29 Nov. 2006

Sydney's self-destructive sprawl

Sydney is cancerous, metastasising ever onward. This is not to say that Sydney cannot grow in ways that preserve or even accentuate its advantageous position in the world – just that this is not happening, and that growth is of course serving the crassest commercial imperatives, as you would expect under capitalism.

Recently, we had a property magnate condemning the existence of trees in Sydney, which take up valuable space for construction. Well, try this on for size: 90% of Sydney's perishable vegetables are grown within the metropolitan area.

This accounts for many things. It accounts for the wide variety of ethnically-exotic produce available in Sydney, and the fact that vegetables are often cheapest in smaller stores in ethnically-diverse areas of town.

Sydney is built on top of some of the best arable land in the whole continent and its basin still contains a lot of good land - they with a significantly harsher climate (lower rainfall, more extreme temperatures) than the paved-over areas on the coast.

The maintenance of some areas in the Sydney basin for farming is part of what makes this city so desirable, but Sydney is also all about making a quick buck and damning the consequences.

21 Nov. 2006

Links to leftwrites

Two significant posts on Australian left group blog leftwrites yesterday:

1. the story of a man abducted off the street by police in Melbourne.

2. the story of the disgraceful and obscure preference deals being made in the Victorian state election.

1. is of course a very worrying story. One wonders how many people who were actually involved in the protests have been picked up in this way and what has happened to them. It is absurdly unnecessary to behave this way post-protest, but of course the cops are pissed off about the whole thing, so it's hardly surprising. Nevertheless, this kind of treatment is unjustifiable even given the premise of a need to persecute the protestors – it's summary punishment meted out by the police.

2. is somwhat less exciting, at least for me, but we need to break out of our NSW-centric perspective on this blog. Australia's preferential voting system ought to make it fairer, but the ability of parties to trade their votes with other parties badly undercuts this. Of course, the parties' contempt for their electors is not confined to the electoral process, and indicates a deeper malaise that really ought to see people refusing to vote for them at all.

18 Nov. 2006

Touchdown! Australia launches invasion of Tonga!

SMH article

Australia and New Zealand are jointly to invade the South Pacific nation, in support of their imperialist interests, and to prop up local feudalism in the face of violent pro-democracy demonstrations. So much for 'regime change'. No, wait – that only ever applied to regimes that didn't serve imperialism's interests.

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Haloscan commenting is now available at the bottom of each post.

When I started this blog, I used a newly-available commenting system called TheirSay. TheirSay has proved consistently unreliable. It is operated by a right-wing Canadian called Andrew Coyne as a pet project. I removed the TheirSay commenting aabout two months ago, but couldn't get the Haloscan commenting working for some reason. After leaving it alone for a month, I went back and looked afresh at the code and saw the problem immediately, so now commenting is up. Please note that I can and will ban you from commenting if you troll this blog. No serious engagement will be banned however.

17 Nov. 2006

NSW party politics

The NSW ALP are mired in sleaze – but the incompetence of the Debnam-led Coalition is so monumental that they cannot but survive, it would seem.

The NSW Coalition, or more precisely its dominant partner, the NSW Liberal Party, is in a dire state that one might call 'unelectable'. While the ALP is mired in croneyism, an old mates' network, with ever-dwindling grassroots support and membership, supported by a coalition of big business, and febrile ethnic and labour interest groups, the Libs are simply shit. Their right-wing has been running rampant, running in completely the opposite direction to that demanded by electoral exigencies, and their leader is a tub-thumper who lacks any kind of political experience or acumen. Handed a gift in the shape of the worst possible sleaze scandal – a minister of the government abusing children, for God's sake – Debnam pushes forward by unnecessarily making unproven further accusations against Labor ministers, allowing Labor to claim the moral high ground and turn a lingering suspicion towards their ministers' morality into a righteous indignation that anyone can impugn the honour of a bunch of nest-feathering croneys.

Don't get me wrong of course. Debnam is a racist scumbag, and the weakness of the Libs is really a good thing. What we need is for people to challenge Labor from the left.

2 Nov. 2006

via TSSH, of all places

Normally sober Queensland premier Peter Beattie has lost the plot, endorsing an entirely unscientific strategy for dealing with the drought: petitionary prayer. Such religious opiates can only distract from the serious business of taking measures to deal with South-East Queensland's water problems, such as water recycling.