1. Tell us your name, electorate & political party.
Jerome Laxale, Ryde, Australian Labor Party
2. Tell us a bit about yourself and what other “hats” you wear in your life.
The biggest hat I wear is being a family guy and dad to 3 kids. I am also the Mayor of Ryde and run a small business. I live with my wife Karyn in Denistone East and early on Saturdays you may see me in lycra (sorry!) on my bike riding or running around the streets of Ryde. Our family attends a local church, our kids go to the local school and preschool, and we enjoy far too many babychinos and banana bread at the various cafes around Ryde.
3. Why are you running in this election and why should we vote for you?
Living in Ryde is such a blessing. It is a wonderful place to call home and raise a family. Being on Council has provided great opportunities to make positive changes in Ryde (more open space and better local services). However, there is a limit to how much can be done through Council. Locals have such limited powers in terms of development, transport, congestion and the overcrowding of our schools. Currently, these are massive issues for Ryde and working closely with the Ryde community, I want to be part of providing solutions and a positive change for Ryde. That’s why I have decided to run for State Parliament.
4. What is your favourite spot in the area and why?
Ryde Park – great open space that blends our heritage with a kids’ playground, scooter park and of course, coffee.
5. What do you believe are the 3 main issues affecting our area and why?
Overdevelopment – everywhere you look you can see huge residential towers that have sprung up in Ryde under the planning laws of this State Liberal Government.
Schools and education –investment in new additional schools, while saving Marsden High and Meadowbank Public from demolition. Restoration of TAFE as a proud public institution by reversing the cuts of the Liberals over the past 8 years.
Open space – with overdevelopment and busy lives, we all need public open space to relax and connect. We need to prioritise open and space and public transport in our community.
6. If elected how would you address each of those 3 issues (both short term and long term)?
Overdevelopment – There are 4 concrete policies on over development that I’m taking to the election:
We will abolish the current State Government’s ‘priority precincts’. These priority precincts re-wrote planning controls in Macquarie Park and North Ryde – increasing heights from a maximum of about 10 storeys, to a maximum of 37 storeys. The community and the Council opposed these changes, yet the Liberals imposed them anyway.
We will also re-write unfair State Government mandated housing targets. Ryde has a 5 year target of 7600 new dwellings, whereas Mosman has the same target of 300. Ryde has, and will continue to be, a target if Ms Berejiklian and Mr Dominello are re-elected.
We will tear up the medium density code – the law the State Government introduced will allow for terraces and ‘manor homes’ (blocks of flats) in our residential streets for the first time. Ryde has taken its fair share of development; we do not need more development in our quiet streets.
We will close the back door for developers. In 2013, the Liberals rewrote laws to allow developers a 2nd chance on getting their land rezoned for over development. Before their changes, if the Council said no, that was it. Currently, if the Council say no, the Developer can still get approval. That back door will be slammed shut under Labor.
Schools and education – Labor has announced that instead of closing two schools in Ryde, we will invest in our children’s education by:
- Saving Marsden High School from demolition and fund an immediate major renovation.
- Saving Meadowbank Public School from demolition and fund a renovation and expansion of the grounds onto the adjoining Ryde Council depot site. This will provide much needed extra space for the school and a playing field for school and community use.
- Build a new, additional, 1500 student High School at Meadowbank Tafe. Parents have told us that they do not want adult TAFE, High and Primary school students on the same site. Labor will save and expand Meadowbank Primary, and build an additional public high school at Meadowbank.
- Air-condition all teaching spaces in our public schools. There are 200 un-airconditioned teaching spaces in Ryde according to the Department of Education. We will do this by not spending $2.2bn upgrading stadiums in Sydney.
Open Space – Labor will halt the sale of any further State Government land instead of selling it to developers (like the current State Government did with the Lachlans Line site in North Ryde), preserving them for future public use.
7. What are the 3 key things you plan to achieve if elected?
Save Marsden High School and Meadowbank Public School
Build a new, additional, High School at Meadowbank TAFE
Stop over development.
8. AFTER SCHOOL CARE: There is an increasing demand for before and after school care at Primary Schools in the area. Do you have plans to improve this given many of the current options are full, turning families away and have wait lists in place?
I know firsthand how important it is to be able to access out of hours care. Labor’s policy is for all new schools to include before and after school facilities on site to help tackle this current shortfall and avoid the dreaded double drop off.
9. BUS SERVICE – many Ryde Mums use the local bus service rather than trains however they are always full and overcrowded in peak times. What plans do you have for local bus services?
Firstly, we would stop the current State Government’s agenda of privatising bus routes. Public bus routes must remain public.
Labor has already announced a new bus route in East Ryde and I will always advocate for more public bus services.
Further, Labor will make public transport free for all children under the age of 16, all day, everyday.
10. BUILDING & CONSTRUCTION SAFETY: With what has happened with the Opal Tower, are there are any guidelines, practices etc for all the new developments in the area to ensure these are built correctly and safe?
The Opal tower saga is a perfect example of the failure of this Government. It epitomises their desire to have rapid over development right across Sydney.
3 years ago, the then responsibility Minster, Victor Dominello, failed to adequately implement recommendations to improve the building industry. Ultimately, the Liberals have rejected half of the review’s 150 recommendations and failed to implement those it has accepted.
If elected in March, Labor will in its first term:
· Introduce a single piece of legislation, a standalone building act to strengthen regulations, improve consumer protections and transparency around people’s rights as well as raise professional standards;
· Establish a single agency, the NSW Building Authority, reporting to a single Minister to increase and streamline accountability of every person in the construction chain;
· Introduce chain of responsibility for everyone in the building process including for building products to permit product recalls, banning the use of non-conforming products, and empowering building inspections or audits;
· Prevent developers from being able to choose their own certifier to eradicate potential conflict of interest that has arisen between certifiers who are over dependent on developers whose work they are signing off on.
11. ENVIRONMENT: Climate change and the environment is a big concern for many families. What are your plans to help our environment in the local area?
On council I have taken strong action on the environment, and would continue to do so at the State level if I’m elected on 23 March.
Since becoming Mayor in September 2017, Council has;
- Banned single use plastic in its operations and events
- Started the divestment of fossil fuels in Council’s $200m investment portfolio (while also increasing return to ratepayers)
- Commenced the process to move towards a renewable energy target of 60% for Council operations
- Installed solar panels on council buildings to reduce our carbon emissions and save ratepayers money
At the State Level NSW Labor will:
- Construct a state owned renewable energy company to power 3 million homes, drive down electricity prices and carbon emissions
- Have a 50% renewable energy target by 2030 and hold a Climate Change Summit to determine the best pathways to achieving net zero emissions by 2050
- Nominate the Royal National Park for World Heritage listing and block the Liberals’ plan to drive the proposed F6 motorway through the area
- Expand national parks to protect koalas and curb feral horses
Additional question for Jerome Laxale:
Marsden High would remain open and be renovated immediately with a $22.5 million dollar cash injection. It is a travesty that the schools maintenance backlog has been allowed to blow out to the extent it has.
A new 1500 student High school will be built alongside the current Meadowbank TAFE site. Parents have told us that we need an ADDITIONAL high school, not a closed and relocated one. They have also told us that they do not want adult TAFE, high and primary school students mixing on the same site. That’s why, I’ll save Meadowbank Primary, upgrade it and expand it onto Council’s adjoining operations centre site by acquiring that land.
What are your plans for the Peter Board site?
Contrary to comments by the current local member, the Peter Board site has yet to be purchased by the State Government for a school.
I would advocate that this occur as a priority in my first term so that a new PUBLIC primary and high school can be built as soon as possible.