When I first heard about Mike Baird’s plan to amalgamate and improve NSW councils, I was vaguely interested and largely non-committal. Just like everyone else. But then the new year started and, in a transparent attempt at stealth, the proposed configuration for the amalgamation of councils in the Manly/Warringah area was pushed out in the traditional “taking out the trash” period of the holidays. On Twelfth Night, in fact.
If the proposers of the plan were hoping that this would help it slip under the radar, they couldn’t have been more wrong. The people of Warringah were not only paying attention – they were paying close attention. They read those parts of the KPMG report that were grudgingly drip fed to the public. And the Dollery report. And the IPART Assessment. And they’ve come to a conclusion that I wholeheartedly agree with. The splitting of Warringah LGA and the absorption of Mosman make no sense whatsoever.
Most of the people I’ve spoken to have declaimed bitterly about this being some sort of Liberal Party gaming – a way to ensure that local government is locked in for Liberal aligned Councillors. Now, the law teaches us that it’s very difficult to prove either collusion or coercion, so all I’ll say about that particular theory is that it seems to fit the facts. But one thing that is absolutely unequivocal is the opposition of the people of Warringah to this form of the scheme.
The first public meeting I went to was in North Curl Curl. It was a Friday night, the weather was atrocious and the hall was basically a sauna. And more than 200 people were there. Last night, I was at the Forestville RSL, where a conservative estimate for attendance would be 600 people. Some 200 attendees were forced to stand outside, which meant that part of the address ended up being al fresco. At the conclusion of the meeting, a unanimous vote was carried in favour of one Northern Beaches Council and against the splitting of Warringah LGA and the assorted silliness that goes with that.
There is only one conclusion that can be formed. The people of Warringah do not want the amalgamation in its current form. This has been made resoundingly, abundantly clear. So now we have a perfect test for the reigning political elites. Do they actually listen to the people? Are the wishes of the people who voted them in their most important consideration? Only time will tell.
One thing I can immediately say, however, is that if I were the Federal MP for Warringah, I would still be at these meetings, and still backing the will of the people of Warringah. As I understand it, that would be my job.
Every month, my team and I head on down to a few of the local pubs and invite members of the community to come down and tell us what they want for Warringah and from their Federal MP.
The last couple of times we did this, it was a highly rewarding experience. Supporters and members of the local community came down and we had a great discussion about what we saw as the key issues for the people of Warringah.
It’s no secret that house prices in our electorate are significantly above the national average. Leaving aside the direct long term effects of having a wildly over-priced housing market, it was pointed out that there are many ripple effects that have a direct impact on quality of life. We want to look at ways to try to protect private housing from the increasing commodification of the market. We firmly believe that it’s possible to do this while also protecting the investments of those who have already purchased property. There must be a middle way.
It’s becoming abundantly clear that current provisions for childcare for working parents are simply not working. It cannot possibly be that difficult to create a fair, equitable and effective system for the provision/subsidy of childcare. If we want greater participation in the workplace, as well as higher birth rates, then we have to do better in this area. We’d like to talk to people about their experience with pre-existing models for childcare and daycare to help us form ideas for a new model, and to evaluate existing and proposed models.
This is a no-brainer really. As a beaches resident, I share the deep-rooted, practically Pavlovian impulse to protect our natural environment, both at a local and a national level. I’m becoming increasingly concerned about the fragmentation and politicization of environmental protection and conservation programs. We want to talk to people about their experiences with environmental protection – how it affects their lives for better or for worse, and what locals see as environmental priorities for Warringah.
Warringah has always been a unique and independent part of Sydney. With its own distinct culture and environment, our sunny beaches, verdant northern reaches and wide open spaces have been reflected in our values of generosity, openness and optimism.
We believe that the majority of the people of Warringah want to be part of a country that is compassionate, inclusive and truly democratic. We believe that the people of Warringah are far more interested in the sensible and efficient running of the nation than they are in being sold a political ideology. We believe that the people of Warringah want a member who understands that our vision of the future is driven by aspiration rather than anxiety, and common sense rather than fear.
Party politics has overtaken these ideas, leaving the community behind. What matters to us has essentially been hijacked by an agenda that is determined without real reference to our community. I want to be an independent voice for Warringah at a Federal level. The people of Warringah deserve a member who will focus on the issues that matter to them, from transport to housing affordability to childcare, amongst others.
I want to implement a sensible, non-partisan approach that works in the best interests of the people who actually live in this community. I firmly believe that policy makers should be embedded in same world as those for whom they are making policy.