Wentworth Diary

The Riddle of Ms Spender’s Absent Solar Panels

My wife and I purchased our little patch of Wentworth in the 1990s. While rising sea levels weren’t a consideration at the time, we now thank our lucky stars we chose a home that sits high on a ridge running through the electorate. Climate 200 Independent candidate Allegra Spender wasn’t so fortunate, and so lives in a multi-million dollar apartment block dangerously adjacent to Sydney Harbour.

While Allegra currently enjoys splendid views of the Harbour Bridge over the masts of pleasure craft and racing yachts bobbing about in Rushcutters Bay, her home is doomed to suffer the same fate she believes  is ordained for the atoll states of Kiribati and Tuvalu. They are all predicted to become entirely uninhabitable within the next 50 years, as the seas continue their inexorable rise. The science is settled, Allegra is living on borrowed time (as well as Gadigal land).

I pass by Allegra’s domicile a couple of times a week on my regular constitutional, about a 5km round trip walking briskly down the hill to Rushcutters’s Bay and back again. It commences from a point close by Victoria Barracks. Our house was built by a colonial-born stonemason in 1859 on a bit of dirt that was part of the Sydney Common and outside council boundaries at the time: no streetlights, no roads, no sewerage. It was truly a pioneering period.

A hand-driven water pump that still remains nearby on Oxford Street was only erected in 1868, so God knows how the lady of the house filled her kettle and bath. The stonemason and his good lady had moved on by the time the pump was installed, having sold the place in 1864 for 200 pounds. The block had been purchased in 1858 for 65 pounds and four shillings, which shows you are always on a good wicket with eastern suburbs real estate.

Across the road from the water pump and the barracks is a junction that 20 years ago included a bunch of very useful retailers: grocers, a cake shop, laundromat, video store and a decent French bistro. Then some genius decided to buy up all the terraces, kick out all the leaseholders and reinvent the area as The Intersection. This is filled with upmarket boutiques, retailers of ludicrously expensive cosmetics and the kind of café where you need to decide between a Sticky Honey Chai or Turmeric Latte to have with your Shakshuka (whatever that is).

After passing through The Intersection, a dogleg to the left passes down a narrow and crooked lane. Along the way is one of my favourite pit stops, revolution central in Comber Street. In between the neat terraces is a small nondescript cottage that features a glass-enclosed noticeboard on the front wall with an ever-changing array of posters and notices to support a fashionable left agenda: Free Julian Assange, Support the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, and on this day Support Pacific Islands by taking action on climate change NOW.

There is an Allegra Spender Corflute adjacent to the noticeboard, so I may suggest to the residents that they undertake some sort of appeal that entwines the plight of poor little rich girl Allegra to that of the Pacific Islanders.

I have never seen anyone go in or out of their red front gate. I imagine the cottage is occupied by a pair of desiccated hippies who somehow obtained title through squatting in the 1960s before all around them became gentrified. They probably have no power or water and subsist on lentils and the product of their own sustainable veggie garden.

As I carry on down the hill, a young mum in short leggings is attempting to steer a Bugaboo containing her pride and joy towards the Organic Bread Bar with one hand while struggling with a Great Dane, attempting to get a better sniff of a nearby tree, straining at the leash in her other.

Darlinghurst Public School is always a worthy diversion, as the principal likes to patronise the neighbourhood with platitudes from such woke heroes as John Lennon or the Dalai Lama placed on the school noticeboard. This week it’s a quote from the sainted Audrey Hepburn, “Nothing is Impossible. The word (sic) itself says I’m Possible!” One hopes that whoever chose this bit of aspirational nonsense is not teaching Year 3 spelling classes.

Further down Boundary Street is a large industrial building which before WWII housed a manufacturer of lingerie. My grandmother and her sister actually worked there in the 1930s after moving into the city from Trangie on the far western plains of NSW. The building has since been refurbished and now houses luxury apartments and boutique commercial offices. The foyer features a statue of large golden Buddha which would have left Winnie and Kath nonplussed, having been educated by the Mercy Nuns from Trangie Convent (.est 1912).

The remaining road along to Rushcutters Bay contains a few traditional businesses such as panel beaters, mechanics and wholesale butchers, although these are gradually being pushed out by the trendy galleries, gyms and luxury car retailers taking over the neighbourhood.

The path to Allegra’s home leads through Rushcutters Bay Park, on this glorious Autumn Day being enjoyed by Grammar Boys and Ascham girls playing sport in their school jerseys. Local mums and nannies push prams while shepherding accompanying toddlers and expensive toy dogs. The sea sparkles in shades of brilliant blue while the sun shines brightly through a canopy of ancient figs. A typical afternoon at a glittering apex of privilege.

As I peer across the road, the Spender abode presents as a large two storey unit block, built sometime early last century, and only a hop and a skip to the Harbour’s edge. Given its location in prestigious Darling Point my mind can only speculate on the multiples of millions I would need to move in next door. And how great a loss when the rising seas begin lapping at the front door.

I then recall a moment in a recent Sky News debate with local Liberal Dave Sharma, where each was asked what they were actually doing to allay the threat of climate change. Each candidate responded they had not installed solar panels. Neither drives an electric car. According to a report,

Ms Spender said she had tried to get solar panels on her house but due to strata rules she wasn’t able to. She said she didn’t have a garage or driveway and therefore couldn’t have an electric car – instead opting for both hybrid and diesel vehicles.

There are only two letterboxes out front of Allegra’s unit block, which leads me to reflect that this can’t be a very big strata committee. In fact, a search of the property records shows that Allegra owns one unit outright (no mortgage) and is joint owner of the 2nd unit with a 10 per cent share. The remainder is held by a lass who shares a surname with Allegra’s half-brother, Johan Schumann, the current CEO of Carla Zampatti Pty Ltd, the iconic fashion brand founded by their mother.

So, Allegra is 60 per cent owner of the block, but she can’t get around those strata rules? Crikey, they must be set in stone!

Also obvious from the street (through a gap in the front hedge) is a large Fujitsu inverter sitting beneath the front window. So, it would seem Allegra does not suffer for the climate cause during Sydney’s humid summer months but relaxes in air-conditioned comfort. Or perhaps she has found an energy provider who sources from wind farms or hydro only, not dirty coal.

As I stood across the road pondering on these issues, I was nearly run over by a sleek white Model S Tesla emerging from driveway of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia. Unlike the full-throated roar of a traditional V8, an electronic vehicle emits a toy-like whine which offers little warning that a very large and fast-moving object is moments away from impact.

I scuttled out of the way and reflected on the difficulties that Allegra and her spouse must have in parking their diesel and hybrid. It is a busy location and finding a spot on the street must be a nightmare.

My eyes then fell upon the neighbouring unit block to Allegra’s, which is different in one significant way, the entire street front is a large four-door garage with accompanying driveway. If the garage goes back as deep as it looks likely it could accommodate up to eight cars. If only Allegra were on good terms with the owner, she might be able to park her own cars within and even arrange the installation of an EV charging station!

Property records show that Allegra’s neighbour, the one well-endowed with driveways, is none other than her half-brother, the aforementioned Mr Schumann and likely his wife. They hold title to each of two units that comprise the property, with no mortgage on either.

Johan, Allegra and her elder sister, Bianca, are co-directors of Carla Zampatti Holdings. The Australian reports that “Together, they control fashion ­labels Carla Zampatti and Bianca Spender, with more than 30 stores and 100 staff.”

They are also co-directors and shareholders of the family company, Tirano Pty Ltd, which holds additional commercial property in Darling Point and Double Bay.

The trio seem very close as family and businesspeople, which is terrific, and I wondered whether this cosy arrangement could include Johan providing a spare parking space and driveway to his sister and immediate neighbour Allegra, even somewhere she could plonk her EV charger, but I was not willing to sit by the roadside into the evening to catch her flicking up the roll-a-door. For all I know Johan might own a fleet of 8 vehicles and not have any room to spare in his enormous garage.

So, I begin the uphill trek home from Rushcutters Bay via a steep stairway leading up to Potts Point. To access the stairway, I pass by the spot where a large seal emerged from the bay a few years ago and began sunning itself in the park. It soon became a local celebrity and apart from startling a few local dogs it settled in quite comfortably. That was until an official party arrived from Taronga Zoo and swiftly decided this was a Life Not Worth Living, and promptly euthanised the creature. As the needle went in, the poor seal must have regretted emerging from the water into such a civilised neighbourhood.

Towards the top of the hill, I encountered a dreamy-eyed Jane Caro staring out from her own Corflute mounted on a power pole, encouraging me to vote for ‘Reason’. Nearby a swarthy fellow in a red beanie was arranging his possessions in a shopping trolley and wheelie bin. I pointed towards the Caro poster and a nearby Allegra and asked him who he would be voting for.

He simply muttered twice: “Sack ’em all. Sack ’em all.”

Editor’s note: Quadrant Online won’t be publishing pictures of Ms Spender’s Harbourside digs. We’ll leave doxing to the Left.

Walter Waverley is the pseudonym of a Wentworth resident who prefers anonymity to grief from his woke neighbours. He promises to continue reporting on electoral developments up and perhaps after May 21

 

23 comments
  • Peter OBrien

    Well spotted Walter. How easily the gullible just swallow what they are told. My long term motto is ‘Don’t believe anything’. You have just reaffirmed me in that resolve.

  • Biggles

    So you are saying, Walter, in your long, rambling, round-about way, that Allegra Spender is just like any other politician; a hypocrite. Welcome to the world of politics.

    • Roger Franklin

      That’s most uncharitable and certainly unwarranted, Biggles. I found Walter’s ramble through Wentworth quite entertaining and I’m sure others will too.

  • Edwina

    I loved it! It has made me want to return to my old stamping ground from many years back. It was very conservative back then.
    I am sure Biggles didn’t really mean it!! I certainly enjoyed my walk down memory lane.

  • Lewis P Buckingham

    Some years ago one close to me bought a flat in a block in a down market part of the suburbs.
    Being ahead of the hunt he decided to install an ac in his wall and rooftop solar to increase the value of his unit.
    There were all sorts of bans on changing the ‘look’ of the building, a rather decrepit structure.
    So he got himself on the strata committee and passed the right motions.
    Soon he had his a/c and thanks to other electricity users, a subsidised solar power array.
    Being a weekly reader of the Wentworth Courier I must say that the recent edition actually gave the candidates a good hearing.
    Ms Spender clearly does not think the housing crisis for young people is worth nutting out any real response.
    Even the minor parties have had a go at decentralisation to rural areas rather than building more cramped cities.
    The market for this magazine is all real estate, seriously expensive.
    The cars advertised start at $150,000 with options to go close to $200,000, supercharged petrol.
    Perhaps she thinks that putting a solar panel on her roof will not make any difference to the climate.
    If so I concur.
    Whatever the motive, she will not have to share the pain of higher electricity cost caused by the inevitable total rebuilding of the grid and power system, throwing away already sunk costs.
    However its clear if one of my financially poor sons can sort out a solar array on a block he does not own, it would be a short step for this candidate to do the same.

  • STD

    I think Walter has a healthy taste for Sauternes- sticky beak.

  • Tom Lewis

    Great article, with a very enjoyable writing style.

  • Suburban Boy

    Taronga Zoo should never have appointed Phil Nitschke to head its animal rescue team.

  • Daffy

    No politician appears to bat back against the ‘climate crisis’. Here’s an answer for the question put to Sharma: ‘There is no crisis. In the alternative, nothing anyone in Australia does will have any effect on anything, except impose energy poverty on the less well off while the wealthy virtue signal on the regressive tax that funds them.

  • pgang

    Ms Spender actually makes a valid point. Electric cars in high density urban zones, can not access charging points or solar panels. It is the great paradox of the electric car. In the suburbs or country they are essentially useless luxury items, but there is the space for solar panels and garages for charging. In the city, where their pathetic range and charge times are less of an issue, they rely on grid charging at community charging stations, and they become highly inefficient coal powered cars creating even more CO2 than a petrol car. It’s a lose-lose.
    The same applies to rooftop solar. Impossible in the city, where much of our power is consumed, and where most of the green ideology lives.

  • STD

    You are right!
    Oh but Daffy there is crisis, a crisis of and for truth at it’s most basic level , and there are real political forces and problems for anyone who questions this turb-ullian narrative -the illusionary climate cabal of incorporated crisis that is warmly ensconced within it’s conceited self.
    ###
    This is an effect of a shear of real bloody mindedness that is ripping the place into a frenzy- a phobia of truth.
    ###
    It is pitting the will of the state against the vulnerability of the citizenry . We have left wing teachers inculcating innocent and naive children into believing this rot of nonsense. Which at one level is great lesson in itself- the fact that we now have society that is essentially built and predicated on falsehood, a consumerist lie. These people are basically building a zone of confrontation within the home, by pitting children against the wisdom and wise counsel of parent- hood.
    ###
    Little red riding hood ,no ,know less.

  • Ian MacKenzie

    Reading this made me wonder how it was possible that a fortune built on vanity has enabled a foolish young woman to lecture us all on virtue. Then I came across mention of Trangie, “on the far western plains of NSW” which immediately called to mind the self-reliance, common sense and genuine virtue of many of those dwelling outside the Emerald City. Of course, Trangie isn’t really “far western” at all, being somewhat east of the centre of NSW, except when viewed through the distortion of the gravity well of Sydney. I’m certainly glad I live outside the event-horizon, rather than in the swamp of ignorance and vanity at the bottom of the hill at Wentworth.

  • gareththomassport

    Out here at Emu Swamp (somewhere remote from Waverley) we’re living the off-grid, solar powered life. Purely by necessity, not philosophy. Collect our own rain water, grow our own vegies. Could buy a Tesla and use our panels to charge it with acres of parking space, but too expensive, and I’m a little scared of it igniting and starting a bushfire.
    Walking the walk while Allegra talks the talk! And I’ll be putting Greens and our local “teal” last in the ballot.

  • Doubting Thomas

    “Trangie, ‘on the far western plains of NSW'”… is to laugh uproariously. Like Narromine, Trangie is a virtual suburb of Dubbo which is a long way from the far western plains. I come from just a very few kilometres from the actual centre of NSW which is just a few kms north of Tottenham. Even that, or Nyngan, which claims to be the beginning of the Outback, are not what I would describe as the far western plains which, to me, begin somewhat closer to Cobar. It often seems that coastal residents of NSW are totally ignorant of the existence of anything or anywhere west of the Blue Mountains. It’s not surprising that such people fall for scams like catastrophic anthropogenic global warming and its offspring.

  • Lewis P Buckingham

    pgang
    Allegra Spender has the answer.In the Wentworth Courier of May 4th she is shown with an early adopter who has coordinated with Ausgrid to build a fast car charger with a microprocessor that allows the car’s battery to be drained to top up the grid where necessary and make money.
    Leafing through the tariff maze there appears to be some problems for the honest person.
    Ausgrid names its off peak at 10 pm to 7 am, when the ‘consumer can take advantage charging will receive free energy about 30 percent of the time and cheap charging at other times’.
    But this is the time when king coal rules the grid and the solar generators are off line.
    Wind is so unreliable it is of little use anyway.
    So if the energy is ‘free’, someone else is paying.
    Once the smart system gets going there is a plan to actually charge solar providers to put electrons into the grid when the production is too great.
    The solar input tariffs are being wound back as of the 14th of this month
    https://help.discoverenergy.com.au/hc/en-us/articles/4751492537743
    The default becoming the going rate.
    These are reviewed at least annually,
    Usually down.
    So over a 10 year period it may be hard to justify pulling down your solar panels and getting new ones as they wear out.
    In the meanwhile, as you point out, the ev will be charged by coal.
    Now it is suggested that the ‘building regulations [be changed]to allow chargers to be built in strata dwellings’.
    There is a photo op with the candidate and the engineers.
    They appear to be in an under building garage with a parked ev next to a chest freezer.
    This space could become quite hot in a fast charge summer environment.
    Were the system to fail and the ev catch on fire nothing would save the building.
    The fire brigade just watches and prevents adjacent structures going up.
    Lithium is a very light metal and burns with intense heat while the energy in the battery is shorted out.
    The answer for this candidate is ‘Change[ing] building regulations”.
    As if doing so somehow changes the physics.
    On a more sombre note such devices in closely built up underfloor areas could lead to insurance exclusions or penalty rates.
    Were one to believe that the gentle warming and recent cooling of our planet will lead to catastrophe, merely placing these batteries under buildings may harbinger a foretaste for some poor souls.

  • Lewis P Buckingham

    Just as an addenda.
    The ev in the pictured garage looks like a Tesla, however the market reached by the Wentworth Courier is being shown the BMW i4EDRIVE 40 a mere $99,900 plus on roads.
    https://www.carsales.com.au/cars/bmw/i4/edrive40-m-sport-badge/
    More like $110000. I’m not sure if such a purchaser really needs this car in Wentworth, it would be great for a spin in the country.
    This vehicle has a 83.9 kwhr battery, that’s seriously big, out classed by the charging capacity of any solar array on a block of flats.
    To be consistent,when Allegra wins the seat, she needs to go for nuclear base load.

  • padraic

    A great read and I am looking forward to the next one. You show these fakes for what they are. Agree with your comment about being on a good wicket re Eastern Suburbs real estate. Tragic if you miss out, though. My great-grandfather was thinking of buying land at Coogee for a pound an acre for a peri-urban market garden (when Coogee was opening up) but the soil was too sandy and he decided not to.

  • call it out

    (As I read this 79% of NSW electricity is being generated by coal or gas)
    Great read. I am always astounded by the fantasies of the useful idiots, especially those very affluent ones.
    They live in a parallel universe, where feelings have replaced facts, and displayed virtue has overcome morality.
    Unfortunately, they have become very influential.
    This pushback by “Walter” is welcome, and brings a smile to my face in troubled times.

  • walter

    Grandpa came from Nevertire, a bit further along the Mitchell highway from Trangie. Great pub. I have been to both towns many times and countryside is pretty definitely flat. Funny thing he met Nanna who was from Trangie at a dance at Paddington Town Hall. Like the 95% of NSW population who have never driven further west than Dubbo, I reckon it marks the beginning of the far western plains. The red dirt, emus and goats kick in further out but still.

  • 27hugo27

    I wonder if that DarlInghurst principal is pro abortion? I suspect he is, rendering his “I’m possible” sign even more ridiculous, but then the left never do self-awareness.

  • Stephen

    There’s an article in the Guardian this morning noting that the Climate 200 candidates are all white. You can’t make this stuff up!

  • mike2

    “..Each candidate responded they had not installed solar panels…”

    Its the thought that counts…99% of their “followers” dont bother either..

    “Ms Spender said she had tried to get solar panels on her house but due to strata rules she wasn’t able to.”

    The reality is..they can just pay extra and get their power from “Renewable Energy Certificates” providing companies…
    But they never do that either..
    Post modernism is all about “performative empathy” and saying cool things..

  • bomber49

    Wow! If Walter Waverley were a cop you wouldn’t want this investigator looking into your nefarious affairs; you’d get 20 years. Well done Walter. The ABC waists a small fortune on investigations into the Luna Park Fire and the Russian collusion in the Trump election, but can’t do something similar into these holier than thou hypocrites, who not only fail to practice what they preach, but lie about it.

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