Harry Triguboff & Chatswood

This article has been contributed by a reader

Tribuboff2In the Australian Financial Review 24 -27 April,page 9, there was an article sub-headed “Those who bought in yesterday’s down-at-heel suburbs are happy”. Amid other text, it says apartment baron Harry Triguboff built his early projects on sites that sparked some scepticism at the time. Now, looking at the price growth and gentrification in areas such as Ultimo, Pyrmont, and Chatswood, he said he was right to get in while land was cheap. Unit developers often follow hospitals and shopping centres, but Mr. Triguboff boasts that everyone followed him. “Don’t worry about the future, just follow me, that’s where the price growth will be,” he said.
Commentary: I thought the purpose of planning was to have the hospitals and schools in place before the high density repopulation occurred. Now the Planning Department is reforming, it would be interesting for them to check the percentage of Triguboff projects that violated LEP but were approved through other means:- Section 3A, departmental,PAC, or Land &  Environmental Court. Where are the records that show that any of these loophole operators have worked through the planning calculations to see that adequate on-site parking,  sewers, storm drains, child care and schools,  hospital services  etc. are available when Triguboff sells his high density units? Do they bóther to read Council Officers’ Reports recommending refusal?



Rail to River Walk

downloadSome years ago Council decided to develop a walk from Chatswood Station to Fullers Bridge on the Lane Cove River (where it would connect to the Great North Walk and the Lane Cove River Walk). The plan was to route the walk through as much open space as possible.

The upper part of the walk from the station to Swaines Creek follows the track that Charlotte (Chattie) Harnett used to wonder of an afternoon. (Chatswood was named after Chattie).

The bulk of the walk is on public land. However, one small section of the walk needed to transverse a small section of land owned by Chatswood Golf Club. It was assumed that since Council leases land for 3 golf holes to the Club that the Club would agree public access across this small portion of land. Unfortunately, this was not the case.

So, the walk had to be interrupted when it was progressing down the Swaines Creek gully. At Greville Street, the walk is diverted by Fullers Rd and Bellevue St before reentering open space at O.H. Reid Oval.

Council is about to renew the lease of public land to the Golf Club. Council and the Club have recently informed the community that a Memorandum of Understanding granting public access across the small portion of private land would be signed before any lease renewal. However, the lease renewal is going to Council on 27th April 2014. There is no mention of the MOU.

We have asked Clr. Saville to action to ensure that Council and the Club live up to their promises.


Analysis of Mayoral By-election

Mayor Giles-Gidney with former Mayor Bartels

Mayor Giles-Gidney with former Mayor Bartels

At the recent Mayoral by-election, over 45,000 people were enrolled to vote. A mere 31,193 (just under 70%) voted. This is an appalling outcome. In the last Mayoral election in 2012, there was 43,882 entitled to vote.34,759 people voted (80%). Both Council and the State Government need to consider why people are abandoning Local Government.

The result of the election was that Clr. Gail Giles-Gidney was elected Mayor with just 20% of votes of those enrolled and 29% of votes cast (this was as predicted earlier on this site).

It was a close contest. The first preference votes were:

Clr Stuart Coppock 6,259 (20.83%)

Clr Tony Mustaca 6,163 (20.52%)

Clr Gail Giles-Gidney 6,144 (20.45%)

John C. Owen (former General Manager) 5,036 (16.76%)

However, the vote counting system was by optional preferential. That is, voters can decide for themselves if they wish to give a second or subsequent vote to other candidates (as well as their first choice).

To assist this process, candidates can suggest what voters should do via their ‘How to Vote’ card.

The most significant preference recommendation was between Clr Stuart Coppock (Liberal) and Clr Nic Wright (Labour). Strange ‘bedfellows’? However, as often happens, most voters made up their own mind about preferences. Of Nic Wright voters, 56% did not indicate a preference. Coppock only received 23%  of preferences from Wright.

John Owen did not suggest any preferences. 72% of his votes ‘extinguished’ – that is no preference noted. 12% of his preferences were for Giles-Gidney

Mustaca and Giles-Gidney cross-preferenced. Unfortunately for him, Mustaca had less votes than Giles-Gidney before the final distribution of preferences. He was thus eliminated. 24% of Mustaca’s preferences went to Giles-Gidney.

At the end of vote counting, Clr Giles-Gidney (first time candidate) was declared elected with 9,094 votes. Clr Stuart Coppock who has unsuccessfully contested the Mayoral election on two previous occasions was defeated again, securing 8,806 votes.

The actual percentage of preferences lodged is also interesting. For candidates such as Wright and Coppock who suggested preferences the actual preferences granted were 44% for Wright and 39% for Mustaca. For candidates who did not preference (Owen & Norton) the outcome was 28% and 31%. Looks like that if you suggest preferences, more of your voters will indicate a preference.

The popularly-elected Mayoral election needs to be contested again in just over two years time.In previous Mayoral elections voters have traditionally supported the incumbent.

When candidate expenditure details are published, I intend to do a similar analysis.





Financial Transparency?

FinancialTransparencyThe following question has been posed by a local resident. The question will be asked of Council and we will publish any response.

Does WCC provide the following information online and, if not, can this please be made available to rate-payers and the wider audience for the benefit of transparency & accountability−transparency has been promised by some Councillors during the recent Mayoral election:

Distribution of WCC expenses by the four (4) Wards (Middle Harbour, Naremburn, Sailors Bay & West Wards) for about the last 5-10 years and also the forecast/estimated expenses for the next few years for each Ward.

While expenses are available by WCC function/activity area, such as arts and infrastructure, I cannot locate expenses per Ward (in “Operational Plan & Budget 2013/2014”).

If the previously proposed 30% Special Rate Variation was to raise revenue to pay off a $28M infrastructure/maintenance backlog (a proposal which has been cancelled), then can I assume that funding for other WCC functions/activity areas, such as arts & community services, has been adequately maintained? Or does this mean that funding for the latter has been maintained while funding for the former has not?

Council of Mayors



Prompted by the State Governments ‘Amalgamation’ initiatives, Willoughby Council is considering joining a new organisation known as the Northern Metropolitan Council of Mayors. This Council would comprise the Mayors and General Managers of:

  • Hornsby
  • Kur-ing-gai
  • Ryde
  • Willoughby
  • North Sydney
  • Hunters Hill
  • Lane Cove
  • Pittwater
  • Mosman
  • Manly
  • Warringah

The initiative consists of two new organisations – the Council of Mayors plus a Regional Services Group where General Mangers of each Council would form the board.

It is hoped that creating these two structure will assist any attempt by the State Government to amalgamate Councils.


In the past, in the Council areas proposed there have been three regional initiatives. Willoughby has been involved with two of them – NSROC and SHORELINK

Northern Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (NSROC)

This covered 7 Council areas: Hornsby; Kur-ing-gai; Ryde; Willoughby; North Sydney; Hunters Hill and Lane Cove. When it first started it was seen as a regional purchasing group. The ‘Board’ consisted of two Councillors from each of the participating Council. It was reasonably successful in achieving group savings.

As local Government became more complex, the structure of NSROC was varied slightly to include the Mayors of each Council. Funding for executive support was increased so that NSROC also became a reasonably effective lobby group.(SHROC Councils of Pittwater, Manly, Mosman and Warringah were operating in a similar way)..

The new proposal streamlines the new ‘Board’ by making it purely of Mayors. It would be impractical to have a Board of 22 Mayors and Councillors). The services organisation group continues (as it did under NSROC) with the General Mangers at the helm.


Shorelink is a voluntary amalgamation of five Councils (Willoughby, North Sydney, Mosman, Manly and Lane Cove) for the provision of Library Services for its member Councils. It has been in successful operation since the early 1980s.Library users love the system. It allows borrowing across the entire network with the ability to return a book to any library (as well as a host of other features). An independent analysis of the financial operations found the structure adopted (a single system with tailored interfaces for each library – if needed) was the most effective of any public libraries in NSW. The only downside of the operation is that the two large library systems (Willoughby and North Sydney) are partly funding services for the three smaller libraries.

Pacific Highway Beautification

eyesoreAs detailed in the Council Report below, Council Saville has proposed a plan to beautify the Pacific Highway. It is estimated that such a proposal would cost at least $25,000..

Whilst, some people would no doubt like a more beautiful highway experience, the majority of people are more concerned about traffic congestion.

In an era when Council finances are becoming critical, what process is used to prioritise Council spending? A Councillor’s (Council) whim or a pre-agreed prioritisation of works?


A Notice of Motion was received by Clr Saville and resolved on 24 February 2014

Council resolved on 24 February 2014:

That a report be prepared outlining costs and options for implementation of a
streetscape improvement program for the Pacific Highway.

The length of the Pacific Highway within the Willoughby City Council local government area
boundary is 5.5 kilometres. The highway is a State Road and is maintained from kerb to
kerb by the NSW Government / Roads and Maritime Services. Over half of this highway
length (3.5 kms) borders with Lane Cove Council (from Mowbray Road to St Leonards).

The responsibility for the footpaths, verges and any street trees remains with the relevant
Council. On sections of the Highway where overhead power lines exist, Ausgrid have taken responsibility for the pruning / removal of trees affecting the electricity grid.


Given the extent and scope of the work outlined in the Council resolution, it is recommended  that the work be subject to the engagement of a suitably qualified landscape architect/ urban designer as currently Council does not have the available resources to complete such a report.

That funds of $25,000 be considered in the draft 2014/15 Council budget to engage a
suitably qualified urban landscape professional to undertake site analysis, concept
options and costings for streetscape improvements for the Pacific Highway within the
Willoughby City Council LG

May 2014: After first being unanimously supported by Councillors, in April, Clr Saville’s motion was voted down (including by Clr Mustaca) when sources of funding were considered. Clr Saville is likely to re-present her motion  later in the year.


Legacy House








96 people have lodged a petition of protested about the proposed construction of a 9-storey building to replace the single storey former Legacy House in Chatswood. There were a variety of objections. Most worrying is the assertion that the proposal was insufficiently advertised. Residents are seeking an extension of time to lodge objections.

High rise – no relief

HighestBuildingIt appears that there is no relief in sight for Chatswood. More high-rise will be the order of the day.

As part of its ‘Reshaping the West’ strategy, the O’Farrell Government is hell-bent on pushing more and more high-rise away from the eastern parts of Sydney.

Prior to its election, the O’Farrell government was touting pushing more population outside of Sydney. There was talk of a 60/40 split, with the lion’s share going to country areas.This has failed to materialise.

Soon to be unveiled plans for areas along the North West Rail LInk will reveal plans for buildings up to 30 stories along the rail corridor from Epping to Rouse Hill (Chatswood already has 40+ storey buildings).  At the same time it appears that the eastern suburbs of Sydney will not be expected to house as many residents as previously proposed.

So where does this leave Chatswood?

Inspiration: SMH 8 April 2014 p.8 ‘Hazzard looks west for high-rise plans’

Power of Mayor ?

chainsThe role of the Mayor is interesting, particularly as we head to the by-election. Under the Local Government Act 1993,the role of the Mayor is:

• to carry out the civic and ceremonial functions of the mayoral office

• to preside at meetings of the council

• to exercise, in cases of necessity, the policy-making functions of the governing body of the council between meetings of the council

• to exercise such other functions of the council as the council determine

So, the Mayor can wear the red gown and put on the chains to attend numerous community events. In some Council areas, this is no longer the case with Mayors arguing the need to update the look of the Mayor. The Mayor chairs Council meetings, but they are only one vote in thirteen. So decision power does not rest with the Mayor. Rather it is the Councilors who wield the power. The only time this is not the case is when Council is in recess (such as over Christmas and for the traditional mid-year break). The other functions they exercise are at the direction of Councilors. At a meeting, a Mayor can ‘bring down’ a Mayoral Minute. However, it is the Councilors who make the decision. Not the Mayor!

Over the past couple of decades when Emeritus Mayor Reilly was Mayor, he had won the position with convincing majorities and could claim he was acting on the ‘will of the people’. Willoughby’s next Mayor is unlikely to gain such a clear majority. In fact it is being suggested that the new Mayor is likely to be elected with just 20-30% of the vote.

Hardly a mandate!

Vale the power of the Mayor.



Community Fire Units

cfuThere is a CFU regional training session on the 7th April 2014. There have been dramatic changes in administrative Rescue and Fire staff running the CFU  organisation, which now has several hundred units.
We have asked to see if the organisation could release to us, or the public generally, the new map of fire risk assessments for every lot in Willoughby. The map was prepared by Macquarie University, paid by a worldwide consortium of fire reinsurers, as part of a worldwide program. I believe Willoughby Council is the only Lane Cove Valley Council that has not released its local map. Willoughby’s current map of bushfire prone land is based on 100 metres from the bush edge, (set by a Minister during a Christmas Day bushfire) . Macquarie used satellite photos augmented by the complete insurance  fire histories of each lot. The increased risk area in West Ward includes ridgetops and the upper reaches of the creeks.