By Peter Hehir
The State of NSW is really hurting and is sorely in need of repair. Just about everything that Glad the Impaler and her predecessor have had their hands on, has turned to shit.
The assault on public institutions, from TAFE, to prisons and hospitals, to local councils, transport and the energy grid; the flogging off of everything that isn’t bolted down – and most of the stuff that is; this is the physical manifestation of an ideology that sees Government as an impediment to what is so ironically referred to as “progress”. A word, like both “development” and “growth” that have such nurturing meanings, but have been so cynically hijacked.
With the approval of WestConnex Stage 3 B now imminent, Berejeklian is poised to drive another nail into Sydney’s coffin. Not only will this travesty of a white elephant punish Western Sydney with burdensome tolls, as well as those heading west to work, it will extract a terrible toll on the health of both the residents who live within a kilometre or two of the unfiltered exhaust stacks, as well as the tunnel users.
The impact of climate change is exacerbated here in NSW by Government decisions that benefit multinationals. Decisions that rob us of our publicly owned institutions, our infrastructure, bought and paid for by previous generations; institutions that are being progressively and deliberately white anted so that they can be shown to be in crisis and then only “saved” by the Neo Con’s universal panacea; that being the God of private ownership.
Transport, hospitals, schools, TAFE, prisons, energy are all now expected to pay their way. We were once part of that group of enlightened countries who believed that these essential services were the responsibility of the Government. That they were there for the benefit of the people; not to make a profit for absentee multinational landlords.
We need to Fix NSW Hospitals; Fix NSW Schools; Fix NSW Universities; Fix NSW Energy; Fix NSW TAFE; Fix NSW Prisons; Fix NSW Politics; Fix NSW Pollution; Fix NSW Employment; Fix the NSW Voting age; Fix NSW Roads; Fix NSW Rail; Hell – just Fix NSW Transport.
The Fix NSW Transport organisers are looking to lock down a date for a huge public rally in the weeks leading up to the election. It would be terrific to also have the support of the wider community.
The polling undertaken by the major political parties indicated that, about 12 months out from the last State election in Western Australia, the Neo Cons there knew they would be booted out. But in spite of massive opposition to Roe 8, a freeway through a sensitive wilderness, these philistines were still bulldozing on the day of the election. Doing as much damage as possible. Why? Because they could.
Glad the Impaler also knows that her days are numbered. The ALP here have said that they won’t tear up the contracts. The same sort of vindictive bloody mindedness that we saw in WA is driving the rush to sign the Stage 3 B contracts before Xmas, to ensure that the Rozelle Interchange, the Iron Cove Tunnel and a good percentage of the Western Harbour Tunnel are guaranteed to be built before she is tossed out on her ear. Why? Simply because she can.
Our youth will suffer and they are only too well aware of it. They can see the impacts that WestConnex, NorthConnex, the F6, the Western Harbour Tunnel and the Northern Beaches Link will have on health and climate change. They’re acutely aware of the huge quantity of fossil fuel – and of the massive quantities of concrete needed to build these tunnels and of the emissions they will concentrate and release both during and after construction.
With a whole generation of kids for whom being educated in the public school system meant demountables were the rule, not the exception, the cutting of budgets to many essential public institutions, hasn’t gone unnoticed.
When the primary focus of educational institutions and hospitals ceases to be the enrichment and wellbeing of the community; and cynically bowing to the demands of the bottom line becomes the order of the day, then we are in serious trouble.
Seeing the schoolkids turn out in droves to protest the dismal lack of action in relation to climate change, was really heartening. Their voices raised in unison, expressing their disdain at the climate change deniers in both State and Federal Governments, showed a comprehension and a concern that is seldom attributed to children and demonstrated a wisdom beyond their years. Sagacity that is sorely lacking in our parliamentary leaders.
These inheritors of tomorrow can see what our elected representatives can’t. The planet is hurting while Glad and Scomo and Co are still blindly flogging coal and fossil fuel, still spending billions pushing tollroads – while the need for a world class public transport system in Sydney is largely ignored.
Somewhere from my distant past I vaguely remember hearing the words “And a little child shall lead them”. Is this the dawning of that day?