Sunday, April 15, 2012

Send in the new clowns and chooks to join the ones already here ...

Call me a nostalgic, sentimental doofus, call me old, berate Austrians for having way too much wacky zany time on their hands, say that the intertubes are only good for finding ever more useless ways to waste time, but golly the pond was moved by the imagining of the net search engine in the nineteen eighties, here at mass:werk (make sure your sound is on for the full modem sound blast. Anyone under twenty really shouldn't bother).

But - to try to get juice from trivia - it's also a reminder of the way things have moved apace in the intertubes world, and is a reminder of just why Tony Abbott and his attitude towards providing fast broadband proves he's a regressive doofus of the old school, stuck back in the days of BBSs, and without the first shred of a notion of a clue. And stuck with him are a lot of conservative commentators who really don't get it, and who don't understand the way connectivity is revolutionising the world, and will go on changing it. Including delivery of AV in the way that music is now being delivered by rental services like Spotify.

Speaking of regressive doofuses and of futurism, please allow the pond to call time out and indulge in a domestic spat with commentariat columnist for Fairfax, Paul Sheehan.

They say there's no fool like an old fool, and Sheehan is truly an old fool. But why start off in this abusive way, you ask? Surely the pond should nobly address the issues addressed in Albanese's first-class folly hijacks airport talk.

But what are the issues? Well Sheehan spends the opening pars in his column abusing Anthony Albanese as an extremist who indulges in sneering personal attacks. And then Sheehan proceeds to make a sneering personal attack. So it only seems fair to think the issue is sneering personal attacks and call Sheehan an old fool.

Sheehan blathers on about Albo's breathtaking bluster, and then goes on to a feat of breathtaking bluster that would make even Albl blush. First up, he takes time out to explain that many of the flightpaths to the current Sydney airport fall within Albanese's Marrickville electorate, and goes on to talk about him being compromised. Yes, and once upon a time the Bennelong funnel ran the planes through John Howard's electorate. So what?

And then Sheehan jumps the shark, perhaps fearing that an easy trip from the eastern suburbs to Mascot is about to be snatched away from him:

So ingrained is the lobby against Sydney Airport, so reflexive is the culture of complaint about replacing this precious asset with something far away, it is easy to miss the reason nothing has been done about building a second airport in Sydney despite all the agitating.

You know, there's not a single politician in the current debate that's talking about replacing Sydney airport. There's a lot of talk about complementing or supplementing it with a secondary airport, so when Sheehan talks about hijacking the debate, he does it by example. What a doofus hijacker ...

You'd swear Max Moore-Wilton had scribbled out the text and handed it to Sheehan:

Sydney Airport is an infrastructure jewel, a convenient asset to the great majority of the city's residents, and proximate to the central business district, the source of so much of its patronage. It has significant latent capacity.

An infrastructure jewel? Roll the jaffas down the aisle and remember that next time you try to park, catch a taxi, embark or disembark a plane at Sydney airport. But yes, it's close to Sheehan's address. Oh the ennui of having to trek out to Badgery's Creek.

There's a lot more blather, including this

Significant operating efficiencies have transformed the airport. In the past decade, passenger traffic increased 40 per cent while the noise footprint decreased and the number of aircraft movements rose by just 1 per cent. The phase-in of more Airbus A380 and Boeing 787 aircraft will continue this trend.

Oh yes, the 380s and the 787s are going to make a huge impact on the efficiency of the peak morning and evening shuttle services to various capital cities, especially the Melbourne-Sydney ferry service.

Sheehan blathers on endlessly about how Sydney can double its capacity, and become an antipodean Heathrow. Apparently he hasn't been to Heathrow in recent times, nor does he seem aware that London also has Gatwick and London City airports (and its also serviced by Stansted, Luton, Southend, Oxford, Lydd and Biggin Hill).

What Sheehan doesn't dare to mention, but is the reality, is that to significantly improve Sydney's capacity, the curfew will have to go. But even that won't solve the problems the airport faces during peak domestic times. Nor would re-locating regional airlines, though that will be another adjustment that has to be made in due course.

And then you end up with this bizarre bit of nonsense:

This is why nothing has happened in 50 years. Taxpayers, via their members of Parliament, have opted to make much better use of what they have, rather than spend tens of billions on something for which there is no pressing need.

Taxpayers of course have done no such thing. Their members of parliament have failed the test, a test which interestingly Melbourne passed many years before by establishing its first airport at Tullamarine well out of town (even if the town has now caught up with it), and then by establishing a second airport at Avalon, and now by talking about building a third airport. (Pressure to select site of third Melbourne airport).

Victorians are frequently smug when they hear Sydneysiders yammer on about a second airport, and they can be even smugger because they don't have to suffer Paul Sheehan as a resident fool infesting the pages of Fairfax opinion like a large brown cockroach offering up magic water cures.

And then Sheehan ends up with this:

If the time has come to embark on planning a multibillion-dollar second airport project, the compelling case and the compelling site have yet to converge.
Logic, not inertia, is why Sydney does not have a second airport

That's right. Logic. A three ring circus is dubbed logic. Ye suffering loons ...

The Federal government spent some eight million dollars producing a 3,200 page report presenting compelling commercial reasons - domestic and international - for a second airport - you can get it here in pdf form - and Sheehan in his usual cavalier way tosses his keyboard in the air and says there's no compelling case. As if that's a comprehensive answer.

Of course Sheehan could have spent a little equal opportunity time scribbling about how Barry O'Farrell is off in la la land with his talk about a high speed rail link to Canberra or to Newcastle, as if people flying from Melbourne would want to fly to Canberra and train in to Sydney.

But that's not the loyalist Sheehan way. You have to go elsewhere to discover sense being talked:

For readers not in Sydney or Australia we are not making this up. This fruit cake nuttiness is for real.
In the future as Premier O’Farrell sees it, you will come to Sydney, the global city, via Canberra, where instead of then catching another plane to Sydney, you will catch a train that hasn’t yet been built.
Let’s see. Maybe you won’t fly or even rail on to Sydney. You might just find your business is really in Canberra, global capital of Australia, where corporations have fled to avoid the Sydney lunacy, since Canberra is well connected, not just with government and public administration at a Commonwealth level, but to an interstate flights network or two, as well as to Asia because of the O’Farrell inspired boom in international services Sydney thought were its birthright, because, you know, we’re so important we can do without convenient transport links.
What a circus. (Ben Sandilands, here)

Well every circus needs its clowns, and by golly Sheehan has passed the audition with flying colours.

It's a level of clowning and brazen cheek that could only be matched by a truly consummate player. Come on down Paul Keating, and scribble Airport site is a victim of political expediency for the Daily Terror.

It was of course the Hawke-Keating government that devised the third runway as a way of taking the heat out of pressures being experienced by the airport even in the eighties, and then when Keating took over, he did diddly squat about it. These days Keating likes to blame John Howard for derailing his initiative, but during his time in power he occasionally talked the talk, but he never walked the walk.

Hawke, Keating, John Howard, the federal Liberal and Labor parties, the NSW state Labor party, and now Barry O'Farrell and the current crop of state Liberals ...

No need for lions and elephants, when you can fill a three ring circus full of clowns.

Oh there's a few that can hold their heads up. Gary Punch honourably resigned at the Hawke government's lack of resolution and foresight, but if you want an example of how long a vaudeville routine can endure, have a look at the transcript for a Four Corners program broadcast on the 2nd March 1998, Terminal Folly:

Albanese: What we're left with is a.. is Sydney's er.. aviation problems in terms of satisfying its needs and the need for a second Sydney Airport still there, um... but years in which progress should have been made having been lost.. er.. substantial community opposition to any.. any er.. concerns in terms of fixing the problem er.. are all there, so we've gone backwards, and I think that er.. I think that it is one of the.. the blights on um.. on Bob Hawke, the fact that that's the case.

Yes, yes, Albo, but who opened the third runway? Mr. Punch?

Punch: There's absolutely no doubt. The...the third runway was the beginning of the end for Bob Hawke. It was an expensive price that he paid.

So Paul Keating got to open the third runway as Prime Minister in November 1994. He'd supported the third runway too, but he wasn't branded a traitor to ALP policy as harshly as Bob Hawke was.

Now he gets to write columns for the Terror explaining how he was at one with Badgery's Creek and wanted to go all the way ... except when it came to turning the first sod during his five years in power.

Well we started off by talking about futurism and planning for the future, and we ended up with a gabbling, clucking bunch of Sydney chooks, led by that fine Fairfax fowl Paul Sheehan, and the pond will be long gone before the chooks find a solution.

But we have to hand it to Barry O'Farrell. As the newest chook in the hot seat, he's right up there with Paul Sheehan in delusionary fast train to Canberra chook land ...

(Below: and now since the pond is determined to sort out the matter of WWJD, we've had the suggestion of a hearse, but what about this veeeehikul? Next week WWJF, provided it's agreed Jesus would never fly into Badgery's creek, he'd take a very fast donkey from Canberra).


  1. One may ask oneself if Sheehan has had one to many lunches with any of the Krogers, and whether his rage is rooted in the demotion of Helen Kroger on the Senate ticket. Old termagants unite!

  2. Dorothy, everyone knows Jesus drives big buses that are not rainbow coloured!


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