, also want the plans reviewed.
Cr Bingham said the Swim Centre proposal had been rushed through with minimal time for consultation. She said the new building would not interact in any way with the adjacent reserve, there was an "unbelievable" lack of change room facilities and that the proposal for five swim pools was excessive.
Cr Bingham said she believed that the main driver for the rush was the council's eagerness to lock in a special state government loan. But the hurry was not necessary as State Treasurer and local MP Mike Baird had confirmed that access to the loan would be maintained even if the pool DA was delayed.
In 2012 Manly Council secured a state government-funded bank interest subsidy for its planned upgrade of the Andrew "Boy" Charlton Swim Centre. The Local Infrastructure Renewal Scheme grant will save the council about $3.5 million in interest, as the state government will pay the first 4 per cent interest on a $15 million loan for 10 years.
As more information becomes available on the proposed redevelopment of the Royal Far West site opposite Manly Beach at South Steyne, the local community is becoming alarmed by the bulk and size of the proposed $229m development on this iconic site. A new group called Save Manly Village, has been formed to fight what has become the largest development proposal in Manly for 20 years.
The plans include:
• 9 storey hotel building towering over Manly’s iconic beach
• 8 storey building overshadowing the Manly Village Public School and dominating Rialto Square in Wentworth St.
• Complex of shops, restaurants, apartments and a 165 room hotel
* A new facility for the Royal Far West (which represents less than 30% of the total floor area of the site)
While locals stress they are not against the Royal Far West, nor the wonderful work they do, there is a sense of betrayal. The excessive commercial development plans, which were lodged without any consultation with the community nor Manly Council, are completely out of context for this site which is bounded by South Steyne, Wentworth Street and Victoria Ave.
While there is general agreement that the buildings owned by the Royal Far West are in need of replacement, (except for historic Drummond House which is to be retained), questions are being asked as to why the NSW government has agreed to two parcels of Department of Education land within the site, to be incorporated into the development with no apparent negotiation made to provide additional space for the Manly Village School next door. The school, which is busting at the seams, has grown from 200 pupils to more than 600 students in recent times and this is expected to continue to grow.
The development has been lodged as a Part A Application with the Department of Planning and a decision is expected to be made by the Planning Assessment Commission in February 2013.
In the meantime, locals are being encouraged to lodge their concerns by:
· Writing to Brad Hazzard, Minister for Planning - firstname.lastname@example.org
· Writing to our Local Member, Mike Baird - email@example.com
· Writing to the Manly Daily – firstname.lastname@example.org
· Letting others know how Manly is under threat
· 'Liking' the Save Manly Village Facebook page - www.facebook.com/savemanlyvillage
A public meeting will be called by the Planning Assessment Commission. Date to be advised but expected to be in February 2013.
Treasurer Mike Baird, our local member, has come through with some solid funding for projects relevant to the Northern Beaches in the State budget released yesterday. These include:
Candy Bingham, Manly Ward Councillor on Northern Beaches Council. Background in marketing, public relations and community engagement. Author of five business books. Former Lady Mayoress of Sydney. Aka Candy Tymson.