I’m about to put together a little doco I made on the campaign trail during the 2012 local council elections starting on the day the Clover Moore Independent Team had their publicity photos taken and rolling right through until our triumphant victory on September 8.
I was in the exciting position of number 6 on the team’s ticket and missed out on a seat on the City of Sydney council by a small margin to the Liberal’s #2 Christine Forster, who also happens to be the sister of the leader of the Federal Opposition. The first five on our team were announced on the night of the election but it took another week until the counting revealed my fate. During that time, I did suggest a ‘dance-off’ with Christine but she wisely declined – I would’ve wiped the dance floor with her.
Not being on council freed me up to help Alex Greenwich, #8 on our ticket, with his campaign to replace Clover as the Independent Member for Sydney in State Parliament. Earlier this year the Liberal Premier Barry O’Farrell, with the support of the Shooters and Fisher’s Party and the ultra conservative Reverend Fred Nile, introduced legislation banning MPs from also holding positions as Lord Mayors. So when Clover won her Lord Mayoral position she was forced to stand down and hand the baton over to her endorsed candidate. At last Saturday’s by-election Alex was voted in to that position in an overwhelming landslide.
So all in all it’s been a wonderfully victorious couple of months and a rousing success for indie Sydney.
Anyway, I came across this unpublished post written the night before the local council elections which I thought might shed some light on the campaign and maybe even provide a voice over for the doco which I’ll start cutting as soon as I get my tax done!
“Tomorrow is election day and, as our Lord Mayor Clover Moore MP says, everything is at stake. Sustainable Sydney 2030 is under attack with its plans to reduce carbon emissions by 70% being touted as “nutty” by the climate denying conservatives. The Liberal party is running on a platform of providing more car parking, as is a new independent group called Living Sydney. How they’re going to provide it is a mystery as there are already more parking permits allocated by Council than there are parking spaces. The city’s new cycle ways are also under siege with some candidates vowing to rip them up and others wanting to stop the rest of the network being constructed. Cars v’s bicycles is at the heart of this election which could translate as a strange type of intergenerational warfare. Those older members of our society believe it’s their constitutional right to own a car and park it wherever they want while the younger more progressive citizens are embracing the cheaper, cleaner, more socially responsible mode of transport that is cycling.
Being an open minded middle aged woman I understand both sides of the debate. I own a car. I also own a bicycle. And I have two legs that I use to walk myself to public transport. I used to think that I could no more leave my car at home when I went in to the city than fly to the moon on a firecracker but after getting on my bike and experiencing the thrill of the wind in my hair and the freedom of pedaling anywhere at whim, I can’t imagine ever driving in there again. My thighs are like pistons and my brain is alert to my surroundings as I fly by en route to my next appointment. People complain about how they were “nearly” run over by a cyclist but I think they were just shocked by the speed at which we passed them by. Relax, pedestrians – we cyclists have you in our sights and we’re looking out for you at every turn. We certainly don’t want to collide with you. But if we accidently did, wouldn’t it be so much better than being run over by a car?
Of course, cycling is not for everyone. It’s simply an option, like public transport. I’ve heard people say that they haven’t worked their guts out to ride with plebeians on buses and trains. They want to drive in to town and are prepared to pay the expensive fees to do so but this elitist attitude denies them the opportunity of getting to know their fellow citizens and understanding the nature of our city’s demographic. It’s important to know where we fit in the grand scheme of things so that we can better guage the needs of our city. 85% of people come in to it via public transport. It’s only the 15% who are complaining about lack of parking facilities. And it’s the latter I see caught in grid lock getting angry as they listen to shock jocks railing about “women destroying the joint” while I whizz by merrily on my bike. As journalist Elizabeth Farrelly recently pointed out, they’re probably just jealous because we bikies are having so much fun free-wheeling around the place.
But sometimes I too need to drive and have search for places to park my beloved old vehicle. Luckily I seem to have good parking karma and only rarely do I have the sorts of difficulties I hear other candidates whinging about ad infinitum. To listen to them you’d think the world was coming to an end, not because of climate change but through lack of parking opportunities. When I talk about alternatives they turn their noses up in disgust. I tell them how car sharing takes 12 cars off the road and they look at me with disdain. I count out 12 cars to show them the space that is freed up – a whole city block – and they roll their eyes as if I’m insane.
Our culture is shifting, slowly but surely and there’s some resistance out there, especially from the conservatives who want to continue their business-as-usual model of polluting the planet with fossil fuel energy generation. The alternatives are here and the incumbent Lord Mayor is dedicated to rolling them out. Tomorrow we’ll see how many Sydney-siders are with her. I certainly am. And I’ve got a sneaky feeling that the majority of progressive thinkers are too.”