Thursday, 26 March 2015

Guardian video Greens v Labor in Newtown

I just want to pick up on a point that Penny Sharpe makes at around the 1m24s mark.

Penny Sharpe "There is an issue around the Greens wanting to contest against progressive Labor candidates and that's what they choose to do."

This is a point that I've heard Labor make on several occasions, also in relation to Tanya Plibersek here in Sydney.

If Labor wanted to protect their progressive candidates they would:
a) adopt more progressive policies, then progressive voters would be more willing to vote for them.
b) allow their more progressive candidates to vote against Labor's more conservative motions in parliament and allow more debate and see that as a strength rather than a weakness.
c) put those most progressive candidates in slightly less progressive electorates and use their considerable resources to shift voters to the left in those areas. Put Penny in, say, Strathfield. and let the Greens have a clearer run in Newtown. Then the Greens would support Labor in parliament anyway in any progressive motions they wanted to pass. The end result would be that the progressive motion would pass, and that should be the only thing that matters, not the name of the party that voted for it.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Community campaign against WestConnex tollway builds

Piece I wrote for Green Left Weekly

Community campaign against WestConnex tollway builds

Friday, March 13, 2015

About 3000 people march down King Street in Newtown on February 1 to protest against the WestConnex tollway. Photo: WestConnex Action Group/Facebook
The stop WestConnex campaign is intensifying heading into the NSW state election.
Apart from the proposed electricity sell-off, it has become one of the top issues, damaging both Liberal and Labor.
The announcement by Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore of a WestConnex forum at Sydney Town Hall, set for March 16, has ignited campaigners, and will put the unpopular and expensive plan under further scrutiny.
The WestConnex plan is a collection of tolled motorways, tunnels and road widenings that stretch in a broad horseshoe shape across the inner west and south Sydney. Expected to cost $15 billion, it is the latest incarnation of motorway plans first dreamed up in 1947.
The current campaign has built from 2012 when residents along the route got wind of their homes being compulsorily acquired and when Greens NSW MLC Mehreen Faruqi managed to make public many boxes of previously secret documents that were part of the business case.
Then late last year, the government announced an interchange in St Peters and houses to be acquired there as part of Stage 2. Further, the associated road widening will remove about a hectare of land from the popular Sydney Park and raises the spectre of clearways along King St.
The plan further pushes the car-based domination of the Sydney landscape at the expense of quality public transport. Public transport advocacy groups such as APTNSW and Ecotransit have been carefully explaining several simple and much cheaper alternatives that would be far more effective in reducing congestion and far more ecologically sound.
These suggestions include buying back the private airport stations, a kiss-and-ride facility at Kingsgrove, light rail from Dulwich Hill through Sydenham, Airport, UNSW and Randwick, creating new and connecting existing cycle paths, expanding capacity along the Western heavy rail line, and light rail along Parramatta Road.
Disturbed by the plans and armed with these alternative plans, the community his risen up against WestConnex. The largest events so far have been rally/street party-type happenings in St Peters and the King St Crawl, coordinated by groups including Reclaim the Streets. Their return to the scene with large protests is welcome since their campaigns against the cross-city tunnel and similar events in the 1990s.
Many activist, Facebook and email list-based groups have been active, such as Wolli Creek Preservation Society, WestConnex Action Group and No WestConnex. Smaller acts of civil disobedience have followed, including academic Dr Peter Ross chaining himself to a drill rig and groups managing to temporarily halt exploratory drilling.
Labor presence or support at these events has been conspicuously thin, and noted by many.
The campaign gained increased momentum with the defeat of the Liberal state government in Victoria, after Labor's Daniel Andrews announced they would oppose a similar road project in Melbourne, the East West link. Then Campbell Newman's privatisation agenda in Queensland was defeated and many believe the same thing can be achieved against the Baird Liberal government in NSW.
Regrettably, NSW Labor leader Luke Foley announced that despite pretending to be opposed to WestConnex, Labor is planning to build two-thirds of it, while absurdly deciding to extend the M4 all the way into the city. Hypocritically, Labor candidate for Newtown Penny Sharpe claims to be “saving the inner west”, clearly a last ditch attempt to stop the seat going to the Greens’ Jenny Leong, who has maintained a clear stance of opposition to WestConnex and support for public and active transport options.
As further negative information about WestConnex has come to light, the Westconnex Delivery Authority (WDA) has cancelled nearly all of its“community consultation” sessions.
One that remained was a session before an angry crowd of more than 1000 at the Enmore Theatre, dubbed the “worst gig ever”. WDA head Dennis Cliche refused to properly answer questions, spread half-truths and used straw-man arguments.
Another session in St Peters had heavy security and police were called when residents refused to leave until their questions were satisfactorily answered.
Meanwhile, Moore and the independent group have emerged as a significant establishment voice in the campaign against WestConnex. With great secrecy around the business case, environmental impact, and the absence of satisfactory public information, Moore commissioned an independent report by SGS Economics and Planning. She also spoke out against WestConnex at the King St Crawl and called meetings with local resident groups to gauge public opinion.
The report was released on February 23. It showed that WestConnex was outdated, would not achieve its objectives, does not align with the Metropolitan plan, would not improve access to jobs from western Sydney, would lead to parking and toll charges of up to $48 for a single trip, is not subject to proper governance and independent oversight and that there were rail and other projects that would better achieve the stated objectives.
After requests by local activists, Moore agreed to host a public information forum to explain the report with speakers who would argue against these terrible tollways. It ws set to be held at Sydney Town Hall from 6:30pm on Monday, March 16. It could well be a defining moment in the stop WestConnex campaign, with so much at stake for Sydney and the NSW election.

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Westconnex at the Enmore - aka 'worst gig ever'

Ashmore Estate update

Inline images 1

Things are moving quickly in the Ashmore Estate area.

The first stage of the 'Erko' development is now complete, along with the extension of Bridge St.

The building is taller than the local community had originally campaigned for, (8 storeys vs 5) which will place further significant strain on local infrastructure. On the positive though, for many of us existing residents being able to re-access the more direct route up to the village and having a residential development rather than warehouses are welcome aspects. Word also has it that Foodcraft, a cafe and bakery will open soon in the building corner.

Further 'Erko' stages are nearing completion and 'Eve' stage 1 is also underway.

Three more development applications have been lodged, for a string of developments along Eve St, totalling around 180 apartments. Friends of Erskineville and myself have objected to the excessive heights, with all of them trying to grab an extra 2 metres or so above the controls on the grounds of high flood levels in the area.

'Honeycomb & Sugarcube' apartments and terraces is another development application open for comment at the moment. This is 7 storeys, 109 apartments and 18 terraces.

Finally, the entire Goodman site to the east, bordering Mitchell Rd has been sold to developers for $300 million. This entire site has the potential for 1765 residential dwellings. It is supposed to include a new park and green link.

With all these sales and developments, probably over 85% of Ashmore has been bought up for residential development by now. Added to this are many other new apartment buildings nearby. It will be the community's ongoing challenge to keep these at acceptable density and quality whilst campaigning for desperately needed improvements/expansions in public transport, schools, open space, public and affordable housing and other infrastructure. These must surely be provided to sustain a healthy and harmonious community.