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NSW’s mega six city vision -

Perrottet ‘s Utopian con

Better connecting communities, new targets for affordable housing and creating more jobs are front and centre according to Dominic Perrottet’s ambitious plan for the Six Cities. But will it work and is it just the megalomaniacal dream of an out-of-control politician?

28 October 2022

ALAN HAYES

 

DO we want another two million people living along the Eastern Seaboard? -  a coastline where climate science is telling us there’ll be greater increasing rainfall and worse flooding as climate change takes a hold of people’s lives. Over-development of the flood plain along the Newcastle to Wollongong coastal strip is already seeing people’s homes and lives destroyed, all to satisfy the dollar-lust of the grubby, greedy and unscrupulous developers - the six city vision will only exacerbate the current problem of inappropriate development.

 

Coupled with the over-development we will see more cowboy home and high rise apartment construction, with the little regulatory control councils currently have disappearing altogether. The Liberal Government’s fast approval system has made it easy for developers to cut corners, and the cracks, literally, are beginning to show in many high-rise apartments and people’s homes. And the government’s present answer to this – not to tighten the regulations and hand back development to local government where it belongs but to introduce a ten-year insurance compensation scheme on the construct of new apartment buildings to protect purchases in the event their home unit starts falling apart.

 

So, why not police the construction industry as it was done in years gone by – tighten the regulations and bring control of approvals and checks and balances back to a local level, ensuring safety over profit?

 

Council’s no longer have the ability to determine each vital step of construction, with most approvals now being taken out of their hands - all to expedite construction and profit for government mates.

 

And who pays the price? The taxpayers and homeowners of NSW.

 

But local government control doesn’t fit in with government’s plan! A six cities plan that may well allow inappropriate development that fails to recognize what the true and final human cost will be - one where the environment and biodiversity also immeasurably suffer.

 

This lack of democratic control has already been thrust upon the Central Coast, where citizens continue to suffer the machinations of the ‘dictatorial hammer’ – local government in which ‘Coasties’ have little meaningful input. It has already been decided by a group of sycophants that, despite ever-increasing rainfall patterns, that the Central Coast needs a desalination plant.

 

The draft Central Coast Water Security Plan, released for public comment in September 2021, is geared for over-population and a push for a desalination plant at Toukley and outfall and intake in the Norah Head area.

 

Using short term and long term forecasts of rainfall , as noted in the NARClim Report (NSW and ACT Regional Climate project, page 12 and 13) it does not suggest less rainfall overall into the future or that we will be entering into a drought period. There will be dramatically more rain in thirty-years-time as the effects of climate change become apparent. It is this document that Central Coast Council has used for their modelling.

 

Desalination is the last resort to address water supply security and/or quality. This is due to the higher cost of production, compared with traditional water resources, except when the latter is scarce due to drought.

 

So, why is Council opting for the construction of a desalination plant that will not come into operation by 2039? Why is Council intending to begin construction on the desalination plant ocean inlet in the next 2 to 5 years?

 

To fit in with Perrottet’s mega six city vision – population and development.

 

But like everything Perrottet announces, it’s what he wants for society. A man with a vision? No, a man who mistakenly believes that the history books will record him as a ‘visionary’. A man whose mantra is I, me and myself and what I say goes.

 

The problem with Perrottet’s vision is that it’s not a choice - he and his supporters want to push you into an alleged high elite and highly livable city, whether or not it’s how you want to live. That’s why he continues the film flam marketing to convince people that there is no better way of life - a sardine in the slum can of the future.

 

“The pandemic has given us new ways to re-imagine working and living,” Dominic Perrottet announced to NSW, “…become future, focused precincts of tomorrow.”

 

The problem is that Dominic Perrottet has been doing too much re-imagining and in a true dictatorial style wants to foist his grandiose and unsustainable utopia onto everyone as their vision of an idealistic future.

 

Yet Perrottet’s vision has borders that you’re not supposed to understand – look at the map that they rolled out and it has a ‘no go zone’, the area the government doesn’t want you to go past. But, just like ‘Don Quixote’, Perrottet continues to spruik his ideal future Utopian city – “I want to do even more than just cement Sydney’s reputation as a ‘smart city down-under’, and we will make NSW the smartest state.”

Like every megalomaniacal dream, ‘I’, yes ‘I’, is what the vision is all about. To hell with the rest of us who want to live a worthwhile and productive lifestyle – one where the beauty of the environment surrounding us is more important than being a sardine, dependent upon the concrete jungle of technology. A jungle where, as more and more people are crammed into it, can become the slum and nightmare of the future – a Utopian dream that quickly turns into a dystopian society.

 

Your tax file number, your car registration, your credit card – everything will be linked to the six cities digitalised vision of which city you are living in. So, what happens when you leave your district? A passport?

 

“This network will link everything, integrating six cities like never before,” Dominic Perrottet said, “and it will accelerate the next stage of our economic evolution, all within reach of an urban hub.”

 

When you leave your little border and want to go to the mountains one day what can you expect? The government, under Perrottet’s fantasy, will know exactly where you’re going – hello George Orwell’s 1984.

 

“The pandemic has given us new ways of living and working,” said Perrottet.

 

But this isn’t an information war to sell one man’s dream – it is a war on you very mind; a war to convince you that mass urbanisation is the only way for the future and one where your very day-to-day existence is controlled by the government, which may well see a downgrade in lifestyle rather than an idealistic Utopian society.

 

Adam Greenfield, 2014 Senior Urban Fellow, LSE Cities and founder and manging director of Urbanscale, NYC, said, “when considering the network of information technology and our cities, this notion of the smart city is terribly partial and incomplete and unsatisfactory.”

 

So, what’s the government’s rush into a smart six cities ‘vision’? Perhaps they really don’t want to know what communities, such as the Central Coast, really think?

 

And what will the impact of Perrottet’s Utopian delusion really mean to the Central Coast?

 

The public consultation on the Six Cities Region Discussion Paper has been a political sham, lacking substance and devoid of any real community engagement, according to the Community Environment Network (CEN).

 

“The CEN has written (21 October) to the Minister for Infrastructure, Cities and Active Transport and the Chief Commissioner for the Six Cities Region with a simple question ‘what’s the rush?’,” said CEN’s Chair, Mr Gary Chestnut.

 

“The discussion paper may only be 68 pages long, but it is the absence of detail on how this ‘vision’ for a mega city stretching from the Illawarra to the Hunter will deliver on its promise of ‘local liveability’ that has many in the community scratching their heads,” Mr Chestnut said.

 

“It’s an attractive document but the Minister for Infrastructure, Cities and Active Transport, Mr Rob Stokes, surely won’t be comfortable with the incredibly low level of community engagement demonstrated by the live statistics on greatercities.au and the NSW Government’s ‘Have Your Say’ website.

 

“The discussion paper consultation period is due to end on October 30, which is only three days away. However, there are less than 60 comments on the 94 ideas included on the “brainstorming” page, which can hardly be considered adequate community consultation from a population of six million.

 

“The document and website promise more consultation following the release of plans for each city, but this process already feels like a run-away train and the community has been left standing at the station.”

 

Mr Chestnut said that “reading between the lines” the Six Cities Region is about the NSW Government overpowering local communities, local councils and local development controls to “shoehorn in enough new housing for an additional two million people, along a climate-impacted coastline by 2040”.

 

“The discussion paper acknowledges the risks and reality of the climate crisis including heat waves, bushfires and floods but offers very few solutions.

 

“It is silent on some very real issues already confronting the regions the NSW Government is now calling its Six Cities – sea level rise, coastal erosion and species extinction due to habitat loss from land clearing.

 

“This silence is an indicator that the Six Cities strategy completely lacks common sense, which may be why Minister Stokes and Chief Commissioner Geoff Roberts have opted for such low-key consultation on the discussion paper.

 

“Perhaps they are more worried about their developer mates and political donors than about the quality of life for those living in these new ‘cities’.

 

“We have been told the Six Cities Region strategy has bipartisan support and will remain in place if there is a change of government in NSW in March 2023. Surely if both the Perrottet Government and the Minns Opposition have both predetermined that the Six Cities strategy will be the future for six million people, the current government should take its time and consult properly.”

 

CEN has written to both Minister Stokes and Chief Commissioner Roberts asking for the consultation on the discussion paper to run until the government moves into caretaker mode prior to the March election and for each of the six City Commissioners to hold public workshops, drop in sessions and webinars on the discussion paper to ensure as many people are able to comment as possible.

 

In 1949, English author George Orwell published his novel 1984 about a dystopian future where the all-seeing leader, known as “Big Brother", becomes a universal symbol for intrusive government and oppressive bureaucracy, where society has fallen victim to omnipresent government surveillance and propaganda – a familiar scenario.

 

So, the question again is, why the rush to push through the smart six cities agenda without adequate consultation? Why the continuing Perrottet propaganda to sell the scheme? And why the digitalised linking of tax file numbers, car registrations, licences, credit cards, everything that identifies you, with the mega city in which you live?

 

The politician’s road to an alleged Utopian society has all the hallmarks of a dystopian nightmare!

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