5350Re: Australian Socialist Alliance lurches dramatically to the Right
- Mar 23, 2004The 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
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
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.
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