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 🙂 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?

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.

 

 

Just how many pies can a lobbyist stick their fingers into?

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Ok so I’m not in a position to be able to talk about the legalities of lobbying here although I would point anyone interested to this government site, but I can say it as I see it and what I see at the moment, in my situation looks ethically questionable, that’s for sure.

My question ‘just how many pies can a lobbyist stick their fingers into’ comes from a situation that is festering (yes, that’s how it feels) around the area that I live at the moment, a situation that feels like it has come at us like a wrecking ball (and thanks to that Mylie Cyrus song yes I would like to have a swing on it).

The situation is the latest incarnation of the Badgery’s Creek airport.

The problem, as far as I can see is that the Badgery’s Creek proposal, from the EIS which was released in October 2015 and had to be reviewed and back by 20th December 2015 (busy times as it is the end of school year here in Australia plus Christmas and our longest holiday period) to today’s community engagement sessions have a sickening feeling of speaking (and ‘engaging’) not to understand but just to reply  or worse, to just ‘tick the box’.  Then, when the replies come they have typically had more than a little air of ‘stage managed’ about them……..

Dali Lama

The way the process has been prepared and subsequently managed has led me into a situation where I feel deeply mistrusting of the whole shebang, as if my voice as a voter (and subsequently as a protestor) is being drowned out, ignored, marginalised and that this ‘full-of-holes’  proposal could go ahead anyway placing a 24 hour a day, 7 day a week airport in the back corner of the Sydney Basin where pollution will be trapped against the World Heritage Listed Blue Mountains before it swirls back onto the good people of Western Sydney.  Good luck making your way through the smog to your Jobs and Growth guys, that is if you can get out of bed at all (who needs lungs anyway)……

At this point I would like to make it clear that while I do FEEL that the process has been a sham and I obviously have very serious misconceptions about the lobbying involved I am still capable of listening to understand, I honestly do want to spend my time working towards getting the best deal for Western Sydney because I live here – unlike some of the lobbyists – and I  feel morally obligated to challenge a proposal that will lead to extraordinarily more pollution in the Sydney basin.

Those of us like me that HAVE had time and MADE time to research this proposal fully have ended up feeling like the government are treating us with contempt and hoping that we haven’t and won’t notice.  A hope that is pretty easy to maintain given the fact that the lobby process has close ties with at least one of Sydney’s largest newspapers.

Malcolm-X

This airport has been proposed and defeated time and time again but THIS time there is an extra layer doing deals and WE DIDN’T VOTE FOR THEM.

OK so what are the relationships of this lobby group?

Firstly, none of what I am saying is based on information that I’ve either made-up or gotten through dodgy sources, I literally just googled the money trail after going to the ‘Out There’ summit (and what a great show of truth that little event was…..)

Lobbyist X is a company that focuses on:

corporate advisory, public affairs and strategic communications

The company

 brings to its clients deep experience in government relations, corporate advisory, marketing & brand, public policy, management consulting, strategic media engagement, stakeholder relations and project management.

Customers of this company currently include the following, many of which have the lobbyist integrated into their boards or management structures.  I am not at all sure if that is normal or not.

  • LendleaseInfrastructure building and planning, mentioned time and time again when Badgery’s Creek comes up.   The attached article pitches them as ‘independent’ to the process.
  • Sydney Airport Corporation – Kingsford Smith has first right of purchase of the Badgery’s Creek airport and is of course interested in how a second airport might pan out.
  • Western Sydney Leadership Dialogue –  Set up to ‘engage’ Sydney in a productive discussion about Western Sydney.  Involves Western Sydney Uni, WSROC, Sydney Business Chamber and the Western Sydney Community Forum.
  • Celestino Pty Ltd – Property Development company with plans laid out to develop a Science Park.
  • Liverpool City Council 
  • Leichhardt Council (which now doesn’t exist, I wonder if they will take on the new amalgamated council?)
  • Western Sydney Rail Alliance

The founder of this lobby company is also Chairman, special adviser to the Secretary General, United Nations World Tourism Organisation which might well be why we, in the Blue Mountains are constantly told ‘don’t worry’ about the World Heritage Listing on our national park (although I am just speculating here).  In addition to that the founder has a background in tourism and was the Managing Director of the Tourism and Transport Forum until 2010 if I remember rightly.

On top of this the other lobbyist in this company is an ex-newspaper journalist who also happens to be intimately involved with at least one of the consultancies clients.

So let’s recap.

We have ONE lobby group that is making representation to government on the needs and wishes (presumably) of various councils, business communities, property developers, travel and environment (via UNWTO) transport and the public.

Oh and they also happen to have fingers in various sporting ties too – sport is big in Western Sydney – I heard that at the Out There summit too and went away wondering what they tell them at the Western Sydney Wanderers games. 

And that same lobby group produces NEWS

 

So just how many pies can a lobbyist stick their fingers into?

I don’t know but I’d like to think it wasn’t this many.

and they certainly don’t speak for me.

 

Amanda x

 

 

 

 

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

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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.

 

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

The Out There Summit for Western Sydney. Is this some kind of sick joke?

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Background briefing for the non-local readers out there (yes, all one of you 🙂 )

I live in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales, a city that boundaries the far western edge of what is also known as ‘Western Sydney’.  While the Blue Mountains is a city in its own right it is included in this model for Western Sydney although I have to confess to not knowing the full legalities of that.

While Sydney is a beautiful city it is also sprawling with its 4.8 million population (2014) spanning some 12,367 square kilometres with a population density of 380 per square kilometre.

By comparison Greater London has 8.5 million people in 1572 square kilometres giving a population density of 5432 per square kilometre.

As you move further out to the west of the city the suburbs become cheaper in terms of housing affordability, more ethnically diverse and tend to have more social deprivation than those closer to the CBD (although there are inner city pockets with problems too, as with any city).  Along with various social issues, Western Sydney is also very much a commuter belt with many people travelling from the region into the city CBD for work each day, a journey that takes up to 2 hours by train from the top of the Blue Mountains, 1 hour from Penrith or around the same by car (depending on the traffic it can regularly take me two hours to travel 72km).  These long commutes are part of the ‘Western Sydney’ problem and are what has earned us the nickname of ‘squinters’ as each day we drive into the sun both on our way to and way home from work.  Long commutes are a necessity many as the majority of Sydney’s work opportunities exist within the margins of the inner city and that is one thing that this ‘Out There’ summit addressed.

The ‘Out There’ summit and the Western Sydney development plan contains many good ideas, ideas that I am in full support of especially when it means that people can work closer to home thus spending more time with family and less time polluting the airways and clogging up roads.  The summit and the development plans also contain provision for social welfare and environmental management – the development of ‘green’ spaces for leisure, investment in walk and cycle ways and more besides. All of this is excellent especially in light of the fact that many people WANT to live in cities and that city living is not only convenient and economically attractive it is also lighter on the environment, especially when city living is well planned and supported. I doubt there are many of us ‘out here’ that like spending two to three hours commuting each day – there are only so many books you can read or songs you can listen to.

So where’s the joke? What’s wrong with this picture?

While I don’t want to believe that all of this good stuff is JUST a sweetener for the Badgery’s Creek Airport I have to say that after attending the summit yesterday I can’t help but think that especially given the way the day’s moderator Christopher Brown was carrying on.

Badgery’s Creek Airport.

For thirty or more years plans for a second Sydney airport have been muted, promoted and then dropped.  I haven’t been here for any other airport promotional campaigns but I do know from past Environmental Impact Statements that the concerns of residents and objection to the plans have remained the same each time while the landscape of the Western Sydney region has moved on, become more populated and, in the case of the Blue Mountains gained UNESCO World Heritage Status.

Badgery’s Creek location is shown on the map below as the smaller black circle. The bigger one is the populated corridor of the Blue Mountains where I live, the arrows show the main route into the city from the west, the M4.

Western Sydney Airport Location

The map below here shows a panned out view of the Greater Sydney region giving you a sense of the layout of the land. The curved black line is my attempt to show you the area that is ‘Western Sydney’ with everything to the left of the line being included in the development plan that I’m talking about. The map is approximate and the red dot is the Badgery’s Creek area. The planned airport boundary  to the boundary of the Blue Mountains is approx. 8km as highlighted by the green line to help you get some idea of scale.

Western Sydney Rough Overview

The land at Badgery’s creek used to be held by Government agency the CSIRO and has been earmarked for development since at least 1989.  The Medich family purchased the land in 1997 and are actively involved in planning discussions. I saw Roy Medich at the summit. Here he is buying a coffee.

Phil Medich

Like many family companies the Medich group have had their problems and in 2014 Roy went to court to distance himself and his business from his brother Ron who was accused of murdering his business partner back in 2010.  Ron is due to stand trial in July this year. 

Other land holders in the Badgery’s Creek development zone of significant size include Ingham’s Poultry Farm, Liverpool City Council, The airforce and Boral Brickworks.   A full report is available online. 

So what is wrong with having an airport at Badgery’s Creek?

Ok so at this point (as if it isn’t already obvious) I have to point out that I am NOT a fan of the idea that we NEED an airport at Badgery’s creek.

Let’s go on.

The Environmental Impact Statement Period for Public Comment:

On Monday 19th October 2015 a draft EIS was put on public display and remained open for comment until 18th December – just over 8 weeks in the lead-up to Christmas.

On reading the EIS many members of the Blue Mountains community became outraged at the fact that this EIS was nothing new and in fact was a re-incarnation of pretty much every other EIS that has gone before the people and been defeated.   A group – Residents Against Western Sydney Airport sprang up online and people started sharing their comments and feedback. The group has now spread outside of the Blue Mountains (quaint little people that we are) to include people from across the Western Sydney region.

Key Concerns from the EIS process and the Out There Summit.

Several key mistakes were found in the data presented in the EIS including those to do with pollution / CO2 emissions.  These errors were discussed in the RAWSA group and feedback was given to government (as you do during a public consultancy process).  Now you would think that a government document would have version control being as though this is such a pivotal piece of communication but no,  there wasn’t and within a few days of being informed of the errors a new version of the EIS suddenly appeared online without any apology, correction notice or announcement.  I am struggling to write this without expletives……..

Anyway, that wasn’t the only issue within the EIS,  noise levels given in the report are of dubious merit and conversations since including comments at yesterdays Summit were along the lines of ‘aircraft are getting so quiet it’s really not worth worrying your little head about’ or to be less polite ‘suck it up princess’ or ‘stop being a NIMBY’.  This is all in spite of the fact that this airport will rely heavily on freight movements for its profitability and freight planes are often the last to become noiseless and lower polluting given that freight usually doesn’t give a damn if the cabin is a bit loud. Also freight tends to move at night, when it is cheaper and when people in Western Sydney will be trying to get to sleep which brings me onto my next point.

The airport being proposed will operate with no curfew – a 24/7 airport, right over an area that has been outlined for development that is supposed to increase the social welfare of what will be over a million people.  I sat in the ‘Resilient Cities’ breakout room waiting for either Amanda Larkin (CEO South West Sydney Local Health District) or Billie Sankovic (Director, Western Sydney Community Forum) to mention this ‘elephant in the room’ but they didn’t.  A social worker and a health care professional didn’t voice any concerns about how a 24/7 airport might impact on the health and wellbeing of over a million people living around the airport development?   And of course it is not just noise,  this airport is planned for the Sydney basin the west of which suffers from notoriously bad air quality given the way that particulates tend to settle out this way.  ‘Out There is a big smoggy’,  I wonder how our Chinese visitors will feel about coming to ‘clean and green’ Australia when they arrive in a place that is dirtier and more polluted than their country….

I was lucky enough to be able to ask a question at yesterday’s summit, I say ‘lucky’ because the time given over for questions was so terribly short it was almost as if they didn’t want us to speak.  Almost….

Anyway, during the “Planes, Trains and Automobiles: regional Major Projects” section I asked the panel of Tim Reardon (Secretary Transport for NSW),  Brendan McRandle (Executive Director, Dept of Infrastructure), Kerrie Mather (CEO, Sydney Airport), Jim Betts (CEO Infrastructure NSW) this:

“Before we commit to spending any more money on the Badgery’s Creek Airport development process wouldn’t it be a good idea to try running Sydney’s Kingsford Smith airport for 24/7 to see how that goes”.

Sniggers from the room.

I was a bit nervous so the question was probably a bit babbled but they got the idea and did answer it.   I asked the question to Kerrie Mathers but Jim Betts answered as apparently ‘that was a question for government rather than Sydney Airport’. I fail to see why but anyway….

I was not happy with the answer which was along the lines of ‘well we can’t do that because of the population areas surrounding the Kingsford Smith airport’.  Which basically means that if they did that the rich folks in Sydney would be outraged and would kick up a right stink.  The take-home message for me was that we would again just have to ‘suck it up’.  It was at this point that Christopher Brown added his comment of ‘well aircraft are getting quieter and I wouldn’t want my kids to miss out on all of the opportunities coming in this Western Sydney plan’.

So let me just take that up here now Christopher Brown.

I would LOVE for my kids to be able to breathe as well as getting rich and enjoying shorter commutes than I have had to endure.

I would also like to think that my children would be able to GET SOME SLEEP as adults who may well end up living in Western Sydney.

It would also be nice if my children could enjoy the beauty that is a Unesco World Heritage site and I’d also like to think that they could bring their kids here to experience some wilderness and solitude.  Maybe.

Now I’ll just take a minute here to tell you something, I am not just some utopian dream-boat hippy living a fairytale life of privilege oblivious of the world around me and the need for progress.   I am expecting insults of that nature at some stage as that is a common tactic of those who lie, discredit those that disagree.  

Pollution and noise aside they aren’t the only reasons that I find this whole thing farcical.

 

 

I challenged the premise that Sydney NEEDS a second airport in the basin during the EIS process especially in light of this:

world busiest passenger routes

The third busiest passenger route in the whole world is Sydney to Melbourne! The 10th is Sydney to Brisbane.

High speed rail could do those journeys in 4 hours, it has been modelled by Beyond Zero Emissions and given the current economic and environmental pressures facing the world it makes absolutely NO sense that this option hasn’t been fully debated.

It doesn’t take a genius to work out that an airport only requires investment in the land and airport infrastructure, the skies provide the ‘roads’ and the skies don’t need building whereas high-speed rail would be a much more difficult task to pull off, involving co-ordination across multiple stake holders and layers of government PLUS investment in track building and maintenance but don’t we owe it to our children to be brave and give this ‘OUT THERE’ idea a FAIR GO (fair go is another favourite Government slogan, they think it makes us Westies think they give a shit. The slogan was used in a media campaign to ‘win hearts and minds’ while keeping the real debate from us).

It wasn’t many moons ago that the government was all about eco cities and money was pumped into places like Dubbo and Bathurst.  I wonder if that is now in the ‘too hard’ basket?  Shame really as thinking outside of the basin could tick a lot more boxes and help preserve our basic human rights for clean air, water and food.

Back to original point of challenging the need for a second airport, a Badgery’s creek rail hub linked in to a high-speed rail into the Kingsford Smith airport would be a lovely idea.  Connect Badgery’s creek to the central tablelands and on to Canberra (international airport option 2), the nation’s Capital and then through to Melbourne (international airport 3).  In the other direction link Badgery’s creek with Sydney Kingsford Smith and then on to Newcastle (international airport 4) and all the way up to Brisbane (international airport option 5) and suddenly we are looking smart, connected and more Aerotropolis that you can poke a stick at.  Apparently the book Aerotropolis: The way we’ll live next is the ‘game changing’ book that has provided the rationale behind this latest Badgery’s Creek push.  I wonder what would have happened if they had of passed ‘Hunger Games’ around the chamber……

There is much more that could be said about all of this but I just want to spend a few minutes outlining the other side of the ‘out there’ summit and why I really walked away feeling that well thought out opposition to the plans is as welcome as a turd in a swimming pool.

I’ll put it in dot points and keep to facts only at this point.

out there summit

  • The keynote address was given by Lucy Turnbull, the wife of Malcolm Turnbull, Australia’s current Prime Minister and Leader of the Liberal Party.   Lucy Turnbull is the Chief Commissioner of the Greater Sydney Commission: Re Thinking Western Sydney.  From their website: ‘The Greater Sydney Commission is responsible for metropolitan planning in a partnership between State and local government’.
  • The discussion on Planes, Trains and Automobiles included Kerrie Mather (CEO, Sydney Airport), the airport that gets first rights to the running of Badgery’s Creek Airport.
  • The event sponsors included the Celestino property group owned by the Baiada family who also own Steggles and Lilydale chickens.  This group presented a video at the start of the ‘Building Smarter Cities’ discussion panel and are the company set to profit from the development of the Sydney Science Park. The science park presented contained an image of a large food research facility.
  • The Building Smarter Cities also had Robert Rankin (Chair, Crown Resorts) on the panel and Crown went on to win one of the five Pemulwuy Prizes for their work to promote the arts in Western Sydney.   Western Sydney has a gambling problem, mainly with poker machines which are owned and run predominantly by a company other than Crown Casino but it’s a gambling problem nonetheless.
  • The ‘Branding the new Western Sydney’ discussion panel included Lillian Saleh on the panel. Lillian is the day editor of the Sunday Telegraph – a company that went on to win another of the five Pemulwuy Prizes for their work in promoting the airport in Western Sydney.
  • Lendlease and Tafe were another recipient of the Pemulwuy prize. This is a partnership between a major infrastructure development company and an education provider.  Lendlease and Tafe successes were celebrated in the media in June 2015 when they announced the employment of the 500’s apprentice and 50th Indigenous apprentice at the Barangaroo development site.  Barangaroo is the site of the new Crown Casino. 

So that’s that for now.

Amanda