It will be a very relieved Bob Carr who travels to the Central West
of NSW today to open a natural history museum, which will house quite a few dinosaurs and other specimens donated
by a scientist. The trip to Bathurst will enable him to throw the switch to
‘good news’ and talk very knowingly about antiquities and regional
Australia, and look good. Premiership material actually.

But the added bonus will be removing him from the firing line of News
Ltd’s Daily Telegraph over the Orange Grove Outlet site. Around 450
jobs are at risk because of planning decisions by his government, the
former Labor-controlled Liverpool Council and a hand-picked
administrator his government put into the Council in March. Crikey looked at the situation last week – Westfield and Bob Carr’s preaching.

Now the Daily Telegraph has made the story its own and is having a field
day with a ducking and weaving Premier.

Take today’s effort in the Tele “I’ll find jobs for you all” screamed
the Page 7 headline and the story started “Premier Bob Carr yesterday
staked his reputation….” whew! Talk about dobbing a bloke right in
it. So when some people can’t find jobs if the centre closes, the Tele will
turn on him and question the worth of his guarantee.

And unlike the asleep at their desks Sydney Snoring Herald which still
doesn’t know where Liverpool really is, the Tele has again got stuck
into the Government on an issue close to the hearts of readers (voters)
in the area. The last story was the four courageous nurses who went
public about the appalling situation at hospitals in south-western
Sydney. The Government has been forced to have inquiries, and commit
around $100 million to improve medical and hospital services. The nurses
and the Tele can claim that as their victory.

Talk about the story becoming the story. That’s what happened with the
nurses and the way the Government and its public servants tried to
threaten and silence them. And now the way the Government has handled
Orange Grove Outlet centre has become the story. It’s another example
of bumbling by the Carr’s Government.

With Bob and his lower house ALP mates involved in the affair (assistant
Planning Minister Diane Beamer and her minister, Craig Knowles, who
opened the Orange Grove centre last November and is Planning Minister)
deciding to stay away from an opposition-inspired NSW Upper House
inquiry, you can bet the Tele will have a field day.

That’s unless Premier Bob can somehow produce a fix. Jobs for 60 was the
start on Wednesday, but that’s been rejected. The people of Liverpool, in
the good safe Labor heartland, know a Carr crock of shit when they hear
one.

As a friend of Bill’s said last week, if Westfield had found itself
in a planning pickle in somewhere NSW because of problems with a local
council, you can bet the NSW Government would do something legislative,
if it had to, to regularise the situation. And the justification?
Protecting jobs, of course. Applause all round for the Premier, please!

And there is one situation ticking away in the heart of Sydney that is
heading that way. Westfield owns the Centrepoint centre in the CBD and
it wants a massive re-development with a huge underground car park (12
storeys underground!), two large apartment buildings, more shopping
space and associated infrastructure. The cost is estimated at $600
million.

This hasn’t impressed retailers such as David Jones, who fear a loss of
business during the construction work, and then a loss of business as
tens of thousands of square metres of new shops flood an already
over-supplied part of the city.

The buildings will cast larger shadows over Hyde Park and the
surrounding streets and for two years the area will be a pedestrian
nightmare. There’s already growing opposition and the election of Clover
‘Luvvie” Moore as Lord Mayor of Sydney has started what looks like a
head-on clash. Clover and the Greens and their mates don’t like the
idea, nor do many business people in the City. Outright opposition is
unlikely, more a guerrilla campaign for Westfield of making it jump
through the Council’s planning hoops.

But the Government has already been muttering about taking control of
the project away from the Council because of its “significance” as a
major project, which includes employment!
With Westfield owning the Grace Bros and Sydney Central Plaza area
further south in the CBD, the company plans to dominate retailing in the
area, as it does at Chatswood, Parramatta, Burwood, Parramatta, and
Hurstville.

All this has happened with the approval of various NSW Governments, with
the strongest support lately from the Carr administration.

Westfield of course has given hundreds of thousand of dollars in
donations to the ALP, state and federally, over the years (and the
Liberals as well).

Bob’s probably wondering why all this happened. It’s simple Premier. You and Ms Beamer and Mr Knowles made it the story.

It’s an ALP-made
situation. ALP Council makes the original situation, after lobbying by
local ALP members on behalf of the centre owner. Those lobbied were,
well, ALP Councillors. Decision gets made, overturned. Government sacks
dud ALP dominated council over dodgy decision making, then the ALP
Government appointed Administrator, Gabby Kibble, a veteran ‘fixit’
public servant for the ALP, issues another approval in April, subject to
a final ministerial decision. Which is not given this month by ALP
assistant Minister.

All the state and Federal MPs in the area are ALP, including The leader,
Mark Latham. It’s all an ALP screw-up, that’s why it’s become the story for
the Tele and others.

Peter Fray

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