Linda Bergin addresses Mosman Council 4 March 2014

Linda Bergin addresses Mosman Council 4 March 2014

Good evening Mosman Council. I am Linda Bergin and the Headland Preservation Group was founded in 1996. Now we are in a position of having to save Middle Head again.

We believe this aged-care is a use which is unlawful under the Sydney Harbour Trust Act and certainly against the vision of John Howard, Tony Abbott and the Trust itself.

This proposal would effectively sell part of our precious world class park to a private company for the exclusive use of a few.

This proposal or a scaled down version should not be allowed on heritage public parkland and especially not on Middle Head, one of our three iconic headlands at the entrance to Sydney Harbour.

Our campaign has run for around four months. We have had three public meetings with between 160 and 200 at each meeting. In spite of being invited to each meeting, the Trust has not sent staff to answer questions.

We have collected over 2,000 signatures and submitted a petition to Parliament.

The National Trust has now presented a submission to the Trust asking them to reject the present application.

We have uncovered numerous errors and misleading statement in the proponents documents.

We have been lobbying the government and have met personally with Senator Birmingham and have taken his advisor for a tour of the site.

We have today sent a letter to all Councillors replying to Geoff Bailey’s letter which was only received at 10:30pm last night. We do not agree with Mr. Bailey’s letter.

I would like to also inform Council that there was a similar proposal before the Western Australian Parliament in 2006. Leader of the Opposition at the time, now Premier Colin Barnett, rejected an Aged Care Home on a large vacated public heritage site on the Swan River in Perth.

On 17 August 2006 in Parliament Colin Barnett said “I do not think a case can be made that Aged Care Facilities should be provided on the site. There are better sites in the western suburbs. Let us not compromise this one last headland on the Swan River. It is our responsibility to preserve that site.”

In the same parliamentary debate Senator Susan Walker said: “What a deal for an Aged Care Provider, a licence to print money on a prime heritage site.” We should follow Western Australia and reject this proposal at Middle Head on public land. Of course we need more Aged Care Facilities on commercial and residential sites but NOT PUBLIC LAND IN A NATIONAL PARK.

Middle Head is loved by all who go there and Middle Head is packed with park-goers now. It tells us about our history as Australians both pre and post European occupation. It has special significance to Aboriginal people.

This proposal should have never seen the light of day. The Trust has erred in taking it to such an advanced stage with barely any community consultation. It is not an acceptable use by the Trust’s own vision and plans. Private residential uses have no place in our national parks and should not be allowed. We would not support a scaled-down version of aged care for all the same reasons as the present one.

I urge you to oppose the present proposal and any subsequent modifications and to support the Motion before Council tonight.

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