Council unanimously calls for govt to abandon compulsory acquisition of Jannali homes for commuter car park

Some of the residents at the council meeting on Monday night.
Some of the residents at the council meeting on Monday night.

Sutherland Shire Council has thrown its full support behind residents over the proposed commuter car park site at Jannali and called on the state government to abandon the compulsory acquisition process.

Political allegiances were put aside at the council meeting on Monday night as Labor and Liberal councillors unanimously condemned the government action and supported a mayoral minute by mayor Steve Simpson (independent).

Many residents, most wearing T-shirts with the message Save Our Homes - Jannali 2226, watched from the public gallery, with two of the group addressing the meeting.

The key part of the resolution is a request to the government to "abandon" the process of compulsory acquisition of nine homes in conjunction with Transport for NSW and council officials looking at alternative sites for the proposed 200-space facility.

Home owners have been officially notified they have six months to agree to a price, after which negotiations will end and the NSW Valuer General will make the decision.

Cr Peter Scaysbrook said the situation was more than a "ticking clock" - the expression used by residents and displayed on protest placards.

"It's more like a burning fuse," he said.

Cr Jack Boyd said, "You can't negotiate with a gun being put to the back of your head".

"This is pure, unadulterated evil."

Deputy mayor Michael Forshaw, a former long-serving senator, said, "I have seen some bastard decisions over the years but this takes the cake".

Cr Forshaw said rail commuters from other areas "will be driving from their homes and parking in a car park that used to be someone else's home".

"We are with you all the way," he told residents.

Former mayor Carmelo Pesce, to whom Transport Minister Andrew Constance wrote in September 2020, advising the government would go it alone in finding a car park site, said he believed the letter was a statement, not requiring a reply.

"What the letter basically says is 'stick it up your b.., we are not listening to you anymore and we are going our own way'," Cr Pesce said.

Cr Pesce said he apologised if he did the wrong thing by not replying, but didn't believe that was the case.

Cr Pesce said what the government was doing was "not morally right" - a claim echoed by other speakers.

Councillors expressed their admiration for the "considered" and "respectful" manner in which the residents were conducting meetings and building support.

Residents and supporters at a street meeting on Sunday.

Residents and supporters at a street meeting on Sunday.

A petition already has more than 7500 signatures.

Cr Barry Collier, a former state MP for Miranda, who described the government action as "cruel and unconscionable", said, "I have seen many campaigns, and had a few against me at times, but this is the best I have seen".

Liam Mulhall, who owns one of the homes in Mary Street which is to be acquired, was one of those to address the meeting.

He and his wife bought their home in 2001 and have carried out four major renovations, including an upstairs addition. Recently, they spent $100,000 preparing the house for their retirement years.

Mr Mulhall told the meeting the consultant appointed as his "personal manager" by Transport for NSW had indicated it was very much a done deal, and that he should get a lawyer to work though the process.

The underlying message - not the consultant's actual words - had been to basically suck it up and get on with it, Mr Mulhall said.

Nicole Girard, who lives opposite the proposed car park site, told of the distress of her eight-year-old daughter seeing the trauma experienced by neighbours and realising the same thing could happen anywhere.

The resolution, which was moved by Cr Simpson and seconded by Cr Peter Scaysbrook, reads:

1. Council reiterates its policy of opposing compulsory acquisition of private property.

2. Council supports the concerns of the affected residents of Mitchell Road and Mary Street, Jannali and surrounds with the location of the proposed multi-level 200 space commuter car park and the acquisition process by which Transport for NSW are progressing the project which may involve the compulsory acquisition of nine residential properties.

3. Council work with Transport for NSW to identify suitable alternative sites within Jannali for a commuter car park and options that will appropriately consider the traffic management, design, social and environmental issues to secure the best outcome for the surrounding community.

4. Council acknowledges and thanks the NSW Minister for Transport and Roads, The Honourable Andrew Constance MP, for hearing the concerns of residents regarding the Jannali commuter car park as proposed and his willingness to have Transport for NSW and Sutherland Shire Council officers work swiftly in identifying suitable alternative sites to deliver this transport infrastructure project.

5. Council requests NSW State Government abandon the compulsory acquisition process.

6. Council's relevant department(s) provide guidance where requested to assist residents obtain appropriate representation.

A response on Point 5 has been sought from Mr Constance.