The Elephant in the Room - the East/West Link Machinations
|It sure is 'shifty'|
Approaching our regular protest site last Friday morning, I was shocked to see that 'our' hoarding (below) had been replaced with the one above.
I had understood that the Trains Not Toll Roads hoarding was to be a permanent fixture, courtesy of Yarra Council. Talking to my fellow protestors, people speculated that maybe it had proved too costly, or the price had been raised. I wondered if the State Government, with its newly increased powers to thwart local council initiatives, might have had a hand in its removal. It is hard in the present climate not to think the worst.
Speaking of the increased powers of our State Ministers, the Legislative Council session I reported on a couple of weeks ago did finally pass the legislation weakening local government and by-passing community consultation. The amendments to the Major Transport Project Facilitation bill went through at 2am - hours after exhausted community opponents had left. Funny that!
Recently I mentioned that our local Yarra Council had refused permission to the State Government to commence drilling in our neighbourhood. But maybe, now that the new draconian amendments are in place, local government stands like that will become a thing of the past.
Last week the Federal Government changed to one actively in favour of road building and with zero interest in public transport. I have heard that in their first week of business they have already de-registered one environment protection agency.
Today the Trains Not Toll Roads group had arranged to protest outside the Melbourne Zoo, where drilling for the East-West Link was scheduled to start this morning. But without warning, the contractors brought the date forward and the foul deed was done last Friday instead.
You see why I say it is hard not to think the worst, to feel that the forces of darkness are massing against us?
The Zoo protest was cancelled, which I was particularly disappointed about as I'd aimed to pay a visit to the elephants. As you can see below, I had to make do with an understudy:
|My gardening companion|
Zoo staff are thrilled because in recent years their Asian elephants have produced 2 calves. This has been particularly pleasing because the species located in Melbourne is endangered. Apparently, elephants are particularly sensitive to the vibrations of traffic, and will presumably suffer greatly if they spend their lives cheek by jowl with the tunnel. And yet the zoo administration is not speaking out against the East/West Link!
Supporters of the Link specialise in talking about it as if it is already a fait accompli. Rightly, Adam Bandt, among others, has encouraged opponents not to fall into the trap of seeing this as the case.
But I must admit, with drilling starting, it is hard to remain optimistic about our chances, no matter how stupid and ill-conceived the project is. Sometimes I feel that we protestors, just like the elephants, are a threatened species.
I guess the elephant which is not at the zoo but in the room is big business with its over-whelming power over government. People only concerned with profit don't care about the comfort of animals, or people either.
And yet there we were last Friday. Hanging over the Freeway with messages of resistance.
|Protesting every whichway|
And many motorists were responding to the invitation below. My favourite once again was the divvy wagon, which raced past with siren blaring, its smiling policemen giving us the thumbs up from inside its cab.
|They sure were!|
I guess we just keep our fingers (and toes) crossed and keep on keeping on.