Talking about wasting money, what does this tell you about Badgerys Creek…..

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The Blue Mountains council is being attacked from the inside on a couple of points at the moment, not least about the $130,000 that has been used to fund the ‘anti airport’ campaign. This is particularly sad as the attack is coming from people who voted in support of the very decisions they are now disputing (which include but are not limited to the airport spend). There defence is that ‘this is just politics’ but in defence of my disgust for this type of behaviour I’d say that this is the very reason the two major parties are losing ground and becoming irrelevant – a situation that would not necessarily be an issue if it weren’t for the fact that the gap in our political landscape is largely being replaced by parties with much more extreme agendas (maybe that’s what they want…).

There is another sub-plot to the councils financial management story going on too, along the same lines of financial management/ priorities but not as ‘pro Badgerys’ as the others but I’ll save that for another day.

Anyway, on the subject of wasting money we have exhibit A, the share price for Sydney Airport Pty:

sydney-airport-stock-price

This charts the movement of Sydney Airport Stock price over the last two years. Oct 2015 – Badgerys Creek EIS announced, share price dances around in an upwards direction. September – share price drops from 7.5 to 6.5 – over 13% fall as the final EIS is announced (maybe they saw how unimpressive it was, just like we did). Jan 2017 – share price is 5.89 which is just below what it was before the initial EIS was unravelled in October 2015.

This update was brought to you by a graph of what actually happened rather than the spin the Telegraph like to shove down our throats.

The data is available here for anyone who likes to analyse it for themselves ūüôā https://au.finance.yahoo.com/echarts?s=SYD.AX

The fact that this airport proposal looks to be financially dubious and that the information provided by the government has failed to drive up the share price of Sydney Airport at this point gives me some degree of hope that they are seeing what we see.

It is all so easy to write off protesters and those in opposition to a big project like this as being anti-progress, ¬†short-sighted, change-phobic, ¬†romantic, out-of-touch or otherwise but I beg to differ. Sure I’m against the airport for a range of environmental and lifestyle reasons some of which may seem frivolous but at the end of the day I’m also against this airport because financially it doesn’t look to be stacking up.

Australia is not Europe or Asia and has never been on an international trade route.  Our geographical isolation is the reason for our rich cultural heritage, the diversity in our plants and animals and our exotic appeal. Neither do we have the geographical infrastructure to become like the Americas (which are only 7 hours from that other mega-business centre of Europe), we are a large dry country full of desert.

I believe that the whole of Australia will have a much brighter and more prosperous future once it stops trying to become something it is not and embraces everything it is. Badgerys Creek is, in my view yet another attempt for us (Sydney) to compete with Asia when in reality it might just as well leave us broke, hot and living in high-rise boxes that line a road to nowhere.

So, I implore my Blue Mountains councillors to stop, think and look at what is going on here.  We can do better, we might even be able to lead the way in this but to do that will take bravery and bravery starts with acknowledging the truth.

 

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High Speed Rail – It’s not all good but I want it anyway.

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I’ve been reading the letters section of our local newspaper with interest since the argument for High Speed Rail vs the Airport was proposed then countered a few weeks ago. ¬†I don’t want to chime in on that particular argument as the people involved are more than capable¬†enough to fight their own battles without me confusing things but what I do want to do is share the thoughts that were triggered within me.

The idea of a super fast train making its way through some of the most densely populated parts of Australialand fills me with joy if I’m completely honest. I am a train lover and have lived very close to railway lines twice in my life – now and between the ages of 5 and 8 (I actually lived in that same house until I was 14 but the¬†railway track was ripped out when I was about 8 leaving a lovely long stretch of cycle way but no trains….).

What my own personal experience has shown me is that trains are not quiet. ¬†Occasionally the creaking and screeching of breaks and engine wakes me from my sleep as the coal wagons chug past at an ungodly hour. ¬†Living in the Blue Mountains this is par for the course with many homes hugging either the train line or the highway or both (often both as the lines do run parallel mainly). ¬†As a consequence it can sometimes be noisier at my house than in the leafy streets of Sydney’s Chippendale, Glebe or Annandale.

Noise is one of the reasons people don’t want an airport out west but it isn’t the only one. ¬†The exchange of letters above included comment along the lines of ¬†‘ you do know that high-speed rail is noisy don’t you?’ or words to that effect. ¬†I want to shout ‘the idea that trains travelling at super high-speed would be somehow eerily silent never crossed my probing¬†mind’…..

The next big truth bomb that detractors sometimes throw like a hand grenade into a glitter rainbow party is one that highlights the amount of land that will need to be reclaimed and dug up for this project. ¬†Again I’m left wondering why this completely obvious state of affairs is worth pointing out and I am left feeling slightly sad by the reality that some people might indeed hold the view that high-speed rail greenies are imagining the train to either hover like a butterfly or shrink to fit the space already given over to road or rail. ¬† Of course it will take up space and so it should! ¬†It’s a key piece of infrastructure that deserves all the space it needs to get done.

And so we go on.

high-speed-rail

I think it is fair to say that plonking a high-speed rail line between Brisvegas -Sydney – Canberra and Melbourne is going to churn up some of the brown stuff and may even have to cut through some ecologically sensitive areas. ¬†Hopefully these risks will be mitigated with the usual level of care and attention (Ahem) but nevertheless it will indeed be a case of ‘you can’t please everybody all the time’.

But for a greeny type (I’m not even sure I am a greeny type but let’s just go with it) like me this project is different.

All of my life I’ve had to watch as fields get churned up and replaced by crappo eco-inconsiderate housing estates and by-passes that solve nothing much. ¬†Sat in road cone restricted motorways as they widen and expand further and further. ¬†Had to concede defeat as the second and third runways get built to take more and more people on CO2 guzzling trips ‘for their convenience’ and in the name of progress when real progress would have been a conference via SKYPE or a once-in-a-lifetime long tour rather than an 8 hour shopping spree in Paris before coming home for Corrie and dinner (something that would happen when I lived in England). High speed rail is not like that, high-speed rail is visionary.

The prospect of being able to travel up and down this huge land by train is, for me, one of the most exciting prospects ever to have entered my consciousness. ¬†It would allow me to take my bike out into those little country areas, to shop in Melbourne or go see my friends in Brissie or take an international flight out of Canberra while leaving the car at home! ¬†It would also allow for people living in rural areas such as Shepparton or Grafton to get into a capital city and work if they wanted to. ¬†Australia can finally spread out and enjoy its self instead of cramming everyone into the kitchen sink we call Sydney! What’s more it COULD allow me to do all of this without expending a CO2 cent thanks to technology that exists today – ZERO emissions trains run from solar power thanks to advances in solar technology. ¬†Sure the reality might be a little less idealistic and it is also possible that at least in the first few years the power might come from a mix of solar and coal but the exciting thing is that this could, with the right will and enthusiasm, happen now and be something amazing!

As for the money and people side, the ‘we can’t afford it’ and ‘we don’t have the population for it’ then I would finish on this. ¬†Value capture is a concept that could work and is one that has been touted by the very people who are all for Badgery’s Creek. ¬†The government could raise money that way. ¬† In terms of population if the current government gets its way we are set to swell in numbers at a rapid rate so planning this on current population is all a bit silly and anyway, it’s not just about population numbers it is about the travelling population, where they are going and what they are doing and little old Australia has proved her worth in that regard with the Sydney to Melbourne air commute coming in at number 4 in the WORLD!!!! ¬†Sydney to Brisbane¬†is number 10!

The last thing I’m going to say on this is if I was Kerry Mather (MD and CEO of Sydney Airport) and co I’d be looking at how I can get my investment dollars into this high-speed rail thing as that’s the future – not another airport. Sure planes are becoming lighter, more fuel efficient, bigger and even quieter but they are a long way away from being able to run on zero emissions and fuel security in terms of future stocks and prices is a very real issue.

So yes,  high speed rail may well be noisy and will probably run right through some rare flower and bird habitat and might even take my house but I still want it because to have it would make me really, really proud to be Australian.

Amanda

PS: just coming back to the noise issue once again, while the noise from a train line can reverberate through a valley it is usually concentrated along and around the area surrounding the tracks. ¬†The trouble with planes is their intrusiveness into wilderness areas. Wilderness is a valuable asset for Australia and will become an even bigger draw card for tourists looking to escape and explore ‘the middle of nowhere’. ¬†A fast rail could secure our airspace and thus ensure our wilderness hikes are not rudely interrupted by a Boeing 747….

PPS: Here is a government report into HSR completed in 2011. It looks like they thought it was a pretty good idea too!

We should all just accept that there will be an airport at Badgerys Creek.

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As 2016 came to an end the Australian Government ticked the last in a series of boxes that are required to make the building of Badgerys Creek airport legally possible.  With that final tick came the end of a long and drawn out process of on-again-off-again process and debate.  The only thing missing now, as we hit our 2017 stride is the cash.

Who will pay?

no-airport

But that small, insignificant job of raising the several billion needed to make this thing fly so to speak is outside of our (layman’s) control. ¬†What we can control is how we feel about the whole thing and what we do next.

Predictably, what ‘we’ feel at this moment is becoming increasingly interesting.

This is cranking up to be a shit fight.

So for the last year the major voices we’ve heard on this issue have been as follows:

  • Australian Liberal Government. ¬†Love it, can’t get enough of it, do it and do it 24/7 over Blaxlands house.
  • Australian Labor Government (the opposition). ¬†HQ loves it, can’t get enough of it but then they remember they are labor and labor is the people’s party and decide that they are all for it as long as it’s not all over Blaxlands house.
  • Australian Labor Party, Western Sydney Division AKA those lucky buggers who will be living with it 24/7 and especially those who just got elected to the job or received an increase in support. ¬†OK so not all hate it but the cheerleading is more ‘groan’ than ‘yippee’. ¬†Why can’t we have a curfew? ¬†Why not high speed rail? What do you mean we have to cop the pollution? ¬†Why not throw in a massive F**K me incinerator too! ¬†Show me the detail? ¬†Excuse me for being more than a little suspicious over the fact that a bunch of Mosman and Beach living city slickers know what’s best for us. ¬†Do you even know where Badgerys Creek is people?
  • Australian Liberal Party Representatives Blue Mountains pre-election – Not really liking the idea that the current EIS promotes thank you very much. Mucho concerning and not 100% convinced on the ‘what’s in it for us’ package on offer. Post election – OK so two have now decided that we should just embrace the awesomeness that is the BC airport much to the bemusement of the rest of council (allegedly).
  • Local residents group RAWSA. ¬†A heady mix between NO AIRPORT, ¬†NO 24/7 Airport, ¬†NOT THIS AIRPORT and NO IDEA WHY WE CAN’T HAVE HIGH SPEED RAIL INSTEAD?
  • Interested local residents against the airport. ¬†Read, think about it, act then get on with life.
  • Interested local residents for the airport. ¬†Get with the program people, this is an amazing opportunity and I want it written in as many places as possible.

It’s fair to say that the majority of residents local to me here in the Blue Mountains have taken a somewhat less active interest in the whole debacle over the last 14 months and I can’t really blame them – there is only so much any one of us can do. But now, as I said things have changed.

The anti has been upped.

And some of the people who were quiet before, including elected councillors have decided to speak up and what they are saying is that this airport is going to be GREAT.

I wonder if this is a bit like the Trump victory where lots of people want to say ‘I’m voting for HIM’ but felt somehow unable to do so. ¬†On the other hand I wonder if, like the Trump victory the supporters are still in a minority when it comes to the popular vote but that again like Trump they might win anyway (as the Government is on their side after all….). ¬†Whatever way this plays out the ‘for it’ camp are starting to sing out and I for one feel that is a good thing. ¬†We have to air it and share it is my motto (well, one of them).

So what are they saying?

Well one thing that is coming across loud and clear is the notion that we should just accept this airport as a done deal and make the best of it.

While this risks making me come over all over-reactive and hysterical I do find that attitude most perplexing given this is an entirely man-made project that can ONLY go ahead with popular support and money (potentially OUR money) and that we live in a democratic country where (supposedly) our voices and opinions all count. ¬† I mean sure I can understand that ‘stiff upper lip’ attitude when some other country just invaded you and will kill you if you try to resist but this isn’t a siege, it’s a minor domestic economic situation.

Also in my head I liken that attitude to the mindset of someone who has been groomed for something against their wishes. Be it a hostage or a victim of domestic violence or abuse the air of surrender just leaves me cold.  As my blog says the only choice we have is how to respond so why not respond with your whole heart be that for or against?

From where I’m sitting I would say this, Goliath doesn’t need the extra¬†support thank you. ¬†He seems to be bigger, better resourced¬†and has the power of the law (he makes them), the media (he controls them) and the people (both major parties officially support this) on his side. ¬†To turn now just because apparently ‘it’s happening anyway and we might miss out if we keep sulking’ ¬†would be the ultimate sheeple thing to do unless of course we had ‘seen the same light’ that the other true supporters have.

But let’s pretend we did do that, we did just go with it.

What would the Blue Mountains Council do next?

Well I for one would want answers to the following questions based on the following assumptions upon which our support is now resting:

The Future is Rosy Scenario.

The Badgerys Creek airport will drive more tourists to the district, increase house prices, make the place more desirable to live in, give local businesses more customers and generally make the area more prosperous.

BUT:

  • How are the thousands of tourists who fly into Badgerys Creek planning to get up to the Blue Mountains being as though there is no direct train link planned between the airport and Penrith and that the current line servicing the mountains is practically fully utilised?
  • If there is no train link between the new airport and the mountains how are the roads going to cope with what would have to be a dramatic increase in traffic to produce enough income to deliver these benefits and off-set the costs (peace, potential change to UNESCO status etc)?
  • As the area becomes more desirable and the population of Western Sydney grows how will the Blue Mountains balance¬†the increased pressure to provide for a growing population with bush fire risk and the desire to maintain the Unique ambience of mountain living (why people come here)?
  • How can we best promote the Blue Mountains as a destination for longer term stays and environmental appreciation and protection rather than as a one-day drive through that takes from the mountains more than it gives back? ¬†Do we really want to encourage thousands of day trippers over weekenders and honeymooners?
  • Why do people come here anyway? ¬†If it has anything to do with wilderness, nature, peace, clean air, space, quaint village life and independent retailers and cafes how are we going to protect that?

That’s enough for starters.

So we have a pretty much believable and credible scenario of an opportunity for growth and prosperity if only we just get on board. But most people can see that while building an airport might create some opportunities, fully realising and integrating those into our Blue Mountains community requires further investment and work.

This is where the psychology gets interesting.

I wonder if the people¬†urging us to support this are¬†worried¬†that we might miss out if we don’t get on board? ¬†If we’ll be punished, given the cold shoulder for not playing ball.

Interesting thought.

In addition there are murmurings that we are at risk of missing out on our chair at the negotiating table by being like this.

That may be true I guess but if we are just going along with it because we are scared of missing out and can only go if we agree to swallow our opposition and sit on our hands ¬†I’m not sure¬†its at all worth it.

What would happen if we just continue to oppose this (if that’s what we collectively believe)?

I really do think that there is a FEAR brewing that we really will be punished by being starved of funds, infrastructure and attention if we pursue with this obstinance¬†of airport opposition but it makes no sense for the government to even do that and in any case, it won’t be just the government invested in this.

Why cut off your nose to spite your face?

There is just too much money, time and political energy at stake here to risk that type of behaviour Рif the airport is going to be built, and the rhetoric about jobs and growth and tourism is true the Blue Mountains just HAS to receive attention regardless of whether we voted yes or no for the airport thing.  The pressure from the Australian Tourism Board, the airport operators and the international market would be much more powerful than that of a few hundred angry or enthusiastic residents shouting yes or no into cyberspace.

Just imagine the global embarrassment that is an airport 70km from the iconic and heavily publicised Three Sisters that is IMPOSSIBLE to get to in under two hours due to the slowness of the train, the congestion on the roads and the cost of the Uber driver. ¬†It only takes 2 hours from Sydney by train now AND it only costs $5.81 each way. ¬†You can even drive it in 90 minutes which is only 30 minutes more than the current BC-K Town estimates. ¬†Better for tourists? ¬†I’m not so sure…..

In some ways I see this airport as a Trogan horse that bashes the door down to allow for mass immigration, population growth, high-density living and the commodification of nature. ¬†Think this is too far-fetched? ¬†Then look at the predicted usage figures that justify Badgers Crack and also look at all the housing development that’s going in around the base of the mountains already! ¬†Anyone would think we’re looking to re-house the whole of Syria out here and then invite each family to have 10 children each!

But I digress.

The questions that I’ve got in my head are just as relevant for me to have answers to (as a no airport supporter) as I believe they are for people who are all for it. ¬†It makes no sense financially to spend billions on a project that won’t actually deliver on what it claims to promise and if the new airport isn’t promising greater wealth opportunities for the Blue Mountains and beyond and more convenient travel then why do it? ¬†Overseas visitors don’t give a shit if this thing has been on again and off again for 50 or more years, they only care if it makes sense and makes their holiday or business trip easier and comfortable.

Anyway….

I do accept that in any situation where there are conflicting points of view that one side will lose out and¬†that there does come a time when one does have to make a decision to either get on with it or leave but that time and that decision is not for now. This thing isn’t built and open yet.

For now I think it is pertinent for all sides to acknowledge that there are big, important questions yet to be answered and a shit fight of name calling, shutting down, bullying and shaming is not helpful.

The worst that can happen at the moment is that neither side likes, trusts or respects each others point of view. ¬†I do feel that is starting to happen and one place that can’t happen is with our leaders on council (thankfully it hasn’t yet).

This airport has the power and support to go ahead whether the Blue Mountains support it or not.

This airport deal also has the potential to be shelved whether the Blue Mountains supports it or not.

At the end of the day it is, and always has been outside of our jurisdiction and budgetary control.

What matters is that the Blue Mountains City Council create space for each and every person interested in getting involved to do so.  That all residents and councillors are listened to and that their views are acknowledged, addressed and represented moving forward.

If we don’t manage to do that¬†we have wasted our time and achieved nothing.

And as for the amount of money spent then I say this. What is spent is spent and has been spent with council approval.  Going forward it is important we re-evaluate our position and what we are prepared to spend to back that up.  I believe that is exactly what the council proposes to do at the next meeting which is to be held on 31st January. I will be there.


My final thought for today on this is as follows,  I believe it is time that our collective argument against this airport moves beyond just NO.

I also believe that it is time that our collective support moves deeper than just ‘yes’.

It’s time to talk and more importantly, it is time for everyone to listen, really listen.

It’s starting to feel like the Daily Telegraph will cry if this bloody airport isn’t built. Now why is that????

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So I used googles ‘news’ tab and googled ‘Badgerys Creek’ today and came up with this (yes I’m talking about the airport again):

Now I did make it one of my new year’s resolutions not to ‘consume’ too much junk media ‘news’ but I can’t help but have one last Hoorah binge with this lot of lovelies, not least because it does confirm to me that the Tele really does love Badgerys Creek and will not stop singing its praises (and criticising its opponents) until the bloody thing gets built (if indeed it does).

I really don’t like the Telegraph. It reminds me of the UK’s Daily Mail which became fascinated to the point of Manic Obsession with Princess Diana in the 90’s, in fact it became nauseatingly worrying, as if it was building to a big climax, which it did, with her death in 1997 (not that that was the papers fault but you could clearly feel some weird energy brewing even without the benefit of hindsight). ¬†Not that that’s relevant but it does feel like the same type of mania is driving these column inches ¬†– a mania that is about something other than plain old ‘news’.

Before I go on I do think it is worth mentioning that while I detest the Telegraph newspaper lots of people seem to like it or at least read it. In fact it is getting more, rather than less popular (and I’ll not speculate as to why). ¬†If the Telegraph is to be believed their readership climbed 0.8% over 2016 to 998,000 per day which is 13.22% of the NSW Population (this is a NSW paper) according to this article. ¬† However, I am not sure if those figures are right given the Australian Bureau of Circulation claims the figure to be closer to 998,000 annually rather than daily. ¬†An innocent little typo maybe? ¬†Or maybe I’m reading the figures incorrectly? ¬†Anyway, if we take the circulation figures from ABC we actually see a drop in daily readership to around 233,837 which is still more than double its nearest rival, the Australian followed closely by the Herald Sun.

The Daily Telegraph is owned by News Corp. The same group also owns The Australian (which has a circulation according to ABC of around 400,000 pa) which is their more highbrow paper. ¬† The group is owned by Rupert Murdoch and they also happen to own lots of local newspapers across NSW including all of these – I’ve highlighted the ones that lie in the Badgery’s Creek drop zone just so you know who’s singing to them:

 (from WIKIPEDIA) Cumberland/Courier (NSW) newspapers

  • Blacktown Advocate
  • Canterbury-Bankstown Express
  • Central
  • Central Coast Express Advocate
  • Fairfield Advance
  • Hills Shire Times
  • Hornsby and Upper North Shore Advocate
  • Inner West Courier
  • Liverpool Leader
  • Macarthur Chronicle
  • Mt Druitt-St Marys Standard
  • NINETOFIVE
  • North Shore Times
  • Northern District Times
  • NORTHSIDE
  • Parramatta Advertiser
  • Penrith Press
  • Rouse Hill Times
  • Southern Courier
  • The Manly Daily
  • The Mosman Daily
  • Village Voice Balmain
  • Wentworth Courier

So now that we know that we can see what they have been saying. I’ve summarised it here with my own interpretation, you can check out the original articles for yourself using the headlines in the pictures with the dates. ¬†I’m sure it will be fascinating!

From first page to last we have the following:

  • Telegraph Speculation of what the airport will be called because we all know by now, thanks to the Telegraph that this is a done deal and all we have left to do is name the baby. ¬†Cute.
  • Telegraph final call to get on board. ¬†OK so this thing is so amazingly awesome according to the Telegraph that this once-in-a-lifetime deal MUST be taken up IMMEDIATELY WITHOUT DELAY to secure your future wealth and happiness. ¬†This article comes on the back of Sydney Airport Corp playing hard ball and requesting a bit more time to do their math but of course that’s un-Australian and if they don’t pull their finger out the government will take up this amazing offer themselves because they are not pussies.
  • Telegraph –¬†Albo slams critics of the airport. ¬† So in July 2016 Australia went to the polls and throughout Western Sydney – the airport bonanza heartland – the Liberals were rolled in favour of the Labor party. ¬†OK it wasn’t all about the airport but there is a strong contingent of Labor people who are quite vocal about opposing the current EIS and the way this ‘thing’ has come about. ¬†In spite of people voting for these local members the Labor party central now see’s fit to criticise Badgery’s Haters (yes, even though they are in the same party). ¬†Nice one mate. Albo, do you want to come clean about what you’ve been telling your local electorate about Badgerys? ¬†The locals that currently get more than their fair share of noise from Mascott?
  • Sydney Morning Herald (Fairfax Media). ¬†At last, an article that gives facts rather than opinion. ¬†This relates to the fact that Paul Fletcher Transport Minister issued a notice of intention to Sydney Airport Corp who subsequently questioned the detail, asked for more time to consider the proposal and scratched their heads over a way to make the thing financially viable. ¬†Refreshing.
  • Sydney Morning Herald. Airport gets green light. ¬†Again a mainly factual explanation of what is actually going on. A few concerns raised (rail ready vs rail implemented?) plus a general air of relief that it is finally moving forward.
  • The Australian. ¬†Sydney airport run Badgery’s Creek The best option. ¬† Basically again trying to push the narrative that this is piece of infrastructure is the best thing for Australia and that any delay is pure folly. ¬†The language is less direct than with the Telegraph but there is no questioning the sentiments behind the piece.
  • The Australian – Mascot airport owner cannot halt Badgerys Creek development. ¬†Well you can now see they are getting scared but are trying to re-assure us all that this airport we’ve all come to know and love will go ahead anyway by hook or by crook….
  • The Australian. Badgerys Creek airport deal doesn’t stack up – At last a Murdoch rag article that is on the (truth) money. ¬† The reality that developing a green field site and waiting 20 plus years for a return on your investment while your current investment has to support and share the income with its baby brother¬†has hit home. ¬†The only way this is going to happen is if the government helps pay for it and by the government we mean YOU (me/ us/ Australians).
  • The Australian. Badgerys Creek Landowners in line for a windfall. ¬†A feel good story based on three regular Aussie families who are set to cash in big time when their land is turned into an airport. Everyones a winner baby…. Yes but what they don’t tell you is that the major land owners out that way are not your average, loveable ¬†Aussie battlers.
  • The Telegraph. ALP in air farce dogfight over Badgerys Creek. ¬†OK so this was interesting. The Tele once again turned its attention on the recently elected Labor politicians that have questioned the Badgerys Creek proposal and what it will mean for their constituents. ¬†Apparently standing up for your local community and demanding facts rather than fiction gets you beat up in the ‘news’ papers these days. Slammed for standing in the way of jobs, progress, common sense and anything else they can throw at them these politicians. They really did get a serve.

8 articles for Murdoch and 2 for Fairfax.

Only one of the above Murdoch articles could be classified as  more news than opinion in my humble opinion. The Fairfax paper did seem to get the balance right without being blatantly for or against the proposal.

In addition to the articles above there were another 20 articles before I stopped searching (on page 3)

Of these 14 were from the Murdoch stable and included the Gold Coast Bulletin having a go at Western Sydney MP Ed Husic, ¬†News.Com website focusing on the property price bonanza that is Badgerys Creek and Melbourne’s Herald Sun putting the word out in Melbourne that Badgerys Creek will be rail ready (because the Melbourne audience have already seen what a glowing success two airports with no rail link can be – Avalon lame duck and Tullamarine – missed my plane because I’m stuck in traffic (true story, cost $400 to get home).

So that’s 30 articles ¬†reviewed in total of which 22 ¬†or 73% were what I’d classify as a Murdoch based Love fest. I’m not going to go on any more as it will start to feel like I’m some whack job weirdo with nothing better to do but make shit up. ¬†Maybe I should apply for a job at the Telegraph…..

Anyway, like that famous rapadelic song once said ‘I ain’t saying she’s a gold digger but she ‘ain’t hanging with no broke, broke, broke….’

And I’m also thinking of that Meme between Putin and Trump.

Airport ‘news’ feels a bit like that. Yeh.

And the Telegraph is starting to sound a bit too….. desperate.

It’s sad really.

PS: ¬†If you don’t believe me just ask the Telegraph about that Pemulwuy Prize awarded earlier this year and while you are there ask them if it is all going to plan?

Why ‘no’ campaigns pain the mind. Nothing is scarier than something.

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‘No Airport’

As in ‘it is ridiculous to build a second Sydney airport at the base of a national park out in the populated (and soon to be super-populated) ‘burbs’.’

I shout it, wave signs saying it and don a T-Shirt with the same message but somewhere inside me I feel uncomfortable because I am well aware that for humans the idea of nothing is nearly always scarier than something.

Death – endless minutes, hours, days, months, years of nothing. Imagine that? ¬†No thank you….. Why else to we imagine a heaven full of all the lovely things and people we miss in the ‘real world’.

Darkness – feeling alone, vulnerable, chilled, disoriented, anxious.

Nothing = All.Of.The.Above.

A ‘No’ campaign is good to a point but there becomes a point when people go home and say ‘well, what DO we want?’ ¬†This is especially true when the ‘Yes’ movement is offering enticements.

In the case of the Western Sydney Airport (Badgery’s Creek) the good fellows at spin HQ have been smart enough to package deal the airport as the key to unlock an economic bonanza for the west of Sydney, an area that has been sorely neglected for pretty much ever really. ¬†The western outskirts were where the ‘poor’ and ‘undesirables’ were pushed in the rush to gentrification of the inner suburbs. ¬†New migrants also gravitated ‘out there’ thanks to the cheap housing and larger blocks of land (making some level of self-sufficiency possible).

I can see how the inner city elite might feel that the west must be gazing on with wide eyes, looking up to their inner city ‘betters’ and wishing that they too could be like them. ¬†I feel that this attitude is epitomised by the Greater Sydney Commission headed up by Lucy ‘where are we talking about?’ Turnbull’ et al. ¬†After all, why wouldn’t they feel that way being as though ‘they’ kicked ‘us’ out and for the most part they are stinking rich in a world that thinks that’s all that matters. ¬†The have’s vs the have-nots. ¬†Only when you look closely that isn’t what happened ‘out there’. ¬†We are not in need of charity and neither do we want what ‘they’ value. ¬†I say ‘we’ because although I’m not a flat-land westie (I’m a mountains girl) , to those in the capital (and I’m channeling my hunger-games Katniss here) WE are just pawns in Their game and as long as we are compliant we are rewarded (within reason).

So our reward this time is an airport. An airport with jobs. We need jobs, so many of us commute out of our ‘burbs to earn a living because ‘their’ ¬†imaginations haven’t been able to stretch the 50 plus KM from Sussex Street to create or stimulate the creation of local jobs ‘out here’ over much of the last 80 years but we are supposed to forget about that. About how they have not given a shit for years. But now, now they plan to solve that for us with a 24/7 polluting Aerotropolis. ¬†Nice touch.

So when we say ‘No’ to an airport we are, ¬†by default (and though no fault of our own) saying no to jobs and growth, to government investment and to rewards.

Let’s think about that for a moment.

Let’s think about power and control.

Master and Servant.

Bondage vs Democracy.

Nothing is scarier than something.

I’m taking you down this path of thinking because what the pro-airport lobby has done is neatly enslaved ‘us’. ¬†Be a good servant (let the airport happen) and we will give you a reward (investment and jobs).

They have groomed ‘us’ into this with years of underinvestment and¬†interest. They have abused our trust.

As far as ‘we’ go, when ‘we’ know our¬†place we can become good at it. Become good¬†citizens / slaves, better than someone else maybe. We feel part of something again, we stand a chance of being rewarded, of winning one of the jobs and benefiting from some of the cash splash, the new roads and the shiny new parklands that were once covered in bush. ¬†We can even frame our¬†efforts as making a sacrifice for the greater good if we so feel. It’s all less mentally taxing than just saying No and then being left hanging and far more rewarding in the short-term no doubt.

And that is what they want of course. ¬†The master wants to maintain paternalistic control and what’s more he wants you to do his bidding for him, to ‘remind’ people ¬†of the ‘fact’ that ‘it ¬†(the airport) is a done deal’ and that ‘if we don’t go along with it we will be left out’¬†¬†because it is messy work trying to convince all those people who this is the right course of action to take because people have their own varied minds about these things and some of them might not like it.

Anyway, that’s by the by. ¬†I see this happening, I don’t assume that everyone going along with the airport feels enslaved and neither do I feel that everyone supporting the airport is deluded – there are many benefits that airports can bring to a region and I’m not denying that.

I personally feel somewhat immune to that master and servant game having come from a background of privilege, education and money (sort of).  I feel strong and unthreatened by the establishment Рfuck them, I have other options (even other passports if it came to that).  I am dangerous that way. Not because I want to undermine the authority of the government in an anarchic way РI work within the rules Рbut because I am secure in my ability to access and utilise the full power of the law to defend my rights to say no and stand strong in that.  I am legally entitled to say no and protest. But I am aware of the delicate psychology that is behind this game and I want to shine a light on that, not least because it is this very thing the government is trying to barge on past.

So how do we shift the power in this game?

Turn a negative into a positive, you catch more flies with honey as the pro-airport lobby know all too well…..

The No Airport campaign has, to date been about educating the public at large on the facts surrounding the EIS proposal, an EIS that came out in October last year. ¬†Education was and is needed as some councils (thanks Penrith) decided NOT to inform / educate their communities. ¬†The facts do speak for themselves, no spin, mis-representation or sensationalising of what is in the EIS is necessary to convince many people of the flaws in this proposal. Now whether these flaws lead to people adopting a ‘no airport’ or ‘no 24 hour airport’ or ‘please explain’ is up to the individual but you get the picture.

In my mind the time for the next step is NOW.

We (out West) can’t afford to be held ransom like this, to have our values or our economic value misappropriated, we have to make a counter proposal.

Fast rail is a good alternative to the airport but it isn’t enough, not least because for us in the Blue Mountains the fast rail hub will never be under our jurisdiction. ¬†Fast rail is, however, the proposal that could bring the west together and be jointly and wholeheartedly supported across the councils as part of the solution. But beyond that we are still left with a vacuum, not least for us up in the mountains.

The Mountains Рfocusing on what we can directly control. 

The Blue Mountains stands to lose much in the way of tranquility and unique character if the city limits are allowed to encroach on the National Park. ¬†Pressure on existing roads will grow if we really are to get more tourists pumping dollars into our economy¬†(and why shouldn’t we?) so we really should be asking ourselves, what type of tourist are we trying to attract? How will they get here, where will they stay and what are we selling them? ¬†While at the same time asking ‘what can we do to grow our local economy?’, “what skills do we have” and “what does the environment lend its self to that can boost our economic value?’

It is clear that¬†the government is looking to the west to fill gaps in its budget projections. This is not new to me, corporates do this to their sales teams all the time – the corporation needs a 20% increase in sales when the market is in recession – don’t argue about it JUST DO IT OR LOSE YOUR JOB OR CREDIBILITY. ¬†Of course, the government, as in corporate will have to face whatever reality is real and if aspirational targets are not met they are not met but what isn’t tolerated¬†in corporate or¬†government is a lack of effort, a lack of a plan.

So can the Blue Mountains increase its revenue (and thus the money it returns to treasury) by 5%, 10%, 20%, 40%, 100% whatever AND maintain its identity and clean air? ¬†I am not sure but surely THAT is the conversation we¬†need to be having outside of government – a conversation we can have between friends and families, neighbours and council representatives. There is much here to value and as the world gets crazier¬†we all wish we could retreat to the hills……

But retreat is not enough.

 

So when nothing is scarier than something we stay empowered by presenting SOMETHING.

I believe the key to achieving a just outcome in this situation is to state our values and our value firmly, factually and in economic rather than emotional terms (as it is clear from how the government treats us that emotional value is lost on them).

Which begs the questions ‘what is our value and how can we best work the assets we have in our region?’

What kind of community do we want to encourage? What economic activities could be promoted up here?  Who do we want to attract and why?

I was at an art exhibition opening yesterday Рthree local artists, much talent, expensive paintings some inspired by the local landscape, sell-out crowed.  We have the capacity to generate wealth up here, on our own terms, celebrating what we value WHILE we value and protect the environment.

And there is not ‘just’ talented painters up here, we have film makers, ceramic artists, musicians, singers and actors drawing inspiration from these surrounds. ¬†And not just that, there are our towns full of unique and independent retailers, our coffee shops, restaurants, co-operatives and community hubs. We have education providers, tourist attractions, historical buildings, song lines, ¬†flora and fauna, stories, festivals autumn leaves and winter snow!

So what are we waiting for? ¬†Let’s spell out our potential and show them that it isn’t us that’s scared of change and ‘progress’ it’s them that’s scared of us. ¬†We are far more powerful and valuable than they can possibly imagine especially when, instead of presenting¬†nothing we can present something far, far more attractive than an airport.

I believe that nothing is what they are offering, not us. That they just happened to put it into a shiny gold-painted box and used a loud-mouthed sales man with no imagination to shove it into our stunned hands.

Well I think it’s time we presented a box of our own only our box will be full of something and not nothing.

Because nothing is scarier than something and we¬†know we have something good up here don’t we?

 

 

Sydney. War on the Western Front.

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They are not listening, ‘they’ being the government.

The fact that they lost ground right across Western Sydney, even losing strategic seats that they thought were safe is not worthy of mention now that ‘they’ have a mandate to rule.

Mandate to rule…….

I wonder what that means.

mandate

I take the point that as the LNP have won a majority of seats they do fit the description of having a mandate to do something and that something is head up our government and not (as seems to be the interpretation) a mandate to tell us all what we will like whether we actually like it or not.

Given the following:

Nationally first preferences for the two major parties were pretty low:

First Preferences by party

28.59% for Liberal

35.71% for Labor

 

The only thing I feel the government has a mandate for is to listen very carefully to the people and to consider and be grateful for the wide range of views that got them their precarious mandate.

And when it comes to listening Western Sydney is where that listening should start:

Western Sydney is LABOR. Here are the swing numbers:

Paramatta + 6.19% swing

Lindsay  + 3.98%

Chiffley + 8.42%

Greenway  + 3.71%

McMannon  + 7.5%

Macquarie  + 7.04%

Fowler   + 4.84%

Blaxland  + 8.51%

So when the minister for major projects Paul Fletcher rocks up on radio to talk up his big-ticket item ‘Badgery’s Creek Airport’ with Wendy Harmer I suggest he take a good look at these figures followed by a deep and reflective look at his policies and proposals before he declares with confidence that the airport and the ‘jobs and growth’ mantra that accompanied it had little impact on voting behaviour.

Us Westies are not stupid.

And neither are we in the habit of liking it when a Northern Beaches liberal tells us what we need and want.

Amanda

PS: I am not implying that the airport was the number one issue for the liberal party losing votes. It may not have even been in the top ten across the region but it was one of a number of key issues that contributed to the slide and each one of these issues deserves to be dealt with rather than ignored or minimised.

 

 

Protesting against Western Sydney Airport

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no western sydney airport

I got my sign

I’m gonna shout
And tell the world
What it’s all about
This airport sucks
It’s a crap idea
To blow pollution
Far and near
To increase smog
And NoX
The lack of sleep
Increased need for xanax.

I gonna let
The people know
I want fast rail
And the jobs that go
With making tracks
Out of Aussie steel
And provide jobs
That are bloody real

And a train that runs
On solar power
Get from south to north
In a couple of hours
Easier to access
For the preggo’s and old
You could ride your bike on
No need to fold.

I want a hub
In the wild, wild west
Cause we’ve got space
And men in vests
Eager to build
Deserving of a life
Where work and play
Is paradise
When weekend comes
A quiet walk
In a world heritage
National park

I want this future
For you and me
Because a cleaner future
Can be our reality
And to ignore
Whats clear to see
Makes us thugs
Of history

Amanda x