The politicians right to change their mind.

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Democracy defined on Wikipedia:

noun
A system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives
A state governed under a system of democracy.
Control of an organization or group by the majority of its members.
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It is not a crime for a politician to ¬†change their mind, in fact, in an every-changing world it would be odd not to at times. New facts come to light, the political landscape shifts, ¬†events outside of your control change the trajectory of the future. ¬†A strong and flexible mind is a wonderful thing. ¬†However, when you are an elected member of a democratic system your ‘mind’¬†is not completely your own. ¬†What I mean here is that your public mind, what you stand for what got you elected is something bigger than you, ¬†that is your mandate.
mandate
an official order or commission to do something.
the authority to carry out a policy, regarded as given by the electorate to a party or candidate that wins an election.
If, as a politician  you want to change your mandate you should be able to put aside your own ego and follow due process in order to avoid undermining the democratic system and losing political capital.
Well that’s the theory anyway.
It does seem¬†to have become the norm to expect politicians to say anything to get the job then do anything to keep (or progress) their power. ¬†Not all politicians do this of course, one doesn’t stop becoming a free-willed (to whatever extent that exists), morally grounded individual just because they got elected but some do behave in a way that leaves you questioning their motives and when they do certain sections of the media seem to love it, possibly even encourage it.
This race to the bottom has, in my opinion made it so easy for people like Trump to get in while saying things that are, at times outrageous, by contradicting himself and even telling it how it clearly isn’t – bare-faced lying. ¬†We have a situation where the boy cried wolf so many times that some are now outraged when¬†these political types actually do what they said they would do! ¬†Seriously, on the Trump issue, in his defence, he is at least getting on with the stuff he promised and didn’t contradict ¬†which I reluctantly applaud him for while at the same time cringing at what this says about us as a society. ¬†And no, I wouldn’t have voted for Hillary and neither do I fawn over Obama but that’s¬†not a discussion for today and this isn’t a discussion about Trump.
I attended the Blue Mountains council meeting last night where councillors were asked to publicly state their support for the councils position (opposition) on the proposed Badgerys¬†Creek Airport. ¬†Two didn’t vote in support of maintaining the councils opposition¬†and that’s fine – council is exactly the place for good, robust debate and discussion to take place and there is no crime in holding a counter view. ¬†However, this whole situation came about because of an article published in the Daily Telegraph on 21st December. ¬†Here it is if you are interested.
I can only speculate at why the two councillors involved opted for this course of action (running straight to the media on 21st December rather than respecting the official channels) and that won’t be helpful as speculation is not fact. I¬†was disappointed¬†see the way these councillors turned on their mandate and their fellow councillors and did this. ¬†While disappointed I wasn’t entirely surprised,¬†I kind of sort of felt this brewing for a month or two now but am not really in a position to do much more than write on here which is fine. ¬†My disappointment stemmed from the¬†depth of the bile and posturing displayed in how this played out both in the newspaper and on the radio. ¬†I am not ashamed to say that I expected more from these two people.
So some background/ context. 
¬†Both of these Councillors are on the public record as having voted for the councils current position with regards to Badgerys Creek on previous occasions and are also on record as opposing the Airport when questioned before the election (which was only a short time ago). One of the councillors had been present and voted for the spending that has been questioned and has been on council long enough to be aware of its financial position. ¬†In a time when many councils have faced mergers after failing the Liberal State Governments Fit for Future audit the Blue Mountains got through – a fact that wasn’t mentioned in the click-bait headline.
The bottom line here for me is that two councillors are playing games with our democratic process,  disregarding their mandate and dragging the councils name into disrepute.
And that’s not all.
Not only did one of those two councillors see fit to take their gripes to the media (he’s not the first, I lived in the UK long enough to see this all the time but like we always say to the kids – two wrongs don’t make a right), that same councillor also felt entitled enough to spend the whole 1 1/2 hours of the meeting time when this was being discussed on his Facebook messenger to two colleagues in the audience who just happened to be standing next to me. I won’t out them on here but I just hope they understand what they are contributing to and I really do hope that one day they care (again I’m talking about the democratic process and not specifically the airport)). Further, ¬†there were even giggles at one point when one audience member (another) suggested that the behaviour of these two councillors was ‘just politics’ insinuating that we should somehow just accept that as par for the course. ¬†Well I’m¬†not prepared to do that.
So lying and wasting everyone’s time and bringing a council whose mayor got re-elected with a dramatically increased majority vote into disrepute is funny?
That saying one thing before the election then doing another when elected and without first taking your changed mandate to the people is just what politicians do?
There was nothing funny about last night.
And there is nothing funny about the trajectory the world is on.
If people keep behaving like this Badgerys Creek airport will be the least of our troubles.
Politicians do have a right to change their minds but that right comes with responsibilities and in this case it is to respect the democratic process.
So can we all do that please?
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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?

Dear Government of Australia, I really don’t think you understand my type.

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I’m not known for being irrational and emotional. In fact while growing up my dad used to tell me that I was un-emotional, that I was able to detach my emotions too easily maybe. I saw that as a compliment, as a useful trait for someone who toyed with the idea of becoming a spy in the army – I can endure torture well enough and am good at sucking up and distilling information¬†– but who ended up as a chemist. ¬†At least I didn’t choose ‘psychopath’ as a career…..

Anyway.

This whole year I’ve experienced various shakes in my mental health thanks to the way the government and it’s PR department – The Daily Telegraph – have chosen (and yes, I do feel they chose this) to undermine me and people like me.

Now I get that the government and its people sometimes disagree, that they have access to information I don’t, that I could be completely wrong or that the timing is simply not right but putting all of that aside I can’t accept that there is ever a good ¬†(or SMART) time for a government to systematically attempt to undermine and close down reasonable debate, to hide what doesn’t suit their agenda and to use the media to create an ‘us’ versus ‘them’ reality.

Now maybe I was expecting too much in thinking that reality, as in stuff that actually happens, how people actually feel, might get at least some un-opinionated airing in the debate but in my experience that didn’t happen and every government led information program became a show pony carrying an injection of their alternative truth serum which was liberally distributed along with the mantra of ‘this is progress, this is jobs and growth, this is amazing, this is the only viable option’. ¬† It was sucked up to a point.

I am, of course talking about the Badgery’s Creek airport here. ¬†The airport and the merry bunch of fat cats that are rubbing their hands together with glee, including I might add the Greater Sydney Commissioner Lucy Turnbull who just happens to be the P.M’s wife – nothing to see here, perfectly normal behaviour, the PM running the country and the PM’s wife getting to divide Sydney up into Hunger Games like districts, taking out quite a few legitimately elected representatives before replacing them with her tribe. Oh and thrown in for good measure is her ability to over-rule any local opposition to her commissions plan like some kind of planning police (which of course they say they are not. Heaven forbid!!! Sounds like a dystopian film plot which would be mildly entertaining if I didn’t live in it.

Anyone reading the media or listening to Malcolm Turnbull would take home the impression that the whole West of Sydney is busting with excitement¬†over this airport and the job opportunities it will bring. ¬†Of course there are some that are but there is a lot that don’t believe it, a fact that was reflected in the way Western Sydney turned Red (Labor) at this years federal election. ¬†While the Labor party do officially support Badgery’s Creek I again feel that has more to do with Anthony Albanese’s electorate being the one next to Kingsford Smith Airport in Sydney – I bet $10 that he told his people who this airport would take the load off them – what a lie if that were the case. ¬†As if that would ever happen. Then there is Plibers (Tanya Plibersek) who also shares an inner city electorate and who famously told a local gathering of business women in the Blue Mountains that ‘we would get used to it’ when quizzed about noise. ¬†But what about the pollution and catastrophic global warming Tanya? ¬†Your electorate will drown first and we won’t be reserving you any land up here to save you with that attitude thank you very much. So to sum up that little diversion, to many at the election this year Labor were at offering at least something (curfew of sorts) whereas the Liberals were just not listening and were voted out.

And so it has gone on.

Post election and the momentum for this airport gathered. I raised my concerns with others, conducted research, wrote papers , articles and letters, requested meetings, attended events and filled out questionnaires only to be met with responses like this one from Paul Fletcher, Transport Minister:

20th October 2016

Dear Ms Foxon-Hill

Thank you for your email dated 14 September 2016 about the community’s views on the proposed Western Sydney Airport. I am sorry it has taken me so long to respond.

In the research, the Blue Mountains and Blacktown local government areas were included in the North West region as defined by the New South Wales Department of Planning and Infrastructure (now the Department of Planning and Environment). The online survey found that 61 per cent of residents in the North West region were in favour of the proposed airport, compared with 57 per cent of residents from the whole representative sample.

So what?  Because 61% of people in the North West region (of the 499 people surveyed) said they were in favour of the proposed airport me and the rest should just shut up?

The North West region is outlined here. 

But it isn’t just that 61% of people are for the airport, that 61% amounts to a fair and reasonable majority that is to be respected and that’s why the government and it’s process has lost me.

  • How fair are the results of a poll when the public have been groomed for the year leading up to it that this will bring only good things?
  • How fair are the results of a poll when anti-airport protests are questioned as being NIMBYISM?
  • How fair are the results of a poll whose questions are bias towards a particular outcome?
  • How fair are the results of a poll of people who have been starved of investment for their whole lives because of this bloody proposal of an airport?

Again this is politics and some might say this is how BREXIT or TRUMP happened and I’d agree that yes, there are similarities but not the similarities that some might jump upon first up. ¬†You see Australia is not a world leader and in many ways is naive enough to not see that where they differ is that the USA and the UK were sold media lies and agendas for years before it came to this. ¬†That the BREXIT and Trump victories were the inevitable consequence of what happens when the ‘natural’ leaders of a country let that natural leadership go to their heads, create their own reality then live in a bubble while keeping reality at arm’s length. ¬†Australia will of course eventually arrive at this same place as these other countries – Cory Bernardi can already smell his victory and who can blame him? ¬†The writing is on the wall. ¬†Australia is going through a time of post-truth politics, soon to be followed by a kick in the teeth to the establishment followed (possibly) by an even grimmer reality before we all either die from global warming or come to our senses which quite possibly reside slap bang in the boring middle zone where left and right wings form a body and can fly.

I digress.

There’s detail, fact, counter-fact, alternative propositions, amended propositions and on and on but none of that is worth anything when your will is dead and believe me, the will of this government is as dead as a Dodo and that worries me because I care about this country.

And that is where I’m coming from when I say in the beginning that the Government of Australia doesn’t understand my type.

I want progress.

I want investment.

I want development.

I want jobs for the West.

I Like and believe in Aviation and it’s role in developing and sustaining the economy.

I am even OK with more people in Australia as long as we have the infrastructure (including water security, jobs, homes and transport links) sorted before they all arive.

I don’t even mind a bit of this in my back yard – the Blue Mountains isn’t a museum after all and the West of Sydney does need and deserve some attention.

But most of all I’m for sustainability and putting a second airport in the Sydney basin when the first airport spends a good deal of its time and capacity ferrying people the 1 hour by plane to Melbourne or Brisbane is not any of the above and to say it is is bullshit.

Watching Australia slip backwards while its politicians tell us ‘it has never been a more exciting time to be here’ has been mentally draining and left me feeling extremely sad at times because there are plenty of us out here that are ready to back good, honest change and growth when we see it,¬†¬†but sadly the pickings are slim and those good guys that we did pick at the last election just got blasted by the Daily Telegraph that I’ve spoke to highly of today. ¬†Don’t they know that we elected them? ¬†Disrespect them and they disrespect us as voters.

telegraph-paper-cover

So, as each stage of this airport development is signed off and moved on I think to myself ‘you, government, will rue the day you ignored this minority group while lying to the majority. ¬†The truth always comes out and when it does you had better be ready because your Point Piper houses will be the first to feel the full force of sea level rises which of course many of you don’t believe in but you try not believing when your Italian leather shoes are all wet’.

Meanwhile I have decided to forget all notions that the government are interested in consultation and discussion, are open minded, searching for the best outcome and generous and have instead adopted the mindset that if we are to achieve anything that resembles real sustainable progress in our lifetime we need to do it ourself and forget this government as they are from a time that has passed and watching them slowly poison themselves and us is not how I want to spend my life.

Onwards and upwards.

The future’s looking bright because these guys will no longer be here.