Go Out with a bang not a whimper – the Fig Forum 17.1.2012


It was standing room only in the Hunter Room at Town Hall for the Fig Forum this evening.

It was a fantastic crowd –  I guess about 250 people.

Mike Ellison spoke via Skype and Prof Mark Stewart, a clinical engineer and expert in risk assessment, were the keynote speakers and the panel was made up of an interesting bunch of people.

I believe some anti councillors sent statements along with their apologies. These were displayed prominently on a wall near the entrance. Thank heavens the organisers thought better of reading them out.

And there was one question read out to the Q&A panel which was basically ‘Why get your knickers in a knot about 14 trees?” but otherwise it was an intelligent and interesting evening.

Council already has a document that responds to Mike Ellison’s QTRA report. I can just imagine what that’s going to be like. I recall when the Laman Street working party was meeting, various requests from community members on the working party were greeted with ‘We [Council] won’t have time to do that – our work load is too great’. But look: within a day of receiving this there is what will presumably be a convoluted response. Methinks the tree team don’t have enough to do, in spite of what they say.

There was discussion about a private member’s bill coming up in State parliament to stop the misuse of the Roads Act to avoid the proper process of  a development application, as appears may have happened in Laman Street.

One resident stood up and said that council have reassured him there is no risk from a large amount of asbestos close to his house – but thy judge the Laman St trees to be dangerous.

Mark Hartley said that the estimated cost of maintaining these trees is likely to be something like $25 000 a year. So if NCC had put in an interest-bearing account the huge amount of money they’ve spent on the QRAP like fences and security guards, the interest would have paid for ongoing care.

Prof Stewart talked about how Council’s risk reports lack scientific rigour.

Mike Ellison talked about how the Laman Street trees were of a risk he describes as ALARP – as low as reasonably practicable. They therefore require no money spent on lowering their risk.

The room touched on Council’s quoted importance of protecting the reputations of Council experts as a reason to look no further at risk. As a reason to remove these trees, this unimpressed the audience.

Anyway, I’m tired and that’s the key points I recall. It felt like a party. More tomorrow. I heard a rumour at the end of the night that the police won’t be coming till next week. Hope that’s true. Home




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5 Responses to “Go Out with a bang not a whimper – the Fig Forum 17.1.2012”

  1. Terry McCauley Says:

    Sorry I was unable to attend this meeting last night, sounds like it was fantastic!

  2. Emily Says:

    Chin up everyone! Thanks to all who attended!

  3. Sharon McCarthy Says:

    Caity you and the other member of the group to safe these beautiful trees are amazing. I am so proud of you all….you have not give up and by now it must be so hard standing in front of these councilors who really are doing the wrong thing. The people of the area and the visitors to Newcastle have been treated wrong by these people who should be listing to what you wont. The trees are young and just so beautiful….they are working in so many ways for us all. HUMANS MAKE SO MANY MISTAKES LETS HOPE THIS COUNCIL LEAVES THESE BEAUTIFUL LIVING FIGS ALONE BEFORE ITS TO LATE…..SO THEN THEY GET TO BE THERE FOR MANY MORE YEARS TO COME….FOR ALL THE PEOPLE AND VISITORS OF NEWCASTLE. They are safe and beautiful and so full of life. You are not stupid people. Don’t let these fools WIN.

  4. Shani Sandner Says:

    Yes Caity is amazing, so is Fee, John Sutton and Kari , Ed from the US ,” Angel” Aaron, the amazing artist lady on the blower.
    Oh but I could go on.

    Something has happened in Newcastle…It is as if the scales have fallen off our eyes. We question. We do not accept what we are told. How wonderful , how freeing that is.

    So many times we are just too busy with our everyday lives to try to question, to try to change the status quo, put into play the accepted powers that be be they council, or governments

    This questioning, it is such an amazing energy to be a part of. And I for one have never felt so alive.
    The spirit of Newcastle is alive and pulsating as never before…and not beating to the drum of the wicked council.

    • Caity Raschke Says:

      Couldn’t agree more – a wonderful group of people and a huge community have worked on this. If something good comes out of it, it will be making the community aware that we can make a difference.

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