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5350Re: Australian Socialist Alliance lurches dramatically to the Right

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  • ozleft
    Mar 23, 2004
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      The Sydney Morning Herald article posted by Luke Fomiati sums up the
      situation in the NSW local government elections quite accurately, as
      far as it goes.

      Labor is on the nose in local government because, as the state
      government, it has failed to follow through its urban consolidation
      policies with:

      1. transport and other infrastructure to support the very large
      developments that have resulted from its policies.

      2. stringent building codes, and strict enforcement, to ensure that
      large developments are not simply future slums.

      3. reform of the Land and Environment Court, which gives every
      appearance of being dominated by real estate interests, and routinely
      overturns local (including local council) opposition to inappropriate
      local development.

      As a result of this, residents all over Sydney, and particularly in
      the inner areas, are facing large, poor-quality developments with
      inadequate infrastructure, the main immediate consequences of which
      are more cars on already near-gridlocked roads, and major problems
      with overshadowing, poor design and general overdevelopment. This is
      leading to support for independent candidates in local government,
      and a strong anti-party sentiment in many councils.

      My experience campaigning for the Greens is that even we are being
      caught in the backlash against any parties in local government. There
      is no doubt that Labor is extremely unpopular and surrounded by
      suspicions that it benefits from large developers' slush funds. The
      research produced by Lee Rhianon's office adds to these suspicions,
      although everyone has to be careful of the legal implications of
      explicit corruption allegations.

      Even so, Labor's residual support and skill at manipulating
      preferences, particularly through key figures in ethnic communities,
      will ensure it of strong continuing representation in most councils.

      There is no doubt that urban consolidation is a sensible policy for
      the Sydney basin. Fringe sprawl cannot continue indefinitely, if only
      because the physical limits of the Sydney basin are being reached.
      Further development along the Hawkesbury watershed adds to the
      environmental disaster that has already overtaken that river. Anyone
      accidentally cutting themselves in the lower Hawkesbury, or
      swallowing the water, risks a life-threatening illness.

      Now, because of the near-collapse of its urban consolidation
      policies, the Carr government has been forced to swing back to the
      sprawl option, with an announcement in the last few days of another
      city the size of Canberra in the Sydney basin, with no plan for
      transport or other infrastructure.

      The Carr Government's urban consolidation policies are failing
      largely because they have resulted in construction of an over-supply
      of substandard, excessively expensive flats in the inner-city.

      Clover Moore picks up on some of these questions with sensible
      observations based on studying progressive urban development
      internationally, and as a result is quite popular despite her
      reactionary record in supporting the Greiner government.

      It's also clear that Moore picked up the support of most of the right-
      wing, anti-Labor forces, particularly in the media, once the forced
      amalgamation of Sydney and South Sydney councils made a Labor victory
      all but certain in the merged council. It would be interesting to
      know what was said between Moore and the Liberal Party after it
      became clear Kathryn Greiner couldn't win.

      There's little doubt that Moore will be indebted to some very
      unsavoury forces if she wins, which no doubt accounts for her
      evasiveness on specific policy in the election campaign.

      On the other hand, she has done a preference swap with the Greens,
      who are strongly opposed to overdevelopment, so she will have a
      difficult balancing act. In this context, the Greens' preference swap
      is a useful source of pressure.

      My experience is that the Greens often have nowhere to go with
      preferences in local government. Labor won't exchange in most cases
      because they exchange with their own, often ethnic, dummy candidates,
      the Liberals are out of the question, and many genuine independents
      won't preference any party.

      In other cases, exchanging with Labor is out of the question for the
      Greens, because of Labor's pro-development policies. This is
      certainly the case in the St George area, where Labor is the main
      force pushing the massive Cooks Cove development on the
      environmentally important Cooks River-Botany Bay remnant wetlands.

      This post probably won't please Ben Reid (who in any case appears not
      to be interested in serious discussion, but is merely baiting) or Bob
      Gould, who I think makes some strong arguments against preferencing
      Moore, which is a useful contribution.

      One final observation to Ben Reid: don't get too excited about
      disagreements between myself and Bob. We disagree often, but our
      collaboration on the Ozleft project will continue.

      Ed Lewis
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