Saturday, June 26, 2010

Moorebank Intermodal Freight Terminal Public meeting - Where to from here

Congratulations to the organisers for their effort in getting people ( 200+) out of their houses to engage in a civic matter in Liverpool.

Can I offer my observations:

1: The Meeting:

I have been involved in many over the 30 years of my civic participation. They invariably create noise  on the issue, which is important. The contribution of people in attendance ranged from emotional irrelevances, through passionate relevant positions, the placement of fear bombs, to hard realities. But the key thing is the attendance of so many people which is a display of solidarity to a cause.

2: The Issue :

The reality is that the site is adjacent to the M5 toll road which links to Port Botany and to the M7 which arcs Greater Sydney. It is as well adjacent to, with the Georges River in between, the Southern Sydney Freight Line, a national infrastructure project. An alternative site needs to be found to support our local case.

The issues within the issue need to be defined and measured as to what are the real down sides. These then need to be prepared for analysis and response by an independent entity.  At each stage of new information being received the position of the action group need to be reviewed and reported to the people.

Note. Unsurprisingly and in conformity with past experience, I noticed the loudest response at the meeting was associated with property values being adversely affected. As far as I know there is no Constitutional or statutory requirement in law to protect the valuation of property - this seems to be a market dynamic. Will this major infrastructure development affect local residential property values? Most likely not, as the old law of supply and demand will see them rising for decades in Sydney. Mind you , if a public meeting generated the same response for a matter of principle, or fairness, or concern for another, it would be more encouraging as to the depth of motivation of people engaging in the civic affairs. Now, I have got that off my chest.       

If, after the facts are in,  it is still seen as an abuse of process, misrepresentation of facts or straight out political bullying for the interests of a few against the broader public interest, then the issue becomes a campaign.

3: The Campaign : 

Fact, reasoned argument ( based on shortcomings from original responses from authorities), media, political response  -  it needs to loud. And it needs to be winnable. Winnable to the effect of having the Government(s) decide against the proposal, or to the effect of passing an adverse political result onto the deciding governments' candidates at the next election. Of course if it is a safe seat held by Party X  but  Party Y is the government, or, it is a safe seat for Party Y who will risk seeing a 20% electoral margin slip down to a lower point. then the political effect is far diminished.  East Liverpool, at both State and Federal levels of Government, has swingable seats.

Stay away from legal challenges unless you have the full legal facts in your favour, and a benefactor.     

4: The Politics : 

Being a National Infrastructure development, with a budget allocation already applied, then it going to be tough to win the political war. The Howard Liberal Government initiated the planning and the Rudd (Gillard) Labor Government is funding it. So where to from here? Well, all politics is local. So just watch the activity of the local politicians ( yes, I am in the mix of political persons) and determine what is in it for them. Remember there is a State and Federal election due within the next nine months.

The local Liberals  convened the public meeting held on Tuesday June 22nd. They were bad mouthing the local Labor Member, Alison Megarrity, and her State Labor Government. Indeed they declared they were out to take on the Government. The Liberal Candidate for the Federal seat of Hughes ( Dana Vale is standing down) was present and made an uncommitted contribution. 

In attendance and playing an active role were three Liverpool City Council independent Councillors. Clr Lucas, in his inimitable style, offered the most realistic comment, "you have Buckleys chance of stopping it", whilst offering his assistance without any waffle. Good on him.

Labor was not represented even though Labor's Clr Jim McGoldrick was in attendance.  Good old Jim said his bit and reminded everyone of his true independent nature even though he took advantage of ALP funding and resources to get elected in 2008. In the incident last year where Liverpool's Mayor, Clr Wendy Waller,  left a foul mouthed threatening message to Jim on his voice mail, Jim was reported in the press as saying "I really don't give a rat's about the Labor Party; I care about the people of Liverpool".  A fine sentiment indeed.  At the meeting Jim reminded everyone of his role in the No Airport at Holsworthy campaign in 1997, which in reality was a cause won by the smart people in the campaign team who thankfully did not need leading. Jim was exposed as a stooge independent candidate in the 90's when he had to get permission from the local Labor organiser as to where to place his preferences. It appears he may be under orders again to get kicked out of the Labor Party for being too independent, and run again as a stooge Independent in 2011 at the State election to help Alison Megarrity. Outside of this I can see no rationality in Jim's behaviour.

So good people of East Liverpool be aware of who is doing and saying what - including me of course. However for over 30 years I have had not the charge of "what is in it for you" thrown at me. It is all about being fair dinkum.

5:  Where to from here?

Get the facts. Analyse them. Consider your position. If thought winnable initiate the campaign.
The campaign may well be based on "what is in it for us?" and go about improving everything associated with the development.

I am strongly of the opinion that where there is a national benefit at a local cost then that cost be covered in multiples. In the scheme of things the short and long term efficiency benefits from the SSFL are such that the placement of A+++ grade sound barriers are fully justifiable and in fact a just outcome. It needs to be fought for and I am happy to assist.

Cheers to all

Disclaimer: My comments / opinions and comments are based on facts as I know them and where I have the evidence or where they are on the public record. I never set out to defame anyone. However if you feel aggrieved then contact me on and I will remove the offending comment / opinion until I re-check the facts.    

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