Strathfield Municipal Council is a Local Government Area of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. The Council was formed in 1885 and originally included the suburbs of Redmire, Homebush and Druitt Town. The name Strathfield was adopted by the new Council in 1885. The suburb of Redmire was renamed Strathfield at this time. Druitt Town was renamed Strathfield South in the early 1890s. Only Homebush survives as an original location name.
A disastrous attempt in the 1790s by the first settlers to farm the land, resulted in the land being abandoned. However, by the 1870s, the district commenced development primarily as a residential area. The central location, halfway between Sydney and Parramatta, the establishment of rail services (from 1855 at Homebush) and availability of land, initially at low costs, attracted many wealthy merchants to build country style mansions within reasonable access to their City based businesses. Strathfield was also promoted as a healthy environment, away from owercrowded City conditions and diseases. Early land advertisements speak of the inland location as away from the 'injurious sea conditions'. With the relocation to Strathfield of many prominent families including the heirs of retailer David Jones, chemist Washington H Soul and many others, Strathfield became an elite and wealthy area. It's devleopment differed markedly from the more working class areas of surrounding districts like Canterbury, Auburn and Concord.
The Strathfield Municipality has expanded over time and now includes the suburbs of Strathfield, Homebush, Homebush West, Flemington, Greenacre, Enfield, Strathfield South, Chullora (part) and Belfield (part). Over the years it has become a major multicultural centre, having many different nationalities in its 14.1 km² boundaries, of which the 3 largest non-Australian born groups are South Korean, Chinese, and Sri Lankan. Strathfield Municipal Council has a population of about 32,000 people and is one of Sydney's medium sized Councils.
Strathfield Municipal Council has traditionally opposed forced amalgamations with other local government areas, though the current Council itself has been expanded in size and population by incorporating the abolished Homebush Council in 1947 and the West Ward of the former Enfield Council in 1949.
Strathfield Council was rocked in 2004-05 by allegations of corruption involving rezoning of land use. The two councillors involved resigned following the inquiry by the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC).
The Council built the current Council Chambers in 1887, between 1885 and 1887 the Council operated from various private homes in Strathfield, pending the building of a permanent Council Chambers. The Strathfield Town was built in 1923. The council annexed the Flemington district in 1892 and in doing so substantially increased the number of residents living in the Municipality as development density was higher in the more working class Flemington than in Strathfield.
Several attempts at amalgamating the council have been made: the first happened with The Greater Sydney Movement, where many influential people such as Sidney Webb and John Daniel Fitzgerald believed that most of Sydney should be merged into a single Sydney area. This was extremely unpopular with both residents and many councils, including Strathfield council, and though bills were raised in State parliament in 1912, 1927 and 1931 they failed to gather any real support and the attempt to force amalgamation failed. In 1947 Homebush and Strathfield councils merged and part of Enfield was added in 1949. In 1974 two reports, one by J.C. Barnett and the other from the State Boundaries Commission, recommended that Ashfield, Drummoyne, Burwood and Concord should amalgamate with Strathfield. This was energetically opposed by residents and council alderman and this amalgamation also did not come to fruition. In 1992, a section of the northern part of the Municipality was transferred to the Auburn Council area. In return, the area of and between Boundary Creek and the railway line, occupied by the former Ford factory building, was transferred from Auburn to Strathfield Council.
On August 17, 1991, seven people were killed, when Wade Frankum stabbed a fifteen year-old girl to death, before running amok with a rifle in the Strathfield Plaza shopping mall, and then turning the weapon on himself. This is commonly known as the Strathfield Massacre and it shocked the nation. A Memorial plaque is located at Churchill Avenue, Strathfield.
Strathfield has a wide mix of people groups, with about 48% of the population born overseas. As a result there are many services for newly arrived immigrants, and many overseas students live in the area. Some of the organisations that are located in the Municipality of Strathfield are the Russian Ethnic Community Council of NSW Inc, which provides access to information and referral to mainstream services to recent immigrants of Russian and Russian speaking background and disseminates information to remote and offshore areas on a number of issues and the Sydney Tamil Resource Centre Inc, which provides resources to Tamil immigrants.
In the 90s Strathfield saw a large influx of Korean immigrants, mainly due to its proximity to Campsie — which also had experienced an influx of Koreans into the area and a boom in numbers of International Students — but also because of Strathfield Korean Uniting Church on Homebush Road. There are now numerous Korean restaurants and shops in the area. It is the biggest Korea Town in the Southern hemisphere.
There are various community organisations in the Municipality. Strathfield has a local Rotary club, which provides community support and assistance via various projects in the area and a Musical Society, which normally produces two shows a year in the Latvian Theatre in Strathfield. Their main social activity is rehearsing twice weekly and they present seven performances of their musical production over two weekends. Strathfield Lantern Club Voluntary is located in Strathfield and provides fundraising organisation for raising funds specifically for the Royal Institute for Deaf & Blind Children in North Rocks.
The Municipality has two libraries; the Central Library in Homebush and a Branch library in Strathfield South. The central library, located in Homebush, was demolished in 2002 and a new library was built and opened in 2004.
A key element of Strathfield is its role as a location for many educational institutions including the Mount St Mary's Campus of Australian Catholic University, Strathfield Girls High, Homebush Boys High, St Patrick's College, Santa Sabina, Sydney Adventist College, Meriden, Trinity Grammar Preparatory School and Strathfield South High School. These schools and colleges have produced many significant contributors to Australia's sporting, political and social life. From St. Patricks's College, for example have come former State Opposition Leader John Brogden, author and historian Tom Keneally and duel international John Ballesty, or from Homebush Boys High, John Symond, founding and managing director of the Aussie Group, Rodney Blake, prop for the Queensland Reds and as of 2006, apart of the Wallabies team, Gordon Bray, prominent Australian sports commentator, known as the 'Voice of Rugby' and Bob Debus, Minister for the Environment and Minister for the Arts. Former Test cricketers Alan Davidson and Bob Simpson also reside in Strathfield.
Whilst not perhaps basking in quite the same popular musical glory as neighbouring Burwood with its links to the formation of the Easybeats and AC/DC, Strathfield has made its own unique contribution to pop. Strathfield was home during part of the 1960s to The BeeGees (Redmyre Road) and several Australian indie rock and indie pop bands have emerged from Strathfield including Prince Vlad & the Gargoyle Impalers, Lunatic Fringe, The Upbeat, Women of Troy member Paul O'Reilly, and The Mexican Spitfires. Grant McLennan of The Go-Betweens also lived in Carrington Ave, Strathfield for a number of years in the 1990s.
Although no members of the band were Stathfield residents the address in Woodward Ave, Strathfield of one of Radio Birdman's earliest fan club members inspired the lyrics of their mid-1970s pop song "Murder City Nights":
The Mexican Spitfires also immortalised Strathfield in their song Rookwood about Rookwood Cemetery which must be one of very few pop songs about a cemetery. Written by Stephen McCowage the song featured the chorus:
Traditionally, the municipality has fought amalgamation of their area with other councils, though additional land has been added to the Municipality since 1885 such as annexure of parts of the Lidcome Municipality in 1892, merged the western ward of the abolished Enfield Council in 1949 and voluntarily merged with the Municipality of Homebush in May 1947. However, they strenuously objected to a push to amalgamate the councils into one mega-council, known as The Greater Sydney Movement, that happened from the early part of the 1890s till the later half of the 1930s. In 1983 it was recommended by the NSW State Boundaries Commission that Strathfield be amalgamated into Burwood, however a great deal of uproar greeted this plan and after the then mayor, Clarrie Edwards, spoke in well attended public meetings the state government abandoned the plan due to a great deal of opposition from residents of the area. In 1999 another proposal was made to merge the Municipality of Burwood with the Municipality of Strathfield. However, the residents of Strathfield did not support this proposal and the merger never proceeded. A proposal was lodged by Auburn Council for a boundary change, which had the effect of a takeover of Strathfield Council. This was heavily objected to by residents of Strathfield.
The Inner West (which includes the Municipality of Strathfield) has long been an area where lots of development has been undertaken and competition amongst developers has been intense. According to The Australian, they were known to strongly lobby the Australian Labor Party and the party "spent almost $100,000 fighting last year's election, with $84,500 of that donated by local developers, electoral funding records show." (Sexton, Feb 2, 2005 ). Alfred Tsang, of the Unity Party, was elected to Strathfield Council in March 2003. Tsang was seen as a threat by some developers as he overturned various rezoning that had been arranged by the previous Labor party. It is alleged by Tsang that Labor councillor John Abi-Saab and state member of parliament and Labor powerbroker Eddie Obeid set him up for accepting a bribe.
On December 20, 2004, Tsang was forced to stepped down over allegations of corruption. Pictures had been published in The Australian of him accepting a $200,000 of $100 bills from a developer, Michael Saklaoui. It was not initially clear why the money was given to him though it was alleged that he was talking to Mr Saklawi about the redevelopment of an 800m² council-owned carpark (Sexton, Dec 20 2004), however it was later revealed to be payment for rezoning the council car park and three adjoining houses for the benefit of developer Michael Saklaoui (Sexton, Feb 2, 2005 ). According to The Australian he was heard to have said that "Basically, we get it for nothing," Mr Tsang says. "I am making Strathfield a better place ... I am doing it for the area." (Sexton, Feb 2, 2005 ) Strathfield council soon afterwards released a press statement that it "will not and does not" tolerate misconduct. (Sydney Morning Herald, December 20, 2004 ) The Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) is currently investigating whether claims developers were given inside information about land rezoning proposals put to Strathfield Council have any substance and the pictures taken by The Australian were handed to them for further investigation.
According to Anne Davies, who reports for The Sydney Morning Herald, "behind the Strathfield saga is a ferocious battle among developers for sites. These developers are not from the big end of town; they are locals - many are Lebanese - who regard the inner west as their development playground." (Davies, SMH, pg. 4). Michael King, the counsel assisting ICAC, found that John Abi-Saab was involved in a plot to entrap Alfred Tsang and force him from office and recommended five findings against him, and King also recommended that Tsang should be found to have acted corruptly. On March 28, 2005 both Tsang and Abi-Saab tendered their resignations to Strathfield Council's general manager. (The Sydney Morning Herald, March 1, 2005 ).
The ICAC report in 2005 recommended that Abi-Saab be charged with blackmail by threat to publish; for wilfully making false statements to mislead the ICAC; for giving false and misleading evidence at an ICAC hearing; and for procuring the giving of false testimony at an ICAC hearing. The ICAC concluded that Abi-Saab's blackmail attempt was hello goodbye carried out following two Mayoral Minutes Mr Tsang brought to Council in June and July 2004 which recommended removing proposed zoning changes and planned increases to floor space ratios in Strathfield South. The passing of the two Mayoral Minutes adversely affected the interests of a number of developers including Mr Saklaoui and Anne Bechara, both associates of Abi-Saab.
The Municipality of Strathfield is located at 33°52'10" North, 151°5'59" West (33.8717, 151.0899). It covers a total area of approximately 14.1 square kilometres and includes the suburbs of Strathfield, Strathfield South, Homebush, Homebush West, Greenacre, Flemington, part of Enfield and part of Belfield (in Australia, a Local Government Area, or LGA, incorporates many suburbs into its area). Homebush Bay Drive bounds the Municipality of Strathfield to the north, Powells Creek, The Boulevarde and Coronation Parade bounds it to the east, Punchbowl Road and Juno Parade form the southern border and Roberts Road, Chullora rail yards, Rookwood Cemetery and the Sydney Olympic Park Rail line bound the Municipality to the west.
For NSW state elections, the Municipality of Strathfield is divided between the Electoral district of Strathfield, Electoral district of Drummoyne and Electoral district of Canterbury and for Federal elections it is in the electorate of Lowe.
The estimated resident population as of June 2003 was 30,220 (Aust. Bureau of Statistics). The Strathfield Local Government Area is a culturally diverse region. The 2001 Census recorded the population of the Municipality as 27,956 — an increase of 8.1% since the 1996 Census. Of the total area, the census showed that 46% of the people stated that they were Australian-born. The number of people born overseas was 13,521 (48% of the total population) compared with 11,386 (44% of the total population) in 1996 and 10,176 (40% of the total population) in 1991. Of those born overseas the three main countries of birth were the Republic of Korea (South) — 1750 people (6.3%); China (excluding SARs and Taiwan) — 1632 people (5.9%) and Sri Lanka — 1544 people (5.5%).