The linked set of three websites, many published op-eds and Letters, an increasing number of published letters, and Facebook page are the public expressions of a major “Save Sydney” campaign, which has three main objectives:
There is an over-riding politico-economic website, sydneyimprovementpolitics.com, which covers the inadequacies and dishonesty of governments, lobbies and media.
Scumbaggery is a traditional term, meaning the use of tricks, camouflage and lies to disguise highly exploitative, sleazy motives and conduct.
A strong Fourth Estate is vital to democracy but is sagging in reality.
There are two specialised empirical and analytical websites which are the referencing bedrocks for a better understanding of the cesspits created by both sides of politics since Abbott, federally, and Wran then Greiner in NSW:
Correcting misleading historical interpretations is truly important as will be seen in metro Vs Bradfield passenger capacities (and misusing Bradfield's name), tram issues, participative engagement in planning, and governance matters, and on it goes. There are a lot of examples on the three websites. (Misusing Bradfield's Name is a recent addition.)
First, the contents of Scumbags Politics, with annotations. This is being supplemented off-line with the Bastards ratings and with Masquerade quotations.
The sections change with new pages and so this a guide:
There is much talk in Australia of “nation building” projects that will “transform” cities and regions, with massive amounts of capital being expended on such signature projects as the Sydney Metro and Second Harbour Crossing, the Inland Rail “bridge”, three light rail or tram projects in NSW, and the demolition and replacement of the Sydney Football Stadium.
The names that are most bandied about are Bradfield, Menzies and his Sir John Overall and William Hudson, and the Cumberland County Council. Bob Menzies, Ben Chifley and John Howard are the political touchstones. (Hudson's grandson, Angus Taylor, has a remarkable skill for dissembling.)
Their work (even if commentators misunderstood the details of history) saw the Sydney Harbour Bridge remove smoky ferries from the Harbour, the Bradfield rail system remove families from slums and put them in “healthy suburbs”, and the Snowy and great water supply dams deliver real services.
The far-sighted CCC is said to have reserved corridors for tollways.
The difference between “then” and “now” is that breakdowns in planning integrity, professional administration, community engagement and constructive funding have produced a planning culture that reverses “nation building”. Malcolm Turnbull is the focus of consternation rather than praise.
Where “congestion busting” is the promise, the effect is to increase congestion; where exciting new funding mechanisms are announced, it turns out they produce massive waste; and where trade and “jobs jobs jobs” is the desired outcome, all three of NSW’s ports face a sad future and disconnection from Inland Rail.
Canberra might get a speedy train but it won’t be a commuter service and it won’t help to build a stronger economy. Where the Nationals are the bedrock of the Coalition, the “bush” keeps losing to “the city”.
Rebuilding community confidence is seen to be the greatest challenge, but the results are increasing cynicism and political instability.
While the transition from PM Turnbull to PM Morrison in late 2018 produced talk of removing Turnbull’s barnacles”, it created few ripples on the ponds of cronyism in Labor or Liberal NSW, and in the Labor ACT.
John Howard’s poll-winning “For all of us” took office off Paul Keating in 1996. It reflected his argument that the Keating government had lost touch with the electorate, and was providing government for insiders, by insiders.
He was determined to govern directly, rather than through agencies long compromised by Labor appointments and influence, and voluntary bodies intrinsically hostile to Howard’s world view, subsidised and kept in line by federal cash. Both Turnbull and NSW Premiers Mike Baird and Gladys Berejiklian repeated the “for all” mantras, with Turnbull’s aphorisms including “there is no place for ideology at all”.
Privilege and influence continued regardless, being parlayed through lobbies, Party fund-raising and mates’ circles, and factional allies and enemies. There were oscillations within predictable bounds over the next decades, until 2015 and the ascension of the boardroom ideologue, Malcolm Turnbull (in partnership on all issues, he said, with his wife Lucy).
Monumental tussles had been waged between the energy-conservative streams of the Coalition led by Tony Abbott, and the “doctors’ wives” streams of Turnbull’s urban and neo-gen adherents. Turnbull made his second tilt at Abbott and the Coalition disintegrated.
The ideological side was partly seen where Turnbull shared the NSW Coalition’s obsession with shiny urban toys such as the HK-cum-Melbourne metro trains, replacing the Bradfield legacy double-decked trains; and light rail or trams, replacing buses (which largely ran along previous tram routes).
In so doing he was acting deliberately against professional advices, including by the Liberals’ former top Premier, Nick Greiner, who was briefly chairman of the supposed reform body, Infrastructure NSW, before the State Government’s muse, Gladys Berejiklian, forced him out (over the shiny toys).
The NSW Treasury was reduced in responsibility and scope in 2011-12, ironically when, first, it then became headed by the current CEO of Treasurer Josh Frydenberg’s national Treasury; second, Berejiklian broke core election promises; and third, NSW stopped the COAG-led “city plan” protocols.
Both Parties buried these factors even though they grew “like Topsy” into city-killing parasites. That came from a lack of understanding as well as influences by shared lobbies. There remain no “plans” in housing, congestion, metro trains and trams, tollways, airports, regional development and freight and ports. Hence the reversal of nation building.
There were many advices to NSW Members of the Legislative and Lower House chambers, this one as an example from July 2017. Each one of the recipients might well be asked why they NEVER replied:
Date: 19 July 2017 at 3:09:33 pm AEST
To: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, Monaro@parliament.nsw.gov.au, email@example.com, HonTrevor Khan <firstname.lastname@example.org>, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, ElectorateOffice Cootamundra <ElectorateOffice.Cootamundra@parliament.nsw.gov.au>, email@example.com, Cootamundra@parliament.nsw.gov.au, firstname.lastname@example.org, ElectorateOffice Wakehurst <ElectorateOffice.Wakehurst@parliament.nsw.gov.au>, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, Stephen Bromhead <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Troy Grant MP <email@example.com>, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, Andrew Johnston <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Peter Phelps <email@example.com>, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, Manly@parliament.nsw.gov.au, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, Robert Brown <firstname.lastname@example.org>, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, David Elliott MP <firstname.lastname@example.org>, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, Kevin Anderson <email@example.com>, catherine cusack <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Bronnie Taylor <email@example.com>, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Subject: Implementing Greiner and reversing Labor’s Stench (BOF) - #1 Bankstown #2 West Metros +++
Dear Hon Member
The Sydney Press is full of reports on the escalating costs of the West Harbour-to-Balgowlah road tunnel, the West Metro, WestConnex, and tramways in the East and West. All of these serve existing urban populations which enjoy subsidised service levels exceeding regional populations’.
None of those projects has been through feasibility and business case testing in accordance with iA and iNSW standards – you can assume I have produced the analyses that back up that conclusion. In particular, options testing between substantive options to ideological best-guesses has not been done at all.
In the Metro case, so many mistakes were made and unnecessary costs imposed through the demolition of over 50 major buildings to build underground stations next to existing stations, the reconstruction of suburban stations and tracks to allow herding structures on quiet platforms – because the wrong vehicles were chosen, and closing of lines for up to 12 months for the same reason – contrary to Christie and Greiner recommendations – that the lack of proper planning and assessment has
“undercut public confidence in governments’ ability to make the best investment decisions. This makes it harder to build community support for future investments and complex reforms that will be required to meet Australia’s infrastructure needs. The consequences of oversights can be substantial because investment in public infrastructure is so significant” (iA).
The attached documents might give you pause to think about the differences, if any, between Labor’s “planning stench” and the “CBD Metro fiasco”, and where the Berejiklian Government is taking NSW now.
Labor did enough damage to investors’ confidence, and now that superannuants’ money is more on the line, I have to ask if you think the Bankstown Metro is a wise investment? There is consultation underway over housing targets but I truly doubt the scheme will work.
The regional allocation from Restart is 2/3 underspent. The VFT to Canberra cannot be funded; while the lack of rail planning around Western Sydney’s logistics, employment and demographic needs sits where it always has, in the never-never. The Pacific Highway upgrade covers more than the Hunter section.
I keep coming back to three Mark Coultan quotes from 2009:
“NSW... is an effective one-party democracy. All things being equal, Labor almost always wins NSW elections. The Liberals are there to share the spoils of parliamentary office, occasionally threatening ... Unless, that is, Labor so comprehensively stuffs things up that the electorate decides it must be punished.... Both times the characteristic of the failing government was a perception that it was blowing the state's fortunes on the centre of the city, to the disadvantage of the majority.”
“... it is not so much the project itself but the priority it has been given that represents the misallocation of resources”.
“The politics of the Rozelle metro must have the hard heads at the ALP head office - if there are any left - scratching their heads. By the next election the only thing the Government will have to show for its efforts will be resumed properties, lucrative construction deals, and the prospect of years of construction noise for local residents”.
I declare the interest that I have been seeking fair treatment from Baird and Berejiklian since 2008. The letter of 23 January attests to the grounds. I am deeply committed to the achievement of the best possible future for NSW and am facing obfuscation and what seems to be hubristic unfairness. The Premier and her staff raised no objection when I advised I would be taking this step.
The formal position was conveyed to the Government, which was totally divorced from reality:
From: Robert Gibbons <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 8 November 2017 at 8:17:17 pm AEDT
Subject: My submission on Bankstown Metro
Seeing Gladys has me hanging around, I might as well make myself useful:
I object to the proposal because: 1) the business case is invalid with 110 redactions in the summary and an apparent public BSR approaching 0 (zero) - socialising the costs and privatising the profits 2) Christie and Greiner regarded the Bankstown line as least needy of augmentation and money should be spent on centres support 3) the proposal was a cascaded consequence of an incompetent and possible corrupt decision in July 2012 4) options have not been considered such as running tram/trains and metro units which do not require special trackworks or platform straightening, and extending services from NW via Strathfield to KSA and CBD without a 2nd Crossing 5) insufficient pre-planning was done re Illawarra line and straightening - cost uncertain and causes social and political loss of confidence
The bureaucrats were the same. This was to Turnbull's very special friend in PMO. The legendary head of the Federal Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development, Mike Mydak, was bold enough to tell the Public Administration profession that "if you want to kill a good proposal, send it to PMO" (https://www.canberratimes.com.au/story/6028954/infrastructure-boss-mike-mrdak-lashes-prime-minister-and-cabinet-and-prime-ministers-offices/).
Turnbull removed him, no coincidence there! and inflicted Kennedy on the agency. For a long time, both sat on the board of Infrastructure Partnerships Australia! - how happy they must have been together, in a role that neither should have agreed to take up, in my opinion:
From: Robert Gibbons <email@example.com>
Date: 3 March 2018 at 5:40:51 pm AEDT
To: "steven.Kennedy@infrastructure.gov.au" <steven.Kennedy@infrastructure.gov.au>
Subject: Damn tricky question, what!
I’m about to publish my demolition of the WS City Deal.
Jake Saulwick mentioned you in the Herald, more than once, and I’m also bringing in my correspondence with MT, AT, Mrdak and you.
I have every intention to stop it as well as the Bankstown and West Metros and Peninsula tunnel.
That so obvious if you read any of my correspondence. You and others’ non-decisions hurt me and Sydney so bugger the collaterals.
This is a matter of courtesy - you were able to intervene and didn’t
NB The same lethargy in NSW applies to Federal Parliamentarians. The file that was circulated at the time is here, "Red Flagging: being the same title I used when Labor was running amok, similarly, in 2009: