Hello Cruel World
Thursday, August 12, 2004
Sally Loane (ABC) on Fish Markets redevelopment plans
You seemed a bit doubtful about the doubts of Andrew from The Glebe Society's about the Master Plan for the Fish Markets.
Perhaps you also see the markets as mainly a tourist attraction rather than a living local amenity. If you've travelled, it's the difference between walking around Melbourne's 'authentic' Victoria Markets and finding yourself in the food court of the new Bondi Junction shopping centre. Yes, they each have their place, but your basic shopping centre can be anywhere, while the Fish Markets grew out of Sydney Harbour. Yes, we'd like to see improvements, but experience has shown such plans are not particularly likely to connect to or benefit the surrounding districts.
If you talk to people who've been local for more than a few years, nearly everyone who isn't just another property speculator, but who hopes to live in the place happily long-term, is deeply suspicious and frequently quite scarred by the last seventeen years of struggle to get a decent, high-quality, livable community as a side-effect of this most recent rush to extract as much money as possible out of Ultimo-Pyrmont. Check with Shirley Fitzgerald, the historian.
Alas, it's getting more & more difficult to actually consult with & contact the community, or for the community to discuss things with itself. Both the Pyrmont & Ultimo Precinct Committees have now been shut down, and the replacement information sessions and quarterly public meetings were abandoned by the new, enlarged council for a single annual meeting.
Some are hoping, perhaps forlornly, that once the rejigged council has got itself together, they will look at how other large councils organize information, feedback, consultation & representation through precinct committees or other community bodies.
There are, luckily, some people able to try and continue privately with community action groups, but I worry that they will either be easily ignored, as they may not have official recognition, or be private pressure groups for particular interests, like the business representative/chamber of commerce style of body, rather than being accountable, public, & for the general good.
This is not just a problem in Ultimo-Pyrmont, but possibly a problem of local representation in Australian society overall. It may contribute to the whole cynicism & disillusion with politics at all levels by average citizens who find themselves unable to get their concerns recognized, except the portions that correspond to, or can be twisted to fit into, the agenda of some group of influence.
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