Midnight Oil

[Powderworks] More on PG

Ross Locket rosslocket at optusnet.com.au
Fri Jun 11 20:43:24 MDT 2004

Welcome Peter Garrett to Kingsford Smith, one of the most environmentally
challenged corners of Sydney.

It's not just the local branches of the Labor Party which could prove
hostile. He's about to become member for a federal seat which has some of
Sydney's dirtiest, most polluting industries.

Let's start with Sydney Water, Sydney's biggest licensed polluter. Its
Malabar plant disposes of roughly 60 per cent of Sydney's daily sewage.

While the beaches are cleaner, thanks to pipes taking the effluent out to
sea, the system runs on the old engineers' adage: "The solution to pollution
is dilution."

Then there is the giant Orica plant. Last year Orica was ordered by the
Environment Protection Agency to pump out thousands of litres of
contaminated groundwater at Botany, treat it and put it back.

"It's one of Sydney's biggest environmental disasters," said Joan Staples,
campaign co-ordinator of Save Botany Beach.

Orica is also about to dispose of one of the world's largest stockpile of
HCBs - one of the most toxic of chemicals - using a controversial
incineration process, Geomelt.

Orica's site manager Bruce Gotting said: "We will always work with our local

Over on the coast is the Malabar headland, a 183-hectare Commonwealth site,
which the local state member, the Premier, Bob Carr, wants to turn into a
national park - if the feds would just hand it over. This may well be a
project where the Premier and Garrett can link arms in a common cause.

But the proposed expansion of Port Botany - a vital part of the Carr
Government's plans to remove container shipping from Sydney Harbour - may
not prove quite so straightforward.

The airport, on the border of the electorate, offers the most exquisite
dilemma for Garrett.

The 20-year plan approved by the Federal Government in March envisages a
tripling of the number of people passing through the airport.

Garrett's new seat also bears little resemblance demographically to his home
in the Southern Highlands.

Kingsford Smith is one of the most dense urban areas of Sydney, with nearly
40 per cent of people living in units, according to the 2001 census.

There are many tightly knit communities. More than 44,000 people describe
themselves as Catholic - about one in three of the population - and several
of those Catholic families are dynasties within the ALP.

There is also an ethnic mix, from Asian students at the University of NSW to
the southern European migrants and Middle Eastern arrivals who have made
areas around Mascot, Eastlakes and Rosebery their home.

Peter Garrett has said he will not move to Kingsford Smith until after the
election, so he will have time to study his new electorate.