Author Archives: garyspeechley

M5 EIS objection

Vanessa and I have just submitted our objection to the westCONnex M5 EIS. It is based largely on the NOwestCONnex template but raises additional points.

The enclosed PDF may be of interest to others still preparing their submissions.

20160126 – M5EIS Submission – Speechley – Knight


Vale Robyn Kemmis

The Alexandria Residents’ Action Group (ARAG) and residents of Alexandria are saddened by the news of the unexpected passing of Robyn Kemmis, Deputy Lord Mayor and a great friend of ARAG.

ARAG is a relatively new residents’ group and in our short time since formation Robyn has offered quiet counsel and unqualified support for us and the issues that affect Alexandria. Robyn always was accessible, knowledgeable and professional in her interactions with ARAG.

We always have been impressed by Robyn’s performance on Council – her calm and considered presentation of issues and representation of constituents’ concerns. Continue reading

M5 East Press Release
Media Release – 01 Deceember 2015

WestCONnex M5 Interchange is a Crown of Thorns

Residents in Alexandria were horrified to see the plans for the M5 and the St Peters Interchange with its ‘Crown of Thorns’ concrete freeway arching over a ‘brand new park’ which given its close proximity to an unfiltered, filthy exhaust stack, doesn’t make it somewhere anyone will want to be.

Ben Aveling, Co-Convenor of the Alexandria Residents Action Group is dismayed at the spin and misinformation contained in the latest information release.
He said “it just beggars belief that anyone thinks that this is a good result for the people using the M5, let alone the people at the end of the road who will be left to deal with the massive increase in traffic.

There is no mention of the $26 daily tolls that people will have to pay, and no mention of reduced travel times over the whole journey. It’s just smoke stacks and mirrors.”

A closer inspection of the map reveals some other failings of the proposal:
• All traffic that needs to go into the city will need to find its way through McEvoy Streets, Mitchell Road and King Street, and this situation won’t improve if the M5 to M4 tunnel (which is unfunded) ever gets built. The only way into the city is via those three streets.
• 100,000 more cars a day are supposed to be using the M5 extension. This isn’t enough to make the toll road pay, but where are all the cars going to go? Anyone who has driven down those already crowded roads knows more traffic means slower travel times and more congestion.
• One of the off-ramps joins Gardeners Road which is already at capacity. Given that Gardeners Road goes from three lanes down to one after Botany Road, we are now stack filling an existing car park.

Even more laughable are the claims made in the four page brochure on the ‘New M5 – St Peters interchange’:
• ‘Returning local streets to local residents by removing through traffic and fixing local bottlenecks’. Unless WestCONnex has found a way to make 100,000+ cars a day evaporate, there is no evidence that WestCONnex has removed traffic – rather it has massively increased it, and created nightmare bottlenecks
• ‘Up to 49% reduction in travel time’ but if you read the small print, this only applies up to the King Georges Road interchange, so bad luck if you are using WestCONnex to get into the city!

“WestCONnex is a bad idea for Sydney. It puts roads ahead of public transport.

It comes at the cost of spending on schools, hospitals and other infrastructure and it creates more problems than it solves.” Ben Aveling said.

“We know it’s not a good deal. The Auditor General’s review of the Business Case back in December 2014 was damning. The Government won’t release the Business Case and that speaks volumes.”

We call on the government to halt all work on the M4 and M5, stop letting tenders and acquiring homes and businesses and release the business case.

Nothing less is satisfactory.”

For more information contact: Ben Aveling, Alexandria Residents Action Group 0407 228 240

The “Crown of Thorns” Interchange, just south of Sydney Park


The EIS for the M5 East, thousands of pages of spin, numbers, graphs and diagrams, much of which has no basis in fact, now has been released – just in time for Christmas – with limited time for the public to read, assess, analyse and submit their comments to the government.

It is very cynical of the government to release such important documents over the Christmas holiday period.

Residents can get more information by visiting where community members from across Sydney will be posting their analyses and draft submissions for you to assess in submitting your objections to this wasteful road project. Visit the site regularly, as information will be upgraded regularly.

Ashmore Estate Development – ARAG’s Talking Points for Objections to the DA

ARAG has prepared a list of items that residents might like to consider when preparing their objection to the Ashmore Estate development proposal.

Briefly, the proposal is for 1,400 – 1,600 units and an increase in population of around 6,300. That effectively DOUBLES the population of BOTH Alexandria and Erskineville.

Download this PDF ARAG Ashmore Estate Objection Template to assess the issues.

Download this version in WORD format: ARAG Ashmore Estate Objection Template.

AGM Results

The 2014 Annual General Meeting of ARAG was held on Wednesday 9th July 2014 prior to our regular monthly meeting.

The result of the elections to the Executive Committee is:

 Convenor Ben Aveling
 Co-Convenor Vanessa Knight
Secretary Yvonne Cowell
Treasurer Gary Speechley
Working Groups Vanessa Knight

Additionally, Gary Speechley is the Public Officer, the person responsible for liaison between ARAG and Fair Trading NSW.

The Convenors’ Report is enclosed below:

It has been another year of progress for ARAG. The Convenors Vanessa Knight and Ben Aveling are happy to report the following:


Meetings have been held every month apart from January 2014. With the active support of the Coordination Group, we have had a number of guest speakers and interesting topics. These have included:
▪    City of Sydney’s Draft Parking Policy – Anthony Mifsud – Policy Manager- City Access and Transport
▪    West Connex – Gavin Gatenby (convenor of EcoTransit) who talked about what WestConnex is not addressing and what better alternatives might be
▪    Draft City of Sydney Employment Lands Strategy – Senior Specialist Planner Tamara Bruckshaw, Senior Specialist Planner City of Sydney
▪    Proposed Council Amalgamations – What you should be Concerned about _ Robyn Kemmis Deputy Lord Mayor
▪    Ashmore Precinct Development – Update – John Davies Planner City of Sydney, Mike Hatton Friends of Erskineville, ARAG submission to City of Sydney
▪    NSW Government’s proposal for changes to the planning laws – multiple updates
▪    Updates on Central – Eveleigh Precinct Development – Ben Aveling (ARAG), Desley Haas (ARAG) and Duncan Read – GM of ATP
▪    Redfern Railway Station Ticket Vending
▪    City of Sydney Village to Village Free Service- Frances Lim, South East Sydney Community Transport
▪    Discussions on requirement for Sporting Infrastructure in the Sydney Local Government Area (LGA) do we have enough?
▪    Crime update for the area – Redfern Police
▪    Update on the 308 bus timetable
▪    Sydney Park Storm Water Harvesting – Damon La’Rance – City of Sydney
▪    Potential sale of ATP – Geoff Turnbull Redwatch
▪    History of Alexandria – Lisa Murray City of Sydney Historian
▪    Oral History of Alexandria – volunteers needed – Gary Speechley
▪    Buckland Street Development Application – Assistance with Objections – Ben Aveling
▪    Tree Lopping – who to contact with concerns/complaints
▪    Heritage Community Day – Australian Technology Park 16-17 May
▪    Flood Plain Strategy for Green Square and Surrounding Suburbs – Gill Fowler, Principal Environmental Scientist, Sydney Water, Jennifer Fisher, Senior Community Relations Advisor, Sydney Water, Terry Kefalianos, Principal Engineer, Water Assets, City of Sydney.

In addition, the ARAG Coordination Group have forwarded a number of messages to the ARAG email group to inform them of what is happening with the planning legislation, but also on other topics such as the consultation by the NSW Education Department on the long term needs for high schools in the Sydney LGA.

Alexandria Fair

The Alexandria Fair was held for the second time and was even more successful than the first Fair in 2013.

There were more stalls and more people attended. Feedback from the stallholders indicated that the Fair was a success for them as local business and that they would participate again.

The Organising Committee did a great job and we thank them for their contribution. The committee included Marika Herrmann, Yvonne Edgell, Leanne Seddon, Catherine Warne, Kyran Lynch, Yvonne Cowell, Katie Lawley, Cathy Grace and Gary Speechley.

In addition, many of the ARAG members volunteered on the day with the setup, running and pack up. Our thanks to them too – many hands make it easier! Special mention to Greg and Geralyn Smith, Richard Seddon, Mike Williams, Matt Cookson, Jack Cookson, Kevin Kendall and Marie Flood.

As with last year, the Committee held a wrap up meeting to go over what went well, what could be improved and what could be done differently. These have all been recorded for next year.

A report is being prepared for the Council which is one of the conditions of the grant.


ARAG is in good shape financially as per the Treasurer’s Report (available on request to

This means that ARAG has been in a position to contribute to the South Sydney Community Centre for the cost of producing the monthly flyers (and the cost of a new guillotine) along with the cost of tea, coffee and biscuits.

In addition, we have been in a position to pay for donations to the Better Planning Network who we have been partnering with on the fight against the changes to the NSW Planning Legislation. We have also paid for a banner on the proposed changes to raise awareness of the changes to the Alexandria Residents more broadly.

Special Thanks to the Coordination Group and others The Convenors would like to thank the members of the Coordination Group including Joy Brookes, Kyran Lynch, Yvonne Cowell, Jim Patsouris and Gary Speechley.

We would also like to thank our volunteers who distribute the flyers every month – Eric Jackson, Mike Eveleigh, Jim Patsouris, Joy Brookes and Yvonne Cowell.

Invitation to Join the Coordination Group

Members are invited to join the Coordination Group and assist with the ongoing management of ARAG. The pay is lousy, but the gratitude is endless.

Also – there is fun to be had – come and join us.

Ben Aveling and Vanessa Knight

ARAG’s Annual General Meeting

No – don’t run away!!!

The 2014 Annual General Meeting of ARAG will be held on Wednesday 9th July 2014 prior to our regular monthly meeting. The AGM will commence at 7:00 pm.

The current Executive Committee is:

 Convenor Ben Aveling
 Co-Convenor Vanessa Knight
Secretary  Yvonne Cowell
Treasurer Gary Speechley
Working Groups Vanessa Knight

Additionally, Gary Speechley is the Public Officer, the person responsible for liaison between ARAG and Fair Trading NSW.

We are seeking new members to join the committee and would welcome your consideration of offering your experience and enthusiasm.

Financial and other reports also will be presented at the AGM.

Better Planning Network – Petition to the Premier, Barry O’Farrell

BPN have their petition up and running at

To sign the petition, follow this link: The Premier of NSW – the Hon. Barry O’Farrell, MP: Withdraw the NSW Government’s Planning Bills!