The trivial tribulations of Gladys Berejiklian versus true crime stories
Written by: Louisa L. on 8 November 2021
As late October rolled through NSW, family and friends emerged from virtual connections to face to face happiness. Fuller lives beckoned beyond our five kilometres.
It’s notable then, that in early November with people thoroughly sick of the online world, a NSW ICAC livestream crashed when ex-premier Gladys Berejiklian was grilled over corruption allegations.
It’s almost certainly a first for a corruption or royal commission in any jurisdiction.
The massive bank rip-offs, that destroyed thousands of lives? The NT Commission into Dondale where young First Peoples were routinely tortured? Neither of these grabbed as much real time online interest here as the words of Gladys and her secret boyfriend.
Whether gleeful or sympathetic to the apparent fall of the workaholic Gladys, the minute-by-minute account saw many thousands determined to know first the story’s unfolding.
What did they hear? That pork barrelling is legal and everybody does it. That colleagues and ex-colleagues were prepared to throw her under the bus. That the line in the sand of corruption might be failing to say she had a conflict of interest in funding a clay pigeon centre and hospital in Wagga Wagga, because of her relationship with boyfriend Daryl McGuire. And that they were truly in love and were considering marriage and children (Daryl) or yes to the first, and no to the second and third (Gladys).
This 24/7 online connection parades the trivial as ground breaking.
It reduced the huge class forces operating across NSW, and the country, to individual failings or criminality.
What are the real crimes? Many and varied, none of them belonging solely on the ex-premier’s shoulders.
The far right of Berejiklian’s Coalition have been gunning for her for several years, for all the wrong individualist reasons.
Let’s set that aside and start with skyrocketing housing prices and its trappings: new high rise (some uninhabitable) looming over numerous suburban areas; demolition of swathes of homes a century or more old; Covid used to force a CFMEU backdown on its first green ban in decades on 1886 riverside mansion Willow Grove in Parramatta.
Developments pave almost the entire Sydney basin, and concrete sprawl spreads to much of the coast and regions. There’s toll road construction and privatisation, plus tolls on previously free roads.
Home owners and renters are evicted for an airport, for car parks, for roads. Payments totally inadequate.
Who benefits? Foreign owned developer and construction corporations, real estate giants and banks. WestConnex, is set to reap $11 billion in coming years from tolls on just one section of previously free, public road, the M5 East.
Who in Sydney or the coast or regional towns decided they wanted their towns or cities to change like this for the benefit of monopoly capitalists? When were we asked? Democracy? We’re expected to swallow the whole scam.
Use and exchange
Sydney homeowners are slandered as thieving from the young people, who are priced out of a manipulated market that benefits giant corporations most, a market a minority of homeowners are involved in.
We’re "richer than we’ve ever been". Ah yes! We’re all investors waiting to reap profits.
Yet, for most of us, our homes have what Marx defines as having "use value". We just want to live in them not use them as "exchange values" in search of greater resale profits.
Beyond shelter (denied by poverty to too many people here) the deepest parts of that use value are the neighbourly relationships built over decades, families raised and gardens planted with hard work and love. We have furniture and objects we purchased or inherited to use in such and such a specific spot, that maybe catches the light, or lifts a dark corner, or reminds us of the loved one who once owned it or gifted it to us.
Maori, who owned far less, speak of an object being imbued with the spirit of those who once owned it.
Maybe when we die or head to nursing homes or downsize, all our stuff will be junked, our gardens and homes flattened. Only then will profit, from use value transformed to exchange value, be realised.
But for now, owners are paying upwards of 25 per cent more for land rates, which will cause many real hardship.
Another crime. Decades of regurgitated mantra that the "deadly Pacific Highway" between Sydney and Queensland, needing dual carriageway now reveals itself as opening the lovely north coast to the blight of overdevelopment.
Southwards, remaining bright beauties like the Farm south of Wollongong are set for plunder as the highway expands southwards. (The opening seconds of this writer’s first post lockdown city visit last week saw a group with placards protesting developments in beautiful South Kiama, a little further down the road.)
This decade, bird species have plummeted across the Sydney basin as concrete displaces wild habitat, prime farmland and welcoming back yards. Koalas face the chop, along with numerous small mammals, insects, reptiles, rare plants and fungi.
Ecological disaster spreads. New tunnels are planned through the Blue Mountains seeing the next "glittering future" spreading westwards.
This writer directly experienced other disasters, the 2019-2020 fires and the 2017 north coast floods, plus the aftermath of the 2020 floods, and wrote about them all. Ideas germinated from Laurieton Services Club evacuation centre where "greenies" were loudly blamed, though climate change was key. Divide and conquer raged with the flames.
Wild places near Laurieton are increasingly suburbanised in direct capitalist destruction.
The whole area is Birpai Country, overlooked by Dooragen, or the North Brother mountain. There are three brother mountains in all. Cook also named them brothers, North Brother, Middle Brother and South Brother, as he sailed by.
Dooragen murdered his young brother, then he and his remaining innocent brother were killed by their enraged mother, because the youngest was her favourite.
The Brothers were transformed into mountains as a warning to act collectively.
First Peoples know through adaptation to tens of thousands of years of ice ages and warming, of changed shorelines, inundations and droughts, that nature must be respected. They understand its living interconnections. Their Lore embodies this because it comes from Country and Water. They are owed much unpaid rent!
Dooragen’s story against favouritism, jumping to conclusions and attacking each other, contrasts with capitalism’s divide and conquer individualism.
Its message contrasts with the trivial pursuit of an ex-premier to guilt for greater crimes, of selling out precious lands and waters to benefit corporate masters.
It’s ruling class crime, gigantic in scale. Divided and passive though our peoples often are, we must find the ways to collective resistance. If we don’t try, we are already defeated.
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