Mark Larsen, Sustainable Australia for Ryde

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1. Tell us your name, electorate & political party.

  • Mark Larsen 
  • Electorate of Ryde 
  • Sustainable Australia.


2. Tell us a bit about yourself and what other “hats” you wear in your life.

I have lived and worked in around Ryde for 25 years. I’m an engineer, a chiropractor, a volunteer, a partner and a dad. I wear a number of “hats” and enjoy all of them. Finding the balance is the key! I have run small businesses and worked for bigger companies so I have a range of real life skills I can bring to the table in representing the people of Ryde.


3. Why are you running in this election and why should we vote for you?

There are a lot of rapid changes occurring in our country and the world. Some of them good, some of them necessary, but some of them are neither good nor necessary. One particular change is the overdevelopment that is occurring in many of our suburbs including Ryde. This is fundamentally fuelled by rapid population growth and encouraged by governments as an easy way to promote economic growth despite it being unsustainable and having multiple adverse side effects. I believe this is completely unnecessary, most definitely unsustainable (we cant keep growing forever!) and generally unwanted by the majority. In Ryde the result is out of control development and upheaval. And its only just begun! Labor, the coalition and the Greens, however, give us no choice. The Liberals development moratorium in Ryde will not last. It will only be when the big parties start losing seats that these policies will change. We need a sensible centre party that can address this. I’m passionate about this and so it is time to put my hand up.


4. What is your favourite spot in the area and why?

Lane Cove National Park, which runs through the north of the electorate, as it’s a little reminder of the beauty of the natural world. It is so close and accessible to us and reminds me of what we are losing when all we aim for is development at any cost.


5. What do you believe are the 3 main issues affecting our area and why?

Congestion, loss of neighbourhoods to high rise, lack of appropriate infrastructure for the current people of Ryde


6. If elected how would you address each of those 3 issues (both short term and long term)?

Short term:

  • Work in parliament for the return of planning power to local bodies.
  • Agitate in parliament to drastically reduce the number of new dwellings earmarked for Ryde in coming years. Remember, the current pause won’t last long!
  • Work with like-minded members towards making sure schools, medical services and transport infrastructure are ready and able to cope before new development is allowed.

Long term:

  • These are issues that are not only unique to Ryde. The root cause of these issues is an economic mindset that relies on turbo charged population growth, and the building and construction that necessarily follows.

Medium Term:

  • Politicians need to work to encourage a diversified economy so that we don’t rely on property speculation. It is obviously unsustainable.

Longer term:

  • I would aim to be working with like minded members of parliament and the public to pressure the federal government into reducing the current record population growth numbers back to the long term average of 70,000. This would alleviate many of the issues of sustainability that need addressing.


7. What are the 3 key things you plan to achieve if elected?

  • Return planning power to the people of Ryde.
  • Reduce the number of new developments approved annually in Ryde
  • Secure better funding for local schools, local open spaces and transport services.


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?

We do have a plan for this. It requires a two pronged approach:

1. Reducing growing demand on these services by working to reduce the current record levels of population growth. The Liberals current plan to inject $120 million into before and after school care in NSW is mere drop in the ocean when compared with our ever accelerating population influx into Sydney. It wont make a difference.

2. Increase developer charges for land value gains to help fund local needs such as child care.


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?

This is a big issue, not only in Ryde and not only with buses. Inadequate public transport that can’t keep up with our swelling population is common across the whole of Sydney and needs a coordinated approach. More frequent and extensive services and more bus lanes are needed to ensure all of us can keep moving at peak times. A campaign on Sydney Buses to promote giving up seats for the elderly, less able and parents with small children is also needed!


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 sheer numbers of large buildings and developments means developers and contractors can rush jobs and take short cuts and get away with it. Over development is out of control in Sydney and needs to slow down. One of the many benefits of this will be safety.

When it comes to Ryde, guidelines and practices are adequate. It is a matter of making sure they are enforced and adhered to. Reducing the sheer number of new constructions will help ensure this.


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?

More people and buildings mean more pollution, congestion, consumption and waste. We need to slow down for the sake of our children and our planet. The best thing we can do for climate change and the environment in Ryde is to stop the obsession with growing so fast and become a more sustainable community. 


12. If elected what would your course of action be regarding Marsden High, Meadowbank Tate site school and Peter Board site?

My preference would to be to campaign to keep Marsden High open along side the Meadowbank TAFE development. Have the major parties learned nothing from the past with Peter Board High and Ryde High School? In 20 years time the Labor and Liberal governments will be having to spend hundreds of millions of tax payer dollars to buy back the old Marsden High School site. It’s all very short sighted. We need people with longer term and sustainable visions for country!