Politics Analysis

Perrottet’s Sydney-centric stance sums up Liberals' elitist worldview

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(Image by Dan Jensen)

Outgoing NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet's inflated view of Sydney is indicative of the Liberal Party's entitled colonial leadership, writes founder and publisher Dave Donovan.

MANY HAVE REMARKED on the candour and humility of outgoing Liberal Premier Dominic Perrottet in his NSW Election concession speech of 25 March. And certainly, it is true, he was most gracious in his address with respect to incoming New South Wales State Labor Premier Chris Minns.

But there was one area where Perrottet was much less than gracious in that speech, when he claimed that Sydney is:

“...Australia's truly, only, global city.”

Perrottet followed this up by listing a series of dubious achievements from the veteran 12-year outgoing NSW Liberal Government.

Let’s ignore the insult delivered there to Australia’s other major cities, this was not only demonstrably untrue but a calculated slur on Melbourne ─ manifestly Australia’s other “global city”.

Let’s also ignore the obvious slur the Liberals always cast towards Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, simply because, despite their best efforts, he continues to not be hated by Victorians and get elected. The fact of the matter is that the Liberal Party is, and has been for quite some time, controlled by people from Sydney.

If you don’t believe that, note the following:

Since 1971, there have been six Liberal prime ministers and six Labor ones. Out of the Labor PMs, there have been three from Sydney (Whitlam, Keating and Albanese), two from Melbourne (Hawke and Gillard) and one from Brisbane (Rudd). Of the six Liberal Party PMs, five have been from Sydney (McMahon, Howard, Abbott, Turnbull and Morrison) and just one from elsewhere, Fraser, who was from country Victoria, not Melbourne.

Let’s just take what Perrottet said as the latest jab in the longstanding Melbourne-Sydney urban rivalry. The two cities have roughly the same population, and each have dominated Australian power circles, thinking and culture for close to 200 years.

Sydney was settled first and was the British colonial hub, at least up until the Gold Rush. Melbourne grew rapidly after that time and, for a while, eclipsed Sydney in wealth, influence and population. Melbourne was also Australia’s capital for 30 or so years after Federation ─ while Canberra was being made fit for purpose (something Australians fervently hope might eventually occur).

Sydney has a very fine Harbour, a nice Harbour Bridge and a spectacularly photogenic opera facility ─ also on the Harbour. Melbourne has a Port; it is not so pretty. But Melbourne must have something going for it because it is forecast to reach a population of 6 million by 2032 – that is, within a decade – thereby eclipsing Sydney to become, once again, Australia’s biggest city.

Melbourne also has the Formula One Grand Prix, the Australian Open grand slam tennis event and the famous Melbourne Cup. It has a vibrant theatre, music and comedy scene, and the biggest sporting stadium in Australia, the Melbourne Cricket Ground ─ the spiritual home of Australian cricket in Australia, as well as our homegrown national football code, Australian Rules.

Sydney, on the other hand, has the slightly more uneventful end of the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race.

Which brings unelected outgoing NSW Premier Perrottet’s rather bold claim about Sydney being “Australia’s truly, only, global city” into somewhat sharper focus.

In his speech, Perrottet’s main argument about why Sydney was Australia’s only global city under the Liberals appeared to be some new roads, a few new stops on the Metro and another footy stadium.

He didn’t mention what it was like to live in Sydney, with its impossibly expensive real estate and rents, endless urban sprawl (outside the glamorous Eastern suburbs) and … well… lots of dead koalas. He also didn’t say that after 12 years in power, Sydney still has the most poker machines of any city in the world, with the sole exception of Las Vegas.

To his credit, Perrottet did go into the election with a policy of attempting to mitigate the terrible human cost of gambling in NSW, by bringing in a few token reforms. What he didn’t even make an effort to address was getting rid of any gambling machines — and that is the most urgent issue. Poker machines are impossible to escape in NSW. Go into any of the aircraft hangers they call Rugby League clubs and you will have the electronic jangle of the one-armed bandits ringing in your ears for days.

Sydney, far from being a world city, closed down the famous late-night venue of King’s Cross under the Liberals because, apparently, there was too much post-midnight street ribaldry. So for seven long years, people wanting to enjoy a quick drink after midnight in Sydney were funnelled to the Star Casino, where you could gamble, drink, fight and pass out until any hour you pleased. This has undoubtedly been a boon for various colourful Sydney identities and international money-cleaning experts.

Sydney's "globally-minded" lock-out laws – a suite of curfews and bar cut-off times preventing nightlife after 1.30 am – were only lifted in 2021. Oddly, 2am public drunkenness has not seemed to be such a problem in Melbourne?

Sure, Sydney is a global city ─ in much the same way Chicago was a global city under Al Capone during Prohibition.

Then again, this has been the way of Sydney since the Rum Rebellion. And the same sort of second-rate colonialists control it ─ trying to bring the rest of Australia back to its own tawdry level. Just listen to Alan Jones and Ray Hadley on Sydney radio to appreciate the standard of popular debate.

I would like to think new NSW Premier Chris Minns might work towards making Sydney not just the world’s vice-capital of gambling but, after years of misrule, make it a world city for which we can all be proud.

This elitist worldview goes some way to explaining why the Liberal Party is on the nose nationwide and why, alongside a Federal Labor Government, every mainland state and territory is now held by the Labor Party.

You can read more from IA founder and publisher Dave Donovan on Twitter @davroszFollow Independent Australia on Twitter @independentaus, Facebook HERE and Instagram HERE.

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