Column | We deserve the best

A RANGE OF THOUGHTS: The Mikulic family enjoying Camden's Winterfest; Ricardo Lonza at the Airds tree devastation; the fight to protect the historic St Johns Church hilltop; and the great James Tedesco.
A RANGE OF THOUGHTS: The Mikulic family enjoying Camden's Winterfest; Ricardo Lonza at the Airds tree devastation; the fight to protect the historic St Johns Church hilltop; and the great James Tedesco.

I began writing four or five different columns this week, but after hours of frustration, I couldn't decide which topic to go with.

So ... instead of one big column, here's a few little ones strung together...

I'll start in wintry Camden, which looks fantastic.

Like Campbelltown, it has just held its own big Winterfest celebration, complete with ice skating rink, and the vibe was really happy.

I popped in during the day, but a lot of my friends - such as Marina Mikulic of Symphony's on Argyle fame, attended at night and reckoned it was magical. But the real visual winner to me is to see all those fairy lights in the trees along the main street. Looks amazing.

Camden is lucky in that it is not just surrounded by a flood plain (keeping over-development at bay) but, unlike Campbelltown and Picton, it has a wide open main street divided by a median strip of gardens and trees.

The town is a sight-seeing gem, which is why it is so important to preserve that country town beauty.

So .... a big salute to Cr Cindy Cagney for her attempts to have the iconic St John's Anglican Church hilltop added to the national heritage register. She's trying to protect the church from itself.

A majority of the church congregation is trying to flog off an important part of the hilltop to developers.

As Cindy says, St John's is not just a regional landmark, but of national significance. Leaving its fate up to a handful of worshipers is a bit like leaving a decision about Sydney's Opera House to opera singers. Made worse by the fact the hilltop was gifted to the church by the Macarthur family - modern members of which oppose the sale.

(If the local church needs cash, it might ask Anglican HQ to stop pouring millions of dollars into political campaigns, and better fund its heritage sites instead.)

Speaking of regional gems, wasn't it great to see Menangle's James Tedesco hailed as the 2019 man of the State of Origin series. What a champ.

I was very critical of the fullback for leaving Wests Tigers (which came from my local passion) ... but I was wrong. I actually spent an hour or two with 'Teddy' before his last game at Campbelltown, and he's a terrific bloke, humble, and generous of spirit, and he is a proud local - wherever he plays.

On a sadder note, Ricardo Lonza - Campbelltown's citizen of the year for 2019 - and his fellow wildlife warriors are furious, as a corridor of trees used by koalas behind Airds High, join other parts of the Smiths Creek bushland bulldozed as part of that suburb's redevelopment.

This is pointless vandalism dressed up as urban design.

"Destruction to wildlife corridors will cause localised extinction of our disease-free koala colony; it is vital that our koalas have connectivity to get from A to B safely," Ricardo said. "It is sad that the State Government is putting developers and money before the protection of our beautiful iconic species."

I used to have arguments over this very topic with former MP Bryan Doyle, when the plans first came out.

But Bryan always took the line that he was supporting a much-needed improvement of Airds, with the suggestion that I was therefore opposed to it. Campbelltown Council engaged in the same "straw man" routine.

Many of us actually agree with the need to redevelop Airds. We just think it can be done without bulldozing huge stands of koala habitat, and without filling almost all of the previous parklands and green spaces with squished-up rooftops. That's profit, not planning.

I've said it before, and I'll keep on saying it ... why can't quality come with quantity?

It shouldn't be this hard.

We deserve quality with quantity.