History of Headland Preservation Group
In October 2013 it was deja vu all over again for Linda Bergin OAM and Julie Goodsir (her husband Don Goodsir OAM died of cancer in 2010). Linda, Don and other concerned residents founded the Headland Preservation Group in 1996 to campaign against proposed private residential development of public land on Sydney Harbour’s historic Middle Head and other former Defence sites on Sydney Harbour.
The Sydney Harbour Federation Trust was formed in 2001 by an Act of Federal Parliament to manage the former Defence sites following the Headland Preservation Group’s successful campaign to protect them “for everyone, forever”.
The Headland Preservation Group (HPG) was originally established in 1996 by the community in response to the proposed residential development of former Department of Defence sites on Sydney Harbour. The sites included Georges Heights, Middle Head, Chowder Bay, North Head and Cockatoo Island.
“Reactivating HPG allows us to think and plan beyond the Save Middle Head campaign,” Linda Bergin said. “The Harbour Trust is also responsible for North Head, Manly and the Platypus site on Neutral Bay. These sites might also be threatened with private residential development in the way Middle Head now is.”
When it was originally formed in 1996 the Headland Preservation Group publicised the irreversible threat of private residential development on this priceless public land in the late 1990s.
At the time the Member for Warringah, the Hon Tony Abbott, now Prime Minister, took a personal interest in the campaign. The Headland Preservation Group was led by Linda Bergin, Don Goodsir and Dr Peter Jones. Their concerted community campaign generated widespread publicity and support nationally.
NSW Premier, Bob Carr and other environmental luminaries such as Tom Uren, Minister for Urban and Regional Development in the Whitlam Government who established the Australian Heritage Commission and Jack Mundey who led the Green Bans which saved the The Rocks added their political weight to the campaign.
However it was former Prime Minister, John Howard, who in September 1998 stated his vision for the future of priceless public land on Sydney Harbour in establishing an Interim Sydney Harbour Federation Trust:
‘…probably the world’s greatest harbour. It is one of the great natural beauty spots of our nation. It is the cradle of European settlement in Australia and it is one of those parts of our country which gives immense pride and immense pleasure, not only to the residents of Sydney, but also to all Australians because it wins such wide acclaim around the world.’
‘…[the establishment of the Trust] will prevent any ad-hoc treatment of the return of the land to the people and it will ensure that there is maximum weight given to the desire of all Australians that the maximum advantage be derived in open space and recreational purposes in relation to the land.’
Linda Bergin, other members of the Headland Preservation Group and supporters of likeminded community organisations were directly involved in drafting The Sydney Harbour Federation Trust Act legislated by the Australian Government in 2001: www.comlaw.gov.au