10 Jul 2020

July Update

With Victoria heading toward potential disaster and NSW at risk because of school holiday travel and the easing of restrictions, we need to step up preventive measures. That includes wearing masks in any situation where you are unlikely to be able to maintain physical distancing, in public transport, in enclosed spaces such as lifts, in supermarkets and healthcare settings.

I authored a paper with C Raina MacIntyre from the UNSW Kirby Institute for Infection and Immunity, Lisa Maher, Professor at the Faculty of Medicine, UNSW, and Shovon Bhattacharjee, a PhD Candidate at The Kirby Institute, UNSW, discussing how masks help stop the spread of COVID-19.

The argument is simple: Masks could be the difference between success and failure in controlling the pandemic and saving the economy. 

Please stay safe and well.

Kind regards,







Dr Kerryn Phelps AM
Councillor, City of Sydney



City of Sydney Reject Aboriginal Woman Statue

The City of Sydney Council voted 6-3 to amend and defer my motion to commission a statue of Gadigal language teacher Patyegarang. This would have been the first publicly-funded statue in central Sydney to feature an Indigenous person.

In Sydney's CBD, there are 25 publicly funded statues of the colony’s early leaders. Among them are Captain Cook, Governor Arthur Phillip, Lachlan Macquarie, Queen Victoria, explorer Matthew Flinders and even his cat Trim.

In my view, Cr Moore and her team's decision to vote down my motion was a cynical and politically motivated decision in defiance of the expressed wishes of the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council (MLALC)  who had asked me to propose the statue as a positive response to Black Lives Matter protests and some suggestions that statues representing Australia's colonial past be removed.

You can listen to the discussion by following this link. The debate begins at 1:06:56.

The MLALC have not enjoyed a happy relationship with the City of Sydney for some time and have told me they feel excluded. For example, the City of Sydney's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Committee only has one member on it who is local. It’s my impression they’ve been trying for some years to engage productively with the Council and are finding it very frustrating.

Under instruction from the MLALC and its CEO, Nathan Moran, I've written to councillors to assess their interest in holding an informal get together to discuss how to take the City of Sydney's process of reconciliation forward. I hope to see this happen soon.

No More Incinerators

My motion to ban highly-polluting garbage incinerators in the Greater Sydney Region was passed!

Burning waste releases toxic chemicals, such as lead, mercury and dioxins into the air. These substances are known to have serious public health effects, from increased cancer risk to respiratory illness, cardiac disease and reproductive, developmental and neurological problems. According to recent figures from the waste industry, incinerator plants emit more sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and carbon dioxide per unit of electricity generated than power plants burning natural gas.

Waste-to-Energy incinerators delay a necessary transition to a circular economy. They rely on a high volume of waste, perpetuating the linear model of resource extraction, single use and disposal.

Waste-to-energy plants require a high-volume, guaranteed waste stream for about 25 years to make them economically viable. In Europe, they’ve locked councils into long contracts to achieve a return on their investment.

Community groups in Western Sydney have gone to enormous lengths to protect public health from the nasty threat of waste incineration, which has been vigorously opposed by Blacktown City Council and NSW Health. I'm glad City of Sydney has joined the call to ban these incinerators.

An Appalling Way to Treat a Community

I met with Moore Park Road residents who are justifiably furious about the removal of 118 parking spaces for a pop-up cycleway that will hinder access to a childcare centre and disadvantage the elderly and those with young children on a major residential street.

There has been a blatant disregard shown towards residents: no site plans or construction diagrams have been provided and residents were informed of the cycleway only days before construction was scheduled to begin. 

Residents are not against a cycleway.

A previous cycleway plan, the result of years of planning and consultation and agreement with the community, was shelved in favour of this inferior “pop-up” version.

This is an appalling way to treat a community.

On a slightly more positive note, my proposal to recommend that the clearway in Fitzroy Street, Surry Hills NOT be extended through the whole day because of its potential impact on businesses was passed.

Woolloomooloo Residents Denied Regular Meetings

When added to the growing list of ways to be out of touch with your community, this one takes the cake.

A group of Woolloomooloo residents asked me to present their petition at our Council meeting asking that the Lord Mayor open the quarterly community meetings between Council, police and community services and Woolloomooloo social housing tenants to all residents in the Woolloomooloo community.

These Woolloomooloo community members asked that the meetings be held in the evening so that those who work could attend.

Sounds sensible, right?

That request was flat-out denied by Cr Moore and her team voting, as usual, as a bloc.

The primary function of Council is to represent the interests of our local communities and to address key local issues. That is why we have been elected as Councillors. In order to properly represent and support our local communities, we need to meet, listen to their feedback and day-to-day experiences. Excluding one section of the community is unacceptable.

At last Monday’s City of Sydney Council meeting, Cr Moore told councillors who had not been invited to attend official community round table consultations about the COVID-19 recovery plans that we could just organise our own 😳

You can listen to the discussion by following this link. The debate begins at 2:54:11

Looks like that’s the same message for the residents of Woolloomooloo.