Friday, March 10, 2006

Rally to Save Sydney's Working Harbour

Save Sydney Harbour will be officially launched on Saturday 11th March 2006

A public rally will be held at Observatory Hill starting at 11am.

Speakers will include Tom Uren, Robert Coombs and Phil Jenkyn.

Make sure your voice is heard on this important day of action.

"We want to support a working harbour in Sydney. It's a part of life of Sydney. The plans the government have put forward simply don't add up."- John Brogden

Sydney Town Hall Forum Wednesday 24 August 2005 - John Brogden

"We want to support a working harbour in Sydney. It's a part of life of Sydney. The plans the government have put forward simply don't add up."- John Brogden
Thank you Judge, Councillors, to my fellow panelists, Comrade Coombes, to those who've taken time out of your evening to be here. Firstly may I apologise for being late - I got caught up in Sydney's traffic on the way down.

I guess the proposition I start from is that there's not a person alive who can remember Sydney as anything other than a working harbour. This is not a proposition that we have to restore Sydney to what it was ten, twenty, thirty, forty, fifty years ago. In fact if anything the capacities of Sydney to be a working harbour have diminished in recent times. On a personal note, as somebody who was born in Balmain and lived there till I was five, whose grandmother has lived in Balmain all her life, and spent a couple of my teenage years living in Balmain, the sounds of the Harbour, the sounds of the working harbour, are part of the life of Sydney. So, in one sense this is not seeking to eliminate an intrusive, disruptive new development - this is a case of keeping in place part of the character of Sydney.

This was a decision made by the former Premier, therefore with a change of leadership in the government the new Labor leader actually has an opportunity to reverse the decision that has no personal embarrassment to him. I don't wish to make a political point or political tack in this, it's actually an opportunity, and I'm sure Clover would agree, for the current Premier to make a statement that he disagrees with the previous Premier on this issue. It's actually an opportunity, ladies and gentlemen, for the working harbour policies of the year 2000 to be restored and maintained into the future. I'd encourage Maurice Iemma to do exactly that. I'd encourage him to say "this was a decision of my predecessor with which I strongly disagree" and restore the policy to its original position. That opportunity exists and it's an easy thing for him to do. He won't in fact be criticized - he'll be praised.

In terms of the position that I take to this, I from the initial announcement of the policy by Bob Carr was unable to make sense of why this actually needed to happen. So the first question is "What is the motivation. Why reduce the capacity of the working harbour?" If it is nothing other than to send more opportunity, more business, more development, more jobs north and south of Sydney in to the other ports then in that sense I think it is short-sighted. If, as Clover says, this is a policy of sending over 100,000 vehicles to Wollongong, only to have half of them come back to Sydney on a road structure that is completely unable to cope with that, and on a rail line equally unable to cope, then that will not benefit the people of the Illawarra. In fact it will be a curse for them in terms of the lack of infrastructure investment. If it's a policy about changing the character of Sydney Harbour for the better, then he ought to scrap it because I don't see the benefit. The character of Sydney Harbour is a character that is appropriate, that is long-standing and that is universally welcomed and received. If it's a policy about turning over the foreshores for housing, and for private ownership and private development, well I can only but echo the comments of Tom Uren - why do we have to go through this fight all over again and why should we be turning the foreshores of Sydney, more of the foreshores, over to unprecedented private development? Yes, we'll get the sweet at the end of the meal that will return walkway or some parkland to the fringes of Sydney but it will change the character of Sydney and reduce the public open space and in my view reduce the quality of life for the Sydney we see here today.

We want to support a working harbour in Sydney. It's a part of life of Sydney. The plans the government have put forward simply don't add up. If this is about the government pleasing significant development interests, and I think that's very short-sighted as well, I'd have to say now with a change of status in the government I don't know if it will be the former Lord Mayor, the Minister for Planning Frank Sartor responsible, whether it will be Michael Costa or whether it will be Maurice Iemma himself. It's not clear yet and Clover I don't know whether you've got a clear view on who is now responsible for this process, this programme (Clover: I think it's Frank Sartor). Right - that will be an enjoyable meeting of you and him- we should sell tickets to raise money - I'd prefer to be on your side!

If it's Frank Sartor, then that's disappointing because it will be regarded as a political fight and a "get square" rather than planning for the future of Sydney. Our position is that it will damage the shipping industry, it will damage employment opportunities; if there is a capacity to expand port facilities, particularly in Wollongong and Port Kembla, then they should be for the overflow from Sydney. On the advice I've received, some eighty percent of the cargo that comes in to Sydney goes no further than 40 km from Sydney Harbour. Why make it go 120 km? Why actually add to the problems and Sydney's traffic problems, and Greater Sydney's traffic problems even further?
So our commitment is to work with you for a working harbour, happy to look at opportunities for the overflow and for the growth of exports and imports in to Sydney and Port Kembla. I don't think anyone here is asking for an expansion of Sydney as a working harbour but for a sensible maintenance of Sydney as a working harbour.

As somebody who was born in the inner city, grew up in the parts of the inner city and who's family is closely associated with the working shores of Balmain, as far as I'm concerned the city we have is the city we love; it's a city we can live in because we want to be here, and I do encourage in a genuine sense Maurice Iemma to take the opportunity that is now afforded to him by the fact that he is now the new Premier and that the old Premier made the decision, to reverse this and to maintain the policies of the working harbour.

I congratulate the Trust and the organizers for bringing this together. I think it is an important public meeting and I indicate very clearly that I am pleased to work on a continuing basis with the Coalition and with the Trust and the Sydney City Council and with other parties to ensure that we can have a fighting coalition if you like on this issue.


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