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:

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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 🙂 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.

 

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?

Blue Mountains: What is our unique lifestyle anyway?

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I hear this said a lot lately.  Especially in circles objecting to the Western Sydney Airport, a cause that has absorbed a huge chunk of the last 12 months of my life.  The shout is that we must ‘protect our unique lifestyle’.  Playing devils advocate I want to say ‘and what is that exactly?’

Lifestyle: The way in which a person lives.

How do we live up here?

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I have my own thing going on as I’m sure you do too, a ‘thing’ that isn’t always mirrored by my local friends and neighbours – people who have gravitated up here for what seems to me to be a myriad of reasons.  I personally came up here because I loved it from the time I first visited as a backpacker in the 1990’s. By the time we emigrated the mountains offered us somewhere that was still close enough to family but far enough from the city to give us the ready access to mountain bike trails, big gardens and walks we desired. We really did come here for fun! My relationship with the mountain has deepened and matured somewhat over the last 13 years.

I observe that some of my friends have come from what I call the ‘flatlands’ of Riverstone, St Mary’s, Penrith and Emu Plains.   I know that for some of these it was the bigger lot size of houses and gardens paired with affordable price-tags, the family friendly atmosphere, good schools and safe community feel that attracted them.  For others who have come from the city it was the lure of fresh air, bush walks and a slower pace of life – somewhere to bring up the kids!  Others have been sort-of pushed up here (and most are OK with that) after suburb after suburb became either more and more expensive or less and less desirable. The Blue Mountains have often seemed like a drive-too-far for most suburban Sydneysider’s, too close to flammable bushland, snake-infested and lacking in Westfield shopping centres to boot until now.  Now  we have the Greater Sydney Commission ramming down our throats a mantra of ‘high density housing, shopping centres and gardens replaced by green open community spaces for all’. Everything we are not, thank you. As a consequence, we are now starting to attract more people looking for that sort of thing, the airport proposal even seems to be encouraging it. Also, we are no longer seeming so far, far away, the city and more than that, that city mentality,  is coming to us.

That makes me feel uneasy on many fronts.

But why?

I’ll ask again, what is this lifestyle we talk about?

What is MY lifestyle?

Why did I feel physically sick when I saw the way a block of new low-rise apartments was being advertised in my local paper,  apartments in an area of Springwood town centre that I’m actually OK with being developed in this way.  It wasn’t the development I convulsed against, it was the language used to pitch them.  The values being projected, values that just don’t resonate with me.

It was while I was out bushwalking this morning that it came to me.  I bush walk as often as I can, it’s my oxygen, my sanity.  I need the smells as much as the sights, the sound as much as the crispness of the air I taste.  I am it and it is me.

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The connection I felt with the mountains today epitomised what my lifestyle is – a great respect and a maternal love for this place, a place at the centre of all I do and am. I don’t want to use the word ‘environment’ to describe the mountains here even though that clearly and technically is what it is because I feel that word has become tainted with politics and what I feel is beyond political stripes, beyond the ‘it’ and ‘me’.

The Blue Mountains pulls people like me (I think) because of this powerful longing for connection, for family, for one-ness.  Again, conscious of becoming too ‘hippy trippy’ (although I feel there is nothing inherently wrong with that)  it’s as if we have come home and just like when we are in our worldly homes we have our responsibilities and duty of care. We must remain vigilant and care for this place, we can’t just switch off or brazenly try to capitalise off it in a one-way transactional relationship. It would feel like selling our mother!

So to answer my own question I have come to the belief (at least for now) that the Blue Mountains lifestyle that I talk about (and I understand that not everyone will share the same view)  is centred on the philosophy of connection to land in a way that is deep and emotional.  I see this as a monoculture of sorts, one that, wherever we travelled from, whatever other worldly beliefs we hold pulls us together in our love and respect for the mountains and its role in our life.

And this isn’t just some romantic fling that we indulge ourselves in on high days and holidays. This is serious, this is us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week:

We are reminded of our environment every spring when the magpies come out and defend themselves from our bike culture.

Are alert to the bush-fire danger that each hot windy, dry day brings and yes, our houses do burn down and many of us have smelt the fear while hosing down our gutters.

Struggle to hear the radio over the clicking of cicada or the ribbit of frogs after a downfall.

Manage our wild, sloped and wooded blocks from wild winds, rain and termites.

Take care to shake out our shoes for Blue Mountains funnel-web.

Shoo lizards out of our lounge rooms

Watch water-butts for snakes

And stand in awe at each and every perfect sunrise and sunset over hectares and hectares of trees and bush and wilderness, longing for the next free weekend that we can get out there and camp.

But when I hear mention of ‘our unique lifestyle’ I want to say no, our lifestyle is not unique, Australia’s first people have been trying to model this way to us for as long as ‘we’ set foot in this country well, at least as far as I can gather not being an expert in these things.

However,  unique or not we are distinct. We are not like Penrith or St Mary’s or Blacktown or Castle Hill or Newtown or Marrickville or Glebe or Windsor.  These places have their own cultural identity, their own brand if you like!  Why try to mould us, make us something we are not?

People don’t just come here to live IN the Blue Mountains, they live here and BECOME the Blue Mountains and to let the Blue Mountains run through their veins. That feeling is contagious and is part of what draws in tourists from all over the world.  Tourists that take a bit of that connection and identity home with them in the art, music, photography and hand-made products they invest their dollars in.

To put it in neoliberal terms our lifestyle is valuable, has value and should be invested in, protected,  developed, marketed.  And it is but in a world obsessed by sound-bites and instant-gratification we simply cannot sell this enough.

So that’s the conclusion I’ve come to.

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Yes we do have a lifestyle.

Yes that lifestyle is unique in terms of the Sydney and surrounds suburbs.

But that lifestyle is rooted in a deep human calling of the wild.

What we feel up here is timeless.

Infinite.

And sadly that feeling is becoming quite rare.

And time is running out.

Josh Frydenberg, Minister for the Environment and Energy – I wrote you a letter….

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Josh is the guy that gets to sign off on the Environmental Impact Statement for the Western Sydney Airport.  If the rumour mill is correct that date is coming up thick and fast, November probably or just over a year since this whole thing hit the fan again.

If you are for the airport that’s great, good on you.

I’m not for it. I think it’s a terrible idea for lots of reasons but this time I hit Josh up with this one.

I am trying to be the best citizen I can be and this airport won’t help me or families like mine in achieving that goal.2015-04-24 07.22.04.jpg

In his first speech to parliament in 2010 Josh said he wants to see an Australia where each citizen has the opportunity to be the best they can be so I thought this was a valid place to start a discussion.

See I’ve just completed a carbon audit for myself and my family.  I run a business, a small but profitable one and one that has me serving a variety of customers all over Australia and beyond.  Travelling to see these customers is something that I do limit and that is mainly because I am worried about my carbon footprint.

Being a small business (only me at the moment) every day I’m on the road is a day that I’m not directly making money.  Therefore taking the train (10-14 hours) or driving (8-12 hours) to Melbourne or Brisbane on a regular basis would lose me 2 productive days each trip – well, I guess I could write my blog posts on the train or even do some research but still, it’s a big chunk out of my week.  It’s just not practical really so I try not to do it. When I do do it I mostly fly unless I can rope someone else in to sharing the driving (reducing the chances of me actually dying at work thanks to fatigue).

The Badgery’s Creek airport will not make it any easier for me to see my Melbourne or Brisbane customers without racking up a big carbon bill.   Fast rail could allow me to do these trips in the same time it currently takes to get a flight and for practically zero carbon depending on how the electricity for the trains is generated.  Attractive?  You bet!

Aside from all of the other reasons why I think the Badgery’s Creek (or Western Sydney Airport) is a bad idea this one is pretty important to me.  I am gutted that there is no fast rail in this country – a country so huge that it is bordering on physically impossible to get between major centres in one business day.  To ‘invest’ in a future that just gives us more of the same reminds me of the classic Henry Ford comment that you can have any colour you want as long as it is black.

Air travel is essential, especially in a country as far away from everywhere else as Australia – our nearest foreign neighbours are at least 3 hours flight away whereas in Europe I could be overseas in what seemed like no time at all – by car or by plane.  So I’m not saying that we should ban air travel and nor am I saying that air travel can’t become more sustainable.  Indeed, it was only last week that the aviation industry agreed to try to curb Co2 emissions so progress is possible, but in a time when zero emission transport ALREADY EXISTS it seems mightily irresponsible to ignore it, especially when high-speed rail is a proven and safe alternative with broad public support.

So, I wrote to Josh Frydenberg today in the hope that he would see some benefit in helping me and other people like me to become the best citizens we can be AND to grow our businesses in the meantime.  Surely that’s a win, win for Australialand?

Interested in putting your ideas across to Josh?  There is a public meeting being held on 15th October in Glenbrook, Blue Mountains. Please do consider coming along. Click on the image below for a link to the event on Facebook.

meeting

Amanda x

PS: If you are reading this and thinking ‘yes but High Speed Rail is so expensive’ I’d answer that by asking if you have really factored in the cost of global warming.  If global warming isn’t something you subscribe to please leave me alone. I have no energy to argue with that in this day and age. My approach to Global Warming is this ‘if we can do better, we should do better for no reason other than the fact we should and we can’.

 

Groomed For Apathy and/or Anger.

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apathy
Lack of interest, enthusiasm, or concern.
anger
a strong feeling of annoyance, displeasure, or hostility.

groomed

prepare or train (someone) for a particular purpose or activity.

What have we become?

Why?

When?

How?

These questions fill my head this week after reading the letters in my local newspaper, letters that make my conclusion easy to justify.

Yes, this is correspondence about the airport again.

Yes I know that some of you want it.

Yes I appreciate that your reasons ‘for’ might be as justified as mine ‘against’.

But that’s not what I’m talking about here.

What I’m talking about is apathy.

Apathy either for or against.

Look:

Letter 1

‘I worked outdoors in the mountains over all four wards and was never conscious of any impact from these 230 per day aircraft (the number of over-flights currently passing the mountains – over the highway usually and usually at between 13,000-30,000 ft).  So what’s all the fuss about?”

What indeed?  I feel absolutely put in my place now thanks to that sort-of-angry outburst.

The writer finishes with a neat seasoning of apathy (in my opinion).

“Council, the No Western Sydney Airport action group and the majority of local residents are fighting a losing batter against inevitable growth and progress. It’s time; time to move on”

Awesome.  I’m as good as told, what a wally I was for thinking that the majority of local residents, our representative council and a community action group could actually be listened to or at least heard in a democratic society.  I really do need my head looked at and by the looks of it I’m not the only one….

Letter 2

This part of the letter comes after the writer apologies for the offence caused when said writer told us all to ‘shut up’ in the last correspondence.   Bless….

“All the bickering has got to me because I and many others know that the development is a given and that many thousands of people will be relying on it for employment and travel well into the next 50 years or longer”.

Well that’s Ok assuming the next 50 years will be like the last 50 years and that the accounting world fight off the global push for not only triple-bottom-line-accounting but full ‘six capital’ accounting that takes things like emissions, environmental degradation and social costs into account.

I’m certainly not as confident as the writer on that score. 50 years ago we didn’t have the internet, could only account for value in terms of solid items traded and iconic books like the Club of Rome’s ‘Limits to Growth’ and Rachel Carson’s ‘Silent Spring’ was so new and so niche that business didn’t rate it a mention.

The use of the word bickering did resonate with me though. As much as I don’t mind sticking my neck out and standing up for what I believe in (even if it seems pointless to everyone else- I’ll be the judge of that thank you) I HATE arguing.  I mostly hate it because it usually happens when people are angry, wound up, hurt and feeling vulnerable so what we end up doing is arguing not about the issue but about how we feel or, more accurately, how the other people have made us feel.  As such I feel the use of the word ‘bickering’ (and its stronger cousin ‘arguing’) give us (the ‘no airport’ side) a powerful insight into how we are coming across.

I’ll park that thought for a moment as there is another thing said here.

That the development is a given.

We use the words ‘development’, ‘progress’ and ‘growth’ freely without really questioning the value system that they are framed within and I feel that is dangerous.

Our economy is stridently neoliberal in its values – the word liberal in this sense doesn’t mean the liberal party, both liberal and labor politicians follow the neoliberal school of economic management which, in a nutshell is basically ‘money trumps everything’.  I am not a fan. It’s not the only way that capitalism can play out.  I am a fan of capitalism by the way – well, for now I am – I think we could move beyond that but probably not for a couple more hundred years so for now it works.

So when we say that the development is a given we are really saying that given the fact that we live in a neoliberal society where money trumps everything the airport was always going to go ahead no matter what as nothing is more valuable than money and money is more valuable than trees,  24 hour over-flights, a bit of air pollution that, let’s face it can land anywhere on the planet, a few birds and some noise.

I reserve my right to question the neoliberal agenda that underpins the way we currently justify developments such as this in areas such as Western Sydney.

I also reserve my right to disagree with the notion that this IS progress.  As a business owner myself and consultant in the global beauty industry I witness every day what people power is doing to the beauty industry supply chain.  More inclusive company accounting is coming and if I was about to invest millions in an airport that has to operate 24/7 to make its returns I’d be worried about getting my investment dollars back.  Accountants might just kill this off and what then?

Anyway, I go on too much.

There was more from this writer but I’ll leave it at that other than to say that the writer finishes off by questioning the mental health of all residents up here by referring to the way our council areas are called ‘wards’ and not districts or zones. It is par for the course to attack the character of ones opponent in order to gain more support for your own cause.  This parting line really does sadden me. It’s so Daily Telegraph.

On to the last letter, letter 3.

Now I must say I like a bit of humour but this last letter wasn’t my kind of funny.

“My partner lives right under the flight path at Lilyfield in Sydney. The aircraft roar over at 1500 feet. Her tomato plant has been producing for some nine months and only now is showing signs of having had a good innings. So perhaps some of the Blue Mountains Nimbys could advise if this is a direct consequence of the aircraft flying overhead’.

Right-oh.

When the Chernobyl-fall-off disaster happened in 1986 it didn’t happen in England, where I lived but the wind carried the pollution to the Welsh and Scottish countryside as well as over Scandinavia. 369 farms including 190,000 sheep were affected and as this article shows, by 2009 some farms were still feeling the effects.

Now before I get lambasted (excuse the pun) for that and told ‘The chernobyl disaster is nothing like an airport, stupid’ I know that.  My point is that air pollution travels.  My other point is that it takes a lot for plants and life to stop completely,  usually things will continue to grow and look normal, whether they are normal can often only be known by testing.  I am a chemist and as luck would have it I tested roadside vegetation for lead and heavy metals as my honours project for my Uni Degree.  I found that lead levels in roadside vegetation were significant up to a couple of metres from the road, this is in spite of the fact that petrol had been practically lead free for at least ten years prior to me carrying out the test. So I’d say to this tomato loving writer,  I’d be sending those samples off for analysis before dismissing us as Nimby’s and minimising our legitimate concerns.

So to conclude I strongly feel that we, as a nation of citizens are being and have been groomed for one of two things – apathy and anger.  These are traits we see in families affected by domestic violence, not in free, intelligent communities.  Is that really what we want?

For my activist friends my concern is that the public can easily turn against us because of this and because of the lack of framework and support that exists for challenging the status-quo in this neoliberal world.  I know there is another way and I know the fastest way to get there is to fight this with facts and alternatives – including alternative transport methods, job investment, accounting methods, business values etc – but it looks like many others have lost hope and have taken to attacking us because it is just easier.

I thank the letter writers for continuing to make me think deeply about what I’m doing. I am more convinced than ever that it is the right thing to do.

No airport for Western Sydney.

I am not angry or apathetic because I am not under their control.

six-capitals-full

 

PS:  This is a good book. If I had money to invest I’d be having a read of this.  The world is watching and it has an opinion.

 

 

Where is Badgery’s Creek in relation to here?

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Badgery’s Creek felt like it was a million miles away as I stood,completely surrounded by the beauty that is the Upper Blue Mountains Escarpment.    I was asked by a passer by who, on noticing  my T-Shirt asked ‘Where is Badgery’s Creek in relation to here?’ and as I answered my inner voice reminded me that it is not just a matter of miles that separates the two spaces.  I answer with ‘oh  it’s at the bottom of the mountain,  out towards Liverpool really but even though the airport will be a way away from here, the airport boundary is only around 8km from this World Heritage Listed National Park’.  I stop to let that sink in for a moment, all the while wondering if I should push the difference in air miles vs road miles before deciding against it.

Me in the parade

I was hit by the realisation that the upper mountains  feel like a safer and more secure environment than my home town down the road.   The protection that the rugged cliffs, steep side streets and miles of bush offer is comfort as is the very real fact that this stuff IS valued by tourists, this IS marketable.  My home village feels vulnerable and not because of any physical lack of beauty. It’s more that it is closer to the ‘Big Smoke’,  in the ‘commuter belt’ and lacks those ‘instant gratification’  look-out’s that so dominate the towns up here.  To many, we are just another suburb that could be bigger.

I love living in the Blue Mountains but can’t shake the feeling that we are on the cusp of being swallowed up amongst the ‘couldn’t care less’ and the ‘she’ll be right’s’ and the ‘What’s the problem, there are thousands of trees’.  I want to kick myself for sounding like a NIMBY or someone clinging onto an ideal but I don’t follow through because I don’t believe it.  I don’t believe that I am wrong to want to protect this, to feel a part of this. I don’t believe I’m wrong to feel that it is ridiculous to plan an airport the size of Dubai at the foot of such beauty in a country renown for its vast open spaces.  I feel like I’m in a real-life version of the Emperors New Clothes only no matter how loud I cry ‘but I can see his willy’ nobody want’s to know.

preparing to march

We took up our positions in the parade and began our march along with all the others.  Some looking for recognition,  some wanting to celebrate and others just happy to be able to be themselves in public.   Me?  I felt sombre, I felt the weight of responsibility in my arms as I tried to walk, sing, smile and hold up my sign.  I felt awkward at times – ‘we need a second airport’, ‘I don’t agree with you’,  ‘sorry but you are too late’ – and hopeful in others <claps from the crowed, nods of approval,  pats on the back> .   I was struck, like always by an awareness that we are marching AGAINST something and that for many people that is all they will see. More negativity in a world that is already full of hate.  But then I remember again to smile and wave, to engage with my audience, to let them have a glimpse at the world beyond the ‘No airport’ banner, the world where ‘hope’ is motivating.

the parade

The singing stops as we round the final corner and after a minute the group has dispersed into the crowds, smatters of bright yellow mingled amongst pink stilettoed pride, furry animal suited men and Hari Krishna devotees.  I look up to see the mist rolling over the mountains in the background and take a picture trying to capture the vastness of the scene, the impending darkness, the coming change, but the shot didn’t turn out.  I realise the camera can’t capture  the entirety of what I can see, feel and taste.

top of the mountains

I re-play my earlier conversation and find myself wanting to shout out ‘Ideologically Badgery’s Creek is about as far away from here as you could possibly get’ but realise that up here I’m preaching to the converted and down there nobody gives a damn because to them I’m just another lefty dreamer with no fucking idea.

Only I don’t buy that for one minute.

 

 

 

Fast Train adapted from Tracy Chapman’s Fast Car Lyrics. What do we want? We want fast rail. When do we want it? NOW…

Standard

I have a love-hate relationship with protesting as some of you might know. I feel it is necessary but it is all too often overly-simplistic in its message for my complex, crazy brain to handle. I want to sit people down and engage in conversation rather than have them accept or reject me on a headline that is all too easy to mis-interpret.  Still, sometimes It’s all you have and so I go and do it.

This is what I thought up this morning on my way back from doing my stint.

To the tune of Tracy Chapman’s ‘Fast Car’

I want a fast train

Buy me a ticket to out there

Maybe we can make a deal

Maybe together we can get somewhere

On the train is better

Starting from zero emissions that’s news

Maybe we’ll make something

Me myself I got nothing to prove.

 

You want a fast train

I’ve got a l plan to get that over here

I been working on protesting more

Managed to write just a little bit of something

Don’t wanna push too hard

Just dot the I’s, cross a couple of T’s

You and I can both get seats

And finally see what it means to be living.

 

See our country’s got a problem

We live with the thought that’s the way it is

We say ‘I’m too tired for protesting’

And ‘the plans they’re all in and you can’t change nothing’

I’ll be seen as a hippy, extreme left wing’

But if you want more from life than what they give

It takes somebody good to go out and sing

So we stood up, that’s what we did.

 

So imagine when we’re travelling, travelling in that train

Speeds so fast we even beat the plane

Sydney lights turn into Melbourne’s glow

A cup of tea and snack laid out as we go

And I have a feeling that I’m not wrong

I, have a feeling that we could get this done, get this done, get this done.

 

I want a fast train,

We’ll go to Brisbane, entertain ourselves

You and I can get a job

And work on the beach before returning home

I know this would be better

Than working as a cleaner in an airport lounge

That’ll get us out of the shelter

And we can buy a bigger house right out in the suburbs

 

So imagine when we’re travelling, travelling in that train

Speeds so fast we even beat the plane

Sydney lights turn into Melbourne’s glow

A cup of tea and snack laid out as we go

And I have a feeling that I’m not wrong

I, have a feeling that we could get this done, get this done, get this done.

 

I want a fast train

It’ll give me a job that pays all our bills

Take us to the Melbourne bars

See more of our friends and your brothers kids

I’m always hopeful for better

Thought maybe together you and me might ride

I got some plans and I’m going somewhere

So I’ll take that fast train and keep on riding.

 
So imagine when we’re travelling, travelling in that train

Speeds so fast we even beat the plane

Sydney lights turn into Melbourne’s glow

A cup of tea and snack laid out as we go

And I have a feeling that I’m not wrong

I, have a feeling that we could get this done, get this done, get this done.

 

I want a fast train

Fast enough so we can get away

I want you to make a decision

Speak tonight or live and die this way.