Save Our Rail fails to find evidence of corruption
COMMENT: Pointless inquiry provides platform for posturing but reveals nothing to help cityBy JASON GORDON
IF the Fred Nile inquiry was designed to embarrass a few bureaucrats and allow a few people to vent their anger at recent planning decisions in Newcastle, it has so far succeeded.
If it was about proving that something was rotten in the old steel city, or about finding an evil underworld of rich people corrupting the process, its first public hearing failed miserably.
In what became nothing more than a political sideshow, Friday’s first public hearing into planning processes gave us nothing significant which we didn’t already know.
It would be hard to find anyone in this city who wasn’t left disappointed, disillusioned and angry by recent revelations made before the Independent Commission Against Corruption.
Most, in my opinion, would be left further disillusioned by the political posturing, the grandstanding and complete waste of time and taxpayer money that played out on the second floor of Newcastle’s Novotel hotel on Friday.
If Fred Nile hasn’t already written his inquiry’s findings, he already knows what they are. He gave us a hint on Friday morning when he went on a number of Hunter radio stations to say he wanted the state government to at least postpone its planned Boxing Day truncation of the rail line because the community didn’t want the rail line to go.
Really? There are plenty who do, Fred – certainly as many as those who don’t. And in the middle are the rest of us who were just glad to see a damn decision made one way or the other.
What concerns me more is that those words came from the Christian Democrat leader before he had heard a word from anyone presenting a case to the inquiry.
How independent a chairman is he when he’s made his mind up before he’s heard any evidence at an inquiry he’s supposed to be running?
Sorry Fred, but the revelations of the ICAC inquiry left me without a lot of confidence in ‘‘the system’’. You’ve just made it a lot worse.
There is no doubt that some of the groups presenting to the inquiry on Friday have legitimate concerns and feel alienated by some of the processes.
The people of this city will forever debate the issues they raised, particularly around the rail line, just as they have done for decades.
But where is this inquiry taking us?
Is it just about giving a voice to those who want to vent their frustrations at recent planning decisions or is it genuinely about reforming a broken system?
Linda Voltz and David Shoebridge gave us every inch of the evidence we needed that this whole shebang was more about political gain and political whipping than anything else.
Was there anything presented to the public hearing that wasn’t in the submissions already presented to the inquiry? Anything at all we didn’t already know? If there was, I missed it, but feel free to let me know if I’m wrong.
And what of any recommendations your inquiry makes? Aren’t I right in saying the government won’t be required to adopt them anyway, regardless of what they are?
I actually felt sorry for some of the bureaucrats dragged into the quagmire on Friday – some more than others. I also felt sorry for a few of those community groups with genuine grievances – some more than others.
But you know who I feel sorry for the most? This grand old city, which keeps getting pulled and torn in 26 different directions. The grand old city that is continually hijacked by stupid politicians and divided by the same old arguments that have hamstrung it for decades.
With all respect to you, Reverend Nile, and to the rest of your upper house inquiry members who none of us really know, hear me when I say your inquiry is just adding to the problem.