Congested Sydney to lose funding

SYDNEY’S strategic metropolitan planning is the worst of Australia’s major capital cities, leaving it exposed to a lack of federal government funding for essential infrastructure projects.A survey to be released today by KPMG ranks Sydney in sixth place, with Melbourne at the top, followed by Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth and Canberra.The table ranks all capital cities on criteria drawn up by the Commonwealth of Australian Governments relating to infrastructure, urban design, land release and the like.From 2012, the federal government intends to allocate infrastructure funds on the basis of how the capital cities rank on these criteria. Based on this survey’s findings, Sydney will continue to struggle to receive federal funding for major infrastructure projects.The survey found Sydney ranks poorly in the areas of implementation and infrastructure of urban planning and design, trailing almost all other capital cities in these two areas.”Sydney’s rank … is partly a reflection of its performance in relation to managing congestion. Without delivery of further major transport infrastructure, this challenge is likely to worsen, due to forecast increasing population growth,” KPMG noted in the report.The Property Council of Australia and groups such as the Planning Institute of Australia and the Australian Institute of Architects funded the KPMG research.”Some of the moves NSW has taken recently, such as the newly established Sydney Metropolitan Development Authority and matching some infrastructure and land use needs is where Sydney is starting to get it right,” the acting NSW executive director of the Property Council, Glenn Byres, said.”But we need a quantum shift in the transport space, for example. You can’t have the recent flip-flops on transport … you can’t announce and then abandon projects and expect to stay ahead of the congestion curve.”The lack of certainty of large transport infrastructure projects in Sydney, with the shelving of the Metro projects and the north-west rail link, indicates that land delivery policies are also failing as a result, the report noted.”The pressing demand for robust and deliverable strategic plans will become stronger as Sydney expands towards a population of 7 million people by 2050,” Mr Byres said.”Access to Commonwealth infrastructure funding is now also contingent on the presence of strong capital city strategic plans mandated by COAG.”There is no time to waste and NSW needs to build on recent initiatives that illustrate an appetite for reform and an ability to reshape institutional capacity.”The KPMG report also found that consolidating the Sydney Metro Strategy and Metropolitan Transport Plan into one document will assist the cause of better strategic planning – provided the transport vision also represents a 25-year visionBut NSW’s mixed track record of implementing transport projects has undermined confidence in the state’s investment priorities, with the need to better monitor, report on and improve progress towards critical spatial targets, it said.
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Campbell returns as temporary speaker as Premier reshuffles duties

THE public rehabilitation of the former transport minister David Campbell has begun, with his appointment as a temporary Speaker to the State Parliament.His appointment fills a vacancy in the panel of temporary Speakers which occurred following the elevation of Frank Terenzini to the cabinet last month as Minister for Housing, after David Borger was moved across to become Roads Minister.As a temporary Speaker – one of five – Mr Campbell will receive no additional salary, unlike the positions of Deputy Speaker and Assistant Speaker, which carry annual allowances of $25,000 and $17,000 respectively.As a senior minister, Mr Campbell was on an annual salary of $252,000, which has fallen to $166,000 as a backbencher, including his electoral allowance.Mr Campbell quit the cabinet last month following the broadcasting on commercial television of footage showing him leaving a gay bathhouse in Kensington.”I wouldn’t rule out a future role for David Campbell in the ministry,” the Premier, Kristina Keneally, said.”Certainly I have spoken publicly about my compassion for his situation and my admiration for his commitment to his family.”Ms Keneally said she had not discussed the matter with Mr Campbell. ”He is a good local member and he does have a good contribution to make to the people of NSW,” she said.”But I haven’t had any conversations with anyone about any vacancies or any future reshuffles. I’m quite confident in the cabinet ministers that I have.”Ms Keneally reshuffled the responsibilities of Ian Macdonald and Graham West, who both quit the cabinet just over a week ago, to other ministers, saying that she would not consider any further cabinet appointments until the state budget had been delivered, which occurred earlier this week.Mr Campbell, the member for Keira in Wollongong, holds one of the safest seats in the Parliament, with a margin of more than 20 per cent.It is unclear whether Mr Campbell will stand for parliament at the state elections in March.There was a great deal of public sympathy for him following his recent decision to stand down from cabinet.
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Just the ticket to beat the meter

IF THE idea of a Sydney council going out of its way to hand back parking fines sounds like fairyland, consider moving to Parramatta. The council is creating a new appeals panel, staffed by residents, that will be empowered to cancel fines in special circumstances.The lord mayor of Parramatta, Paul Garrard, said that a six-month trial of the system resulted in almost one in five fines being cancelled, indicating it would cost the council ”thousands of dollars”. But he said the goodwill generated was worth it.”This is not a get-out-of-jail free card, but there are some issues that aren’t totally clear cut,” Cr Garrard said. ”And council has the opportunity to act in those grey areas.”Made up of two residents and one council officer, the panel will be empowered to consider all possible factors that lead to a parking infringement, including hearing evidence from the relevant council ranger.It may exercise discretion to let people off with a warning if there are extenuating circumstances.Cr Garrard cited a recent example where a woman rushing to get to her grandson’s army graduation parade had misread a parking notice and was allowed off; or a hypothetical situation where a parent taking his or her child to the doctor overstayed a one-hour limit, as possible cases for a cancellation.”The panel can consider all the factors there – how would you feel if you were a grandmother trying to get to your grandson’s parade march [and you were booked]?” Cr Garrard said.The exact guidelines under which the panel may exercise discretion have not yet been finalised.The panel, the council’s own invention, was created not because rangers had made too many mistakes but because the exercise of their discretion was not clearly governed and the system had not been sufficiently flexible to be fair, Cr Garrard said.”We’re losing money out of this, but [parking fines] were never supposed to be a revenue source,” Cr Garrard said. ”We don’t put quotas on our community safety officers when they’re out there in the public arena. This effectively puts our money where our mouth is.”Sitting on the panel will be a volunteer job for the two residents. Nominations closed last week and the council is sorting through applications.Under the six-month trial conducted over summer a panel of council officers heard 453 penalty notice appeals. Of those, 89 were given a caution in lieu of the penalty, in 287 cases the penalty stood and 77 were withdrawn.Cr Garrard was expecting a flood of appeals when the residents’ panel first sits, which may be as soon as next month. Anyone whose case is rejected by the panel may still appeal to the State Debt Recovery Office.The Parking Infringement Review Panel is part of Parramatta council’s overhaul of its public image to present a friendlier face to residents. Rangers have been re-christened Community Safety Officers, and have ditched the ”military-like” leather jackets and cargo pants for the ”smarter” outfit of charcoal trousers and white-collared shirts.A spokeswoman from the Local Government and Shires Association of NSW said that to its knowledge, the Parramatta system was the first of its kind in the state. What are some of the craziest excuses you’ve ever heard? My son told me to park there.Driver:Officer: Is that your son in the car?Driver: Yes.Officer: How old is your son?Driver: Three.Some other excuses include “I was not stopped in the No Stopping zone, I was just waiting for someone.” or ”I have parked here 20 times before and never been booked.”How do you respond if someone gets angry at you?Staff are trained to deal with upset or difficult customers by undertaking regular customer service and conflict resolution training. It is important to deal with the emotion first then solve the problem/tasks. It is important to remain calm, be polite and actively listen as the person may just be having a bad day and a parking ticket is the final straw, have empathy (no one likes getting a ticket), explain the reason for the ticket and the options of appeal.Do you ever feel guilty about the job?Of course, it’s natural … to feel guilty at times. We’re all decent people who perform a role that is at times hard and for the most part thankless.Is there any joy in giving tickets to flashier cars?No. We employ fair and equitable enforcement of parking related legislation/regulations.Any leniency if someone leaves a note on their dash?No. If the vehicle is unattended there is no way to verify what is written on the note. As an example I have seen drivers place a note on the dash that reads “Broken down, gone to call the NRMA”. The review panel, however, will provide the means to verify legitimate cases.What’s the best part of the job, and the worst?The best part of the job would be working outdoors, educating people about parking requirements and generally helping people as ambassadors for the council. The worst part would be being abused or physically assaulted.
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Abuse ‘still part of brigades mentality’

INITIATION rites continue to be carried out within the NSW Fire Brigades, and bullying and intimidation affect all areas of the organisation, an investigation has found.Sexual abuse and ritual bastardisation of young recruits, which took place in the 1970s and 1980s, has largely been replaced by psychological abuse such as verbal insults, threats and aggressive behaviour, a report by KPMG says.The investigation was ordered by the state government this year after several fire fighters went public with claims of widespread abuse, saying management turned a blind eye or covered it up for decades.Fallout from the revelations is set to continue – five serving fire fighters who were charged with indecently assaulting a fellow officer in 1989 are to appear in court on Tuesday. The officers are on paid leave.The Independent Commission Against Corruption is understood to be investigating allegations of misappropriating funds and rorting expenses at the brigade’s training headquarters in Alexandria.In a joint statement, the Commissioner of NSW Fire Brigades, Greg Mullins, and the state secretary of the Fire Brigade Employees’ Union, Jim Casey, said both groups were ”concerned that the report notes that there is still evidence of both physical bullying (including shouting and aggressive behaviour) and psychological bullying. Such behaviour will not be tolerated.”Last month the Minister for Emergency Services, Steve Whan, said a $1.3 million workplace conduct and investigations unit had been set up to look into and prevent further instances of bullying and harassment. Other initiatives included a 24-hour confidential hotline for employees to report workplace issues, and complaint resolution training for all 7000 brigades staff.The Opposition spokeswoman on emergency services, Melinda Pavey, said it took ”very brave whistleblowers” to put a spotlight on the destructive workplace culture.”We’ve had seven ministers in 10 years, and no Labor ministers had the courage or saw the need to fix some very fundamental problems within the fire brigades.”The report found there was a pervading ”boys’ club” mentality, with just under half of the 186 female firefighters surveyed having personally experienced discrimination. .It found physical abuse still occurs with 14 per cent of employees having experienced it personally and 19 per cent having witnessed others experience it within the past two years.
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Australia’s 2018 World Cup bid over

Humiliating backdown or extraordinary coup? Australia has withdrawn its bid to host the World Cup in 2018 but did so after a week of key meetings and months of frenzied lobbying that look almost certain to deliver key support from European delegates for the nation’s bid in 2022.
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This was a day in which you had to read between the lines to ascertain the real story.

What appeared at first a backdown – FFA Chairman Frank Lowy has long resisted pressure to depart the 2018 field and leave that tournament for Europe to fight over – ended as potentially the most important day in the two-year year history of Australia’s bid.

A clue to the political intrigue behind the decision came with its delivery. In an extraordinary move, governing body FIFA and the FFA put out a joint statement announcing Australia’s withdrawal and featuring glowing praise for the 2022 bid from FIFA president Sepp Blatter and chief executive Jerome Valcke.

The statement makes clear that the decision was reached ’’after several months of negotiation’’ including lengthy talks with European members of the 24-strong FIFA Executive Committee that will vote to award hosting rights in December.

“The FFA and my office as well as the FIFA president have been in constant dialogue about Australia’s bidding intentions since last autumn,” Valcke said.

“The FFA have displayed an exemplary level of solidarity with Europe and the European bidding nations and were among the very first to enter into an open and constructive dialogue with me after it became apparent that there was a growing movement to stage the 2018 World Cup in Europe.

“Their announcement of today therefore, to henceforth focus solely on bidding for the 2022 World Cup, is a welcome gesture that is much appreciated by FIFA’s leadership and Executive Committee.”

Europe has eight members on the executive committee. A total of thirteen votes are required to win hosting rights. Lowy made clear yesterday that negotiations for the 2018 exit have been ongoing since last October, and yet the FFA chairman has repeatedly refused to pull out in recent months, reiterating those comments as recently as Wednesday.

In reality, Australia – and much of the rest of the world – has long known the 2018 event would go to Europe. Lowy and bid chief Ben Buckley stayed in the race for both events in order to give themselves a bargaining chip. Now they have bargained.

They were determined not to do Europe’s bidding in exchange for nothing. Now they have done Europe’s bidding and are being roundly praised for it by very important men. It would be naive to believe that nothing was their price.

Lowy would say only that the decision had been taken “after careful consideration and analysis”. He did not say analysis of what.

While Lowy and Buckley both refuted talk of any vote-swapping deal there was a new sense of confidence coming from Australian headquarters, where there is a growing belief that Australia’s bid has never been in a stronger position.

The new spirit of bonhommie is entirely unofficial. Vote trading is strictly prohibited by FIFA. Officially every bid process is a good clean fight. And football’s canny politicians have never been above pledging support and not quite delivering it. But if proof were needed that relations have taken a turn for the better it was provided by one of the most influential Europeans of all.

Franz Beckenbauer – the World Cup winning player and coach known as “the Kaiser” declared earlier this week that Australia had a good chance of success and described the bid team as “extremely strong and extremely well prepared”.

As rival nations wooed the Executive Committee delegates at a closed “bid expo”, Beckenbauer, extremely influential among the European establishment and one of the eight executive committee members from that continent, was enthusiastically posing for photographs at the Australian stand with Sports Minister Kate Ellis.

Australia’s decision to pull out effectively sidelines its biggest rival for 2022, the United States – which is now left as the only non European bidder in a race including Spain/Portugal, England, The Netherlands/Belgium and Russia. With too many of the game’s decision makers determined to annex the 2018 tournament for Europe, the Americans have been left with diminished bargaining power.

The deal was finalised only in recent days as the 24 delegates gathered in Johannesburg for the FIFA congress and were subjected to frenzied hotel diplomacy and backroom lobbying of the eight European delegates in particular.

A key player was Peter Hargitay, the Europe-based consultant who operates on an exorbitant retainer from Australia but is considered an unrivalled networker among FIFA’s top layers. Hargitay and Lowy have both been prominent in meetings this week – including several with FIFA CEO and powerbroker Valcke.

Hargitay has also been lobbying European voting delegates for months, trying to win support for Australia over chief 2022 rivals Qatar and the USA. The recent turmoil in England’s bid has been extremely helpul for Australia’s cause.

Hargitay was previously an influential back room operator for England’s bid and was hired for that role by Geoff Thompson, England’s member on the FIFA Executive Committee and an old friend. When others, including Lord Treisman, were brought in to run the English bid, questions were raised about Hargitay’s colourful past and methods and the Hungarian-born gun for hire was sacked.

Relations were strained with England after Australia employed Hargitay but Triesman and several of his allies have departed the English bid after recently accusing the Spanish bid team of bribery and corruption.

Thompson – Hargitay’s original ally – has been newly installed as English bid chief. Suddenly, as Australia hopes realistically for strong European support, England is a key potential ally.

Australia has effectively ruled out the possibility of getting votes from three of the FIFA committee members, those from Qatar, Japan and Korea – all rival bidders. A single vote from Oceania has already been secured and much energy and attention has been put into wooing African delegates.

Focus will now shift to South America’s votes. That continent’s voters do not have a home bid to back as Brazil’s hosting of the 2014 Cup rules out a bid from that continent. South American committee members are widely expected to back the Spanish bid for 2018 but Australia will now woo them for 2022 – competing hard with their regional neighbour, the USA.

It could just be coincidence but word yesterday was that Lowy will soon visit several South American nations to press Australia’s case anew. After a flagging few months of stadium squabbles and lost momentum Australia is back in the game.

Teen sailor faces storm of criticism

TEENAGE sailor Abby Sunderland, whose derring-do exploits resulted in a rescue operation involving the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, has taken on critics of her failed attempt to circumnavigate the globe.”Since when does age create gigantic waves and storms?” she said. Writing on her blog, aboard a French fishing boat which is ferrying her to safety, the 16-year-old American added: ”The truth is, I was in a storm and you don’t sail through the Indian Ocean without getting in at least one storm … Storms are part of the deal when you set out to sail around the world.”As the federal Transport Minister, Anthony Albanese, confirmed the Australian taxpayer had in part underwritten the search and rescue effort on the Indian Ocean under international maritime obligations, debate continued to rage over the wisdom of the voyage.”It’s too young,” said Joe Tucci, from the Australian Childhood Foundation. ”There is a point at which these ‘youngest-ever’ records should be stopped … young people can’t drive before a certain age, and we should apply it to these … situations as well.”Clive Hamilton, the professor of public ethics at at Charles Sturt University, said he was somewhat conflicted about the issue. ”Rather a lone sailor, than a teen porn star,” he said. ”We all admire adventurous people, but on balance I think it was too risky.”Back home in her native Los Angeles, Abby’s family were also queried about accusations of negligence in allowing their daughter to risk her life.”It wasn’t a flippant decision,” said her father, Laurence Sunderland. He said that Abby had ”spent half her life on the water” and was delivering yachts solo at the age of 13.Mr Sunderland said Abby’s age had no bearing on her accident. She was skilled enough to sail thousands of kilometres alone, negotiating the treacherous seas around Cape Horn and rounding the Cape of Good Hope, he said.with LA Times
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Mayor sought to override his council for land swap

THE Labor mayor of Fairfield and local MP, Nick Lalich, has lobbied the state government to allow a controversial land swap involving part of a public park and an ALP donor, council documents reveal.Despite a council resolution that property owned by the donor be compulsorily acquired, Cr Lalich asked the Planning Department to rezone part of Adam’s Reserve at Canley Vale so the council could swap a part for John Hui Zhang’s property next door.The rezoning, which the government had already rejected, would allow for a trade in which Mr Zhang’s new property would be worth an estimated $425,000 more than his present one. The council has been negotiating for seven years to acquire the block to build a road. But Mr Zhang wanted a land swap and refused an outright sale. After the rezoning was rejected last year by the previous planning minister, Kristina Keneally, the council resolved in February to compulsorily acquire the property.Cr Lalich, also the state member for Cabramatta, declared an interest and left the meeting before the resolution was considered. Several councillors, including two Labor ones, said they had considered council’s decision final.But Cr Lalich instructed the general manager, Alan Young, to urge the Planning Department to reconsider its decision not to rezone the park land.Cr Lalich said in a statement that the resolution to compulsorily acquire the land ”did not prohibit the making of a representation” on the rezoning.The property, at 61 Canley Vale Road, has been valued by the council at $875,000 but if the swap had been approved the owner would have obtained land worth an estimated $1.3 million.Cr Lalich denied his actions were designed to benefit Mr Zhang. He said a swap was preferable to forced acquisition and would cost less.”My preference for the land swap … is because the financial outcome to the ratepayers of my city is massively in their favour compared to the cost of only acquiring the property,” he said.Cr Lalich previously declared he had received a $1600 political donation from Mr Zhang and left council meetings when acquisition of the land was discussed.He did not deny the swap would have given a potential $425,000 benefit to the owner of 61 Canley Vale Road but said the May council meeting retrospectively endorsed his actions in pursuing the swap.Mr Young told the May council meeting he wrote to the department at the mayor’s request and in the belief that, despite the resolution on compulsory acquisition, the council still wanted the rezoning pursued.Mr Zhang declined to talk to the Herald yesterday.When the mayor’s actions were disclosed to the meeting in May, councillors resolved to reaffirm the compulsory acquisition and instructed Mr Young to withdraw the request to the Planning Department.A Planning spokesman confirmed that no action had been taken on the letters and the rezoning would not go ahead.
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Stores, jobs to go at Clive Peeters

Clive Peeters in WarrnamboolThe receivers of collapsed retailer Clive Peeters will shut down six stores out of a total network of 44 locations as the business is prepared for sale. The closures will see the loss of 75 jobs.
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Clive Peeters receiver, Phil Carter of insolvency specialists PPB, said this morning stores in Townsville, Ipswich (both Queensland), Mildura, Warrnambool (both Victoria), Bunbury and Canning Vale (both West Australia) will close at end of trade on Tuesday, June 15.

“The receivers, with the assistance of key management, conducted a review of individual store performance and identified these stores as unsustainable,” Mr Carter said.

“It is disappointing that these closures will result in job losses up to 75 out of a total of 1200 staff, but we have minimised the impact of this by redeploying employees into other stores as far as possible.”

Mr Carter announced that the receivers have now confirmed supply arrangements with over 20 of the major suppliers, including two of Clive Peeters’ largest suppliers, Panasonic and Electrolux.

He said a number of steps had also been taken to prepare the business for sale.

“We have experienced strong interest in the sale process and have requested submissions of non-binding offers by next Friday, 18 June. We then propose to deal with shortlisted parties only,” said Mr Carter.

He said the company will honour up to June 30 all remaining gift certificates at face value.

“Whilst we have no legal obligation to do so, we have agreed to honour gift certificates as a thank you to our loyal customers.”

Mr Carter and PPB partner Daniel Bryant were appointed Receivers and Managers of Clive Peeters on May 19.

It is believed Clive Peeters’ creditors include NAB which is owned $33 million.

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Death sentence for periodic detention

WEEKEND detention will be scrapped in NSW and replaced with a system of community-based treatment and monitoring orders in an overhaul designed to bring down recidivism rates.Magistrates and judges sentencing people convicted of crimes that attract less than two years’ jail will have the option of making an intensive correctional order, forcing them to undergo rehabilitation and education and complete a minimum of 32 hours a month of community service.A court would also be able to impose conditions such as a ban on drinking, curfews, travel restrictions, random breath tests and electronic monitoring with ankle bracelets.Offenders whose criminal behaviour is a result of gambling or alcohol addiction face having to wear monitoring devices for up to two years to ensure they avoid casinos or hotels.The orders would apply to motoring offences, speeding, drug offences and some assaults. Offenders have to be assessed as suitable for the program.If the orders are breached, the NSW Parole Authority will have the power to order the balance of the sentence be served in jail.The government expects about 750 people a year to be subject to the orders. The Premier, Kristina Keneally, said it was a tough approach.Since a review of periodic detention by the NSW Sentencing Council two years ago, the number of people sentenced to weekend detention has fallen.In 2007, nearly 1300 people served periodic detention, mostly for less than a year.Ms Keneally and the Attorney-General, John Hatzistergos, said the measure aimed to reduce re-offending by 10 per cent by 2016.Chris Cunneen, Professor of Criminology at James Cook University, said intensive correction orders were ”a good thing” if they were properly resourced, otherwise magistrates would be reluctant to use them.The government denies the move was a cost-cutting measure, arguing it would cost $14.5 million a year, compared with $11 million for periodic detention.The former chairman of the sentencing council, James Wood, QC, said yesterday he fully supported the move away from periodic detention, which was a flawed system.”At the very best, or very worst, periodic detention is a minor inconvenience,” he said.”What it does do is expose people to undesirable associations with other prisoners, other offenders, which can be taken advantage of back in the community. It also exposes them to new forms of criminality and new tricks. I just think it’s an inappropriate way of dealing with offenders, because it doesn’t address the factors that are causing them to offend. This is the key to this whole program: intensive treatment, retraining. Ways of addressing the factors that cause people to offend.”The deputy chief magistrate, Paul Cloran, also welcomed the proposal, which unlike periodic detention would be available outside Sydney, Newcastle and Wollongong. He said he hoped it would be further extended to the far west of NSW.But Denise Weelands, a lecturer at the University of Western Sydney, said she had concerns that strict conditions set many vulnerable people up to fail.
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Silent majority keeps quiet on aircraft noise

EVERY day, for about 10 years, Johann Heinrich has sent a fax. It goes to Airservices Australia, as well as the federal ministers Anthony Albanese and Peter Garrett, and documents the aircraft noise over his home that day.Mr Heinrich, 62, has lived in Summer Hill for 25 years with his wife and children.”It has been turned into a hell hole,” he said. He has suffered hearing loss, and says he experiences pain in his ears every time a plane goes overhead, as well as constant headaches.Mr Heinrich, who has a noise meter connected to his computer, is one of a handful of people responsible for most of Sydney’s aircraft noise complaints.In one month alone, six people in Summer Hill made 393 complaints to Airservices Australia. Two residents in Eastlakes made 343 complaints between them.A Senate hearing yesterday heard that nationally more than half the 24,000 noise complaints received last year were made by 20 people.The president of No Aircraft Noise, Allan Rees, said the Airservices Australia complaint line was ”just a sink for complaints”.”Most people give up complaining because nothing happens,” he said. But he said those determined to see change, or who are affected personally, would continue. ”I don’t think there’s anything sinister or outrageous about people continuing to complain,” he said.An Airservices Australia spokesman, Matt Wardell, said a few people regularly made multiple complaints. ”There are some significant aberrations in the stats,” he said.”Summer Hill’s always there because we have one or two individuals there who regularly make complaints.”But in Coogee, 22 people made 176 complaints, ”which arguably is more representative of some broader community concern,” he said.with AAP
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