Friday, October 29, 2010

State opposition points finger at Ferny Grove member

The Queensland opposition is claiming that Ferny Grove member Geoff Wilson opened the offices of businessman Brendan McKennariey in 2005, the ABC reported today. Former Labour MP Gordon Nuttall has been found guilty of accepting $150,000 in kickbacks from Brendan McKenniary.

State Premier Anna Bligh denied there is anything unusual in a MP opening the offices of businesses in their own electorate.

The State electorate of Ferny Grove includes Ferny Grove, Ferny Hills and Arana Hills, in addition to Upper Kedron and Samford. Geoff Wilson is also serving as the Minister for Education.

Two weeks ago (and before this blog was born) it was widely reported that Nuttall had meetings with McKenniary at the Ferny Grove Tavern.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Ferny Blog news: Now with email

I've just set up my Ferny Blog email address. If you want to send me a comment, request, story or link you can send it to .I have also created the @fernyblog twitter account. I will put up a page of different ways to contact me or leave general comments on the blog soon.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Nerf War comes to Ferny Grove

There are organisations and clubs around Nerf warfare like OzNerf. Nerf toys are soft projectile toys, and clubs arrange wars between different groups. Nerf War came to Ferny Grove yesterday and several members posted videos to Youtube. Everyone enjoyed themselves by the sound of it.

Looks like good wholesome fun, but I am not sure exactly where they are in Ferny Grove. Any ideas?

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Keperra to Ferny Grove Railway Upgrade Consultation Report

While I was nosing around the internet for my previous opinion post I found this consultation report, prepared in May 2010, for the Keperra to Ferny Grove Railway upgrade. The report was interesting to me because it highlights some of the community concerns that are relevant and important to the discussion about the future of the Ferny Grove Station.

For example, traffic congestion, especially on Convalla Street, is a big issue, as is the rat-racing through the railway station. The fate of the Tavern, possible extension of the train line and improvements to bus feeder services are all mentioned.

It would have been better, in my opinion, to have opened this consultation up to a wider audience using online surveys and meetings. Perhaps it was, and I missed it. In the future I hope to better understand the Governments communication strategy in announcing and conducting these consultations.

As Yoda might say, 108 people in attendance of the event does not a representative sample make. Regardless, the report makes interesting skim reading if you are interested.

Opinion: Are Community needs being met by Railway Precinct Project?

In a previous post I wrote that the Ferny Grove Railway Precinct project is being driven by the concept of Transport oriented development. My scant research shows Transport/Transit oriented development (TOD for the jargoneers) is being given a lot of attention by Queensland Government planners. I worry local needs might not be addressed in favor of a one size fits all approach.

Transport-oriented development involves developing retail, commercial, residential and transport infrastructure  together, and the precinct project certainly has those elements. But is it right for the surrounding suburbs of Ferny Grove and Ferny Hills? In my way of thinking - no!

Vision 1

Do we need additional retail areas in the community? I am not sure we do. Close by to Ferny Grove station is a service station, the shops at the bottom of Ferny Way and ten minutes walk away the Cole shopping complex at the corner of Archdale Road and McGinn Road. A ten minute drive away is the Kmart Arana Hills and Keperra Great Western Shopping Centres. Can we fill additional retail space at Ferny Grove? If we can, does it make the other centres less viable?

View Ferny Blog: Retail Areas around Ferny Grove Railway Station in a larger map

The precinct plan calls for parts of the current train station to be converted for use in medium density residential. I might be nuts, but this seems backward. Retail, commercial and transport development should follow residential development in the normal course of affairs. Is cannibalising the railway station property to create residential areas simply to complete to the TOD checklist? Is it a way of justifying the TOD methodology in the first place? Why should we give some of this precious space to residential use, when the station is already surrounded by residential areas?

Vision 2

One vision of the precinct plan has an area reserved for the (a?) Tavern. The current tavern is being acquired under the auspices of the railway station upgrade to provide more parking. I'm not an efficiency expert, but if the (a?) tavern is to be kept on the current station land, why go to the hassle, expense and inconvenience of acquiring the land and moving it 150 metres?

Speaking of the tavern acquisition, the objective of improving the parking situation is totally ignored by the precinct plan. The precinct plan has a very weak and uncomforting statement that the need for commuter parking will be 'taken into account'. What does this mean? I would be somewhat mollified if a simple statement that the capacity of commuter parking would not be decreased was included, but the precinct plan does not even go that far. 'Taken into account' sounds like doublespeak to me for 'will be reduced but not completely eliminated'.

In the original railway upgrade the objective of improving the commuter parking capacity was front and centre, and an issue during political campaigning. The Railway Precinct Project ignores this as an issue that needs specific vision.

More broadly, the process of hearing first about a Railway upgrade to improve station and parking only and than this seemingly unrelated precinct vision focussed on additional residential, retail and commercial spaces was jarring and reinforces the belief that one half of government does not know what the other is doing.

Its worth remembering that 'Transport-oriented development' is being pushed in many communities, of which the Ferny Grove community is only one. A cookie cutter approach to suburb development might make for shorter and easier reports, and possibly less planning requirements, but if the precinct project is not more richly justified I believe it could be the wrong move. Cynically I wonder whether the development of residential, commercial and retail areas on the property helps the bottom line, lending this and other TOD projects credibility in government circles.

Whatever happens with the Ferny Grove Railway Station and the land it occupies, Its important to recognise the importance of choosing wisely. Once it is carved up into retail, residential or commercial areas, acquiring the land for future community needs will be difficult, and from a government perspective, possibly impossible. It is not a lot of land, and I wonder if rezoning around the existing land might retain our flexibility for dealing with future requirements.

It is too easy to criticise a plan without proposing an alternative. Perhaps if the government was more transparent about how its planning groups arrived at these results I would be more satisfied with the outcome. As it stands I can't help but think that now Ferny Grove railway station is getting the attention that it deserves we might not be getting the outcome that is best for the community.

Computer virus cold call scam - Coming to a phone near you

Last night I received a phone call from International Routing Service, a supposed security company contacting Microsoft customers who appeared to have malware or computer viruses installed on their machines, based on analysis of network traffic patterns. Because I work with computers I was able to ask a series of difficult questions, and the call centre operator I was talking to eventually handed off to her supervisor, who after talking to me briefly and giving up, told me he was in love with my wife and hung up. I was laughing.

This is a scam. From what I have read since the intention is to 'demonstrate' that you have malicious software on your computer, and then offer the solution - an anti-virus software package - for a price that is allegedly around $270 dollars.

The approach of scaring you, the consumer into making a purchase isn't new. Its called scareware by the security community, and its prevalence is increasing (see this section of Microsoft's latest Security Intelligence Report )

They never reached the demonstration phase with me, since I asked too many questions and I know to be suspicious. But it is easy to see how someone not familiar with technical details of computers could be taken for a ride. Being taken for a ride in this case means giving away their hard earned money (and credit card details, which might be sold to other crooks) for a program that at best does not do anything and at worst infects their machine with further scareware or viruses.

The morning after the phone call my wife pointed out a notice in the dead tree edition of North West News about this very scam. Its unclear whether this scam is being perpetrated in any systematised way, and whether it is currently doing the rounds in a specific geographic location. It is definitely happening to people, here, in Ferny Grove and Ferny Hills, so please, be suspicious.

Friday, October 22, 2010

High winds rip shade covers at Coles

Last Friday night (15 Oct) the wind ripped the sun shades outside the entrance to the Coles store on the corner of Archdale and McGinn Roads to shreds. I returned from my honeymoon that week, after noticing online the number of Brisbanites complaining of rain all that week, to notice the incredibly strong winds that night.  The next morning I happened to be visiting Coles (restocking the fridge) and I notice the wind had ripped the sun shade to shreds.

This afternoon I notice they have finally taken the shreds down. It wasn't a good look.

This post is late, and not very important, but I managed to take a couple of photos myself so I thought I would mention it.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Whats going on at Ferny Grove Railway Station?

Brisbane Times is reporting on a Queensland planning conference high-lighting Transport-oriented Developments  as a key plank in a planning strategies for Queensland moving forward. This adds some perspective to the recent proposals by the Queensland State Government to combine retail and residential precincts with an upgraded rail station at the site of the current Ferny Grove Railway station.

The Keperra to Ferny Grove Rail Upgrade is already underway (if you count the establishment of site offices in the Lanita Road end of the car park), but is not due to be complete until 2012. It aims to duplicate the last 3.2 kilometers of rail line to Ferny Grove and upgrade the station and bus interchange.

On the other hand, the Ferny Grove Station Precinct project aims to create a 'vibrant, pedestrian-friendly centre'. You might have seen a vision brochure and request for comments in your letterbox if you live in the local area (I did). The brochure and site show two visions (which to my eye, are hard to distinguish apart from the inclusion of the Tavern or not). No timelines are yet available, but announcement on which vision would be followed appears to have been due in September.

The latter project is intended to compliment the former, but the exact relationship between the two is unclear from my scant research. What is interesting to me in the Brisbane Times article is that 'Transport-oriented developments' seems to be an approach being applied across the state, Brisbane and specifically in the Ferny Grove Station Precinct project. If you read the project page, you might notice that very few concrete benefits are listed. Instead, we will receive 'Transport Associated Development' outcomes. (the Queensland government provides some further information about Transit Oriented Development and what they believe the benefits are. There is even a Wikipedia page, which of course makes it true).

If you have any comments or further information, please leave them in the comments below.

Welcome (and what the hell is this)

Hello and welcome to the Ferny Blog. My name is Ben Davies  - I am an IT consultant and web developer. I am working on this blog in my spare time to aggregate news about the Brisbane suburbs Ferny Grove and Ferny Hills.

Mass media has done a lot to take away our feeling of local community. I believe that online media can play a role in bringing it back. We should all care about what happens in our local communities, because if state, national or international news is ultimately going to affect us it will happen locally to where we live, work or play. This is a simplified view, but nonetheless I think there is some value in simply collecting the news local to you.

I don't intent to write extensively for this blog. Instead I believe at this point I will merely find the relevant material on the internet and send you there. If you operate a website or blog local to Ferny Grove and Ferny Hills, or have some locally significant news you would like me to draw attention to (as much as this blog can, at any rate), please let me know (special email address for this blog coming soon).