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Denis Solari Oral History
BiographyDenis Solari was in legal practice in Jannali Shopping Centre from 1956 until 1987. He was actively involved in the Jannali Businessmen’s Association and in the Progress Association. The parking area behind Jannali shopping centre was the result of efforts by the Businessmen’s Association and Councillor Keith Bates, also a developer of Jannali Shopping Centre. In 1965 he helped set up the first suburban law societies in NSW, the St George Sutherland Law Society. He and others began law lectures and free legal centres, one through Sutherland Council. Denis knew Councillor Bates well, and is well versed in Bates’ role in the development of the Jannali commercial centre. He also acted for Sutherland Shire Council for many years, including the controversial one-coat tar sealing of many Jannali roads, and the 1960s-1980 land project division in the Shire. Through his work he is also familiar with the development of housing commission homes in Jannali. He acted for the Council during the inquests into the 1981 Waterfall bushfire, in which five fire fighters were killed, and also the 1983 bushfire at Gray’s Point.SynopsisDenis Solari came to the Shire as a young solicitor when he set up his practice in Jannali Shopping Centre in 1956. Jannali was a fast growing suburb, full of young, working class families. Denis was an active member of the Jannali Progress Association and also the Jannali Businessmen’s Club. He describes the changes in Jannali Shopping Centre over the years and the influence of his good friend Councillor Keith Bates in the shaping of Jannali. He recalls Bates’ controversial plan to seal many of the Shire’s major roads with a single coat of tar. He remembers the Quessys from whom he rented his chambers, and who also owned several shops in Jannali after the war. Denis recalls the local jeweller, Arthur Evans, running the Moon Festival at the end of 1959 to raise funds for the community hall which was built in Mary Street. He discusses the changing fortunes of Jannali Shopping Centre which once had four banks and now has none. He recalls the system of ‘key money’ in the 1950s so that business owners could ensure their right to lease a premise for their shop. There were few phones in Jannali in the 1950s, and business owners queued to use the public phone outside the Newsagency. Denis describes how the chemist downstairs agreed to put a lead upstairs to Denis’s office so that he could share the phone. They had a buzzer system to alert each other when it was in use.Denis acted for Sutherland Council in many instances, including the 1960s land project division which made difficult sites more accessible for building. He describes the building of Southgate Shopping Centre on land which had been the drainage point for most of Sylvania. He also acted for Council in the inquests into the 1981 bushfire at Waterfall in which five local fire fighters died, and in the 1983 bushfire at Gray’s Point. He recalls what a huge affair the latter inquest was, with 13,000 pages of transcript, yet there was no finding. In the 1960s Denis was contracted to fix up the administrative mess at Salisbury Golf Course (now Kareela Golf Course), so that they could become licensed. Council in the 1960s and 70s was not as politically driven as it is now, says Denis, and Councillors were more cooperative. They were also younger with young families, and a lot of playing fields sprung up in that era. Councillor Jean Manuel, a Como resident, was one who did a lot for the local community, including supporting projects like the Camellia Gardens. In the 1950s suburban lawyers were treated as country lawyers and did not get fair representation in the Law Society. Denis was instrumental in starting the St George Sutherland Law Society, the first of the suburban law societies in New South Wales to give suburban lawyers better conditions.
Denis Solari Oral History. Local History - Sutherland Shire Libraries, accessed 23/02/2024, https://localhistory.sutherlandshire.nsw.gov.au/nodes/view/5933