Monday, June 14, 2010


The Editor
The Herald

Dear Sir,

Honeysuckle Openspace

Parks and Playgrounds Movement welcome the openspace push of Minister for the Hunter Jodi McKay MP (Keep off the Grass 12/6 The Herald).

However we would be more impressed if the Hon. Minister clearly directed the Hunter Development Corporation to prepare and publicly exhibit a Varying Scheme under Section16 of the Growth Centres Act.  The HDC Growth Centre now includes every Local Government Area in the Hunter Region and their 1992 Honeysuckle Master Plan is utterly inappropriate for their extended Growth Centre.

What Ms McKay mentions as city planning errors of the past were in fact straight out flagrant disregard of statutory planning by the Honeysuckle Dev Corp at Central Honeysuckle! This was only possible because there was no effective oversight of the Corporation after 1997.

We need to revisit the vision of the former Lord Mayor Joy Cummings AM

Doug Lithgow President
Parks and Playgrounds Movement

To our conservation colleagues

It is clear that we need to begin setting out the issues and our views on maintaining the statutory zoning of our foreshore openspace and the protection of existing parks.

Furthermore the disregard of planning by the Honeysuckle Development Corporation and their non compliance with their own Act - i.e. The Growth Centres (Development Corporations) Act 1974,  the  foolish mistakes made such as:

- the buying the longshore Wharf and then demolishing it. 
- not carrying out Geo-technical work at the early stage, 
- wrongful advertising for Merewether Wharf development before rezoning in place, 
- tearing up Wharf Road, 
- building out the Flinders Cove without re-planning for the change, 
- building out the views to the harbour while claiming to be opening up the harbour, 
- not building the planned overbridge at Stewart Ave, 
- removing rail crossing overbridges and level crossing. 

Not to mention the complete disregard of the Joy Cummings foreshore initiatives of the 1980's. 

The talk about light rail is just talk and the real agenda is the to grab the public harbour front including the Newcastle Railway station. (The HDC aim is to get rid of rail commuters first!)

There is a lot of work to be done just to get the above information out to the general public over the next 2 years. 

We all need to take the time to understand the concept of the Honeysuckle Masterplan and the earlier Joy Cummings Foreshore Design with its protection of the public domain. 

We need to write every couple of months on one or more of the issues otherwise the truth will never be told. 


Friday, June 11, 2010


I recently asked the questions in my letter (Copy below) and received the heavily padded answer with the essential confirmation.

"In May we mentioned that Council was partnering with Bang the Table to provide an independently moderated online community space for discussing public policy”

Is this an independent organisation?

Lobbyists are behind community forum site Bang the Table, see:

That is bad news and the parternership should never have been entered into. Please click on the Crikey Hotlink above to read all about it.

We should see the Council Resolution authorising this action and the details of the contractural arrangements with Bang The Table should be placed on the public record. This is a very serious matter that needs further investigation to reveal the extent of what is going on and why.

What is Bang The Table is doing for the Council and why?

Also, what is the cost to the ratepayers.




Dear Newcastle Voice,

I notice that an article in a recent issue of the Sydney Morning Herald stated that Newcastle Council was using an internet company known as Bang the Table.

In what way is Newcastle using the services of Bang The Table?

I noticed their logo on a recent Newcastle Voice Email.

Is information from Newcastle Voice site being provided to private internet companies?

I would appreciate your immediate reply.

Yours faithfully

Doug Lithgow

Copy to General Manager’s office


-----Original Message-----

From: Stephanie Prouse []
Sent: Thursday, 10 June 2010 10:10 AM
To: ''
Subject: RE: Bang the Table

Dear Doug,

Thank you for your email dated 9 June and your interest in Newcastle Voice.

The Panel Satisfaction survey, sent to all members in December 2009, revealed that panel members are very satisfied with the operation of Newcastle Voice in many areas. However, specific suggestions for improvement were also received, including:

    * Feedback on consultation results
    * Feedback on impact of community consultation and how contributions are influencing decision-making
    * Survey design to ensure that the survey questions were clear, unbiased, straight-forward and not open to misinterpretation.
    * Timeliness of surveys and newsletters
    * Request online discussions as another consultation tool

In May we mentioned that Council was partnering with Bang the Table to provide an independently moderated online community space for discussing public policy.

We started hosting discussions in June on a number of projects. The discussions are open to Newcastle Voice members as well as the broader community. The online discussions are branded Newcastle Voice, as are all of our consultations – workshops, focus group sessions, information sessions, where the broad community is invited to attend along with members from the Newcastle Voice reference panel.

Newcastle Voice members were invited to join the online discussions and can decide not to participate/join if they wish. They are not automatically signed up to join the online discussions.  Council manages the panel data and for privacy, and confidentiality reasons, rest assured we will not be sharing the panel information with Bang the Table or any other organisation. We are bound by our Privacy Statement. I am enclosing the link for your review.

Stephanie Prouse
Stephanie Prouse
The City of Newcastle
Community Consultation
P.O. Box 489, Newcastle 2300, NSW
Phone: (02) 4974 2144  (02) 4974 2144
Mobile: (02) 0428619778


The Hunter Development Corporation (HDC) should be disbanded if they continue to operate without an appropriate approved scheme‏.

Dear Conservation Colleagues,

Parks and Playgrounds Movement have watched the Newcastle rail debate wax and wane since 1952.

There may have been some justification in down grading passenger rail then but it makes no sense in the emerging future. Balance between private and public transport in a transit orientated urban pattern is essential for the modern urban city.

Regarding the Newcastle situation I have enclosed the two concepts that have some statutory expression.

1.  The Joy Cummings concept that is embodied partly within the current (in force) planning scheme. (Never properly implemented)

2. The other has statutory expression under Growth Centres Act 1974 in the 1992 Approved Scheme of the Honeysuckle (Hunter) Development Corporation.

The HDC should be disbanded if it continues to operate without an appropriate ‘approved scheme’ that has real relationship to their Growth Centre which now includes all of the Hunter Region Local Government areas.

Parks and Playgrounds policy regarding the Newcastle Old Town and the foreshore is simple.

Parks and Playgrounds movement supports the retention of rail services to Newcastle and the revision and full implementation of the Joy Cummings Newcastle Harbour foreshore Scheme.

We call upon the NSW State Government to vary the 1992 Honeysuckle Masterplan using Sec 16 of the Growth Centres Act and retain rail services to the historic Newcastle station. All the previous rail crossings, pedestrian and vehicular should be re-established and new crossings built as needed.

We oppose the removal of rail services and the closing and redirection of Wharf Road and the alienation of the Harbour Front and railway station area for Hotel, Retail and Mixed uses as proposed in the Honeysuckle approved scheme Precinct ‘D’

Doug Lithgow President
Parks and Playgrounds Movement