The proposed Intermodals at Moorebank – Another point of view. (July 2012)
I receive numerous emails and comments regarding Councils’ perceived lack of commitment in opposing the two proposed Intermodals at Moorebank. My answer has been that unless Councillors know exactly what is being proposed, there is little point in spending desperately needed funds on assumptions, which was the case before the final announcements by Federal MP Anthony Albanese!
However, now that Council has a much better idea of what is being proposed, it has formulated a report stating its concerns. Information is provided in the link below, which most concerned residents appear to be aware of. Link to Report.
Further link To Federal Government Intermodal project site: http://www.finance.gov.au/property/property/moorebank-intermodal-freight-terminal/photos.html
Personally I continue to oppose the Intermodals, both as a Councillor and ratepayer. I too have family members in the Moorebank and Wattle Grove areas that will be directly impacted by the Intermodals. I attended most demonstrations of support including the one at Parliament House in Sydney. My extended family also made several substantial contributions to the anti-intermodal campaign.
However, to be fair, it is not the only contentious issue facing Liverpool residents. As a Councillor I have an obligation to all 182,000 of its residents and ratepayers to ensure that rates are spent equitably, I hope to continue to do that.
Few residents appear to have considered the collective power they had in shaping the outcome of the proposed Intermodals. Most residents were well aware of the proposed Intermodals prior to State and Federal Elections, yet when the opportunity arose to have a significant impact on both the Federal Government and the State Government, few chose to use their powers effectively. I spoke at length opposing the Intermodals at the Casula Power House Arts Centre (CPAC) where both Federal and State MPs defended them.
I have stated on numerous occasions, while ever Liverpool and surrounding political areas remain safe Labor strongholds nothing will change. Had voters recognised that fact at the last election and voted accordingly, MP Albanese and his followers including the PM may have thought twice about dumping such a monstrosity on Liverpool. However, despite the looming Intermodals, the Federal seats of Werriwa and Fowler remain safe Labor strongholds. Neither MP has commented against the Intermodals, yet both have a major influence on Liverpool.
Neither do you see a significant change in the State seat of Liverpool, held by MP Paul Lynch and that of of Macquarie Fields held by Dr Andrew MacDonald. The only seat in the surrounding Liverpool area that changed was the State Seat of Menai now held by MP Melanie Gibbons. MP Craig Kelly holds the Federal seat of Hughes previously held by the Hon Danna Vale. (http://www.dannavale.com/)
I regularly implore residents to vote in such a manner to make the areas around Liverpool marginal/swinging and do so by example, but it seems to fall on deaf ears. Sadly those residents now face the consequences of their actions.
The solution to the Intermodals rest solely with Federal and State Ministers, until their safe seats become marginal/swinging, nothing will change irrespective of how much money Liverpool City Council or indeed any Council spends. Bear in mind the Federal Treasurer Wayne Swan allocated in excess of $70M while Liverpool City Council barely collects that amount from annual rates.
Also bear in mind that Liverpool City Council currently has an infrastructure and maintenance backlog in excess of $200M and rising. Some of those losses were presided over by a Deputy Mayor in 2000 when Council incurred huge financial losses due to the OASIS debacle and was subsequently dismissed in 2004, yet that same person was re-elected as Mayor in 2008, what hope do reasoning people have?
In my humble opinion the outstanding positive from the 2008 Council election is that a group of Independents (including Nadia Napoletano, Gary Lucas and myself) have a substantial influence on Council decisions. It no longer rests solely with Labor affiliated Councillors and the Mayor, including her double vote, otherwise Liverpool would be in much the same mess Council was in prior to March 2004. Thankfully the current Liberal Councillors have not sided with Labor as they did prior to 2004. That is the only reason any funding at all is being allocated to fighting the Intermodals! Bear in mind the ALP wants the Intermodals too, despite their claims to the contrary! Remember too that it was the Howard Liberal Government that suggested the Intermodals for the Moorebank area before the current Federal Labor Government!
The reality is that Liverpool City Council can only minimise the effects of the proposed Intermodals unless its legal team can find loopholes that the Federal Government proponents cannot ignore, and to their credit, based on the reports, Council is attempting to do that. But how many Councillor Candidates at the 8th of September 2012 Council Elections will truthfully state that fact?
The realities are that if the State Government cannot stop them and provided that they actually wanted to, how can we expect a Local Council with extremely limited financial resources to do that? Just what does Council NOT do to fund such a campaign?
It’s not all doom and gloom, Council has already committed substantial funds to fight such a case, hopefully that will have a major impact on any proposed Intermodal.
The key to improving Liverpool is to ensure that no one political party gains control of Liverpool Council as it has done for decades past. It is a fact that between 6 and 8 times more funding is allocated to marginal political seats than safe seats, irrespective of political party.
In answer to those that suggest Local Councils should not be “political”, is a somewhat naive concept. Councils have always been stepping stones for aspiring politicians and will continue to do so, particularly for those that intend to make it their career. Hence I suggest; elect those that are wise, with a proven track record, have the best interests of the community at heart, are experienced and have little to gain from political careers. Far too often Councillors use local Councils as a stepping stones to State and Federal Governments only to lose the common touch with the people that elected them. Liverpool is a good example of many past Councillors that have done exactly that.
Councillor Peter Harle, 8th July 2012
Two links to popular Anti Moorebank Intermodal Websites.