Behind the signs


airport t shirt

The only people that seem to shout abuse at me as I protest are the tradies.  The tradies in their new shiny utes all scrubbed up and expensive looking. The tradies that work bloody hard for a living, that got off their backside and built something, fixed something, created something.  The tradies that have to deal with people like me everyday, people like me who want a new kitchen or bathroom,  need a leaky tap fixed or a new fan putting in.  People like me who don’t understand what it is like to be knee deep in shit on a winters morning.

But people like me do understand.

I am a tradies daughter.

I have been a tradies wife – he is now in retail, I didn’t swap him, he just swapped his job.

I know exactly what it feels like to be a do-er, a mover and shaker, a get-up-and-go’er because as often as I could I’d get up and go with my dad and find out, learn the business that he so playfully told me ‘wasn’t for girls’.

And even now, in my own job while I’m not strictly a tradie myself I am a hard working, self-employed grafter who just happens to graft over batches of cosmetic products and formulas rather than u bends, engine blocks or transistors.

Anyway, to politics…..

Here in Australia the liberal government do a good sales job on the owner-business tradie because they have traditionally been the party for the entrepreneur, the self-starter, the small business owner, the boss.  Thinking back to when I was a child growing up  in England with a tradie father I knew just how much the governments decisions meant to my family, how incentives allowed my dad to get new tools, new vans, houses to do up, tax breaks and training.  All this under Thatcher and to a lesser degree Major.  True Blue.

But those were the 1980’s and 1990’s

Global warming wasn’t much of a thing then.

When Maggie closed the mines it wasn’t coal generated CO2 she was worried about.

And when the UK governments of the day enthusiastically promote renewable energy at least 33% of their enthusiasm comes from fears relating to fuel security.

where does the UK gas come from

But that’s by the by when you are standing by the side of the road holding a ‘No Western Sydney Airport’ sign while being told you are an ‘f’ing wanka’ from the car window of a ute.  I reflect on how I am now just ‘one of them’,  someone who has nothing in common with the ute warriors.  Nothing. Well, that is as far as they can see from their elevated window position.

What I want to say is this, that I appreciate the need for airports here in Australia.  We are a country of migrants, migrants from all four corners of the world. We need to go ‘home’ sometimes, back to where we came from to see parents, siblings, aunties, friends.  And they need to come here.  We need tourists to cater for, show the sights, boost our economy,  we need the suits to come in on the red-eye and make deals for our Aussie made produce and commodities.  We need to be connected.

So when I stand with my ‘No Airport’ sign please don’t take that so literally.

Also, I want to say that we, out west, ‘out there’ also need jobs, good jobs. Jobs that can allow us to own our own homes so that we can renovate and put in that new kitchen or bathroom.  A castle to call our own, to retreat to when our world gets too much.

AND I want to say that we deserve investment, that yes, we are a large and growing area that has been neglected for too long, that still doesn’t have full broadband access DESPITE being less than one hour from a global city.

But I also want to say this.

Not at any cost.

It is not the 1980’s or 1990’s.

We know that carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide are killers.  We know that the seas are heating up and rising, the air quality in Sydney’s basin isn’t winning us any prizes NOW so why make it worse than it needs to be?

The Liberal party mantra of ‘jobs and growth, jobs and growth, jobs and growth’ can still be achieved but it SHOULD be achieved for the west WITHOUT all of that pollution.  Breathing isn’t optional. Our kids, the kids we work so hard for do deserve a future, a healthy as well as wealthy future.

So let’s look at some clean energy job opportunities and see how Australia is stacking up against my old home country of England.

In 2014 the UK’s Solar Trade Association predicted there could be up to 50,000 full-time jobs in the Solar industry between now and 2030.  The number of actual jobs in 2013 was thought to be around 15,620.  That same year sunny old Australia with acres of space was employing 13,300 people – a dramatic rise on the 2008 figure of 1800 employees but still a chunk under the Uk total (although as a percentage of population it would look more impressive). Meanwhile a report by the Climate Institute here in Australia predicted up to 33980 jobs in the electricity energy sector with the majority of those being for clean energy by 2030.  So that’s still less than the UK, is not solar specific and is in spite of us experiencing hundreds more hours of sun a year than England achieves.  Maybe there is a jobs and growth opportunity right there for Western Sydney? We certainly have the factory space and work force for manufacturing the solar panels and infrastructure.

In terms of transport I have mentioned before about my love of fast train options as an alternative to air.  Time and time again studies have found fast rail trips of between 300-1500 Km’s to be much more time and energy-efficient than making the equivalent journey by air.  These distances would easily encompass Melbourne – Canberra-Sydney-Newcastle-Brisbane so why not do that?

Australia has a steel industry, we have the ability to manufacture rolling stock and both of those PLUS the running of the train station, ticketing and transport hub would provide jobs and growth so why aren’t we talking about that I wonder?

So back to my ute drivers that spew out abuse as they pass slowly by, held up by traffic lights, congestion and protocol.

I don’t expect everyone to have the same view as me and to reach the same conclusions but I do hope that at least some of the ute driving tradies can stop for a moment and consider that maybe a few of us have walked in their boots before and can see another way.  It isn’t all that radical when you think about it.





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