The Sydney Morning Herald from Sydney, New South Wales, Australia on November 17, 1997 · Page 5
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The Sydney Morning Herald from Sydney, New South Wales, Australia · Page 5

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Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
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Monday, November 17, 1997
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Page 5
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THE SYDNEY MORNING HERALD MONDAY, NOVEMBER 17, 1997 5 Resident s 10 pay rise unovo ISA' W- w -j Vx tStj ?H il - ?rx t r . ";. A f Xil ' ---- i - i- m University's pride has a colourful background By LUIS M. GARCIA Higher Education Writer Signposts to summer: you can't get a weekend table at a Bronte cafe, the smell of suntan oil hangs in the air and a haze of lavender-blue flowers brightens our suburban streets. Sydney's jacarandas are blooming again and the best known of them all is the jaca-randa in the main quadrangle of the University of Sydney. For nearly 70 years the quadrangle's jacaranda has provided shade to generations of students. A silent witness to scores of protests, Iunchtime gatherings and other momentous public - and private - meetings. Thousands of graduating students and their proud families have had their pictures taken under the majestic tree since it was first planted, under controversial circumstances, in 1928. As the university's chief gardener, Mr Harry Rourke, put it recently, the jacaranda has become part of the folklore that surrounds Australia's oldest higher education institution. Mr Rourke, who is responsible for some 65 hectares of gardens around the campus, said the area around the tree was regularly inspected, aerated and fertilised and the tree itself was checked every couple of years by specialists. Tree surgery was carried out only when absolutely necessary-the last time was three years ago when names students had carved in the trunk had to be removed. Otherwise, he said, the verdict from the experts was that the tree is in excellent health and likely to ... .-r--' wr- r.? sc-t?-; By ROBERT WAINWRIGHT Hornsby Council is considering granting its general manager, Mr Robert Ball, a 10 per cent pay rise less than a month after a report from the office of the Ombudsman questioned his professional conduct and diligence. The council decided at a closed meeting this week that it would appoint a consultant to prepare a report on Mr Ball's performance, including whether his contract should be renewed, and his application for a salary increase from about $147,000 to about $162,000 a year. The decision has outraged a residents' group whose complaint led to the Ombudsman's investigation into a multimillion-dollar investment in a green waste process called bio-remediation promoted v by a Melbourne-based firm. So far, the council has poured an estimated $5 million over three years into a project that has never got off the ground. The Ombudsman found that the council did not conduct a proper cost analysis of the project, was "imprudent" in not getting an independent valuation of equipment, and made a "defective" decision about entering 23 finance leases. The report, released publicly by the council, criticised Mr Ball specifically, finding that he "failed to exercise the due care and diligence expected of a responsible general manager in supervising the negotiation and execution of the lease for the bioremediation equipment and that such conduct was unreasonable". . Rather than consider a pay rise, the report said the council should review Mr Ball's performance concerning his financial management obligations. Mr Ball has not commented about the report and the Mayor, Councillor John Muirhead, has limited his public comments to assurances that the council would co-operate with the Ombudsman's office and reply to questions raised by the report. The Herald has also been told the council has agreed to pay $70,000 in legal costs accumulated by Mr Ball during the investigation. This week, it approved another $10,000 for Mr Ball to spend on legal advice to prepare a reply to the report. A spokesman for the residents' group, Northcompass, criticised the council's decision to support Mr Ball's legal expenses and consider increasing his pay. "In light of the Ombudsman's finding, the council should be considering his future employment, not increasing his salary by such an outrageous amount," the spokesman said. "This issue" has dragged on for too long and has cost ratepayers an absurd amount of money for nothing." In a mayoral minute released on Wednesday, Cr Muirhead said the review by consultants Morgan and Banks should include issues raised by the Ombudsman, the reappointment of Mr Ball when his contract expires next year, and allegations by Mr Ball that some councillors were biased against him. "The level of remuneration can also be determined," he said. Mr Ball would not discuss his contract, saying it was a private matter between himself and the council. He "vehemently disagreed" with the report's findings about his conduct. "I would add that I have legal advice that the manner in which the investigation was conducted constitutes a denial of natural justice," he said. "The broader response to the report will come when I submit my response to council." Jacaranda had a shaky start to its 70-year life on campus . . . Chief gardener Harry Rourke below the controversial tree. Photograph by NICK MOIR by an increasingly frustrated Professor Waterhouse. Eventually, the professor tired of planting small trees and made an arrangement with a nursery to grow a jacaranda "to a large size that could not easily be manhandled". The battle of the jacaranda had been won. sity would have to buy an advanced jacaranda and plant it in the same spot. The care and attention lavished on the tree nowadays is a far cry from its controversial planting in the late 1920s by Professor E. G. Waterhouse, a professor of German who was appalled on arriving at the university to find what he described as a "complete lack of sensitivity to visual beauty". The professor, who was to become famous for other gardens, collected funds from the public to have the quadrangle grassed and paved. He planted a small jacaranda in the southeast corner to provide some much-needed shade. But it was far from smooth sailing. Many students of the day apparently despised the tree and it became something of a stunt for them to root out successive trees as soon as they were planted live for at least another 30 years. But just in case, Mr Rourke said the university had contingency plans to replace the jacaranda should it become sick and die, including proposals to collect some of its seeds next year and propagate them. As a last resort, the univer Reject hotel plan, say residents - Ps. - il Mr Peter Poland, said a 3,500-signature petition criticised the plans to hand over 40 per cent of public parkland for the exclusive use of hotel patrons and to double the size of many buildings on the historic site. Council planners have also expressed concern about the future of the 140-year-old har-bourside mansion. By ROBERT WAINWRIGHT Public pressure is increasing on Woollahra Council to reject State Government proposals to redevelop historic Strickland House as a private hotel. The council will vote tonight on a recommendation to defer its decision, but local residents and heritage groups want the project refused outright. The Woollahra History and Heritage Society yesterday called the Premier, Mr Carr, a hypocrite for demanding that the Federal Government refrain from selling foreshore land to private interests, yet allowing "large chunks" of State-held foreshore to be leased to private hotel developers. A spokesman for the society, The plan for redeveloping the prime Vaucluse property breaks a State Government pledge to set aside the land for a new facility for the aged. It also appears to contradict Mr Carr's decision last month to block the rezoning of Commonwealth-owned foreshore in a bid to stop the Federal Government "flogging off" harbourside land. , .tils-i -V a r t : d - hr kz - m. - Hi ' ff"8 r-""" - Strickland House . . . council urged to defy Government. Call to ban 'ockie' straps 1 pi wal l , . r 'tm(S - JJ YCQXP3 in i eyes had to be surgically removed. The patients, 37 males and five females aged from four to 63, were treated at the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital between 1990 and 1996, eye surgeons report today in The Medical Journal of Australia. There were no existing standards regulating the straps' manufacture or design, although the Department of Industry, Science and Tourism was exploring ways of making them safer, the doctors said. "The hook end is small enough to fit into the eye socket, and it may strike so rapidly that the normal ocular protective mechanisms do not have a By MELISSA SWEET Medical Writer Doctors have called for a ban on the elasticised straps known as octopus or "ockie" straps, after identifying 42 patients who suffered severe eye injuries from them. The straps, which are secured at each end with plastic or metal hooks, caused injuries similar to those from a "high-velocity missile", the doctors warned. Twelve of the patients suffered permanent visual loss, including five who were left with minimal to no useful vision in the injured eye. Two patients had such serious injuries that their damaged chance to operate," they said. "Typically the victim is preoccupied with securing one end of the strap and is unaware that the other end has detached." The doctors said the straps' convenience did not justify their continued sale and they should be withdrawn unless they were substantially modified. "Clearly, the intrinsic design of the octopus straps is poor too much potential energy is stored in stretched straps, making them dangerous when they recoil Although warnings of potential eye injuries are included in the packaging of the straps, these are not enough to prevent many devastating injuries." iu JULf Wm uuuiJii il lyju in 1 1 m 7AEC Helping you have your say. AEC167. 122.97 Your Telstra Shop now has a mobile phone that lets you accessorise according to your mood - or your fashion mode. The Ericsson GA 628 conies with an additional colour fascia panel, and its slim, lightweight design slips easily into any pocket or handbag. And with 125 minutes talk time and 40 hours standby time, and a price tag of only $169 this stylish digital phone is really setting tongues wagging. Additional packs of different coloured panels are also available. So if you're in the mood for something new in mobiles, call in and see us at any of the Telstra Shops listed below. For some people, the biggest problem with wearing glasses is how they look and how they feel when they wear them. At the Sydney Refractive Surgery Centre, we know the difference that laser surgery for vision correction can make to peoples lives. That's because we were the very first in Australia to perform laser vision correction. And in those 7 years, we've performed more operations than any other centre in the country. We have the latest laser technology, specifically designed for LASIK - the most advanced procedure in the world for the treatment of short sightedness, long sightedness and astigmatism. And our surgeons are recognised world-wide for their published research. ericsson $ GA 628 $169 r So, if you want to put your eyes in the hands of experts, call the Sydney Refractive Surgery Centre now, on (02) 9424 9999. Blackumn. Westpoint Shopping Ore. BondiJuncti in. Cnr Bronte & Ebley. Brookvale. 521 Pittwater Rd. Campbelltowii. The Mall, Queen St. Ghatswood. 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For all the facts call 1300 651 181 or aeros.com.auariaintro.htm. lru(Htahte limbic SYDNEY O REFRACTIVE SURGERY CENTRE ielstra Making life easier" ARIA Level 3, 270 Victoria Avenue Chafswood NSW 2067 Telephone: 61 2 9424 9999 Facsimile: 61 2 9410 3000 web site: www.srsc.com.au email: srscacay.com.au MICHAEL A. LAWLESS CHRISTOPHER M. ROGERS GERARD L. SUTTON M.. B.S.. F.8.A.C.O., F.R.A.C.S.. M B.. B.S.. (SYDJ. F.R.A.C.O.. M B.. B.S., F.R.A.C.O.. F.R.C. Ophtd. F.R.A.C.S. F.R.A.C.S. DON'T LET THE FEDERAL J v Minimum package cost for new approved customers who remain connected to MobileNet service for 12 continuous months is $474. That includes connection fee and 12 months access fees on Flexi-Plan20 -everything except call charges. No back orders. Offer not available with any other Telstra MobileNet offer. Telstra reserves the right to change offer, including phone specifications, without notice. Registered trade mark and "trade mark of Telstra Corporation Ltd. 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