Eighteen years ago the first edition of City Hub hit the streets promising to “print the news and raise hell”. Way back in 1995, Sydney was in the throes of an 18-year redevelopment boom that has never really stopped. Long before Premier Barry O’Farrell bypassed a public tender process and offered James Packer prime publicly-owned real estate along the foreshore at Barangaroo, then Premier Bob Carr offered Rupert Murdoch the exclusive opportunity to privately develop publicly-owned inner city parkland.
Five years before the 2000 Olympics, the first ever edition of City Hub exposed a secret back room deal for Murdoch’s News Corp to develop a back lot studio and adjoining Entertainment Quarter at Moore Park. Three months after the Hub first broke the story, the State Government finally announced its plans for News Limited to commercially develop park land at Moore Park, after the Royal Easter Showgrounds were moved to Homebush following the Olympics. On November 23 1995, I wrote “That Murdoch abuses the sacred power of the press to bully and cajole elected officials for his own financial gain goes without saying. That the Labor Party kneels down before the Murdoch monster is an outrage.”
Here at the Alternative Media Group of Australia, we’ve seen it all before. Way back in 1996, long before Tony Abbott was voted into office on a landslide with the vocal backing of Rupert Murdoch – vowing to cut Labor supported programs, community welfare, environmental regulations, public sector jobs and government spending in general – John Howard returned the Liberals from the political wilderness.
Six months into our publishing gig on March 2 1996, a sold out Mardi Gras crowd of 19,000 gay and lesbian revellers danced the night away at the showgrounds in Moore Park, while John Howard held his victory celebration comfortably across the Harbour Bridge. Early that morning as the sun rose over the Horden Pavilion, Thelma Houston sang “Don’t Leave Me This Way” and Paul Keating started packing his bags and shredding papers at Kiribllli House. A lot of good getting in bed with Rupert Murdoch did him.
On March 28 1996, City Hub’s cover story proclaimed there was “No Honeymoon for Howard at the Hub”. In a piece titled, “10 WORST THINGS HOWARD WILL DO TO AUSTRALIA,” inaugural editor Hall Greenland proclaimed: “We are now at the meanest moment in our history. The welfare state faces death by a thousand cuts and the lucky country embitterment by a thousand petty tyrannies.”
Long before the Liberal State Government ever announced plans to build a light rail line across Surry Hills to Moore Park and then south along Anzac Parade, the then Labor State Government announced plans to construct a billion dollar tunnel stretching from William St to Moore Park through what would be called the Eastern Distributor. Long before cars sat in gridlock along South Dowling St to avoid paying a toll road, on January 2 1997, City Hub predicted that the proposed Eastern Distributor would not ease inner city traffic congestion. “Traffic will continue onto Anzac Parade, Moore Park Rd and South Dowling St. A far more sensible alternative would be to provide hundreds of kilometres of light rail in areas of Sydney that are crying out for public transport.” On August 7 1997, we reported on the final, futile protests to stop construction of the Eastern Distributor. “With bulldozers set to begin work this month … activists and parliamentarians have joined forces to try to stop construction of the motorway.”
Over the years, we have chronicled countless community battles, political stoushes and public concerns. We have become a trusted source for independent and alternative news coverage in inner Sydney, providing different perspectives, local viewpoints and an outlet for dissonant voices that would otherwise be ignored in the mainstream media. Through it all we have offered thousands of writers a sounding board, a bully pulpit and a stepping stone. We have proudly championed local arts, culture and cuisine at thousands of shows, pubs, restaurants and events. Along the way we have gone from one small feisty local newspaper to four titles: always proudly stretching from Bondi to Balmain across inner Sydney while doggedly focusing on our local news beat.
Each year around this time, to mark our anniversary we produce our annual BEST OF SYDNEY edition. Our 18th anniversary edition is our largest ever edition yet. Enjoy it. Use it. Support Sydney’s best local businesses, services, venues and attractions that still make Sydney the best place to live, despite the best laid plans of developers to stuff up this town.
Raise a toast to us. We will join you. We’ve reached legal drinking age after all.