Walk With Us – Port Stephens Suicide Prevention Inc.

Saturday 10th September will be a very active day for the people of Boat Harbour

“Walk with Us” at Iluka Reserve, south side of Boat Harbour beach will be a great place for the family and the all important walk around the new paths and road created by hard work and contribution of so many community minded volunteers from near and far..

We want you to join us and support suicide prevention.  This event starts conversations that may save a life of someone you know and love and it provides support for those who have lost a loved one to suicide.

.So many are really looking forward to a picnic in the park and a walk under the tunnel of trees, up the hill, past frog pond, across the rocks to the Cairn where we can leave a rock in memory of all our loved ones, down the hill, behind the trees towards Noamunga and up the path to the whale watching platform and back to the BBQ  in the park.
Many people are going to show ways to reduce depression by singing, drumming and dancing. meeting people and sharing conversations.

Elizabeth Schiemer Sec. Ph. 0428 821 236

Port Stephens Suicide Prevention Network Inc

PSSPN- 2016 Walk With Us 2

The NBN Is In Nelson Bay!


Interesting treatment of the same story from the gullible,  that just reprinted the Ministerial Press Release,

To those that have the lived experience. Watch the video, read the comments under the story in the Herald!

Examiner 01 June 2016: Minister for Communications Mitch Fifield gives Nelson Bay NBN Co update

Newcastle Herald 31 May 2016: Federal election 2016: Communications Minister Mitch Fifield backs NBN model during visit to Paterson electorate | poll, video

Newcastle Herald 01 June 2016: Federal Election 2016: Labor regional communications spokesman Stephen Jones hints of scrapping fibre to node with talk of a “better” NBN 

NBN 2Our Previous Coverage is Here The NBN is coming, but what are we getting?

TRRA urges our members to do your homework properly on this before you sign up to any long term contracts, check the newspaper story links in this article and if you have time to burn, read about the Newcastle experience click HERE. and type in ‘NBN in Newcastle.’ they had to break it up into five parts and it is still red hot 5 months later.  

Minister Toole’s Belated Response To Background Briefing Program


Macka 3Update 17 December 2015: Our Submission and the Ministers’ Response



151008 Letter To Minister Toole Re Background Briefing Program

151217 Response From Minister Toole Re Background Briefing Program

This is the pathetic response received to our submission to the Minister for Local Government  10 weeks after it was acknowledged as received by the Department, bearing in mind that this program and the allegations raised in was aired on 04 October 2015. The Minister suggests that we complain to the Council General Manager or ICAC. Been there, done that, and got absolutely nowhere. 

This matter has progressed even further now with the Environmental Protection Authority becoming involved and allegations of Acid sulfate contamination by local residents seem to be vindicated: 

“The state’s environmental watchdog has expanded an “ongoing criminal investigation” of alleged dumping of building waste at Port Stephens mayor Bruce MacKenzie’s family business to include the dumping of contaminated building waste at a council-owned Salt Ash equestrian park.”

Newcastle Herald 17 December 2015Port Stephens mayor Bruce MacKenzie faces more questions about soil dumped at a Salt Ash park

TRRA Asks: How much more of this sort of behavior will be tolerated by this Government and its Minister before some action will be taken?  It is all over the press, on the National Broadcaster, raised in Parliament by the Local Member Kate Washington, the subject of numerous Codes of Conduct, letters and submissions from Community Groups, pleas to ICAC, all to no avail. It seems that the only recourse that the long suffering constituents of this LGA will have is at the ballot box in the Council elections next year. The message sent then may focus the Ministers mind on his inaction, and the fact that he might be next! 


More On This Story:

The Sand Mining Mayor Who Loves A Deal 

Alexander Park Dressage, Salt Ash Pony Club or Bruce’s BMX?

Alexander Park Dressage, Salt Ash Pony Club or Bruce’s BMX?

Pony ClubWhat sort of example does Port Stephens Council set to developers and construction companies if it allows itself and its Mayor to behave in this manner? Any wonder it cannot get others to comply with the rules if it does not follow them itself.

Read the full Story on the Alexander Park/Bruce Mackenzie Horse Park which featured in the ABC Background Briefing Show 04 October 2015:

Alexander Park Dressage, Salt Ash Pony Club or Bruce’s BMX?

Also Read the PS Re: Pepper Tree Road Project dumping more spoil on a flood plain

Updated Press Reports:

Port Stephens Examiner 19 Feb 2016: Salt Ash soil not contaminated says Port Stephens Council

Port Stephens Examiner 19 Feb 2016: Port Stephens Council has been ordered to move 2000 tonnes of contaminated soil

Examiner Jan 2016: Cr Geoff Dingle calls for further acid sulphate soil tests at Ferodale Park after Salt Ash findings 

Examiner 21 December 2015: Material at Salt Ash equestrian park tested by EPA

Newcastle Herald 17 December 21016: Port Stephens mayor Bruce MacKenzie faces more questions about soil dumped at a Salt Ash park

Examiner Nov 03 2015: Contamination fears prompt Port Stephens Council to fence off dirt piles at Salt Ash equestrian centre

Port Stephens Council Website 27 October 2015: Reports confirm soil not contaminated

Newcastle Herald 26 October 2015: Port councillors keen to get BMX track moving

Examiner Letters October 20 2015: Acid soil just first shot in local politics 

Examiner 13 October 2015Fears grow over BMX track spoil

Examiner 13 October 2015: Criticism bouncing off Mayor

Newcastle Herald 10 October 2015: Dirty over soil pile at horse track

Newcastle Herald 10 October 2015: Mayor under scrutiny over park work




Pony Club BMX

Warning ! Pensioner Council Rates Trap….

billsIf you are a pensioner, check your Annual Council Rate Assessment Notice, due out next month (July). Council check your eligibility for the Pension Rebate each year with Center-link, the amount should be shown on the front page.  It is worth $250.00 a year and If you had and extended overseas trip and your pension rate changed as mine did on a 3 month trip to Europe in 2013, it can trigger a cancellation. There is no notification of the change, if you don’t check the account like I just did you won’t even know.

You have to fill out a 5 page form and a Stat. Dec. to get it reinstated and they will give you a credit for the current year plus two previous. I am about to be refunded $500.00 that has been on interest free loan to the Council!

While you are at it check your water and electricity accounts, The NSW Govt Energy Rebate should appear on your Power bill.  A phone call to the electricity company to check and complain about a measly 4% discount has resulted in an offer (before the end of financial year) of an 18% one instead, I am reading the fine print on this though.

I checked my BigPond Internet account the other day and discovered that they had doubled my allocation of data. This was great news, but no one had bothered to tell me this.  I found the different figure in a 6 point italic font at the bottom of the account, nearly needed a magnifying glass to read it.

This just shows that it is worth spending a little time on checking when a newly designed account arrives and you are in a hurry to pay it, be careful that it is not only the design that has changed!

After The Storm

Bridle Path NB
The Bridle Path NB


TRRA sincerely hopes that your house and your family, pets and friends survived the latest East Coast Low OK.  We think that this storm was worse than the Pasha Bulka storm by the damage caused and are very concerned that these events seem to be happening more frequently.

The strength of the wind was evident in the number of massive trees down but also the large number of traffic signs that were ripped out of the ground at all the roundabouts and traffic intersections. We don’t recall that happening before on that scale.

The time it took to restore power this time was also an indicator of the severity of the storm. The amount of food lost in freezers and the effect of nearly a week without power shutting down businesses etc. was devastating for those affected. We may even have another baby boom since there was no TV to watch….

Bridle Path NB
The Bridle Path NB


TRRA wrote to Council after hearing Steve Bernasconi, PSC Council Community Services Manager interviewed on ABC 1233 on Monday afternoon in a program comparing the response of Lake Macquarie, Newcastle and PS Councils to the massive green waste problem that the storm has created. The other Councils are providing an immediate green waste pickup for residents. PS Councils response is outlined below.

We thanked Council for what they have done so far, but are concerned that they are possibly not aware of the scale of the problem confronting some residents. There is no way that some of the debris that we have seen about the place can be taken out to the waste transfer station in someones 7×4 trailer or ute. We are talking industrial size chainsaws and large cranes here.

It appears that since Monday they are now considering other options, but it sounds like it will be a long time before the cleanup is completed. We will keep you posted.

150504 Letter PSC re delay in kerbside pick up after storm event

150506 Response to TRRA re Request for Earlier Kerbside Collection – 6 May 2015

Updated PSC Media Release 11 May 2015

Examiner May 20 2015: One Month On From The April Storm – Gallery

Examiner Port’s April Storm Damage Bill Is Expected To Run Into The Tens Of Millions Of Dollar

Later Story Reaction to Mayor’s Controversial Tree Culling Proposal

Happy To Take Your Dollars – But Don’t Try And Spend A Penny!


Update 17 December 2014: Thank You Councillor Dingle!

Councillor Geoff Dingle raised this matter with Council Planning Staff and there was not much enthusiasm but when he indicated that if it was not fixed he would be calling it up before Council under s96 which could have delayed the project. Common sense finally prevailed and drawings were provided for 3 toilets and baby change facilities. We are Relieved………

Original post 10 October 2014

Woolworths have applied to make what they describe as minor design changes to their new supermarket which will be built on the Coles site over the next year.

However, one proposed change is not so minor.  Woolworths want to be relieved of the condition that they provide public toilets in the development.  Their application misleads by assuring that they will still be providing ‘public toilet facilities’ off the lobby area, but when you look at the plans this is just a single ‘accessible’ toilet.

A lot of people don’t like to use ‘accessible toilets’ – thinking they are reserved for people with disabilities – and in any case one such toilet is in no way a substitute for proper separate Mens and Womens facilities.

Don't let this happen to you!
Don’t let this happen to you!

We understand that Woolworths have already got away with this at their new Medowie store.

There are no public toilets in that part of the town centre and this is a ‘once in a generation’ opportunity to get a decent new facility at no cost to Council.  Woolworths are already making this the most basic development with only the bare minimum of ‘public benefit’ infrastructure.

We think Council should refuse to delete the condition.  If you agree, please send a submission (however brief) to Council before 15 October – by post or email – a template letter is HERE

October 15 2014 TRRA Submission to Council: 141015 TRRA sub Woolworths variation

What’s Happening With Kerbside Clean Ups?

Rubbish PickupRecently TRRA Inc. had a resident express concerns about how messy the kerbside clean ups are and how they usually seem to coincide with school holidays when all our visitors are here….. Not a good look.

According to the response received from Council, things are set to change from 1st July 2015 with one more collection to be organized next year (on a date yet to be decided – hopefully outside of school holidays!)

Council is currently in the tender process for a new contract and an on-call bulk waste collection is an option being considered. This was a suggestion taken on board following consultation with (some) residents.

This method involves the resident calling a booking service where they will be given a specific date for their bulk waste collection. This is a method used by a number of Councils and allows the residents more flexibility as they can have the pick up when they need it. This also sorts out the issue of piles left out for a long time and scavengers.
In the meantime, why not use the services of the Salamander Bay Recycling Centre, an independent not-for-profit charity. They provide a bulk household waste removal service for the Tomaree Peninsula only.

The link to Waste Management HERE on the Port Stephens Council website is well worth a read. It covers all sorts of information about waste disposal and recycling in Port Stephens.
New residents in particular should remember that not all Councils operate in the same way and here in Port Stephens we have the excellent Bedminster system and this drives the methods used for waste management .

Better Planning Network Community Charter

Better Planning NetworkTRRA Inc. is one of 460 Community Groups affiliated to the Better Planning Network , a volunteer-based organisation formed at the end of August 2012 by Community Groups concerned about the NSW Government’s planning reforms.

 The BPN is campaigning for a visionary planning system that fosters environmental and social sustainability with best planning design outcomes. As such, the BPN is a signatory to Planning for People: A Community Charter for Good Planning in NSW.

A Community Charter for Good Planning in NSW

Planning for People

The Planning for the People Charter has been developed by Better Planning Network to guide government on community expectations on future planning laws. The Charter and its Companion have been developed and endorsed by a number of public interest organisations, including the National Trust of Australia (NSW), Nature Conservation Council of NSW, National Parks Association of NSW. Total Environment Centre, Australia ICOMOS (International Council on Monuments and Sites), Our Land Our Water Our Future and the Inner Sydney Regional Council for Social Development.

The Charter sets a community vision, key principles and desired outcomes for good planning in NSW, a copy can be found at the new website www.thecommunitycharter.org along with the companion document that details these principles and outcomes.

Good planning is governed by the following principles:

• The well-being of the whole community, the environment and future generations across regional, rural and urban NSW.

• Effective and genuine public participation in strategic planning and development decisions.

• An open, accessible, transparent and accountable, corruption-free planning system.

• The integration of land use planning with the provision of infrastructure and the conservation of our natural, built and cultural environment.

• Objective, evidence-based assessment of strategic planning and development proposals.

These principles will guide a planning system that:

• Respects, values and conserves our natural environment and the services it provides.

• Facilitates world-class urban environments with well-designed, resource-efficient housing, public spaces and solar access that meet the needs of residents, workers and pedestrians.

• Provides housing choice, including affordable housing and sufficient housing for the disadvantaged, in a diversity of locations.

• Celebrates, respects and conserves our cultural (including Aboriginal) and built heritage.

• Protects and sustainably manages our natural resources, including our water resources, fragile coastlines and irreplaceable agricultural land for the benefit of present and future generations while maintaining or enhancing ecological processes and biological diversity.

• Retains and protects our crown lands, natural areas, landscapes and flora and fauna for the benefit of the people of NSW.

• Gives local and regional communities a genuine and meaningful voice in shaping their local area and region, its character and the location, height and density of housing. Provides certainty and fairness to communities.

TRRA Inc. at our general meeting held on 8th September 2014 unanimously passed a resolution to endorse the Charter, thereby agreeing to supporting its contents, and willing to publicly say so.

As well as community groups, individuals like you also have the opportunity to endorse the Charter either online or by downloading a form from the web site  www.thecommunitycharter.org .

It is hoped with the lead-up to the NSW State Elections in March 2015 that the need for good planning is placed on the agenda of electors and candidates, with local groups and individuals encouraging their local candidates to endorse.

** PS: 6 of the 8 candidates in the Newcastle by-election endorsed the charter at its launch 11 September 2014.

140905 Hunter Valley Community Charter Launch 11 September

140905 Full Charter Companion – Planning for People

140905 Planning for People_ CHARTER – Printer Version

Related BPN posts HERE

TRRA Inc. Issues Raised In Parliament

Newcastle Herald 22 August 2014: Labor’s Call For Answers

19 August 2014: TRRA inc. concerns about the Conduct of the 2012 Port Stephens Council Elections and the Councils reluctance to release comprehensive information relating to DA applications electronically on their website were raised in Budget Estimates Committee in the NSW Parliament today.

The Honorable Sophie Costis MLC (Labor) raised the issues with the Minister For Local Government Hon. Paul Toole after representations from TRRA Executive, facilitated by Kate Washington, endorsed (Labor) Candidate for Port Stephens.

NSW Parlliament



Sophie Costis had actually been reading the TRRA General Meeting Minutes on our website after I spoke to her at the ‘Save The Yaccaba Centre’ Meeting. This is the email I received 8 Aug 2014.


Hi Dick, Sophie Cotsis, Shadow for LG,  is reading TRRA’s meeting minutes and would like a copy of the letter you sent to the Minister for LG regarding the PS local Council election irregularities.  The letter is apparently referenced in your meeting minutes of 10/3/14.  She’s also interested in seeing any response you had from the Minister. If possible, could you please send these to me ASAP, as Sophie is working on this issue now. Thanks, Kate.

Copies of the submission that we made to the Electoral Funding Authority, the disappointing string of emails following that up, the Herald opinion piece that we submitted and links to the Newcastle Herald coverage from this website were dispatched to the Department of Premier & Cabinet, the Minister and the Member with a covering letter: HERE  

It was a pretty willing exchange in the Committee, The Minister suggested that if we thought that there was any impropriety in the election we should refer it to ICAC!  (There’s a thought!) And unfortunately the Minister confused the issue of simple information that the Council won’t supply to us about development applications (that we are entitled to,) with matters discussed in confidential Committee (that we are not). However the issues are now recorded in Hansard transcripts and will be checked out by the relevant public servants who will report to the Minister.  Sophie Costis has indicated that when the opportunity presents itself she will be asking the Minister what action has been taken in the near future. 

We would like to formally thank the Hon Member for her interest in our issues, recognition of these matters by Government is long overdue.

We have a file full of one page (blow off) responses to lengthy submissions to the Local Government Ministers that are virtually form letters telling us that if we are not happy with the performance of our Council or Councillors to just throw them out at the next election.  Four years is a long time and that can be a little late! After the shenanigans at the last Council election, the State Election and the resignation of the lord Mayor of Newcastle there is not a lot of confidence that elections will solve the problem either. Brown paper bag democracy reigns at the moment……….!

I have extracted the relevant exchange from Hansard  HERE.

Speakers in the transcript:

Hon. Natasha Maclaren-Jones, BN, MLC  (Liberal) Chair

Hon. Paul Toole (Liberal) Member for Bathurst, Minister For Local Government.

Hon. Sophie Costis MLC ( Labor) Shadow Minister, Local Government, Housing, Status of Women.

Hon David Shoebridge MLC (Greens)

The Hon. Shaoquett Moselmane, MLC (Labor)

The Hon Scott Macdonald MLC (Liberal)

The Hon Niall Blair, MLC (National)

Ross Woodward Deputy Director-General, Department of Local Government (Last day At Work)