It is almost eight years since the closing ceremony of the Sydney Olympics yet the site of the “best ever” Games at Homebush in western Sydney remains something of a great white elephant.
Stupendous plans on the drawing board, but very little action. An earlier proposal to establish a campus of Sydney University at Sydney Olympic Park collapsed over funding issues, but nothing has been suggested to replace it — until now.
The visionaries in the Iemma Cabinet want to offer a contract to a private company to stage V8 Supercar racing around the streets of the taxpayer-funded venue.
The proposal has caused uproar at the Sydney Olympic Park Authority (SOPA), the body charged with managing the billion-dollar public asset.
Auburn Council, whose local government boundaries encompass the Olympic Park, is also up in arms about the proposed desecration. Last week Labor councillors moved a successful resolution opposing the introduction of V8 SuperCar racing at the site.
Cr George Campbell complained about the lack of consultation with the council and the local community, adding:
The races would necessitate the removal of hundreds of trees and other damage to the environment.
It would generate unacceptable levels of noise, parking problems and general disruption to residents and businesses.
The proposal before Cabinet also seems completely at odds with SOPA’s stated objectives:
Master Plan 2030 builds on the Park’s internationally recognised initiatives in energy and water management, green building design, and sound economic and ecological management, and is supported by extensive research and analysis through technical studies covering traffic management, noise management, social impacts, engineering, sustainability, equitable access and major event operations.
The Park’s sporting and recreational facilities and 425 hectares of parkland ensure its unique place in offering a solution to Sydney’s population growth, providing opportunities for enhanced quality-of-life and healthy lifestyle choices.
The Cabinet is divided over whether to approve the “vroom vroom” proposal or stick it in the dustbin. In the supporters’ corner is Premier Morris Iemma, Treasurer Michael Costa, his ever-faithful Primary Industries Minister Ian “China” Macdonald and Ports Minister Joe Tripodi with powerbrokers pushing the project from behind the scenes.
Planning Minister Frank Sartor, who was Sydney Lord Mayor and official host of the 2000 Olympics, is vehemently opposed to allowing super-charged cars to race at the home of the city’s greatest sporting triumph and he has a group of like-minded ministers supporting him.
One obstacle not considered by the racing car cheer squad is possible legal action by corporate tenants who have signed long-term leases on the clear understanding that the park will remain a “vibrant specialist economic centre and urban parkland with an outstanding sports, entertainment and recreation precinct.”
No mention of tens of thousands of petrol heads, souped-up cars, bikies and car hoons invading the space once a week and leaving behind a mountain of garbage.