Our local issue is Graythwaite – a six acre estate in the middle of North Sydney currently used as a nursing home. There is a local campaign going on – posters everywhere, and stalls at all of the local markets. My four year old has been asking what it’s all about, so we’ve been telling him that it’s about saving a beautiful old building from being knocked down by builders (largely true – see a fuller explanation below). So now if the subject comes up (and sometimes even if it doesn’t), C will tell you all about this beautiful house and how it needs to be saved.
I’ve always been faintly queasy about children being used for political purposes, but I can’t really see how we could have avoided this one, except to refuse to answer his questions. But it makes me realise how easy it would be (right this minute) to make him believe almost anything we wanted him to believe (subhuman status of ethnic groups, for example).
Graythwaite estate is six acres and includes a magnificent house built in the 1830s and was given to NSW in 1915 by Sir Thomas Dibbs to be used as a convalescent home for the wounded Anzacs. It has gradually been run down by the NSW Health Department, and is now in a terrible state and not suitable to be used as a nursing home, so they need to do something with it. The revenue maximising route would be to sell it off to the highest bidder – likely to be Shore school (which is right next door). I’m not a big fan of born-to-rule private schools (of which Shore is a leading example) so I’m not in favour of them getting another six acres to spread out on.
It would also mean that the buildings would quite likely be demolished, and the land would not be able to be used by the public (no school in its right mind is going to allow public access in these days of pedophilia hysteria).
So there is a local group trying to save it (which would mean North Sydney Council buying it for not necessarily the highest offer), which has been doing all the campaigning.