RYDE TELECOMMUNICATIONS TOWERS PROPOSALS
Mr VICTOR DOMINELLO
(Ryde) [11.40 a.m.]: Today I bring to the Parliament's attention the concerns of Ryde residents regarding the proposed installation of telecommunications towers. Over the past month or so the local residents of the streets surrounding Quarry Road in Ryde and the Tennis World site on Epping Road in North Ryde have been fighting tough battles with Telstra and Optus respectively over their proposals to build mobile network facilities in close proximity to family homes and primary schools. The community consultation processes conducted by these telecommunications companies have left a lot to be desired in the minds of residents. Federal legislation allows Optus and Telstra to usurp the local council's planning laws where necessary to allow them to install new communications infrastructure.
On consecutive Sunday afternoons, on 1 August and 8 August 2010, I attended two community rallies organised by concerned residents, protesting against the installation of these mobile towers in residential areas. At the corner shops at 130 Quarry Road, more than 100 residents attended the rally in a show of solidarity against the Telstra tower proposal. I acknowledge the hard work and dedication of Liz Harrison, Marnie Starr and Kellie Hoggard on behalf of the residents affected by the proposed towers.
Telstra has responded to residents' concerns about the site location and the process undertaken by extending the consultation process by five weeks and holding a community "kiosk". I attended the community "kiosk" and viewed the information available. However, in response to my representations to the Chief Executive Officer of Telstra, I have been advised that a commercial lease had already been entered into with the owner of the site. In the circumstances, I find it difficult to believe this to be genuine consultation when it seems that the deal has already been signed, sealed and delivered in relation to the proposal.
The following Sunday at Blenheim Park, just near Tennis World and Truscott Street Public School, I attended another rally of more than 150 residents, this time protesting against Optus' proposal to erect mobile towers and an equipment shelter within 200 metres of the school. I acknowledge the hard work and dedication of Dragan Misic, Karen Kennedy, Julia O'Reilly and Truscott Principal Joanne Govorcin on behalf of the residents and students affected by the towers proposed at the Tennis World site. The proposed site is owned by the Department of Lands, which I understand has been in commercial negotiations with Optus over the use of the site. The site is within 200 metres of Truscott Public School, and that is a clear contravention of the Department of Education and Training's guidelines for such towers to be built at least 500 metres away from the boundary of schools.
This is a prudent policy given the uncertainty about the long-term effects of electromagnetic fields. This uncertainty about the impact on their children is not something that parents should have to be burdened with for the sake of expediency and cost savings for telecommunications companies. I have made multiple representations to Optus and the Minister for Lands and the Minister for Education and Training, calling on them to do all they can to ensure the proposal is stopped and a more appropriate site is found. Last Friday the residents of North Ryde presented me with a petition of more than 1,240 signatures, calling on Optus to relocate its facility to a more appropriate commercial or industrial site in the area.
Submissions to Optus closed yesterday, and I thank the Department of Education and Training for listening to the community in providing a formal submission opposing the towers. I understand the Department of Lands is currently considering its position regarding its lease negotiations with Optus. Today I call on all parties involved in these proposals—Telstra, Optus and the relevant department—to listen to the strong concerns of the people of Ryde. Their industry code calls on them to locate their antennas in built-up areas, away from homes, wherever possible. Given the close proximity of suitable industrial sites at Top Ryde, Macquarie Park and North Ryde, I urge both Telstra and Optus to respect the concerns of the Ryde residents and to relocate the towers to more appropriate locations.