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has boral let the community down?

What is Boral's real commitment to the community in which they operate? Is the community just there as a source of corporate profit or does Boral care and connect with their local community?

Boral's Code of Corporate Conduct states:
“Ensuring the impact and integrity of our operations and actions on employees, customers, the communities and environment in which we operate, meet both the spirit and letter of the law and community expectations”.
Whilst Boral's actions on the cycleway, no doubt, meet the "letter of the law", do they come close to meeting the "spirit of the law" or the "community expectations"? Does Boral take their own "Code of Corporate Conduct" seriously?

These are all valid questions given the state of play on the canal cycleway.

Boral has been keen to point out the amount of money they are contributing to the provision of infrastructure and a (less safe) signalized cycleway crossing of the busy highway and transitway.

But are Boral really doing all this just to be a benefactor to the community? Or could it be that there is a sound business case sitting behind the project that will reap substantial profits to the company? Would the project be proceeding if Boral were going to lose money?

Well rest assured Boral won't be bankrupted by this project. Boral's own website reveals that:
"Our Quarry End Use business has been delivering annual earnings of around $50 million and with planned projects such as the Southern Employment Lands at Greystanes coming on line as others are completed we continue to see this level of QEU earnings as sustainable", said Mr Pearse.
Such a shame then that Boral couldn't build a footbridge, from their tidy little earnings, so that the replacement cycleway is as safe as the cycleway they have destroyed.

Imagine this scenario, if you will. An executive of Boral is out for a Sunday drive in his Ferrari. Unfortunately you crash into his vehicle. The Ferrari is a write-off. However, you bound from your car to immediately allay his fears by saying

"Don't worry sir, I will replace your car with a NEW Hyundai Excel, it will get you from A to B just fine, and will even SAVE YOU MONEY on fuel".

Can you imagine his joy at this statement? Do you think he would just accept that?

Well, he should, because that is exactly what Boral expects from the community when it proudly announces that "A new cycleway crossing is to be built at Widemere" and "The new crossing will be built by Boral at no cost to ratepayers". But that isn't good enough as we had a SAFE cycleway/walkway.

If Boral has removed something we had, they should be compelled to replace it with something comparable. In the last five years alone Boral has reported net profits of $1.683 billion from the community, yet they refuse to replace our safe cycleway, which they have removed, as part of this project.

Boral seem to be hanging their hat on the fact that the project was publicly exhibited and that residents did not object. Does government approval absolve Boral from responsibility to the community (is that how the Code of Corporate Conduct should be read?). But how well was the exhibition advertised? How widely was it advertised? It seems that everyone in the community was unaware of the exhibition and certainly unaware of the fine detail that removed a SAFE cycleway.

The newsletter that Boral say they distributed to a tiny proportion of local residents, away from the canal, certainly doesn't alert you that they are about to remove our SAFE cycleway. And why would we suspect it would, as we have been lead to believe for years that some sort of bridge would provide safe passage across the highway. We also wouldn't be expecting any impact on the cycleway as Boral and the RTA told us nothing would be considered until after 2016.

It seems strange that Boral made no attempt to consult with the community regarding the impact of the Southern Employment Lands (SEL) development. After all, the Boral web site is clear about Boral's desire to involve the community as evidenced by this quote:
"Boral has always been conscious of involving the local community in any outcomes it determines for the Greystanes Estate site."
During the development of the Residential Estate (Nelson's Ridge) Boral was very keen to have community involvement and created the Community Advisory Group (CAG) and sang their own praises for being so involved with the community.

So what changed with the SEL development? What actual effort did Boral make to involve "the local community in any outcomes it determines for the Greystanes Estate site"?

Did Boral realise that alerting the community that the SAFE cycleway would be removed wasn't going to be acceptable to the community? Did Boral want to avoid the costs of replacing a SAFE cycleway with a SAFE bridge?

Given the lack of consultation could it be that the only reason the community didn't raise objections was because they didn't know what was happening? And would the average person have been scared off by the sheer volume of reports they would be expected to pore over to understand the project? Is this a big game where the object is to sneak unpopular changes through before anyone realises? Some people may even say it was all hidden in plain sight!

For some reason Boral seems to think that the community is only upset because the cycleway will be closed for six months. Either this is an attempt at misdirection away from the two real issues, or they just don't get it.

Who doesn't understand that the Prospect Highway needs to be built and that a heavy construction site isn't a safe place for the general public? Of course it needs to be built and of course it needs to be a safe construction site. No one is arguing that!

There are two clear issues.

  • The first issue is that the Boral construction will not return a cycleway as safe as the one they have destroyed.

  • Secondly, Boral have not honoured their own Cycleway Management Plan, they have not signposted a detour around the construction site as they said they would.

If you are from Boral reading this, PLEASE read those two points again, PLEASE. They are the two clear issues. They are the reason the community is not happy!

The community "expects" those two issues to be addressed and if Boral refuses to address those "community expectations" it is in breach of it's own Code of Corporate Conduct.

Now that it is clear that the community has been kept out of the loop, it is time for Boral to do the right thing and BUILD OUR BRIDGE. It is clear that the project can afford a bridge, and no doubt there is a project contingency budget that would easily cover the bridge costs, especially if the signalized crossing is no longer required.

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