CAT CALLING etc. - Anne to SMH, 24/5/2018

Back in the 19th century intellectual discussion in Europe considered the "woman question". When my mum was a young woman in the 1930s a man introduced his "trouser snake" to her finger tips while she was seated on a bus. In my early thirties men at work frequently held deep and meaningful conversations about work matters but addressed them to my breasts. Another man wanted to bed me to show me how to be a "real woman" instead of the uptight creature he considered me to be. In yesterday's Herald Joan Brown of Orange told her astonishing story of teenage harassment. Each week Clementine and Kasey report on other matters of misogyny. The stories are endless. Woman Question? Don't think so. It's time we urgently considered the Male Question.

NOSES - Anne to SMH, 21/5/2018

Yes, Peter Masia, I too have noticed that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have lookalike noses and I'm worried for their kids.

NOT "GOOD BLOKES" - Anne to SMH, 14/5/2018

Clementine Ford has expressed exactly my thoughts on the matter of murder suicides. She is absolutely correct to suggest we have to stop valorising controlling, egotistical men, who commit acts of violence, as "good blokes" who have simply "snapped". One of the reasons given for Peter Miles actions was that the serious illness of another of his children pushed him to the brink. By killing his wife, daughter and grand children Miles has failed utterly to support and nurture his unwell son. Instead, he chose to turn his attention onto to his own suffering. He has left his surviving son to deal with a serious health condition in the face of unimaginable grief and the terrible knowledge of his father's betrayal. I wouldn't be surprised if Miles' son suffers survivor's guilt as well. Murdering your family is not the behaviour of a "good bloke".

DEAR ROSEMARY - Anne to SMH, 1/5/2018

Rosemary, I think you need to get out more. Georges Hall to Parramatta is a mere 14kms. I feel I should tactfully point out that even 200 visits over 20 years is a pretty low excursion rate over such a short distance. I'd like to suggest that you live dangerously and enjoy a day trip to Ultimo where you'll find interesting Victorian architecture, the weird and wonderful Chau Chak Wing building at UTS, a lovely promenade repurposed from a goods line and a museum full of fascinating artefacts. Nearby at Central Railway is Mortuary Station which is marvellous all on its own. After all variety is the spice of life.


Phillip Atkinson and Neil Watson, by their letters to the Herald, have shown us toxic masculinity in action. It is inappropriate of them to use the dramatic events in Thailand to support their whining stance against the spotlight being shone on the very real issue of toxic masculinity. What's happening in Thailand is true human decency and bravery in action. Unfortunately it doesn't cancel out the fact that some men are violent and that that violence needs to be addressed.


Peter Hartcher's article (Turnbull is on borrowed time, 21st Aug ) quotes a backbencher saying some coalition members are worried they will be out of a job in six months. "They've got houses, school bills, cars that they've set themselves up for on the basis they they're earning $200,000 plus." Good grief! Did they truly believe they were signing up for lifetime tenure when they decided to enter politics? If they are that stupid then good riddance to them.

WOMEN AND BULLYING - Anne to SMH, 7/9/2018

Ray Warren of Mandurah misses the point. He seems to believe that the way some men behave constitutes the natural order. Bullying, aggression and intimidation are what unsophisticated, unimaginative people do when they feel either entitled or threatened. Aggression and intimidation are primitive responses. It would be nice if swashbuckling goons realised that. What women want, Ray, is for offending men to cease their dysfunctional behaviour and start behaving like intelligent, adult, human men.

BEAUTIFUL STUDY NOTES - Anne to SMH, 5/11/2018

I’m learning French again decades after I last studied the language at school. I’m thrilled to see that despite being a Boomer I’m right on trend with young people. (Insta fans go nuts over study notes SMH 4 October).

It occurred to me independently that handwriting grammatical rules and vocabulary lists with coloured pens and artistic embellishment would be a way of remembering new information. It’s proving to be successful. The practice also justifies my enjoyment of stationery porn.

These young women have set the bar pretty high so I need to lift my game. I might even start posting on Instagram; in French of course.


This evening I rang the new hospital to enquire about the helicopter traffic overhead. I was told that the emergency concerned a baby who had to be flown OUT of the hospital for treatment elsewhere.

The hospital was planned not to be top level; it is inadequate medically.

It is not state-of-the-art environmentally, particularly in respect of renewable energy.

And it is in what NSW Health’s own “robust qualitative analysis”(Development Options Business Case) rated as a poor third out of the six sites considered.

When I asked the switchboard operator where I should complain, she astutely said “Brad Hazzard”. It was he who as Planning Minister, local MP, and local resident, designated Frenchs Forest as the location for the hospital, despite stating the obvious publicly, that he would be seen to have a conflict of interest.

Including the associated road “upgrades”, which are more than a year behind schedule and heaven knows how much above budget, this is another glaring example of billions of taxpayer dollars mis-spent. Not to mention a lovely residential suburb destroyed in the process.

NORTHERN BEACHES HOSPITAL - Joint effort, SMH (Published), 22/11/2018

I’d like to contradict Peter Loewensohn of Cremorne who believes that projects from starting a coffee shop to running an airline all experience teething problems depending on the mettle of the operator. Really? Do Boeing or Airbus sell their new planes to airline companies without thoroughly testing them first? There might be problems in the design stage but the planes don’t fly with passengers until those are resolved. Just imagine if plane loads of passengers crashed to earth. Would the excuse “teething problems” or “hiccups” be considered fair enough.

Healthscope clearly wasn’t ready to open for business. The Premier at the opening praised them for being 6 weeks ahead of schedule. Perhaps they should have taken that time to prepare adequately.

When you’re dealing in life or death, near enough isn’t good enough.


To borrow a word from Paul Keating, I’d like to call Brad Hazzard a nincompoop.

He says of the shambolic situation at the Northern Beaches Hospital operating it “isn't a case of put in water, mix and cook”. Too right Nincompoop! The opening of a state of the art hospital which cost the NSW taxpayer hundreds of millions of dollars is not equivalent to the baking of a packet cake mix.

When Qantas launched its new Dreamliner route to England did the planes takes off expecting a few teething problems? Or were they thoroughly tested and proven sky worthy first?

Northern Beaches Hospital is a er…um… hospital Nincompoop. Its operations are meant to be exemplary from day one. The buck stops with you.


With the building of the Northern Beaches Hospital residents of Frenchs Forest have been subjected to three years of traffic and other disruption. The massive and ugly roadworks are running a year behind schedule. Hoardings around the hospital site boasted of a $500 million dollar spend. The reported cost is now $600 million which is a budget blowout of 20%.

Now, to add insult to injury we learn that the new hospital is a shambles. Two functioning, yet poorly maintained, hospitals were closed and patients moved to a state of the art institution that wasn’t fully prepared and ready to receive them.

I’m furious that so much money can spent, that so much political boasting can be done, and yet at the last hurdle the management team can stumble in such an astonishing way.

I’m even more furious that both Minister Hazzard and Gordon Ballantyne, the boss of Healthscope, offer nothing but weasel words by way of excuse. Where is your pride in finishing the job properly?

This is a hospital guys. Patients are depending on it running smoothly from day ONE.

WARRINGAH - Anne to SMH, 16/11/2018

To those correspondents who have been urging us to do the nation a favour by removing the current member, I can assure them that the groundswell is growing. Bumper stickers, T-shirts, posters, etc., proclaiming “Time’s up Tony, we can do better” and the like are making an appearance throughout the electorate.


Keith Woodward and Denis Suttling (Letters, 21 Nov) both correctly (but perhaps belatedly, I don’t know whether they complained at the appropriate time) point out that the hospital is in the wrong place. It is important to understand how this happened.

NSW Health finalised its Development Options Business Case in late 2005. Its qualitative analysis chose the former Warringah Council Chamber land in Dee Why, with Frenchs Forest a distant third. But in 2006 government decided on Frenchs Forest, based on “risk” (the strength of public opposition anticipated) and cost. The cost was calculated on the basis that the necessary road network improvements would cost a mere $21.3M, whereas the current published figure is $500M, which doesn’t allow for the fact that the roading project is now more than a year behind schedule. Short-term political and bureaucratic criteria won out over the health professionals’ long-term preference.

When Hazzard, then Planning Minister, signed the 16 Oct 2012 order kick-starting the process for the Frenchs Forest hospital, he did so without reviewing or updating the 2006 decision, despite much of its data being the best part of a decade old. Nor were any new locations considered. So when Health Infrastructure claimed in the Environmental Impact Statements for the proposed hospital that the choice of location was based on “robust qualitative analysis”, that was untrue. They also claimed that the Frenchs Forest site was central to the catchment area (which had previously been defined as what is now the Northern Beaches LGA). This is blatantly false geographically. And as regards population distribution, the centre was assessed in the original studies as being Cromer (it would have moved north since then).

Neither of these major falsehoods was challenged by NSW Planning when it approved the hospital, despite having them pointed out in residents’ submissions. Which highlights the fundamental systemic flaw in approving public projects, ie. if one part of government (in this case Health) says it wants to do something, another part of government (eg Planning) is not going to stop them. They’re both on the same team, after all! And the pretence of public consultation is an utter sham.

Perhaps it’s time for the Auditor General to look into the matter. Billions of taxpayer dollars are being misspent.


When Gladys Berejiklian ‘insisted Health Minister Brad Hazzard was "on top of all those issues"’ (SMH, 19 Nov), she never spoke a truer word. Like in the children’s chant “I’m the King of the Castle”, he sits smugly on top of the whole sordid shemozzle.

For years it has been his pet project, a personal obsession. Despite telling a public meeting that he couldn’t be involved in the process because of a perceived conflict of interest (being local member and local resident), it was he as Planning Minister who on 16 Oct 2012 signed the order designating NSW Health’s third-choice location as the site for the hospital.

Little did he expect at that time that he would hold the Health portfolio when it came time to clean up the mess. And hopefully be held accountable for it. As ye sow, so shall ye reap, Brad.


On 19 Nov 2018 we scored a major triumph, the Quinella! Not only were we both published in the SMH, but Anne had the lead letter and I was second. We weren't going to quibble about their heavy editing. The topic of both was the shambolic performance of the new Northern Beaches Hospital, which had opened on 30 October, and was much in the news. Included here are the other letters on the same subject, and it's well worth reading down to the last one.

Hospital a Basket Case but it’s no real surprise - SMH 19 Nov 18

With the building of the Northern Beaches Hospital, residents of Frenchs Forest have been subjected to three years of traffic and other disruption ("Brand new hospital 'courting disaster'", November 17-18). The massive and ugly roadworks are running a year behind schedule. Hoardings around the hospital site boasted of a $500 million spend. The reported cost is now $600 million, a blowout of 20 per cent. To add insult to injury, we learn the new hospital is a shambles. Two functioning, yet poorly maintained, hospitals were closed and patients moved to a state-of-the-art institution that wasn't ready. I'm furious so much money can be spent, so much political boasting can be done, and yet at the last hurdle the management team can stumble in such an astonishing way. I'm even more furious that minister Brad Hazzard and Gordon Ballantyne, the boss of Healthscope, offer nothing but weasel words. This is a hospital. Patients are depending on it running smoothly from day one. – Anne Carpenter, Frenchs Forest

What do you expect when you privatise public facilities without adequate supervision and control? Our blow-hard politicians are quick to blame private contractors, but the fundamental problem is of their own making. When Hazzard, then planning minister, designated Frenchs Forest as the site for the hospital, he ignored NSW Health's Development Options Business Case, a "robust qualitative analysis" that ranked Frenchs Forest a distant third out of the six sites considered. Now the politicians and their planning lackeys want to develop a new "town centre" on the last bit of green space we have. A lovely residential suburb is being destroyed. – Paul Cunningham, Frenchs Forest

The shambles is because, according to Hazzard, almost 2700 patients have gone through emergency in the 16 days since the hospital opened. Could the huge numbers be in part because Hazzard has closed the emergency department at Mona Vale Hospital? Why? Because the northern beaches is traditionally a strong Liberal area. It therefore is not electorally damaging that people now have to drive an extra 30 minutes for medical assistance. On arrival, delays of six hours in the new hospital's emergency department are common. Meanwhile, the Band-Aid centre at Mona Vale Hospital remains empty. – Sue Martin, Avalon Beach

We were promised a new public hospital and faster buses. We have received a dysfunctional, privately run hospital and the new B1 service resulting in an overall slower trip. – Denis Goodwin, Dee Why

NSW has seen this before. When Port Macquarie Base Hospital was privatised in the 1990s, it was so badly run the government had to buy it back – at twice the cost. What will it take for politicians to dismount from their ideological high horse and concede privatising public hospitals is a bad thing, a body bag? Oh wait, Northern Beaches Hospital doesn't have any. – Daniel Sharp, Freshwater

Having experienced Healthscope's idea of post-operative care at Prince of Wales private after my bilateral knee replacement, problems at the Northern Beaches Hospital come as no surprise. But nothing can top my four-month battle with Healthscope Pathology over its attempt to charge me for a pap smear. – Timothy Ashton, Glebe


To be fair, one department of the new hospital has been a resounding success- the helipad. Every time these noisy machines fly low over our homes (just as likely to be flying patients out to receive proper treatment elsewhere as flying them in), the racket resounds through our ears.

And given the propensity of helicopters to fall out of the sky, there are public safety concerns too.

Just one of the many reasons Hazzard should be crucified for not building the hospital in NSW Health’s preferred location of Dee Why.


So the Big Bash League is categorised as first class cricket? You're kidding! A contradiction in terms, more like.


"World class? State of the art?" Give me a break! The Brad Hazzard Memorial Folly was never planned to be more than a Level 5 hospital. Nor was it built to top-level "green" specifications. Aim low, and look what you get.

NSW PLANNING - Paul to SMH, 10/12/2018

Of course the planning approval system is not independent.

The Northern Beaches Hospital is a classic example. NSW Planning allowed the project to be split into four main stages so that by the time the overall impact was seen it was too late. NSW Planning also allowed NSW Health’s false claims for the choice of location to go unchallenged. NSW Planning’s final summary, in approving the project, that there would not be “any long-term adverse or irreversible effects” is simply laughable.

And the multitude of consultants used to provide a veneer of objectivity all know that there won’t be any future work for them if they don’t produce the “right” answer.

One part of government is not going to stop another part of government doing what it wants. They’re all playing for the same team, after all.

NRL must prove point - Paul to SMH, 22/12/2018

I’m sorry, Mr Skrzynecki, but not awarding points won’t help. The media will easily maintain a league table.

If you want them to “play for the love of the game” the answer is not to pay them. The word “amateur” derives from the Latin verb “to love”, after all.

If they’re kept busy doing real jobs Monday to Friday, they won’t have the time or energy to behave badly.

The over-professionalisation of sport in general, as a vehicle for tobacco, then booze, now gambling, has been one of the saddest trends in my lifetime.

PM urges voters to 'get shopping' - Paul to SMH, 24/12/2018

Consumerism gone mad! Whatever happened to the traditional advice to save for a deposit on a house, or for a rainy day, or for retirement? Thrift used to be a virtue. ​Buying even more mostly imported “stuff” that we don’t need will hurt balance of payments and household debt, not to mention increasing carbon and pollution. Perhaps government should focus on these criteria instead of solely GDP growth and their GST revenue.


Experience shows that the best way to give something the potential to become shonky and/or corrupt is to privatise it. Why can’t building certification be put back where it belongs, in local government?

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