Is Paul Keating now Sydney’s development arbiter?

Paul Keating responds: the Barangaroo timeline cuts away at ‘sensationalism’

Given a choice between sensationalism and straight reporting, the Herald will invariably go
for sensationalism. This is what it did on Monday with its cover story on Barangaroo and a proposed Aboriginal museum. Questioned by the Herald, I gave it information it refused to publish in its story.

1. The Cutaway, the space under the Barangaroo Headland, was created by me and the
then CEO of the Barangaroo Delivery Authority, John Tabart. I took the decision to create the Cutaway space as chair of the Design Excellence Review Panel. It was created by John Tabart and me and no other persons, Aboriginal or otherwise.

2. The Barangaroo headland, which exclusively was my own landscape conception, was vigorously opposed by the Sydney Aboriginal community. They supported the retention of the concrete container wharf as part of the Thalis scheme. They had completely bought the agnostic Herald line against Barangaroo and the headland park.

3. Now, the headland is supposedly “theirs” and I’m the supposed villain denying them
the space underneath it.

4. The first I ever heard of the word “Buruk” and the Create NSW Aboriginal scheme was in Monday’s Herald. And the reason I had not heard of it was because the proposal was never before the government for consideration. It was but a twinkle in the eye of bureaucrats in Create NSW, acting mainly for self-appointed Aboriginal people and some Aboriginal organisations.

5. When I was engaged by the former premier, the then treasurer and planning minister, there was, to my knowledge, no proposal for a dedicated Aboriginal museum afoot at the time. And there were no “private” meetings – the one meeting with ministers was official and on the public record.

6. Some bureaucrat in Create NSW writes an email saying an alternative flexible use museum space is “so disappointing” and the Herald goes into apoplexy. We are then enjoined to reach for our handkerchiefs.

7. Nathan Moran, from the Aboriginal Land Council, in a display of arrogance said, “I don’t see how Paul Keating’s proposal … was ever relevant”. The answer to that is because Paul Keating created the space in the first place and the headland above it. And the government, not unreasonably, asked him for his views on the future of the Cutaway, as he had created it – shocking!

8. The “government” made the decision as to a flexible rather than dedicated use, not me. But I am sure it is the right decision. And its flexibility will allow for Aboriginal cultural displays, presentations and uses anyway. Paul Keating, Potts Point

Bring on shake up of hubristic industry

The gas lobby is in full swing telling us how that this government is going to destroy our gas industry (“LNG giants fear export curbs blow”, December 19). No one will invest, they say. I hope that happens so we have to nationalise the whole industry and all the profits will go to Australians. Billions of dollars in much-needed infrastructure such as power, health and education. Bring it on. Doug Cliff, Saratoga

The evolution of energy provision via traditional fossil fuel-fired means began with government provision later privatised – if controversially. The model, however, is essential for large-scale infrastructure innovation in the Australian setting where large geographic spread and concentrated market power caused by a relatively small population dominate. Just think Qantas, Telstra and even the Commonwealth Bank. The move to non-fossil fuel energy needs to stop relying on households installing solar panels of varying capacity or privateers buying farms close to power lines. Government needs to get right in rather than fiddling. The sun is still shining in WA when the east coast is cooking the evening meal. Floods and tidal surges are annual energy events in the top-end. The wind rarely stops along the southern coast. Scale is needed to harness and deliver these natural assets to form a new energy era, and government is the only option for us. Peter Comensoli, Mangrove Mountain

Between 1845 and 1849 the potato crop failed in Ireland, bringing about a catastrophic famine: the Great Hunger. By 1849, one million people had died and one million had left, some by committing petty crimes to get themselves transported to Australia.

But here’s the thing: in all of those years, Ireland was exporting food, wheat, beef, butter, to England. There was no shortage of food. The Whig Secretary of the Treasury, Charles Trevelyan, refused to intervene either to bar the export of food or to provide adequate food relief. Why? The market, of course.

To the CEOs of the gas giants in Australia: does this tale ring any bells? When the market acts against the wellbeing of the people as a whole, the market fails, and governments can and should step in. I applaud the government’s action. Kevin O’Sullivan, Port Macquarie

Greed begets greed and should we have expected more from the grasping giants of coal and gas (Letters, December 19)? Fear of fast becoming irrelevant is new to this arrogant and hubristic industry which has long ruled the world, and so directs its ego’s response. Judy Finch, Taree

It’s wonderful having a PM whose actions speak louder than his words (“Politics of saying less, doing more”, December 19). Such a refreshing change following Scott Morrison, whose responses to the parliamentary censure motion and the robo-debt inquiry merely confirmed that while he was the Coalition’s face and spokesperson for everything, his actions were minimal, and he accepted responsibility for nothing. Alan Marel, North Curl Curl

While it is true that Albanese has been a breath a fresh air as prime minister of this country, he needs to be reminded that he is a Labor prime minister. He continues to justify massive tax cuts for the wealthiest in our society. He has no plans to raise the JobSeeker payment to a level that gives people dignity. He has said and done nothing to address the fact that one in six Australian children live in poverty in this country. These issues are as important as an integrity commission or a Voice to parliament but they have all been dispensed to the too hard basket. Phil Peak, Dubbo

An ‘Un-United’ Kingdom

George Brandis asserts that Keir Starmer’s radical proposal to abolish the House of Lords in favour of a Senate style upper house would aggravate resentment among the Celtic nations of the UK (“Dreary PM-in-waiting’s radical move”, December 19). I suggest that these nations would welcome the chance to be “un-United” from the UK. And the English seem to hate the Celts more than the French. Scotland could rejoin the EU and all would be well. The detail would be challenging, but the Brits don’t care about that; they voted in favour of Brexit without considering the implications. Tom Meakin, Port Macquarie

Scrap airport train fee

A cost-effective way to fix airport traffic issues made worse by the opening of more WestConnex would be to drop the $16 access fee added to train fares to the airport (“WestConnex ‘missing link’ weeks from opening”, December 19). Most of this goes into general revenue so is effectively a congestion incentive and something, no doubt, Transurban and their friends in the current government are very happy with. Ken Wilson, Willoughby

Liberals on a plate

Transport Minister David Elliott claims he is “no feminist” (“Perrottet brushes off party preselection woes”, December 19), but at least he realises that the days of “Ladies bring a plate” are well and truly over. Like many female voters, he can also spot a raft of uninspiring Liberal “bloke” candidates at 50 paces. Sue Dyer, Downer (ACT)

Chastening history lesson

In reference to your correspondents’ take on the teaching of Australian history, it is a matter of some pride that the U3A group to which I belong recently arranged for a member of the Indigenous community to give us an unvarnished outline of our history from an Aboriginal perspective (Letters, December 19). As most of us are of British or European descent, it was a chastening experience. We must be prepared to inform ourselves of the mistakes made by our early settlers, as well as the more positive aspects, in the interests of authenticity. Our young people also deserve to be told the true story. We owe them nothing less. Derrick Mason, Boorowa

For love or money

The Harry and Meghan story: entitlement falls in love with opportunity (“Unhappy royals could pave way for our progress”, December 19). Nothing new here; certainly nothing the rest of us need to know about. The saddest part is that their only motivation now seems to be to profit from their perceived misfortune. Time to move on. Jenifer Nicholls, Armadale (Vic)

In relation to the Harry and Meghan show, your correspondent says “it is symbolic of everything that is wrong in the way Australians choose their head of state” (Letters, December 19). Currently, Australians have no role in choosing our head of state, ie the British monarch, and only one Australian, the prime minister of the day, has a role in choosing our pretend head of state, ie the governor-general. Harry and Meghan have demonstrated conclusively that apart from not being Australians, the Windsor family have no particular qualities that justify any of them or their descendants being the eternally designated head of state of this country. Martyn Yeomans, Sapphire Beach

NSW needs Fitzsimmons

Shane Fitzsimmons did a magnificent job during the 2019-20 bushfires, less so during the Lismore floods where he applied the principle of risk aversion (Letters, December 19). He had no compunction despatching trained firefighters to fire fronts. Because of the restrictions imposed by work health and safety legislation he was averse to sending untrained Resilience NSW staff into the field. Fitzsimmons has much to offer. I hope forward-thinking people offer him work that matches his leadership qualities and skill set. Meg Pickup, Ballina

Do You Love Me?

I’m with Bernard Zuel’s friend (“Master brings uplifting night of laughs and serenades”, December 19). In the academy of the over-rated, Nick Cave is both chancellor and head prefect. Jeff Apter, Keiraville

Food for the soul

In trying to establish if Reschs is a food, Andrew Webster appears to reluctantly accept that it isn’t (“Summer is … gelato, some beers, more gelato”, December 19). May I suggest that he look at Reschs as nourishment for the soul and, in that light, reconsider his answer. William Galton, Hurstville Grove

English joy in defeat

Wearing a traditional cloak worn in Arab societies, Lionel Messi lifts the World Cup in Qatar.Credit:Getty

As a frequently brokenhearted Englishman, it is grimly comforting to see that the French can miss penalties as well (“Messi leads Argentina to a famous World Cup victory, beating France on penalties”, smh.com.au, December 19). Ken Webb, Epping

Not to take anything away from his foot skills, the only trophy missing from Messi’s cabinet is the Academy award. World Cup footballers wouldn’t last five minutes in an NRL, AFL or union game. Ian Ferrier, Long Jetty

Red card louts

Bonita Mersiades says “all of us should reflect on the circumstances that led to this own goal” (Ban hooligans for life but take a hard look at football chiefs”, December 19). The focus shouldn’t be on the football chiefs. The use of flares by football spectators and supporters has been a perennial problem. From the people who count in the promotion of the game, officials and the media, there has been nay a word of condemnation of the use of flares. Netball Australia recently awarded their grand final to the highest commercial bidder. Yet, we didn’t see netball fans ignite flares and storm the court. The only people responsible for the soccer violence are the louts who stormed the field. Riley Brown, Bondi Beach

The digital view

Online comment from one of the stories that attracted the most reader feedback yesterday on smh.com.au
‘We need to be prepared to invest’: Albanese highlights need for subs, not tanks
From Smack, City of the Fallen: ″⁣Another compelling argument to ditch the stage three tax cuts, Albo. How many more of them do you need?″⁣

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