By Jerome Irwin
This Canadian writer has been married to a lovely ‘Sydney Girl’ now for some forty years and, lo, though having mostly lived those years with her abroad in Canada and the United States, has nevertheless endeavoured to return to his common-law relationship with Sydney’s Shores if not every year than at least often enough to feel as if Sydney has become his much beloved second ‘wife’ and ‘home’.
In that time, he has come to know her as intimately as his other much beloved ‘lovers’ and ‘hometowns’; of Vancouver and San Francisco. But the same disturbing things he has witnessed happening to all three of those beauties over the course of time is as unsettling as it is unnerving. For it’s the same ugly changes that continue to destroy, like they literally are destroying every other major cosmopolitan place on this earth of ours, all their many culturally-rich, distinctively-unique aspects that originally made them the gorgeous femme fatales they once were.
Fondly recalled in Sydney’s case are a cornucopia of fleeting images and memories of what she once was: ‘The Rocks’, when Sydneysiders and world travellers regularly gathered at noon each day for a ‘pint and a pie’, or met again in the pubs at night to heartily clink their schooners and reminisce over her early days gone by, while joining in a communal chant of some old sea shanty or gold-rush ditty that heralded Sydney and Australia’s early pioneering-bushranger days. This was before the more hard-edged corporate and commercial world carved up The Rocks into the ugly tourist trap that it is today. Then there were those mobile, push-cart ‘Milk Bars’ at Circular Quay that met the myriad tugs and ferries that came and went with a great puff and a huff, offering up to their tired, thirsty travellers deliciously-simple, light and refreshing ‘Aussie milk shakes’; before, of course, the Quay became the flash ‘cruise ship parking lot’ that it is today, that daily loads and unloads the hordes of wealthy passengers with bulging wallets who have less than a day to hopelessly try to touch the unique essence of what once made Sydney what she was. And then again there were all those endless wanders, when one could become pleasantly lost, like Alice in Wonderland, amongst Sydney’s magical warrens of underground arcades, full of the most unique momma-and-poppa shops that everywhere fanned out like a giant spider web from Wynyard to the Strand and Town Hall. That is before massive corporate entities like Westfield and other big box brand names ruthlessly pushed everyone else out. Ask any old-time Sydneysider and they could add untold hundreds more tales of their own beloved city’s essence that has since been lost. But it’s the same madness the world over.
The White European conspiratorial model of constant, unbridled growth and expansion, vigorously exported and aggressively promoted throughout the New World, is a form of sheer madness – mentally, culturally and spiritually – that knows no allegiance to any one country, people or way of life other than to constant growth and expansion for their own sake and the aggrandizement of but a few. It’s conspiratorial world view refuses to debate how much human societies are hopelessly growing out-of-control, and instead prefers to distract everyone’s attention on how to perpetually cope with the out-of-control growth; which, of course, no one ever can because it’s essentially a hopeless endeavour. It forever refuses to debate the inherent fatal flaw that exists within the ever-growing density of all the world’s major urban centres, and instead only asks the question, “How dense should each urban centre become before it spreads like cancer ever outward until it metastasizes into some massive, unhuman entity of unimaginable size, density and complexity.
From the moment of discovery of the New World by Europe’s early explorers, those discoveries have led to untold crises between every invading Western colonial power and their occupying settler hordes who were at once pitted against the opposing world views of whatever aboriginal culture and peoples with which they made contact. The many divisive clashes that ensued between their opposing word views continues to this day to fuel the debate over whether or not there is any possible way to ever reconcile their vast differences.
However, underlying the basic concept of finding some kind of Reconciliation between them isn’t just a matter of how to ensure that the original aboriginal, indigenous, First Nation native peoples finally receive the same: health benefits; educational services, or; equal employment opportunities as other non-indigenous peoples in the general society. These essentially are nothing more than assimilation issues. But what seldom is ever discussed within the context of Reconciliation is how to also meaningfully close the gap between their world views; which means something much more sweeping and imperative that, in truth, represents what actually must become the next critical stage in human development upon which will determine whether human societies, non-human societies and the earth itself can survive in harmony together.
Yet, in places in the New World like Sydney, Australia, where much attention and thought is currently being given to the question of Reconciliation, a just-released landmark report by Infrastructure Australia has outlined its own world view vision for the future and how the growth and expansion of its major cities should proceed forward. The three scenarios its master plan proposes for the growth of Sydney and New South Wales don’t even begin to remotely take into account how to reconcile its world vision for the future of Australian society with that of its aboriginal peoples and all those who adhere to the same values and principles that Connecting with Country implies. It’s always just more and more of the White European’s same old, tired model and world view of exponential growth.
Embodied within its master plan’s chief question, “How Dense Should Sydney Get?”, is the kiss of death to any notion of real Reconciliation ever happening. Over the next twenty-five years, Infrastructure Australia intends to balloon Sydney and its surrounding population of seven and a half million, creating, in the process, three massively-dense, high-rise cities comprised of: Sydney’s Central Business District (CBD); a greater outlying city of Parramatta, and; a brand new city formed around a forthcoming second major international ‘Badgerys Creek’ airport for Western Sydney (“Urban density set to soar as 2.4 m Sydneysiders arrive”, SMH, 28th Feb, 2018, Lisa Visentin)
The chief executive of Infrastructure Australia, Phillip Davies, has publically declared, “There is no doubt Sydney is experiencing growing pains, but this is not a reason to reject growth”. But by Davies own admission, “There goes the neighbourhood”, as the old saying goes, which now should include the tacked-on comment “Yet Again!” because Sydney, as all those who now know her and love her as she is, is virtually already toast. For those who want to remember her as she is, they’d better take a hard and fast look at her because when they next blink and open their eyes she will be gone; as faint and distant a memory as once were the aboriginal people who lived for millennia all along her shores. Davies and Infrastructure Australia are simply the embodiment of the same insane, invading White Europeans and their philosophy that came with the First Fleet who first sailed into Sydney’s inner harbour.
The madness seemingly has no end. In still other inner and outer Western Sydney suburbs, a massive West and North Connex development project already is opening up a major corridor that will link Sydney’s inner-west communities with its outer-west areas. Phalanxes of bulldozers and wrecking cranes ruthlessly plough through Sydney’s historic communities, destroying untold architectural and human heritage all along the way, in preparation for the creation, many kilometres away, of a major new conceived city and second international airport; that will operate 24 hours a day without a normal noise curfew for the sake of the surrounding communities to handle the hordes for which those like Phillip Davies and Infrastructure Australia are eagerly planning.
But all this massive development in New South Wales could simply be likened to the one-time actions of the American Civil War’s General Sherman and his “March to the Sea” when he was directed by President Abraham Lincoln to destroy everything of the Confederacy – homes, crops, livestock, whole town and cities – in a 60 mile-wide ‘scorched earth’ swath from Atlanta, Georgia to the Atlantic Ocean. Lincoln’s intent was to break the will of the people to continue to resist just as Australia’s ‘corporate generals’ have the same intent to break the will of Australians to resist whatever stratospheric growth is being planned for them whether they like it or not.
There is no other way to describe the rapid changes Sydney and its surrounds are undergoing other than to refer to them as berserk. Local aboriginal and non-aboriginal people alike simply note, “White Fella’s madness now is going through the bloody roof! But what can you do?” As traditional Aussie values and traditions become further dissipated and displaced by the hard-edged corporate values of the ‘White Fella’, an exodus has begun as true-blue Aussie’s flee from Sydney and its surrounds to the hinterlands, in search of New South Wales original essence that is being lost’: so much for the kind of Reconciliation that the earth and humanity so desperately everywhere needs now.
But, in the end, the result is the same throughout the New World, whether it be Sydney, Australia, Vancouver, Canada, or San Francisco in the U.S.A.. No matter how much the people may protest whatever the crazed ‘White Fella’s’ development scheme, the same conspiratorial world view of things continues, unabated, to mine, gouge or strip to the hilt the earth’s resources and legacy of all its traditional peoples and their traditionally-minded allies.
Once again, it’s simply a matter, everywhere, of too many thick layers of antiquated local, municipal, state and federal agencies-bureau’s-department’s-ministries, and their dunderhead officials, who fiercely maintain their selfish control over whatever aspect of growth that happens to feed their own peculiar vision of how life should be. Add to all this the constant contaminating pressures of ever-increasing massive amounts of human corruption and greed that naturally come into play in the White Fella’s world, where so many avaricious hands are always stuck into the pot, and you have a deadly recipe for disaster to life and all living things.
The ever-voracious, insatiable hunger of each transplanted European government in the New World simply remains hell-bent on the same suicidal course, bound for the same nihilistic, catastrophic planetary future while taking all of us real human beings along with it, like so much flotsam and jetsam, kicking and screaming, all the way.