Judy and Alan Cadman (OAM) - Part 2


Interviewees: Alan Cadman OAM, born 1937

          and Judy Cadman, born 1938

Interviewer: Frank Heimans,
            for Baulkham Hills Shire Council

Date of Interview: 3 April, 2008

Transcription: Glenys Murray, April, 2008

This interview represents the personal recollections, views and opinions of the interviewee


Did you get a lot of requests from people in the electorate to bring things up in parliament? To try and help situations here in this shire?

Look I’d have to say about this district, I guess many members would say the same thing about theirs. But we’ve got a really intelligent well informed community and they wouldn’t let me get away with anything. They were sharp in their recommendations, sometimes it verged on criticism and they were well informed. That meant that if there were issues affecting them that they thought were of a national type. I guess if it wasn’t of a national type they’d say “you’re in parliament, fix it”. “But it’s not a federal issue”. “We don’t care whose issue it is you fix it”. So that tended to be the attitude. It raises some resentment that people can’t work out who does what. But when you come to think about it I guess in detail you say” why should they have to work out that there’s a problem and whose going to fix it”. If you’re an elected representative you ought to know who is capable of fixing it and get to them on behalf of your constituents and say” this is a problem, here is Fred down the road that’s got this problem. You are responsible, you talk to Fred and you fix it. I’m going to keep an eye on you to make sure that it happens”. So didn’t matter if it was roads, floods and fires were huge problems in the Hawkesbury. We had fires through here. At one stage we lost forty one homes in this district. At another stage earlier we lost a dozen or so. The trauma of that for individuals was really difficult.

Making sure those rural fire services were working properly and emergency service like the Volunteer Aid Detachment and the State emergency Service, Rural Fire Service. All of those things. People would ask me “what about our fire trucks”? The fruit growers would say “what about the import of mushrooms”? “What about the import of stone fruit, what about the import of citrus”? We’d go through all of these big long tariff hearings and get results. I remember that our mushroom growers at one stage were so under attack from New Zealand they hired a jumbo filled it up with mushrooms and sent it to New Zealand. Which destroyed their market, just wrecked it for the New Zealand growers and since that time the New Zealand growers haven’t been a problem on the mainland. I think it was a fairly radical approach but they certainly solved the problem. That was a strategy that we had to adopt because it was not simply possible to change the tariff processes for mushrooms which would affect car manufacture, affect everything else. So when we understood the limitations on what we could do we adopted a more confrontational role with the New Zealanders and fixed the Kiwis right up. This was the largest mushroom growing district in the nation. Ninety percent of the nation’s mushrooms were grown here. That’s an example, then we had programmes that the Labor Party put in place. Such as the regional development scheme which was called the Red Scheme. I found that people made claims for halls to be built.

Close up of mushrooms in growing shed at Maraylya 2000

We had the Masonic Homes down at Baulkham Hills for instance. The Council bought a whole slap of land there from the Masons. They were going to go ahead and develop the lot of them. I said to them “why don’t we keep the buildings as a community facility”? They said “that’s a good idea you get the money to allow us to do it”. So it was a matter then first of all the Labor Party and then with the Liberal when there was a change of government to make sure there was sufficient funds to keep and preserve what are now invaluable community facilities. Building after building with meeting after meeting taking place there. Large halls and playing fields. At one stage they were going to be destroyed and all going to go under housing. I’m so thankful that we had receptive ministers on both sides. Then we’ve got the heritage park. We had the Historical Society come along and say “we’ve identified a couple of important areas”. First of all the Hills Historical Society and then the Seven Hills Historical Society. Seven Hills found Elizabeth Macarthur’s old farmhouse at Seven Hills. It was known as the Seven Hills Farm. Elizabeth ran huge merino flocks from that place. While John was off in London fighting cases doing all sorts of stuff in the early days. Elizabeth ran this farm and you go there and the sheds. You can recognise the layout as being part of a sheep farm and then as an orange orchard. Then there was a later family the Pearce family built a house. Now this was put away in the back area there. The water board reserved it as an area where they wanted to build water towers so nothing much had happened to it.

Bella Vista Farm homestead front view 2003 before restoration

This Society had discovered it they said “look at this can’t we keep it”? I went to Jack Ferguson who is the state bloke in charge of…. This is Laurie Ferguson’s father. The two Ferguson brothers were in the parliament and so I went to their Dad who was deputy premier in NSW. A really strong left winger of the Labor Party. Jack said “I’ll have a look at it Alan”. He had a look at it and said “I’ll get it preserved” and he did. He changed the orders and slapped the Water Board, pushed them to one side and said “ we’ve got to preserve this it’s too valuable. Jack was wonderful. Then the heritage park area old Tom Uren started that one. I said “Tom this is too good this is one of the original farms of our district, you’ve got to keep it”. Bless his soul he kept it. Before he left the parliament he said “Alan don’t you worry about that I’ll make sure the arrangements for it are OK”. He did. Stewart West a successive minister I didn’t think he would observe the commitment made by Tom Uren but he did. So we preserved a large and important area which was an original settlement. It was a farm, it was a convict settlement in Castle Hill. Then it became a school and an asylum. So those areas where people come to you to do things at a local level to me are just the most important things of the lot. You know the big policy ideas. Well it’s wonderful stimulation to be able to fight them through and say “see that five percent or that fifty percent or even that ninety percent I did that”. Well who knows and most of them don’t care either. They’d rather be worried about their local parks, the preservation of buildings. Whether they’ve got mushrooms to sell. All of those things. Or even at a smaller level than that “am I getting the right pension, has my phone come on” and all of those things.


Convict well in Castle Hill Heritage Park 2007

It’s wonderful though that you were able to influence some of that in your position. It wasn’t really directly your turf but you were still able to make decisions and influence people to make the right decisions for the shire. Were there any other issues that you raised in parliament that would have affected directly the livelihood of the people of the shire?

Absolutely, you see the rapid development of the Hills District and of Western Sydney for that matter was a deep concern to me. Because the services needed by those newly established communities were not being provided. People would say to me “ what’s it got to do with you federally”? If you’ve got poorly planned suburbs with families jammed in and no services you’re going to have strife in those families. You’re going to have Mums and Dads not being able to manage their household and splitting. You’re going to have teenagers who are unhappy and who are not well cared for and you’re going to have them causing trouble. Whether it be juvenile delinquency, whether it be marriage break up all of those finish in the federal sphere. If you’ve got unsuccessful families, high level of unemployment, you’ve got pay out after pay out that the tax payer has to meet. So the careful planning of suburbs even from the perspective of health. If you haven’t got good sporting facilities and good recreation facilities. You’ve got things like diabetes and heart and that’s all Commonwealth stuff. Where at Baulkham Hills I remember Bernie Mullane in particular was a great fighter for the…. and Eric Mobbs and Fred Caterson. Those people were great fighters for the well being of their families. To be able to support them in that there was a really good argument why the federal government should be involved and why the conditions being imposed by some planners and State decision makers should be tested, changed, challenged and where necessary be protested against. The Galston airport was a stupid planning decision of a massive type. They’ve been quarries and other proposals which were completely inappropriate for this area. But just on the level of state by state planning there is federal involvements.

So what was your position on the Galston airport proposal?

I was one of the key people that started the protest. We brought together all of the community. I remember we were up at Bateau Bay. We’d gone away for a break that we’d never had and right in the middle of that they announced the Galston airport. So I came back having spent every day on the phone and not getting to the beach with the family. We came back and went into getting every community organisation in the district. The CWA, the Agricultural Bureau, the progress associations every group we could. We formed a joint committee, we planned a campaign we had a huge protest meeting at Galston Park, We had somewhere between eight and twelve thousand people there. The cars were parked from Galston Park back past Swane's many kilometres. It was the middle of winter. We set up large braziers forty four gallon drums filled with firewood and just lit them and huge heat output. Just to try and keep people warm on the night. We set up a truck and we played over the sound system the sound of jet planes landing to welcome people to the site. The whole district could hear what we were up to. But they came from all over the northern suburbs for that because they knew that their lifestyle was going to be affected also. With low flying aircraft. So I was right in the middle of planning that. Then Phil Ruddock in 1973 I think the bi- election took place for the seat of Parramatta. The then incumbent Nigel Bowen had resigned and Phil was successful. The airport played a very significant impact both in that election and then in my first election in Mitchell.

Roughley House 656 Old Northern Road Dural is located near the site for Galston Airport proposed c1974

What sort of area would that airport have destroyed if it had been built?

Well it would have destroyed the area from St Jude’s Church, it would have come along the ridge out to the village of Galston. It wouldn’t have destroyed the village of Galston but would have made life nearly impossible there. The runway was supposed to be on topography that was really difficult. We had people, nurserymen the Swane family was so heavily involved in the protest. Les Geelan, Bob Pattern, the progress association of Dural. I remember engineer Ian Spring saying “this is impossible”. And Ian Spring coming up with alternative proposals. It would have just wrecked this district. The main thoroughfare was going to follow the main road through the district. I don’t know how the rest of the district would have survived with the destruction of that main access route. It was the wrong idea they saw a map, they saw an open space “we should put it there’. It was a very, very poor decision. It was something that drew the whole district together. It gave me in a political sense a much greater contact with a much larger group of people than I already knew. In different walks of life to those which I knew.

Now you also had some initiatives for the Hawkesbury Nepean River to improve the water quality. Tell me about that?

That’s taken place over a fairly long time. Because the river has always been a source of water supply for Sydney. It’s always been a concern of water quality for people downstream. With the development of the North West Sector particularly Rouse Hill and the areas around Rouse Hill. I was already aware of the damaging impact of the development in the Penrith district. Where sewage treatment was minimal and run off was causing huge problems. The stuff off roads and building blocks is really damaging to the Hawkesbury water quality. Rouse Hill was going to make that worse. At every step I said to Kevin Rizzoli who was the State member “we need to work together to make sure the water quality in the river itself is preserved for recreational and economic purposes”. So it was a twofold thing. The value of the river as a tourist industry is really high. The number of overseas visitors and locals who use the Hawkesbury quite amazing. As well as you’ve got the weekend and recreational use by the boating fraternity. Also the economic impact is pretty big because of all of the river flats that are irrigated from it. In the lower reaches the Hawkesbury you’ve got significant fishing and prawning industries. So river quality is really important. So Kevin went ahead and put together a Nepean Hawkesbury River Trust which was a great innovation which I helped him with. In latter years I’ve had to fight that battle almost on my own because again we’ve got planners who are prepared to change their own rules about runoff from these new districts. So the management of water into the Hawkesbury has become a critical factor. Time and again it doesn’t matter whether it’s the progress association at Beaumont Hills with Lynn and John Cole and their group originally and those that followed them on. The Kellyville Progress Association and other are all really concerned about river quality because they use it recreationally. We’ve been able to get some good changes there. The Heritage Estate the initiative of the Commonwealth government. One billion dollars set aside to do things like this. We’ve had grant after grant after grant from that process going to community groups, land care groups and others to make sure that the work that is done in the catchment area of the Hawkesbury maintains water quality.

Water skiing on Hawkesbury River at Wisemans Ferry 2006

Now how long were you actually in parliament Alan?

I commenced on the eighteenth of May 1974 and finished at the federal election twenty third November 2007.

That’s a long time?

Yes it’s a long time. But you go there for a three year term and decide after three years whether you want to run again. I never went into parliament thinking that this was something I wanted to do with the rest of my life. But for much of the rest of my life that’s what I have done.

So in terms of longest serving how do you stand?

Billy Hughes was there for forty years and others have been there for a long time. I’m one of a few that have been there more than thirty years together with John Howard and Phillip Ruddock. We’re the current crop. It’s been a marvellous privilege when I come to think of the capacity that you have to try to help people and do things for the community. Rather than personal benefit as you can see and understand the personal benefit is not all that great. But you hope that you’ve made a difference.

Well looking back at that what do you think that you have been able to do for the people of this particular community and shire in parliament?

I think we’ve been able to maintain the values of a great family environment. More than anything else. That’s been one of the things that I’ve focussed on family policies. Whether it be taxation or child care looking after the families of this district is really important. We’ve been able to over at least the last twenty five to thirty years to structure employment opportunities in our local area. More local opportunities for employment than anywhere else in Australia. That’s something that needs to continue and I intend to follow that. I think that what we have been able to establish is the values of this community too. They’re worth fighting for the values of safe, secure families, respect and support for women. The role of the institutions in the area whether it be the press or the churches or the schools. All of them need to be valued and the people in them and their ideas. I think that that sort of process of establishing values and attitudes a theme, a core of sense of purpose. You can see now in the expectations of parents for their children. Where they want their children to be, how they safeguard them and their future. I think that’s a wonderful thing. Everyday that I see that I think “well you know that idea started back with Mac McCoullough when he was a teacher at Quakers Hill East Public School”. When we talked about the way in which migrant families should be looked after and helped. We were able to get that into a federal policy and we were able to get some help on the ground. Through the Parramatta, Holroyd, Baulkham Hills migrant resource centre. We’re able to help the newcomers whether they be from Greece or Italy or from Malta and then the more recent arrivals from Asia and from the Middle East and from the sub continent. All of them have benefited from an attitude that started maybe with a thought, maybe with a policy idea and then maybe with the support services.

Aerial view of Castle Hill township 1999

So what are the current particular issues and hardships for the people of the Baulkham Hills Shire do you think?

I think the overdevelopment of the area is still continuing. I think the provision for recreation and infrastructure facilities, whether it be for transport, public or private transport, cars or not. The provision of community centres. All those things are remaining problems. There seems to be a view that we’ve got to double the population of Baulkham Hills no matter what. I don’t think that that should be the case if the infrastructure cannot be provided. It’s just pointless it’s so dreadful for families to get around. I know in our own family, Judy won’t go to Castle Hill now because of the difficulties of parking and getting around Castle Hill. Nobody seems to care about that and the businesses suffer, the employment suffers and the general amenity is poorer. So overdevelopment I think is something that is still continuing and needs to be managed really, really carefully. The authoritarian role adopted by the state planners and state government has been verging on thoughtlessness. Negligent would be a better word, negligent of the needs of people. The provision for employment in the future is also something that is really serious and immediately I think there should be the development of another large area of five to ten thousand acres of land set aside in the Rouse Hill, Vineyard area for a further industrial development. Which should include multimedia opportunities whether it be film, television. The whole of the commercial area of graphics that is so much driving our society, there must be educational facilities there for the University of Western Sydney. A big, strong commercial hub established as well. If we’re going to continue locally available employment this land needs to be set aside and commenced right now. The Norwest Business Park is just about full if we don’t do it now there will be a hole for perhaps ten years where more and more people will be forced onto the roads to travel out of the district. That will put more pressure on the infrastructure. Keeping people working locally must be a priority right now as it has been in the past. That needs to start again.

Norwest Business Park Aerial View. (Windsor Road in the foreground)

Well how do you see the future of this shire then? Looking ahead say ten, fifteen years what do you think will be there then?

It’s a wonderful district. The over building will create social pressures that we haven’t had in the past. There will be an increase in crime there’ll be an increase in difficulties with transient residents. If the railway line comes, which I have some doubts about if the railway line does come it will bring a whole new cohort of people into the district. Intense housing on very tiny blocks is a continuing policy I just see Sydney becoming one amorphous mass. There was a uniqueness to the style of life and family management in the Hills District that was pretty precious and should have been something that other district should replicate rather than the Hills District becoming like the rest of Sydney. So Sydney should model itself perhaps on the role adopted by community leaders and by the community itself. Their requirements, their expectations, their demands in many instances should be something that every family in Sydney should have. Rather than the Hills District become just absorbed in a monotonous wall to wall metropolis. Immigration out of NSW and out of Sydney in particular is predictable if lifestyles can’t become more amenable, more fulfilling and less stressful. People will go to Queensland, they’ll go to South Australia they’ll go anywhere rather than live in Sydney. That needs to stop and planners and the state authorities can easily do something about that.

The name of this whole project we’re doing is called Changing Suburbs and there’s been a lot of changes in this area. What do you think the major one has been?

I think the increased density it’s doubled in central Castle Hill CBD the population there without any improvements to the roads or infrastructure. They’ve got the same size buildings, the same size streets which means getting around is harder, shopping is more difficult. It’s bought some good facilities but they were going to arrive anyway. What is needed is more thoughtful ways of planning things. If you’re going to increase the population if you’re going to have some high rise development well let’s take into account that it’s going to put demands on people. The Americans can be criticised for a lot of things but having been into many of their new cities. Particularly in Arizona and to some extent Georgia I just see that the way they say “we need to think of the customer and the client first”. Whereas I think that Australian decision makers tend to think of the organisation. What is required by council, what’s required by business? They need to think of the populace at large and the Americans do that much better. I would like to see some of those more gifted American planners come into the Hills District and say “right oh we’ve gone so far let’s not go any further. Let’s readjust what we’ve done so that we think first of all of families and the way in which people can have a more conducive lifestyle”.

Judy do you have any final words to sum up what do you think the big changes have been in the shire?

My involvement has been comparatively small but I’ve seen families that are involved in community affairs being the ones who are achievers. That means that there needs to be leaders in those areas. People who are dedicated to young people and their development. That happens a great deal because there are so many organisations in the Hills area that do this. I think that tends to account for the increase in achievers in this area.

Judy have you enjoyed your life with Alan?

Oh definitely, when you look back you don’t think of all the troubles you’ve been through and all the things that were so difficult because of his being away or not available. But you see the good things and the things he’s achieved. The few little holidays that we’ve had have been very significant.

We’ve got a wonderful family haven’t we?

Yes we do have indeed.

The boys are just…..

And now we can enjoy our two little grandsons.

All right well that seems a happy note to end this interview on.