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Welcome To Fox and ChickensThe Story of Fox and Chickens

FSA overview I have been asked to write an introduction to this story and during the course of the writing to mention my involvement. It is difficult to talk about this in the first person, as this whole investigation has not been about me, but about the dangers that the Federal Government of Australia and the NSW State Government have placed the local community and many thousands of members of the general public, in order to ‘appease’ the CEO of News Corporation.

Let the reader be under no illusions this is not an investigation against the ‘film industry’ - many of the factories have some seven or so ‘sub-tenants’ some of which are associated with film production and some of which are not. This is an investigation into what has been a deliberate removal of even the most basic of environmental human rights, the right to clean air, the right to live in one’s own home without fear of toxic and hazardous waste emissions, and the right to ‘knowledge’ - giving a person the right to choose whether they live in an area that is dangerous and detrimental to their health and the health of their family.

In June of 2002 residents in the Centennial and Moore Park area received notice of an Application for the Development of what was euphemistically called a ‘Craft Shop’.  It had been presented to the NSW Planning Department by Fox Studios Australia who intended to replace an already existing Building, which had been part of what was once the Sydney Agricultural Showground. I started asking questions as to what a Craftshop was; bearing in mind it was approximately 3,500 sq metres in size.

The receipt of Development Application 22 189-6-02 led to a flurry of handwritten letters from myself to anyone I thought would be able to help – but before long it became evident that anything pertaining to Fox Studios Australia was out of bounds – a ‘veil of silence’ appeared to be drawn down by the relevant NSW Government bodies. Robert Black, Director of Urban Development of the NSW PLANNING Department refused all requests to get a list of the ‘chemicals/materials’ that were to be used within this ‘workshop/factory’ - especially important as each ‘craftshop’ was to operate with ‘natural ventilation’ (using open doors and windows) rather than ‘rely solely on manually operated ventilation’ (BBC Planning Development Application 22-189-6-2002).

The questions I asked at the time did not sit well with either senior management at Fox Studios Australia and certainly not with NSW government departments, their Directors General and relevant Ministers. Senior management of News Corporation, had said that in order for the site to operate and make a profit it needed ‘an unfettered production environment’ (ref Audit Report 44 Chapter 7) – meaning no EPA Licence and ‘self-regulation’. 

Eventually, I was given the name of one of Australia’s leading Toxicologists, Professor Chris Winder of the UNSW Safety Sciences who agreed to undertake an independent EIS.  He told me what to ask for such as ‘chemicals’ ‘type of operations’ ‘type of building and its construction’ - it should have been simple but, if anything, the management and regulation of the Fox Studios site has become so complex that it is difficult to understand who is now responsible for what happens there. Professor Winder has been an invaluable ally in exposing the deliberate dismantling of the safeguards and protections provided by legislation and regulation of heavy industrial developments.

Little did I know that these questions would lead me down a path that would take some seven and half years of relentless digging, endless knock backs to lay bare a lie of monstrous proportions - that a under the guise of a ‘film studio’ a parcel of Crown Land, used for decades as a meeting point between Farmers and City people, would be turned into a major Heavy Industrial Factory site operated outside all local, state and federal laws and regulatory body jurisdiction.

The film industry is historically renowned for using highly toxic and hazardous materials and chemicals thus it was clearly unsuitable for development in a high-density residential area. The whole seven and half years have been arduous and at times disheartening but at no time did it ever enter my mind to give up – to do so would encourage Corporations and the Federal and State Governments to continue exposing communities to a lifetime of environmental health and safety problems.

See more detail in our asbestos and factory site timelines, or look at the issues of governance, public health and safety, as well as public liability


Thanks to all those who've helped in the campaign to end the poisoning of our community and the weakening of our state and federal legislation. Particular thanks go to the late Kevin and Yvonne Winter, Professor Chris Winder, Dr. Arthur Chesterfield-Evans, Reverand Gordon Moyes, Chris Harris, the EPA hotline staff and the telephone operators at NSW Parliament. There are many others whose help and guidance has been invaluable and whose efforts must go unmentioned - you know who you are!

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