Why Sydney Is Becoming The Most Boring City In The World
I want my city back.
With apologies for using the Brexiteer vernacular, it’s time for Sydneysiders to take back control.
Unlike well-documented lies of the British Vote Leave campaigners, this desire is based on facts. It’s rooted in the wellbeing and wishes of the majority of everyday residents -- not the tiny minority controlling things at the top in NSW.
We want our city back.
News broke this week of a campaign to ban “noisy boats” from Sydney Harbour. Residential group ‘Friends of Sydney Harbour’ will meet with officials from the Roads and Maritime Services and local politicians on Friday, to discuss "unbearable" noise levels they say have worsened since 2014’s lockout laws.
The Keep Sydney Open party reacted best: "A bunch of cashed-up wealthy residents living on the foreshore are trying to stop five million people from enjoying the harbour."
Lavender Bay resident Jerry told media, of his noise complaint calls: "The times I have rang, I think the fish would have been running out of the bay, it’s like a full-on rock concert.”
Interesting analogy. At the time of writing, the Darling River has transformed into a fish graveyard, with fish literally running out of the water, and accusations of NSW government incompetence causing it. But no millionaires or plush corporate developers were injured there -- just millions of fish -- so it’s business as usual. Listen to Jerry. The fish can’t even speak.
Spare a thought for poor Jerry, who complains that after 11pm, some boats “have music on so loud that it makes you turn up the TV.” His terribly abused volume control button has faded from green to grey! Berejiklian must act!
So it’s stop the boats again. Stop the boats! It’s always been a popular three-word slogan for the Right. It rewards the powerful with sanctuaries and millions, who’ll do anything to protect their snowflaked pampered comfort, and ignores the powerless who have little or no sway.
When daddy went to school with a cabinet minister who can have a quiet word in the ear of the Premier, you’re stonewalled. You’ve got no chance.
I want my city back.
I want it back from people like Wollstonecraft resident Ted, who lives in a heritage-listed home next door to a proposed daycare centre.
Ted opposed its construction because “the open air playground looks basically back onto my veranda which I use a lot” and “the noise of 154 children plus 25 staff shouting at them will be totally obnoxious.”
The daycare centre wasn’t built.
Last year, in Newtown’s Camperdown Park on a balmy night, a group of concerned citizens held a ‘civil disobedience’ picnic, encouraging locals to come out and enjoy a glass of fizz.
“Imagine a law that made it illegal to have a drink in your local park,” the group posted on Facebook.
“Now, imagine this law was disproportionately used to target young people, Indigenous people, and the homeless.
"Now, imagine that, despite knowing this, local governments continued to zone off more and more public spaces under this law -- limiting the places where those who can’t afford expensive city bars, or just don’t like them, can have a drink without fear of harassment.”
As recently as two weeks ago, a group of like-minded friends were having a quiet drink in the same park, when predictably, the police descended and, at a loss for anything better to do, demanded everyone put away their alcohol or else leave.
What could’ve been the gentle hedonistic laissez-faire of San Francisco’s Dolores Park just became another depressing example of Sydney’s police state.
I want my city back.
Meanwhile over in Melbourne, Daniel Andrews looks on and -- understandably -- openly goads Sydney for its lockout laws, as he presides over a genuinely 24-hour city.
There are times, perhaps, my city was never truly mine. My friend and I got nostalgic recently, looking at this picture. Those halcyon days: just five years ago. It's me on his shoulders at the now-defunct Harbour Party with all the revellers below and the city in the background.
Today, this could never happen. The party got closed down, the lock out laws decimated the nighttime economy and you can bet your life, a copper in the over-policed state would be sent urgently to ask me to descend from my friend's shoulders due to “operational health and safety.”
But perhaps there was a point to its closure: a festival right on the harbour is a huge noise generator. Then consider the facts: this was a daytime party that finished by 9pm, it was once a year, and it was for the embattled LGBTQI community to let their hair down. All gone now, perhaps a libertine parenthesis in history, one whose conservative pendulum is coming back for us.
Compare that to this picture which got shared widely from the weekend. It’s a DJ showing what his dancefloor at a festival looks like:
I want my Harbour Party one-day calendar highlight back. I want a vivacious Oxford Street back, the weekend sanctuary for LGBTQI people after a week in a heteronormative world.
I want my city back.
Unless we wake up and realise the current NSW government is ruled by the minority interests of the super wealthy, juggernaut corporates and a handful of overly influential shock jocks, we'll never get our city back.
It's ironic that the LNP party of minimal intervention now exerts maximum control over our lives after dark. It’s ironic the pro-business LNP party is obliterating Sydney’s night-time economy. Over-regulation has made the city nanny-state central. But don’t think NSW Labor are any better either; they, too, oppose relaxing the lockout laws.
I want back my brash, rambunctious, cheeky city of Brett Whitely and party queen Trishy Dishy and sense-speaking Cate Faehrmann, not Alan Jones, Police Minister Troy Grant and chief of the just say no brigade, Deputy Premier John Barilaro.
I want police to be watching and hunting down people who commit serious crimes like sexual assault, not the peaceful sign-holding Danny Lim. The city of Pauline Pantsdown and DJ Dan Murphy and street artist Scott Marsh is one of diversity, entrepreneurship, creativity and colour, juxtaposing with the monochrome wilderness and enforced repression from those like Fred Nile, Gladys Berejiklian, Ted from Wollstonecraft, and Jerry from Lavender Bay, or the 'Mildreds' of the world, who refuse to believe in climate change because they still need to wear a jumper in the cinema.
Jerry wants to stop the noisy boats. Ted wants to be spared from the obnoxious sounds of children.
But all I want is my city back.