Auburn: Sick of being dumped on


Tamara Pearson, Sydney

Forget the artist's impression of the Sydney western suburb of Auburn: the sleek and slender buildings, clean wide streets, happy people walking dogs in pretty parks with tall, blooming trees.

As construction on the Collex plant in Auburn, which will process all of Sydney's waste, has already begun, what we can expect instead is hundreds of noisy garbage trucks grumbling through our streets every day (leaving a trail of foul smells behind them). And we can expect noise pollution and the smell of the rotting garbage from the plant itself, a friendly new population of vermin and increased incidence of asthma, gastro intestinal disease, and other respiratory diseases.

In December, the NSW Land and Environment Court ruled against the construction of the Auburn dump on the grounds that it would have a major impact on the air quality of the suburb, but Labor Premier Bob Carr's government introduced special legislation overriding the decision.

Once this dump is built, it will also be a lot easier for other noxious industries to follow. Given Sydney's high housing prices, Auburn homeowners are unlikely to be able to relocate somewhere safer once the dump kicks in and the value of their homes plummets.

We're sick of being dumped on.

Now the seven other regional dumps will be dismantled, and all the rubbish will be processed in the middle of our suburb.

Auburn is one of the poorest suburbs in Sydney, with the highest proportion of people from non-English speaking backgrounds, and the highest proportion of temporary protection visa holders. Considering Carr's record of racism against people of Middle Eastern descent, the location of the dump chosen by Collex — and approved by the government — is no surprise.

Collex's motto for sustainable development is "People, planet, profit", and they say, in the typical corporate hyperbabble: "For us, sustainable development means adopting business strategies and activities that meet the needs of Collex and its stakeholders today while protecting, supporting and enhancing the human and natural resources that will be needed in the future."

Collex's parent company, Vivendi, is an infamous corporate crook, regularly bribing government officials across the world to encourage the privatisation of government services such as waste disposal and water services.

One of Vivendi's specialties is privatising water supplies, making water unaffordable for many people, while reaping a profit of US$12 billion from this industry in 2002.

Collex's donation of A$80,000 to the NSW ALP reeks of Vivendi's corruption.

Lisa Macdonald, the Socialist Alliance candidate for Auburn in the March 27 local council elections, and its candidate for the federal seat of Reid, believes it is up to the community to stop the completion of the dump.

"The thousands of Auburn people who have signed petitions and demonstrated against the dump must be galvanised into a broad and democratic community campaign", she says.

"Recycling of rubbish needs to be maximised, and the control of waste needs to be put back into public hands, so that our waste can be managed according to the needs of people and the environment, not profit."

[Tamara Pearson is a Socialist Alliance member who lives in Auburn.]

From Green Left Weekly, February 25, 2004.
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