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Heritage & West Connex Meet Head-On in Sydney’s Suburbs

Andrew Taylor, a columnist with the Sydney Morning Herald, recently raised some pressing issues about out-of-control development in Sydney’s suburbs that should at once give everyone in the modern world cause to pause and reflect upon, because the problem of traffic gridlock and lack of parking could be said to be the flash point Achilles Heels of modern society’s constant implosion and ultimate self-destruction. (“Dire Sign for Sydney as Rose Bay is Full”, SMH, Tuesday, 8th Feb, 2018).

First World problems of endless development, expansion, population explosion and the constant myriad crises they’re causing in suburbs like Sydney’s Rose Bay are typical of what is going on in the New World in places like Australia. New Zealand, Canada and the United States where such issues, one could argue, first posed the same crises between invading Western colonial powers and their intrusive occupying settler hordes who were pitted against the original ways of life and inherent rights of ownership of whatever aboriginal cultures and their inhabitants. The many divisive controversies that continue to fuel the debate between them around the issue of Reconciliation and the historic clash between the world views of each country’s invading colonial-settlers and indigenous peoples in the New World are symptomatic of the next critical stage in human development if its species is to survive and flourish.

Rose Bay’s current crisis of: traffic congestion; parking; unaffordable housing and the original citizenry being priced-out of their own communities, call into question the Western World’s standards of a liveable, self-sustainable way of life; and how the descendant masses of the first colonists have ended up becoming as screwed, politically and economically, as the aboriginal inhabitants who came before them. The resolution between these diametrically different world views should have happened hundreds of years ago at the moment of first contact. It represented a golden opportunity for the human race, if it was up for the challenge, which it wasn’t, to bring about a golden renaissance in the human experience. It didn’t happen but it new absolutely must for the ultimate survival of the planet.

The bigger issues now facing the descendants of the original aboriginal and colonial inhabitants in-kind, in places like even Sydney’s much-feted inner harbour and surrounding areas, is where, if one is lucky enough to have the money, they can still find liveable locations with enough relative permanency to raise a family as well as maintain a stable, viable way of life. For The Moment!

Woollahra’s deputy mayor, Susan Wynne, sees, as one ultimate answer to future economic viability, the creation of more high-density car park developments as the means to establish a “good balance” between residents and quality commercial businesses while, at the same time, provide ample parking to accommodate the massive glut of traffic congestion, rising population and subsequent lack of adequate parking.

Deputy Mayor Wynne advocates hanging a sign on every entrance to Rose Bay that boldly declares not that “Rose Bay is Full”, but that “Rose Bay Welcomes All”. The problem is that Wynne’s philosophy sounds a lot like what the appointed representatives of every invading colonial power have repeatedly done to whatever new region it has invaded. That rankles those like Bruce Brand, vice-president of the Rose Bay Residents Association, who rightly contends this philosophy, in the long run, will only make matters worse and exacerbate Rose Bay’s traffic congestion and infrastructure woes which, in turn, will require suburbs like Rose Bay to pay for such developments by developing still further ever-higher, ever-denser, ever-pricier commercial and residential complexes: A vicious cycle with an ultimately- fatal cultural downhill spiral!

Here’s an alternative thought, though. Perhaps communities like Rose Bay, and its neighbouring communities of Bellevue Hill, Vaucluse-Watson Bay and Woollahra, could and should instead consider setting an example for still other surrounding communities in the greater Sydney area to follow suit by putting up signs in all the entranceways to their communities that instead defiantly declare: “We Are Full Now”…”No Vacancies”…”No Space Left”…”Go Somewhere Else To Populate”…”We Already Have Our Way of Life Planned & Meant To Perpetuate Well Into the Future”.

The basic problem, however, that such signage presents to the Ms. Wynne’s of the world from ever daring to post them is that they’re are never even remotely considered as options. City Planners, Developers and Politicians instead believe, as part of their academic conditioning, basic belief system and world view, that the only feasible answer ever possible is to passively accept the fact as a given that ever-greater, never-ending commercial development and ever-increasing economic expansion, that unchecked population explosion constantly creates, is simply one of those unpleasant constant realities in life. So the only answer is to passively accept the fact that the radical changes they forever demand of the populace will continue to drive forward, unwanted or not, every culture and society’s way of life in modern civilization. They hesitate to give much critical thought or credence to whatever it is that each society’s original way of life may have been from whence it first came, what it since has morphed into in the present or where it is going in the future: It’s life  perpetually lived in constant imbalance and free-fall.

But the Big Boys Love Things Just as They Are and Where They’re Going! Their bottom-line begins and ends with how to maximize, in the shortest possible time frame, their excessive profits and vast realty acquisitions. Constant, incessant development, whether in Rose Bay or wherever else in the world can only but eventually lead to horrendously-ruthless development projects like at nearby Barangaroo Point, West Connex and the like. The once calmer, peaceful, tranquil, liveable ways of life they unceremoniously supplanted, that all their former resident’s fathers, mothers, forefathers and foremothers once knew, only become short and sweet, ever-distant memories of the past, never to return again. AND SO IT GOES…

Today, throughout the world, the same three questions are being posed time and again, by naysayers and proponents alike. There are no rank outsiders in this debate. Everyone is in the same boat, as it were, which is the only Planet Earth Star ship we all have to continue to safely take us throughout the universe to whatever ultimate destination is intended.

The first question on the lips of so many – often raised but never answered on any meaningful political, economic, cultural, societal, religious or spiritual level – is how to deal with out-of-control development that is virtually destroying the fabric of every human culture  and society as its being over-run and overcome by unchecked population explosion. The character and historicity of neighbourhood streets and whole communities are being engulfed by radical tsunami changes while the populace blankly loos on like a bunch of kangaroos caught in the headlamps.

The second question being hotly debated is how does every political, governmental system come up with a practical, workable, acceptable formulaic ‘glass ceiling’ solution to cap what all is going on, that will enable every human environment and natural ecosystem to perpetually sustain its established way of life, like the Aboriginal peoples of Australia have done for millennia, without constantly stripping the earth of all its finite natural resources or polluting and poisoning all of the earth’s waters and lands?

The third question, and perhaps the most knotty of all is how does the human race finally, meaningfully, curb its own sever vices, chief among them being human greed, in all its forms, that perpetually is renting asunder and exacerbating the two previous questions?

All three questions are monumental ones that no single person, society, government or religion in the West or East has been able to address let alone solve. But, of course, it’s only the very continued survival of human and natural life, as it has been known for eons that’s at stake. Its solution will obviously take something greater than the sum total of the planet’s singular minds and societies to come up with the answer of a new planetary ethos.

Perhaps the simplest way to begin such a lofty undertaking is to compare it to the issue of Reconciliation and what it means to find some balance between the Western colonial-settler mind and much more ancient indigenous mind everywhere in the New World especially. This would be the best of all ways to truly close the gap between them. However some colonial-settler societies haven’t even evolved or progressed yet to the state where they’ve even been able or prepared to make an official apology for what all they’ve done to their aboriginal, indigenous people and their once sacred lands.

If Australia intends to lead the way for the world to follow in regard to its current national reconciliation project with its aboriginal peoples, it must progress far beyond what its current critics pathetically still decry as a mere “sap to the left and the Greenies”, or nothing more than an extension of the “Racial Wedge” argument.

Note: The author, Jerome Irwin, is a freelance writer and the one-time founding president of his own Lower Capilano Residents Association in North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada who doggedly continues to call attention to their own share of similar problems of excessive development traffic gridlock, loss of single family neighbourhoods and related environmental-spiritual issues and concerns between indigenous and non-indigenous peoples. His most recent penned article, entitled “Canada’s North Shore Traffic Congestion: A Cataclysmically-Frayed Survival Rope”, has since been picked up by international news agencies like Countercurrents.org.

 

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