Fighting development with the ‘paedophile card’

There are many reasons to oppose development in your backyard – some reasonable, others plainly ridiculous. An example of the latter is the ‘paedophile card’ – a new weapon in the NIMBY arsenal.

Rubbish ledge at North Melbourne station, thanks to the removal of rubbish bins

In October 2015 NIMBYs on Sydney’s northern beaches deployed the ‘paedophile card’ to fight a proposed eight-unit boarding house.

In an online submission to Warringah Council dated August 25, Samantha Mapp wrote: “My kids will be walking past this house twice a day without supervision in the next few years and I don’t trust the type of people staying in boarding house.

“Most are filled with ice addicts, heroin junkies, paedophiles and jail birds. Please stop this from happening asap [sic].”

Other residents appear to also believe there is a link between boarding houses and paedophiles.

Cromer Public School principal Maureen Gray, who lodged a personal submission against the proposal.

“This area is simply not suitable for a boarding house and I fear for the safety of our children,” Ulrike Kohn wrote in her submission.

“Not only because there is no control over who will be living there (pedophiles???) but also because the children might be exposed to drug/alcohol related problems.”

Residents of the leafy Melbourne suburb of Balwyn also played the ‘paedophile card’ when objecting to a three-storey apartment development.

More than 450 residents and objectors had registered their opposition with the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal to a small apartment project behind Fintona Girls School in Balwyn. The 16 units were part of a three-storey development in Balwyn’s Cherry Road.

Opponents had argued, among other objections, that “perverts” in the apartments might overlook the school’s playground.

And most recently, local residents opposed to the construction of elevated railway viaducts on the Dandenong line have also discovered the ‘paedophile card’.

No Sky Rail president Karlee Browning said she had grave safety concerns regarding the proposal. Ms Browning, who lives one metre from the existing railway corridor, said at least 200 houses in just her neighbourhood would be affected by the proposal.

“You’ll directly look from top of this nine-metre structure into my swimming pool, where my children and my family play in the backyard.

“I am worried about the safety and privacy of my children, that they are not going to be preyed upon by paedophiles looking into the pool when they are swimming.”

According to Godwin’s law invoking a comparison to Hitler means you’ve lost the argument – by that logic does playing the ‘paedophile card’ in a planning dispute mean the objector has no leg to stand upon?

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10 Responses to “Fighting development with the ‘paedophile card’”

  1. Tommy Bent says:

    Brings forth images of The Simpsons, with Helen Lovejoy exclaiming “Won’t somebody think of the children?!”

  2. Jessica says:

    It’s funny because I grew up along that stretch of railway line in Carnegie, and from the train you could ALREADY look into our backyard and swimming pool – I don’t see how elevating the line 9m could make it any worse. More of a worry for me is that the govt might renege on its promise to convert the space underneath into green, open space (and a bike trail) and instead put in loads and loads of car parking.

    • Andrew S says:

      And there was the backyard swimming pool for many years right in the corner of the junction of the Frankston and Dandenong Lines which you could see easily from the train – mostly remember it being full of green water which hints at how often it was used! Demolished back in October-November 2010 with the three houses in that corner and still awaiting redevelopment.

      • Tom the first and best says:

        I think that land may have been bought or leased by the railways. I have seen sleepers stored on it.

  3. Graeme says:

    I still think the picture conjured up,and supposedly attributed to Ms Browning “We are talking 80,000 tonnes of fully laden freight potentially falling from a nine-metre-high elevated lines onto homes.”takes the cake for most unchecked fact or fiction by the media.But are these pedophiles she speaks of, the people building the 9m high railway or perhaps the passengers riding the trains back and forth between Carnegie and Hughsdale all day long on their Myki cards.Sounds like a fantastic concept for a royal Melbourne Show ride…Ride the 80 thousand ton out of control freight train to rot in hell.(You must be a registered sex offender to ride)

  4. David says:

    I agree, the paedophile card is a cheap one to play particularly when it’s really just fear of the unknown that’s the problem. There is an argument surely that children are safer under the scrutiny of a hundred (to take a random figure) apartment windows than they are in a completely ‘secure’, private back yard. There’s also the argument that this unease about the safety or otherwise of children masks an array of fears, of which the fear of the itinerant paedophile is one of the least rational. In general, surely, the more people there are around the better for everyone. If your argument is about safety, then – the Jane Jacobs cliche is a cliche because it’s true – that’s what numbers bring.

    I’m probably just reiterating what you were already implying, but it helped me to articulate it this way!

  5. Graeme says:

    If you wait long enough the common sense starts to rise above the NIMBY pandamonium.
    From the Melbourne Age

    Sky rail more an eye opener than an eyesore

    Julie Szego
    Published: February 11, 2016 – 12:00AM

    The announcement of a major infrastructure project, in this instance the state government’s sky rail proposal, is overshadowed by “angry” protesters (can protesters ever be moderately agitated?), politicking from the opposition and an overarching poverty of imagination. Welcome to Melbourne: where bold ideas are immediately torn down and the selfish and small-minded have right of way.

  6. aNge says:

    It is a problem when hysteria overtakes any logical analysis of the issues. However I do think some of this could be mitigated if sufficient useful information was released so that people didn’t feel so fearful (pretty pictures and artist impressions don’t count). I don’t think it is helpful to be completely dismissive of NIMBYs either as they do have some valid concerns. In this case the skyrail is probably rising behind my home, though separated from it by a small park, so I will not be as visually affected as others. I am not happy though with increases in car parking, and I would like to see station pedestrian entrances on both side of the roads (Koornang, Murrumbeena and Poath) to allow for better pedestrian access to both trains and connecting buses. Not terribly impressed with the station designs either.

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