Letters to the Editor

Where’s the money coming from?

I refer to the article On the Right Track? on page 7 of the April 14 issue of Highland News. 

Whilst I, like all other citizens, would like more rail services, more hospitals, more nurses, more schools, more teachers and more police it seems that we have forgotten to ask the critical question. 

Who will pay for it? 

It is all very well for us to expect that governments (local, state and federal) should provide these services but how are these institutions going to pay for the costs involved? 

A government can only do this in two ways: borrow or increase taxes. 

Under either system, we, the citizens and taxpayers, will eventually have to bear the extra costs.  This includes those of us who pay taxes now, our children who will pay next, their children etc. etc. 

Are we prepared to pay extra for the extras we want? 

I am not a great supporter of our current crop of elected officials but we need to keep a perspective on the source of funds which we expect them to spend.

George Lawrence

Our tourism loss will be your loss

To:

  • Premier The Hon. Gladys Berejiklian MP, Premier of NSW
  • The Hon. John Barilaro MP
  • Deputy Premier, Minister for Regional New South Wales, Minister for Skills, and Minister for Small Business
  • The Hon. Anthony Roberts MP Minister for Planning, Minister for Housing, Special Minister of State
  • The Hon. Adam Marshall MP Minister for Tourism and Major Events, Assistant Minister for Skills
  • The Hon. Gabrielle Upton MP Minister for the Environment, Minister for Local Government, Minister for Heritage
  • The Hon. Niall Blair MLC Minister for Primary Industries, Minister for Regional Water, Minister for Trade & Industry
  • The Hon. Paul Toole MP Minister for Lands and Forestry, Minister for Racing
  • The Hon. Pru Goward MP
  • The Hon. Jai Rowell MP

The Southern Highlands of NSW is one of your most beautiful regions.

It is arguably the most popular ‘wedding locale’ in NSW.

It has quaint ‘country towns and villages’, spectacular waterfalls and National Parks and draws recreational and competitive cyclists and events, hikers, photographers and escapees from the bustle of Sydney looking for a special weekend away but not that far that too much effort or time off work is involved.

We have a growing bloodstock breeding and training industry and could entice more.

We have food and wine events and industry groups, we have just launched special golfing weekends, we have Tulip Time and Brigadoon and are wanting to create so much more.

We are endeavouring to follow the NSW Gov’s directive to build a thriving Visitor Economy to sustain our own region’s economy and that of NSW by creating a desirable destination ‘sphere of influence’.

However what we desperately lack is tourist accommodation and event facilities and venues. This is well recognised and yet….

Council has effectively rejected 100 per cent compliant $23 million tourism DA, costing us at least 150 construction jobs and 80 local jobs on completion not to mention countless millions of dollars in visitor economy revenue and further investment in our region and your state by one of the most influential global players in the horse racing and resort industry.

Minister O’Toole will surely be familiar with the name Teo Ah Khing, Chairman of Desert Star Holdings Ltd and Managing Director of TAK, his design consultancy.

If not please visit: http://chinahorseclub.com/en/2017-chairmans- new-year-message/ or : https://www.tak.com.my/leadership.html.

Teo A. Khing Design Consultants (TAK) have world class expertise in architectural design and project management.

TAK and the China Horse Club were attracted to the Southern Highlands growing world class thoroughbred horse racing facilities, innate scenic beauty and a relatively untapped potential for tourism accommodation.

TAK is perhaps best known for the design and project management of the iconic Meydan Racecourse in Dubai, commissioned by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoun, Ruler of Dubai.

The facility was completed by TAK on schedule and in record time for the 2010 Dubai World Cup.

Mr. Teo was going to bring viticulture and tourism together in a visionary Tuscan-styled project at Southern Highlands Wines.

Council’s response to his DA reads in part: “…requesting an amended design which better considers and respects the character of the locality…. report to the JRPP recommending that the proposal in its current form not be supported”.

The proposal is entirely consistent with the WLEP 2010 zoning for the subject property as SP3 Tourist, a zone category specifically envisaged by council to attract tourism related developments to the site.

The type of development, Tourist and Visitor Accommodation and Function Facilities, are not just permissible under the WLEP 2010, but a type of development specifically fostered and actively encouraged by the SP3 zone objectives.

Mr Teo graduated from UNSW with a degree in architecture and holds a Masters in Urban Design from the prestigious Harvard University.

His architectural firm TAK has won numerous awards around the world, particularly in hospitality design.

Considering Mr. Teo’s qualifications and experience and the fact that the DA is compliant, is it little wonder that Mr. Teo has withdrawn his DA and is looking to move his interests and considerable investment potential to South Australia?

The visuals of this DA show a romantic series of Italian-styled buildings ideally suited to a vineyard setting.

Council seems to have overlooked the many Italian-inspired buildings, both public and private that dot the landscape of Sutton Forest and the wider Southern Highlands as do those inspired by French, English Georgian/Tudor/Queen Ann, American Hamptons, Australian colonial, Australian Victorian including Italianate-Victorian, German Bauhaus and the list goes on.

It could be said that Mr. Teo has been so comprehensively insulted that it is little wonder he has withdrawn his DA and is looking to relocate interstate.

Our rural region and NSW will lose jobs, massive visitor economy revenue and, given Mr. Teo’s horse racing interests, potentially even more if we had welcomed him.

Premier and Ministers, your government’s focus is to increase destination tourism to this state, to see training and employment opportunities created especially in regional NSW, especially for young people.

You want investment in NSW to build stronger local, regional and state economies.

It could be said our council is not thinking along the same lines.

Mr Teo Ah Khing will now take his capital, his expertise, his vision and his leadership to the more enlightened and very enthusiastic embrace of another state.

Unless you act.

Southern Highlands Chamber of Commerce & Industry

Steve Horton (Chair)

Holly Campbell (Vice Chair)