Freshly sworn in NSW Premier Nathan Rees MP back on 5th September 2008, recognising people are annoyed and frustrated with the State Government and proclaiming to have a 'red hot go' at fixing NSW. Rees says he recognises people are annoyed and frustrated with the State Government. (SOURCE: ABC 5-Sep-08, Photo: AAP, Sergio Dionisio)
Why do we tolerate it?
Why do politicians, as soon as they taste power, think they have rights akin to the kings of old, to splurge on personal fettishes and pet hobbies using taxpayers' money and abuse the rights of local citizens?
Take Nathan Rees, who came to power as New South Wales Premier by default on Friday 5th September 2008. Less than four weeks later on Monday 29th September 2008, Rees' personal passion for V8 racing saw him personally approve the unprecedented introduction of V8 Supercar racing at Sydney Olympic Park (Homebush) for five years despite strong local community opposition. Hardly a decision to address the people's annoyance and frustration with the NSW Government.
Accompanied by a howl of boos from a small group of protesters, Rees overruled Homebush locals concerns about the required removal of 700 trees, significant noise and air pollution impacts, contamination of parklands waterways & habitat (including Green & Golden Bell Frog habitat) from fuel & oil spills, disturbance to native fauna from noise impacts & crowd movements and the unfair impost on local urban amenity & public open space. Our naive Nathan has been sold on hollow promises of "attracting 15,000 visitors and attracting $100 million to a desperate NSW economy. So desperate and naiive Nathan has grabbed the hype to get quick political wins. It is these 'quick political wins' that have shaped his tenure and that will shape his legacy. Long term State investment, that is investment beyond the next election cycle is not a mandate the NSW Labor Party has granted him.
The motor racing event is being promoted by Events NSW (an arm of the Rees NSW Government) and is set to be an annual event every December. The main sponsor is Telstra, which at the same time hypocritically declares on its corporate website that its "concern for the community and resolve to address environmental issues will only serve to improve Telstra's future."
Then we see another motor racing event for NSW, the Repco Rally, relocated from where is has been staged for two decades outside Perth to the NSW in the Tweed and Kyogle shires in September. It is set to be staged every two years at least until 2017. Of course Rees has given it his red hot support and again his Events NSW is plugging it hard.
Again, NSW taxpayers are paying up to $8 million to the rally organizers and the Tweed Shire Council has promised to fund the rally organisers an extra $120,000 every two years out of local rates revenue. This funding comes at a time when the Rees government says it can't afford to provide adequate local policing or health services to the people of the Tweed Shire.
Layla Gain-Hill with residents of Barkers Vale and Wadevale who are concerned the Repco Rally with endanger Hanging Rock Creek. Photo courtesy of Mel McMillan and Northern Star newspaper 21st January 2009.
Many locals at both events have strongly and unanimously voiced their objections to these events respectively, but 'king' Rees likes his car racing and has proclaimed it's all going ahead. It's not too dissimilar to the English aristocracy of old pursuing fox hunts through farmers properties, thumbing their noses at the locals. Auburn, Parramatta and Ryde Councils all unanimously passed resolutions opposing the proposed V8 Supercar race at Homebush.
Both races will mean senseless environmental vandalism and are a blatant denial of local communities of their Common Law rights to quiet enjoyment and amenity. If the history of both races is any guide, Rees' red hot go at promoting his car racing fetish is set to cost NSW more than the exaggerated hype of making money for NSW.
At a time when peak oil has been and gone and the motor car industry is in decline, Rees' petrol head fetish can only be a selfish desire and an abuse of privilege and power to doggedly pursue an unsustainable 20th century motor racing culture. This is set to be Rees' legacy of his red hot term in power.
Rees fetish for V8s should be tempered. The V8 race could more suitably staged at the existing dedicated motor racing circuit just down the road at Eastern Creek. Rees' fetish for rally driving could be fed by him flying over to Perth where it used to be staged.