SSEC logo Sutherland Shire Environment Centre  

Committee & Campaign Reports - 2000

During the last 12 months the Centre continues to reinforce its growing reputation as one of the most active local environment centres in Australia. With the support of its expert convenors, the Centre has participated in a broad range of issues and campaigns

A sustainable environment for the Shire and its bioregion

by Miriam Verbeek

Sustainable development is the recognition that environment and development are integrated. There is no possibility of having sustained economic growth without sustained environmental care. There is no possibility of having sustained social welfare without sustained economic and environmental development.

These principles are so well known they are enshrined in legislation. ESD (Ecologically sustained development) is in the pre-amble of almost every document attempting to deal with general social welfare issues today, whether they be DCPs, LEPs, State legislation or Federal legislation.

While we say the words, we are still having problems implementing the meaning. We still, at every level in the community, believe that looking after the three tiers of ESD is about tradeoffs, rather than about thinking through how best to achieve our aims and make very few tradeoffs – win-wins, rather than win-lose.

In Australia, as in so many developed nations, we are masters of wasteful practices. We overproduce almost every item – from food to toys – and have convinced ourselves that economic growth and social welfare is about consumption. Marketing and getting us to “turn around” goods is therefore all important. The enormous rubbish tips littering our urban dwelling, vacant city housing and factories, and huge homes for a few inhabitants and their possessions testify to our success at such a strategy.

Unfortunately, the increasing number of homeless and those on welfare, the increasing number of people in prison and rates of suicide, the decrease in the integrity of our environment is also testimony of our success at the unsustainable strategy of consumption.

Sustainability means thinking smarter. It means thinking how we can reduce waste to achieve the social welfare outcomes we want. It means not compromising the environment to achieve social welfare outcomes. It means recognising that there is no long term gain in ignoring or making a dominant consideration on any one of the three factors that make up ESD.

At the Sutherland Shire Environment Centre, we attempt to implement the principle of ESD in each of the decisions, actions and campaigns that we sponsor or promote. It is a fundamental we are happy to work with others to achieve. We are pleased to say that we have been working together with Sutherland Shire Council to implement its Agenda 21 issues and hope that the coming year will see our partnership on sustainability issues strengthen.

We also hope, in the Centre, to increase our own voice in the community on thinking “sustainably”. Our plan is to hold seminars and partner with groups to spread the message...
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Report on the Millennium Forum

by Miriam Verbeek

Impressive affair with 1400 delegates from over 1000 non-government organisations and civil society from more than 100 countries.

The aim of the forum was to come to some agreed statement from these organisations to the heads of state in their meeting in August September this year.

The main argument was that in many human welfare and environment issues around the world at present, non-governmentorganisations have taken the major running. They have highlighted where significant problems are occurring and governments around the world agree with the Brundtland Report observation that non-government organisations are more efficient at using resources to solve major problems in, especially, developed countries.

With governments around the world becoming “smaller” and with trends to globalisation increasing, which is weakening the power of nations, the important trans-national role of non-government organisations will increase. Non-government organisations, therefore, believe they should be given a greater, and more participatory role in formal decision-making bodies: such as the UN, WTO, IMF.
The UN itself supports the increased role of NGO’s and were, therefore, willing to support the forum.

More relevantly to Sutherland Council, you may be interested to know that Agenda 21 is taken very seriously by NGO’s. The role of local government is seen as extremely important and in terms of the debate on a sustainable future for the planet, is seen to take a central role.

One contact we made at the Forum is head of an program called NorthSeaNet. This program is aimed at developing common indicators and criteria in spatial planning and the development of the built environment. The project is expected to contribute in pragmatic and practical ways to the development of new areas of professional expertise in environmentally responsible spatial planning and new skills in communication technologies. The aim of the project is to influence the development of the built environment so as to promote sustainability. It intends to tackle important issues such as modalities of spatial distribution of land use and their densities, the implementation of sustainability at various contexts and the planning of networks of infrastructural linkages between them. It will also tackle important issues such as transport, the relation between mobility and the spatial distribution of land uses and their densities, the implementation of sustainability measures in various contexts and the planning of networks and the infrastructure links between them. It seemed to us that being involved with this program would be extremely worthwhile, not only for Sutherland Shire Council but for other local governments.

The promoters of this program are more than willing to come to Australia and talk about the program and to promote it. We thought we could motivate a conference on this issue with the program as a central feature. No doubt, there will be others who can be involved in putting forward their ideas expediting decision-making regarding sustainability issues in our built environment. We thought we’d raise it with you now and get your reaction. We will be taking this issue further to other levels of the local government association as well.
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Some economic growth can be good, much is bad

by Gordon Hocking

It is generally accepted that economic growth is good. But this statement needs qualification. Economic growth is considered to have taken place if the total value of goods and services purchased in an economy increases over the course of a year. However, only the monetary value is measured and because the well-being value goes unaccounted for, it’s possible to have bad economic growth instead of good economic growth.

If hundreds of cars smash into each other on icy roads during a cold snap, the resulting damage generates economic growth. Similarly, an oil spill inside Sydney harbour would generate economic growth. Clearly, these are examples of bad economic growth.

Less obvious sources of bad economic growth are: sound-proofing required to keep out increased traffic noise; fuel consumed during traffic jams; health care given to asthma sufferers living in air-polluted cities; accountancy services aimed at minimising taxation; gambling; extra police and prisons required to cope with a dysfunctional society...

Then there is another type of economic growth, neither good nor bad. This occurs when we employ someone to do things that we used to do ourselves: preparing meals; mowing lawns; washing the dog; minding the children...

We can all think of many other types of economic growth that cannot unreservedly be said to be good. The point to make here is that unless we are measuring well-being, then merely measuring economic growth (without separating the good, bad and the neutral) is fairly meaningless. And probably very misleading.

A growing literature on Green Economics points out that in a largely unregulated market, decisions about which sectors of the economy expand are made by corporations who act in their own interests without any requirement to consider the public good. Because all economic activity is added to the Gross Domestic Product and is given a tick as a benefit, many environmental or social costs ludicrously appear as benefits in the National accounts.

Environmental and natural capital decline caused by economic growth — like forest depletion, soil erosion and salinisation, air and water pollution, global warming and reduction in fossil fuel reserves — are not deducted.

No business-person would accept annual accounts which did not include a value for opening and closing stock. The Taxation Department would not be too thrilled either. Yet, we place no value on our common stock of natural capital. Healthy soils, forests, wetlands and rivers are necessary for our survival — for our well-being — but economic growth can, and does, degrade them while we foolishly consider that we are making progress.
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Nuclear Report

by Michael Priceman

The last twelve months has felt like being strapped to a railway line and hearing the train thundering in the distance. But, ever optimistic, we know that rescue will come at the last minute and we will be able to get back to normal life. So what has been happening?

ARPANSA approved a licence for the Lucas Heights site for a new reactor. Predictably it had ‘conditions’ attached but the approval, like the EIS, was inevitable – government departments rarely deny a project to another member of the family. ARPANSA is responsible to the Minister of Health, Environment Australia to the Minister for the Environment and ANSTO to the Minister for Science – all members of the Cabinet that approved the project.

Severe criticism of ARPANSA’s performance over its 15-month life from peak environment groups (and SSEC) caused it concern as to its perceived integrity. It delayed the licensing process for the ANSTO activities that have been unlicensed for the past 42 years, asking for further details before proceeding. It also wants to hold a meeting(s) aimed at improving its communications with the public. (A copy of our assessment is available on request.)

The Community Right to Know Charter fails to eventuate. The negotiations between ANSTO and community representatives that began in November 1994 finally collapsed in May 2000. After mediation by Mr John Woodward it was declared that, due to ANSTO’s unwillingness to provide information outside the Freedom of Information Acts the negotiations be called off. It is now up to the Minister for the Environment, Senator Hill to intervene as it was a condition of his approval of the EIS that a charter be finalised.

Sutherland Shire Council has called for an independent, preferably Royal, commission of inquiry into those aspects of the approvals, contracts etc. that are contentious or secret. A large rally was held at Menai in March to support this action. The Council Reactor Task Force has worked mightily to prevent the project going ahead. SSEC and PANR attend all the meetings to give a community perspective.

The surprise winning tender came from INVAP of Argentina. As it has no experience of building a reactor in any advanced country the choice came as a surprise (although a local shopkeeper told us that it was certain several months ago). Its competitors were from Germany, France and Canada. Was it the cheapest offer? Who knows, it is a State Secret. It is deemed to be ‘not in the National Interest’ to release its content.

The contract, for around $320 million, was signed in June without anyone seeing a technical specification. That will arrive next year after it is designed. The signing of such a contract shows a degree of faith of biblical proportions. The specification will be subjected to a provisional safety assessment followed by a (thorough?) examination by ARPANSA. Then, early in 2002, ANSTO will be asked to apply for a licence to start construction. It should be stressed that the Project is only half way round the track and although the other competitors are heavily handicapped, the race ain’t over yet!

With outstanding help from the members of People Against a Nuclear Reactor (PANR) who have worked tirelessly since September 1997 we believe that we have achieved a lot. Jim mentioned that when he attended the Ambassador’s reception in New York, the SSEC was known due to its activities on the reactor. It gave us a warm and glowing feeling for a few minutes and then we got back to work.

We still need more volunteers to man (person) the nuclear desk. We guarantee lots of work, plenty to read and people to annoy. Please give us a ring. For more details contact Michael Priceman Telephone 9520 3115, Email:
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Kurnell Report

by Simon Kimberley

The year 2000 marked the 230th anniversary of Captain Cook’s landing at Kurnell. This 230th year was again characterised by both positives and concerns for the Peninsula and the Centre retained an active role.

The anniversary of Cook’s landing was celebrated in April at Kurnell’s annual festival. Apart from the now traditional formal ceremony in Botany Bay National Park, another significant event took place in the Kurnell Guides Hall on Saturday 29th. This was the launch of the new book “Kurnell – Birthplace of Modern Australia, a Pictorial History” which was the culmination of many months work by local historian Daphne Salt. The Centre’s role in this project was to construct a supplementary Kurnell history website ( which was launched in conjunction with the book. The website component was supported by a grant from the NSW Heritage Office and took about 9 months to complete. In the next few months we will be adding other comprehensive information about Kurnell to this new website to compliment the history section. If you take into consideration the Centre’s existing TOWRA-Net website, by year’s end we will have completed an extensive on-line collection of information on the Kurnell Peninsula.

In 2000, the Centre also continued its active participation with other groups in the Kurnell Regional Environment Planning Council (KREPC). KREPC again met at monthly and quarterly intervals aiming to promote a sound future for the natural environment and cultural heritage of the Peninsula. KREPC has been active in, among other things, contributing submissions to: development applications, the Healthy Rivers Commission of Inquiry, and Draft Plans of Management for Towra Point Nature Reserve and Botany Bay National Park. It has also actively participated in discussions over the RTA’s wetland proposal, the Refinery’s Reference Group, and Sydney Water’s Sewage Treatment Plant upgrade.

This year KREPC has also examined the complexity and fragmentation of issues and problems on the Peninsula in an attempt to identify priorities for rehabilitation. To this end the Centre, on behalf of KREPC, lodged a grant application with the NSW Environmental Trust for funding to compile an independent community-based strategic plan for the Peninsula, and to appoint a “Kurnell Peninsula Manager”. The outcome of this application will be known by December.

Sutherland Shire Council moves on the Peninsula this year have included a vote in February to reject Australand’s proposal to construct 500 dwellings on their former sandmining site, a concurrent rezoning of all sandmining sites to open space (private recreation) and establishment of a Kurnell Working Party to examine the legalities of sandmining.

However last month, in a startling announcement, the State Government moved to ‘strip’ Council of their power as consent authority for the Australand proposal, and to announce its intention to institute its own rezoning to facilitate residential development. There was a degree of concern over the announcement given that no prior consultation had taken place with either the community or Council. So, as a result of this State Government intervention we will enter 2001 with some uncertainty as to future planning on the Kurnell Peninsula.

To conclude on a brighter note, 2000 also saw the completion of the Centre’s rainforest restoration project at Towra. Many thanks to Coastcare, Chris Brogan and NPWS for their assistance over the past 2 years.
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Hacking River Report

by Tim Tapsell

The 99/00 period continued with issues common to both the Port Hacking Management Panel and the catchment management committee.

At the Panel, convened by Sutherland Shire Council, we progressed the now obvious view that the steadily growing use of the port and its catchment exacerbated its problems and therefore better management is required to preserve its value as a natural, educational, scientific and recreational resource.

The Centre will continue to press for the integrated management of the Port. We insist that sewage from vessels should not be discharged into the Port. We support the provision of pump out facilities on the shore. We carefully considered and opposed the regressive development proposals such as the Yowie Bay marine extension that intruded into the centre of a bay already congested with boat parking. Residents viewed the congestion as an eyesore, a restriction of waterway use and would worsen motor vehicle traffic and parking difficulties.

The Panel gives a lot of consideration to the impact on aquatic life especially sea grasses. The Panel also considered initiatives by Sutherland Shire Council to monitor the foreshore and skyline with photographic records. This visual survey is showing that the urban shore of the Hacking is losing its tree canopy and its natural vegetative character. Its being lost to larger buildings whether they be single dwellings, townhouses or dual occupancies. Only more strict controls will remedy this situation as demonstrated in the Pittwater region.

The Hacking River Catchment Management Committee continued to evaluate and recommend projects to receive grants for ongoing environmental achievements. The Committee especially commends the work of landcare groups which are flourishing in the region. The Committee also recommends that operation of the Helensburgh coal mine makes annual contributions to a site rehabilitation fund in preparation for its eventual and inevitable closure. The State Government ignored this request despite the instalment value being minimal over a 20 year period. Some improvements to the management of the mine’s pollution controls we now required and have yet to be put to the test under extreme weather conditions.

No structural change has been made to pollution controls however so it is feared that the mine will continue to be a potential source of gross pollution for as long as untalented politicians play the jobs versus environment ransom. Here the environment always suffers, where solutions could have been sought for issues that need not have been pitched into conflict with one another.

In April this year the Catchment Management Committees were disbanded in favour of wider ranging Catchment Management Boards. The Final meetings of the Committee was to wind up its operations for a smooth hand over to the new Board. The Catchment Management Board will operate at a different level and it anticipated that it will have a greater integration of management through the Government departments. The Board is broadly represented with members from farming, business, councils, State Government, the Aboriginal community and environmental organisations. The Board welcomes input from the community at any time, and will request comment on its draft management recommendations. As the committee ceased operations the State Government ratified the Royal National Park (RNP), Heathcote National Park and Garrawarra State Recreation Area Plan of Management after many years of deliberation. Already opponents of the Royal National Park in the State Government are working to undermine that plan through the invasion of inappropriate development within the Park. The Bonnie Vale boat ramp is one example. This is an amenity that the Council is responsible for and National Park land should not be provided for it. Boat ramp supporters in complete ignorance of the Park’s values, believe that RNP should be stripped of its historical “National Park” status and divided into areas of different use.

The Board has now had its inaugural sessions and on it the Centre’s representative will continue to uphold the protection of the region’s natural, historical, recreational and scientific values. We will continue to target ecological sustainability in order to conserve those resources. We welcome greater involvement of indigenous Australians and will pay particular attention to water quality and endangered species as they are crucial to preservation of valuable resources.
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PUBS (Preservation of Urban Bushlands)

by Miriam Verbeek

My last report to the AGM re PUBS was a positive one with plans to map remnant vegetation in the Sutherland Shire, a policy to be proactive in retaining Shire’s vegetation and a commitment to work together with other stakeholders to advance the aims of PUBS.

The mapping, program, unfortunately, has not progressed. Partly because of an excess of commitments to other priority projects within the Centre’s office, partly because Council itself is moving to establish its Greenweb program and is carrying out that mapping exercise. We are hoping to have good access to Council’s data on urban vegetation, hoping too that we will find the resources to be able to advance our own aims for a good database.

The matter at Menai, where there has been a disagreement between Sutherland Shire Council and residents, with the Centre support, regarding the siting of an indoor sporting complex on bushland at Allison Crescent, has consumed much energy throughout the year. The Centre involved the Environmental Defender’s Officer and obtained Legal Aid to oppose Council in the Land and Environment Court on the matter if necessary. At the eleventh hour, Council surrendered its DA to build the indoor sporting complex on the site. The Council, however, has publicised its intention to resubmit the DA. The Centre and the community have been discussing the future of the indoor sporting complex and the future of the bushland at Menai. Regardless of the outcome of these discussions, we sincerely hope that in the very near future, the bushland will have a protective fence built around it and that rubbish will be cleared.

We are also looking at ways of saving remnant bushland in Sylvania. Unlike the Menai bushland, that in Sylvania is privately owned, with the developer looking to safeguard potential profits. The Centre is keen to ensure that such profits are not at the expense of reduced public amenity for current residents and future generations. In dollar terms, this means that housing prices in general do not reduce because of proximity to poorly planned medium density development, and the environment in general does degrade in ways that will require remedial works in future that will need to be funded by the public purse.

Many areas throughout the Shire have ongoing and bubbling concerns regarding community-Council-developer disputes over remnant bushland and overdevelopment. Where residents take an active interest and are prepared to carry the campaign, the Centre has consistently sought to provide whatever help it can.

What has become abundantly clear throughout this year is that there is a place for an independent and effective PUBS. The hope for the coming year is that the organisation can become more proactive and less reactive
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Southern Sydney Catchment Management Board

by Miriam Verbeek

The Minister for Land and Water Conservation dissolved Catchment Management Committees at the end of last year and established Catchment Management Boards. There are some 19 Catchment Management Boards throughout NSW. Sutherland Shire is split between two boards, with the Hacking River catchment part of the Southern Catchment Management Board, and the Georges River catchment part of the Southern Sydney Catchment Management Board (SSCMB), under the chairmanship of Bernie Clarke.

The SSCMB takes in the Georges River catchment, the Cooks River catchment and Botany Bay.

I have been appointed to that Southern Sydney Catchment Management Board as one of two environmental representatives. The Board’s task is to identify five top priority issues for the government to address. The Minister expects the Board to report on these five issues and make recommendations as to how they might be addressed. The Boards have twelve months within which to make these recommendations.

The Southern Sydney Catchment Management Board has now had two preliminary meetings to plan how such a task might be accomplished. As a first step, Board members must become familiar with and sort the enormous amount of data on the catchments – so far 800 Acts, surveys, maps and documents have been identified which are relevant to the task. A second step will be to ensure that in this plethora of data no information has been missed and that the communities in these catchments have been involved in the process of deciding on priorities.
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NPWS Advisory Committee

by Miriam Verbeek

Another Ministerial appointment has been to the NPWS Sydney South Regional Advisory Committee. The role of this committee is to advise the District Manager, the Director-General and the Advisory Council on measures to improve the care, control and management of the Southern NSPW Region. This committee has only met twice, with the first meeting simply an introductory one. The second meeting considered a range of issues occurring in Reserves and National Parks in the regions, such as feral animal control, horse riding, impacts of the Olympics, park use fees and complaints from the community.
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Environmental Education

by Phil Smith

SSEC Environmental Education Strategy. This year the Centre reviewed its environmental education strategy and started a process for expanding the current outreach programs.

This process began with Centre staff and volunteers, Ruth Zeibots, Joanna Lamont, Judy Illes and Jim Sloan doing a course at the St George Community College in Certificate IV Assessment and Workplace Training. This course has helped in the putting together the first of many community-trainer packs to being developed around regional environmental issues. The trainer packs outlining community sustainability, stormwater and green living are well under way.

It is the intention of this strategy to develop trainer packs for professional environmental educators that will be suitable for a variety of venues, from seminars and workshops (1hr to all-day), courses at local TAFE’s or community colleges, local primary and high schools to talks delivered to neighbourhood networks or clubs and business groups.

The Centre will be looking for opportunities to network with regional, national and international bodies with the similar agendas. To this end, the Centre sent Miriam Verbeek and Jim Sloan to the United Nations in New York for a look at global issues and their potential implications locally.

Also Jim Sloan recently joined the steering committee of a group of Sydney-based environmental educators brought together by the NSW EPA and Sydney Water. It is the intention of this group to work together in developing a Sydney-wide directory of qualified environmental educators. All opportunities to work with others and avoid duplication of materials will be acted on.

Greenspeak. Former NSW Premier, Bob Askin, viciously attacked the Builders' Labourers Federation leaders as 'vermin' at a time when its key figure, Jack Mundey, took a radical stance against the destructive onslaught of unfettered development and the growth of the 'concrete jungle' by using 'green bans' (a term he coined). In this issue, James Lambert, editor of The Macquarie Book of Slang, looks at the origin of two other terms that echo Askin's sentiments towards people in our society who struggle for a reconceptualisation of the way we do our economic, social and environmental business.

Greenies and Ferals. It is not often that a word originating in Australia becomes a word of international/global English, but this is the case of the word greenie. Nowadays associated with eco-activism around the world, it is a classic example of traditional Aussie colloquial word formation – that is, [word] + -ie. Just like brickie (brick layer), truckie (truck driver), etc. Back the in early 1970s Australian workers started instituting green bans. Supporters of such bans were quickly labelled greenies! It dates back to at least 1973.

A newer arrival on the eco-scene is feral. From the Latin fera wild beast, it was originally (17thC) applied to domesticated animals that have reverted to a wild state – today an important topic for biologists, ecologists and animal rights activists. Some greenies take the philosophy of living with nature to such an extreme degree they dispense with nearly all of the man-made accoutrements of modern living. Such people are known in Australia as ferals, for they are almost living in the wild state of early humanity! As far as I know, and going on non-Australian dictionaries, this term has yet to gain the international popularity of greenie. It dates back to the mid-1990s.
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by John Cox

I would like to thank those members who voted me onto the Management Committee of the Centre for the 1999-2000 term. For me it has been both a gratifying and disappointing period.

I was most grateful for the opportunity to continuing to contribute to the Botany Bay Ferry Task Force and the Kurnell Tourism Working Party. Funding from Sutherland and Randwick Councils and The Sydney Airport Corporation enabled the commissioning of a Consultants investigation and feasibility report for the re-establishment of the La Perouse to Kurnell service discontinued in 1974. As the situation stands, the re-establishment of the service will cater for tourists and commuters.

The prime tourism objective is to extend to the Shire the eco-tourism walk that currently exists as The Coastal Heritage Walk through Woollahra, Waverly and Randwick Local Government Areas only to terminate at La Perouse.

The re-established ferry service would allow the coastal walk to extend to KurneIl, Cronulla and the Royal National Park. The concept extends to elimination of the missing link which is Sutherland Shire in the provision of a connection between the Coastal Heritage Walk and the Illawarra Escarpment Walk to the far South Coast, Two Rivers Walk, the Shoalhaven to the Clyde.

The re-establishment of the ferry service is seen as vital to that tourism opportunity which has now been embraced and adopted as a Regional Project for the Southern Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils. Rockdale proposes linkage to its proposed re-establishment of the Brighton Pier which understood not to have had any commercial vessels moored to the original pier since the Erina in 1937.

There is a whole Georges River waterway transport history possibly able to be revived. It is possible to envisage services up and down the River between Botany Bay and Liverpool via Lake Chipping Norton. One services recommended was a possible Airport to Airport Bankstown to Sydney service. My own objective is a service between Botany Bay and Como Pleasure Grounds using an historic shuttle bus service up the length of the rail corridor to Sutherland's Steam Tram Stop mid a Tourism information Centre at the gateway-to the Shire's National Park System, The Royal The Georges via The Woronora Valley and Heathcote via the Woronora Valley.

Many thanks go the fellow participants, namely Margo Lagos, CEO Sutherland Shire Tourism Association, Ken Finn former Mayor Randwick, Terry McGuinness Randwick Tourism Officer, Members of the La Perouse Aboriginal Land Development Corporation, including Merv Reynolds who was directly responsible for my involvement, Chris Downy, Sydney Airport Corporation, National Parks and Wildlife Service, Noah Nielsen Sutherland Shire Tourism, Mike Fursland, Councillors Kevin Schreiber and Ken McDonnell, Sutherland Shire Council and of course the Centre who I represented over the last 12 months.

More recently of course we had the introduction of the experimental Solar Powered ferry to Sydney. Thanks to Dr Robert Dane and his team at 'Solar Sailor' who provided the demonstration on Botany Bay last month. This boat has special qualities suited to Botany Bay. It can operate in all wave climates within the Bay and has about I’m less draught than a conventional ferry hull, enabling it to operate in shallow water near valuable sea grass beds.
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EMRAA Report

by Lyn McLean

While each years since EMRAA’s inception in early 1996, we have boasted of its activity, no year has been more hectic, demanding or rewarding than the past twelve months.

In a year of opportunities, one of the most exciting was my involvement in the Mullumbimby DC powerline dispute. In February I was flown to that delightful community for an interview with A Current Affair. The following month, I was sponsored by Byron Shire Council to address a public meeting in Mullumbimby about the potential health effects of the line. In the course of that exercise, I was able to provide relevant information about health effects to the scientist representing ARPANSA.

Since December 1999 I have been the Deputy Chair of a committee establishing a new Code of Practice on the siting of telecommunications infrastructure, which includes mobile phone towers. In the course of many meetings, in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra, a Code has emerged which offers genuine concessions to community concerns (though many would say, not enough) and which is being watched with great interest by international corporate and industry interests.

Since March this year our Convenor, John Lincoln, has been involved in an ARPANSA committee establishing a new standard for radiofrequency radiation. As result of his input, the committee is now considering studies that show health effects from very low levels of exposure.

Also in March a Senate Inquiry on EMR commenced, to which EMRAA contributed a lengthy written submission and we anticipate providing oral evidence for the Senate Committee in the next month or so.

In April, I organised a study to assess the effectiveness of a device claimed to reduce radiation from a mobile phone. Twenty volunteers were exposed to radiation from a mobile phone with and without the device. Though the tests did not find the device to be effective in reducing exposure, it did find that the exposure significantly impacted the endocrine (hormonal) systems of the volunteers - an important and unexpected result. At present, exploration of the results is continuing with the aim of producing a journal article.

Throughout the year EMRAA has provided a wealth of information to the public. Our quarterly newsletter has gained wider distribution, with the addition of recent overseas subscribers. We have written articles for “Sydney’s Child” and “Melbourne’s Child” and the newsletter of the natural health society. We have written facts sheets currently being distributed to occupational health and safety officers by the ACTU, to councils and community groups in Victoria by the VLGA and to councils throughout Australia by the ALGA. We have provided a number of radio and television interviews and addressed quite a number of public meetings. More people are accessing our web page, requesting information by email and phone and commissioning John to provide EMR surveys of homes and offices.
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