Monday, March 4, 2013

The Federal Political Freak Show Comes to Western Sydney

It's the area of Sydney that everyone outside it loves to forget even exists.

When I was doing work experience at a commercial Sydney radio station, a woman made mention of having to go to her cousin's wedding reception in western Sydney, and that the cousin was also expecting.

"Making babies, that's really all they know how to do out there," quipped one of her colleagues. 

So make no mistake, the west is actually derided and made the butt of jokes by inner city types.

However, it is home to 1.5 million people, and people that are tipped to decide this year's federal election in September.

In a somewhat glaringly obvious move, Julia Gillard is setting up shop for a week in Rooty Hill - but she's not actually staying at Rooty Hill RSL, the name of which a federal Labor minister made fun of.

So in actuality, it's a highly staged stunt, and it's difficult not to be cynical about it.

She's staying at the Novotel next door, and in a bizarre twist, journalists had to interview her via satellite who were just a stone's throw away inside Rooty Hill RSL next door.

So far the media circus has been fairly nauseating. Tony Abbott and the like are hot on her heals, even crackpot Lord Monkcton is gallivanting around the RSL - it doesn't get any weirder than that.

Abbott has even go so far to say that western Sydney is 'new Liberal heartland', sure, at least until the election is over and won, and then the North Shore will go back to being the true heartland.

Labor has been quick to point out repeatedly that the Liberals will take away the hilariously named 'Schoolkids Bonus' (all one word remember, despite being an education payment). Which, apparently, is going to take the very shoes  off school kids' feet, according to Gillard, in a drama act fit for an afternoon soapy. 

There's also the pledge of building grand, and new road links from the west to the city. Apparently, an hour long commute either way is just too long for the residents there - despite the obvious fact that that's physically how far they live from the city.

So unless Labor can somehow change the laws of physics, or lift the speed limit to 200Km/h or something, it won't make a difference to the average commute time.

And that's if western Sydney people are lucky enough to have big flash jobs in the city that pay the big bucks.

According to Gillard, half a million people in western Sydney benefit from the lowering of the tax free threshold.

More to the point, why are half a million people there earning three-and-a-half times less than the supposed national average wage? Isn't that an issue of equality right there? Even she herself made note that some people would consider western Sydney residents as 'second class citizens'.

And while all this is going on, Tony Abbott has pledged to 'stop the guns' in western Sydney, in addition to 'stopping the boats'.

Can we really take all of this seriously? Simultaneously, the Australian media is pointing none of these glaringly obvious facts out, either to their audience, or to the politicians themselves on the ground.

Leigh Sales last night for instance made mention that Labor shouldn't make any promises to western Sydney residents because apparently getting the Budget back into surplus was a more pressing issue, despite the fact that no western democracy at the present time is running a surplus.

Surplus? Surplus?! Really Leigh? That's your 'gotchya' line? 

I suppose at least she's trying, the rest of out media is currently in a pre-election daze.

It also just proves how city-centric our politics has become. Western Sydney residents take one hour to get to the city - oh no! The poor diddums, how can they possibly live with themselves in such dire circumstances, it just takes them too long to get the Mecca of 'real Sydney'.

Sydney itself is like its own little sovereign state, sequestered from the rest of Australia. Many of its inhabitants are blissfully unaware that other places in Australia exist outside their little concentrated circle of smelly trains, homeless, mardi gras, drugs, and dreadful beaches.

But still, they are worthy of being pandered to by our politicians given the sheer number of them that dwell in the proverbial melting pot - they simply outnumber the rest of Australia's other towns and cities, and they immediately appeal to politicians who make a living from targeting middle Australia.

What's to say that a parent might be struggling with schooling costs for their children in Toowoomba, and not just western Sydney? Meanwhile, Julia Gillard will tug at the heartstrings with her 'Schoolkids Bonus' bleeding heart sob lecture deep within the lost arch of western Sydney.

Maybe they're just getting western Sydney out of the way before the election, and maybe this is all just some bizarre dream.

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