Listed here is a selection of previous (2002) media coverage that the campaign to save and protect Kuradji Sandon Point has generated. An archive is currently under development.
The current contents of this page includes.
Shame Now public - a response to Paul McInerny's Opinion Piece, sent
to the Illawarra Mercury, September 4th (personally guaranteed to be
published - still waiting).
To submit/provide feedback regarding the content of this page, please email the web designer.
False and misleading information, intimidation, attempts to discredit valid concerns and criticism, and acts aimed to divert media attention away from their controversial proposal at Kuradji Sandon Point: Stockland have tried it all.
This marks a significant transition in Stockland's public relations campaign. Have they begun to realise that attempting to manipulate public opinion, as opposed to intimidation and threats of violence, are far more effective?
After all, these are standard tools of the Public Relations industry. This industry is based on the notion that the essence of democracy is the freedom to persuade and harness public opinion. More specifically, it is aimed at taking the 'risk' out of democracy'.
Why not reduce costs by creating a more aesthetic corporate image through public misinformation? It is cheaper and easier rather than actually improving corporate practices, after all.
Stockland have attempted to 'language' those who would prefer to see a regional park and community space at Kuradji Sandon Point, as opposed to further privatisation of open space and the perpetuation of cultural genocide. Terms like 'fanatics', 'intimidation', 'fight' and 'violence' have been used to label community members and their actions, as opposed to terms like 'right and proper' and 'no alternative' to describe the actions of Stockland.
Nick Duncan, Stockland Residential Estates Manager, has even suggested that any thought the community may have regarding having a say in local matters is ludicrous and beyond comprehension. Are corporations to be given free rein, as Nick Duncan would have it?
When considering all that has occurred, it seems that Nick Duncan is a little mixed up in regard to his comments. The community is entitled to have a say in regards to what concerns them, and the only violence that has occurred at any 'protest' at Kuradji Sandon Point has been undertaken by those, either directly or indirectly, in the employ of Stockland.
Intimidation of people using the cycleway has been common, and it has come from inside the fence. Many people no longer feel it is safe to use the cycleway and pass the construction site. The assault of an older female resident on the cycleway, by staff who jumped the fence, is just one example of these tactics. Recently, young children have also suffered at the hands of those inside this fence.
Perhaps one of the saddest outcomes of the current Public Relations campaign is that a number of local 'journalists' are unquestioningly accepting the hype, even resorting to the using the same 'language'.
Recent claims regarding the publishing of contact details of a number of Stockland staff members are somewhat ironic. The Illawarra Mercury has published the names and addresses of a number of community members opposed to this controversial proposal.
Are the tactics of the Illawarra Mercury, based on recently printed allegations, undertaking actions of intimidation and promoting violence, as was recently claimed by Paul McInerney?
Alongside claims aimed at discrediting community campaigns, it is a common practice for large corporations with large multi-million dollar bank balances to use threats of legal action as a means to silence community opposition.
Recent actions highlight that Stockland are utilising these tactics. Now that the community's time is no longer taken up by a facilitation process, a process that was never going to address their concerns, Stockland are trying to find other means to make the community campaign ineffective.
The Sandon Point website is just one part of the legal means used by the community to highlight their concerns and criticisms of the controversial proposal. It has never been cloaked in anonymity, contrary to recent claims, with contact details clearly available on the site since it was launched earlier this year.
The majority of the claims made by Stockland, and published in the Illawarra Mercury, regarding the content of the website are false and misleading. The Stockland façade of a so-called responsible corporate citizen has now been shattered by their own actions.
Is it surprising that the day these allegations were raised coincided with the listing of Sandon Point as an Endangered Place by the Australian Council of National Trusts?
Will the attempts by Stockland to discredit the community campaign lead to a heightened interest in the controversial proposal?
Could it become the Australian equivalent to the McLibel trial?
In what only can be described as a cowardly and cruel attack, the name and private address of Stockland development manager Paul Hedge was posted on the campaign web site.
But it didn't stop there.
Under the heading "Contact Stock-land", readers to the web site were not only given the address, but also encouraged to visit the Hedge's beach-side family home in Sydney.
Forget the merits or otherwise of the development, this is nothing short of intimidation.
They also haven't had the guts to identify themselves.
Cloaked in anonymity, the cowards responsible have shattered the lives of the Hedge family.
Mr Hedge has a four-year-old son and his wife is 23 weeks pregnant.
After recently moving into their dream home, the past few weeks should have been the happiest of their lives.
Instead, Mrs Hedge is terrified and the family is talking about moving.
Who could blame them?
Anti-development campaigns can be highly charged and attract all types of people, some with extremist views.
Anyone taking up the web site suggestion presumably would have more than a friendly chat or a cup of tea on their mind.
Obviously, the posting of Mr Hedge's address was intended to intimidate.
Why else would anyone target a company executive's family, who have absolutely nothing to do with the Sandon Point development?
Mr Hedge has hardly been in hiding. His office and mobile telephone numbers have been readily made available to all community groups, as has his email and fax addresses.
Stockland has taken the matter seriously.
Community challenge and legal con-frontation are not new to Stockland, but it has taken the unprecedented step of offering the family security protection or assistance should they decide to move.
Stockland also has called in the police.
The Sandon Point web site is sponsored by Green Net, an organisation that has no discoverable address or contact details.
Mr Hedge discovered his suburb had been posted on the web site on August 23, and two days later his full residential address was listed.
Stockland lawyers immediately contacted the site and successfully demanded the address details be removed.
Early last week, the address was posted under a different heading.
Again, the company requested its removal. It has disappeared again from the web site, which now has a convenient disclaimer.
The disclaimer reads: "This is an open source site and the web designer is not responsible for any of the content."
"What people choose to do with the information presented here is a decision they make for themselves."
"Actions taken in relation to the involvement in cultural genocide, environmental destruction and community bastardry by Stockland Trust Group ... their subsidiaries, any other company or individual, is the sole responsibility of the said individual and not the web designer."
Targeting and intimidating women and children will not stop the Sandon Point development and can only taint those genuine people in the community who choose peaceful demonstration and legal avenues to give voice to their opposition.
Long-time picket Arthur Montgomery, who was alone at the site at the time of the attack, suffered broken teeth, cuts to his face and bruised kidneys.
He was treated at Bulli Hospital's casualty department and released, and has reported the incident to the police.
The assault of Mr Montgomery follows another attack on the picket in June when picketer Hamish Brown was there alone, That time the attackers - believed to be two young men - doused the shade cloth with petrol and set the front of the tent alight.
Anti-development activist Jill Walker was also allegedly assaulted near the construction site last month.
"Unfortunately I didn't get a good look at them," Mr Montgomery said of Thursday night's attackers.
He saw two men, probably in their mid-20s, but suspects there could have been a third. "I'd been asleep inside the tent when it happened," he said.
It was about midnight." One of the men pulled the picket's flag pole down and took off the Aboriginal flag, Mr Montgomery said. But when he attempted to follow he was attacked from behind by a second and, possibly, a third person.
South Coast Labour Council secretary Arthur Rorris was incensed by the mindless attack. "People should understand that this is a criminal act," Mr Rorris said. "Whatever one's views of the issues are, nothing justifies this act of criminal assault."
He had contacted police and asked them to investigate this and previous assaults to see whether there was any link with anyone associated with the controversial development.
"For our part, the South Coast Labour Council will not stand by and watch innocent community members assaulted on labour council-endorsed picket lines," Mr Rorris said.
The SCLC would take measures to ensure the security of all those participating in endorsed activities.
Meantime, the picket would remain.
"These sorts of things only strengthen the resolve of the community and of the trade union movement. They don't weaken it," he said.
Details for the program are on the ABC Classic FM website. <www.abc.net.au/classic/lroom>
Previously, ABC Radio National's "Awaye" program broadcast a story about 'Kuradji' on June 28th. It featured an interview with Dootch Kennedy. [link to transcript/audio coming soon]
Thanks to Cathy Peters, producer of The Listening Room for the details.
The community says: No Houses!
Aboriginal Tent Embassy (CATE)
Cultural Heritage Destroyed
people denied appropriate consultation
Real consultation would have placed control of all cultural heritage matters in the hands of local indigenous authorities
for the vision of Guboo
Until Australian governments, at all levels, respect the wisdom of the Elders and Lawmen of our senior cultural partners, on matters of their own culture, the hope for the reconciliation embodied in these words, and the events which engendered them, will not be reflected in the broader Australian community.
For over 200 years Australian Governments, have participated in, or allowed acts of Genocide against Aboriginal People. Despite much talk of Reconciliation, Cultural Genocide is occurring right now at Kuradji/Sandon Point.
Embassy protects the spirit of the Land
We must support them now, or the spiritual tenor of this sacred and beautiful place, will be tragically degraded by this environmental and urban planning nightmare We, as Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, wholeheartedly support those Indigenous people making a stand for their rights and culture at Kuradji/Sandon Point. We call on all three levels of government, local, state and federal, to honour the responsibilities of their offices and intervene immediately to stop the violation of indigenous rights inherent in this development.
If you were considering making a documentary about the rampant corruption and branch-stacking in the Australian Labor Party, where would you point the camera-laden Pajero and the boom microphone? Well, last night's Insight programme on SBS answered that very question. The answer, of course, is Wollongong. In a half an hour, the story made some attempt to uncover the internecine feuds of the ALP in the Illawarra.
As Gordon Gong can attest, trying to get a handle on all of the local intrigue is like trying to untie the Gordian knot. So how did they fare? Pretty well, actually.
The story covered the branch-stacking claims against the man dubbed by Crikey as Australia's Worst Mayor, George Harrison. Harrison was responsible for an infamous episode in local ALP lore, the "Stuart Stack" where he handed in a single cheque to pay for the membership of a very large number of Greek Australians signed up during a party at the Greek Orthodox church in Stuart Street, Wollongong in 1996.
Poor George, when questioned about the "Stuart Street Stack", played dumb. How could he be expected to remember how recruitment practices worked six whole years ago? Six years is such a long time. At least it beats the "no comment" defence. In the end, George has to resort to quoting Abraham Lincoln while staring bravely into the face of adversity. One wonders, though, how close to his heart the Lincoln quote was: He had to read it off a printout.
Valerie Hussain was another of the Labor Party disaffected who was interviewed in the program. While allegations were made against Craig and Janice Kershaw, Insight refrained from mentioning the allegation made by Hussain's husband, Munir, that the Federal Member for Cunningham, the Honourable Doctor Stephen Martin, was also involved. Munir has claimed that Martin and the Kershaws were all involved in taking membership books around to people in the Corrimal branch after meetings, getting them to sign attendance when they had never attended a branch meeting in their lives.
In addition, some of these people have claimed to have never paid Labor Party membership dues in their lives, yet they have been and continue to be fully paid-up members of the ALP. For a touch more intrigue, it turns out that Craig Kershaw works for NSW Premier Bob Carr, while Janice is a Wollongong City Councillor.
As for what else has been happening with George Harrison, well, where to start? The Wollongong Council was recently embroiled in controversy when Harrison decided that Council business procedures needed reviewing. Of course, rather than get the Council's go-ahead and then commission Council Manager Rod Oxley to make it happen, Harrison took matters into his own hands. He called in consulting group (no, not Andersen, although that would be quite fitting) KPMG to speak with three members of council about what would be required of such a review.
However, he did it while Oxley was in Rome, at a local government conference. When one of Rod Oxley's mates SMSed him telling him what was going on, he made tracks for the airport and got the first flight home. Not happy. Not happy at all. It's been no secret that Oxley and Harrison have not seen eye to eye, and this incident really put the heat on. It got to the point where the Council Manager, Oxley, and the Lord Mayor, Harrison, would refuse to communicate with anything other than letters. While that no doubt kept their secretaries busy, it can't be a particularly good relationship for the constituents of Wollongong City Council.
The big issue for Harrison's review was the Council's rather unfortunate foray into the world of information technology development. Wollongong, you see, is the "City of Innovation", or at least, that's the marketing slogan Council would have you believe. So when the Council needed some new software for its office, it called in IT firm SAP to co-develop the new system.
This software system was intended to be so flexible that it could be sold off to councils around Australia, thus recouping some of the Council's original investment outlay. Gordon can almost hear the readers in the IT game groaning in anticipation. Yep, that's right, the cost blew out. And how. The original quote for the system was somewhere in the order of $1.3 million. By the time the Council canned the project earlier this year, it was $4.2 million in the red. That, and there's still no system. So, the impact on Council's bottom line of this disaster was what led George to set up the review.
Once the review genie was out of the bottle, though, some compromises had to be made. In true political style, the result was that the review of how Council operates would be undertaken according to the parameters and guidelines laid out by, yep, that very same Council. Nothing like transparency for the good folk of Wollongong. The first casualty of this teeth-gnashing over the IT project gone wrong was Chris Aldred, the Council's Corporate and Governance Manager.
He was extremely unpopular with staff in the office, and it seems that no-one was too sad to see him go. Except of course, the people who hired him, who hadn't bothered to check with his two previous employers, who had "let him go" because his authoritarian style wasn't appreciated there either. When he left, though, he managed to lever an extra year's salary out of the ratepayers of Wollongong, walking away with at least $150,000 according to some reports. Meanwhile, poor old George's life outside politics hasn't been looking too rosy, either.
Three weeks ago, George lost his appeal against his bankruptcy. Unfortunately for him, the NSW State Government has been having a bit of a crack down on bankrupt lawyers of late, particularly those bankrupts caught still practicing whilst swanning about their Rose Bay mansions. So, a week after losing his appeal, Harrison was disbarred and unceremoniously booted out of the Law Society. Obviously he saw the writing on the wall, though. The week prior, he'd sold his law firm.