By Shane Bentley
SYDNEY — Anticipating an August announcement by the federal Coalition government that a 24-hour airport will be built at Badgerys Creek, thousands of western Sydney residents have rallied to say "no". The next rally is planned for August 8, 1.30pm at the Marconi Club in Bossley Park.
Local media estimated that up to 3000 people attended the July 25 "No Badgerys Creek!" meeting at the Joan Sutherland Centre in Penrith. The meeting was organised by the Western Sydney Alliance (WSA), a coalition of 10 local councils and various community groups.
Speakers included Kay Vella from Communities Against an Airport in Western Sydney, the state Labor MP for Penrith, Faye Lo Po', Penrith Mayor John Bateman, the NSW independent MP for Bligh, Clover Moore, and 1970s "green bans" leader Jack Mundey.
The federal Liberal MP for Lindsay, Jackie Kelly, also spoke. She received both cheers and jeers from the otherwise appreciative crowd. She has been criticised for her ambiguous reaction to the latest airport environmental impact statement.
Protesters also directed animosity towards NSW Labor Premier Bob Carr, PM John Howard and National Party leader John Anderson. They were invited to the meeting but did not attend.
At another WSA meeting at the Camden Civic Centre on July 28, around 1000 people heard speeches from Peter Corker from the Fairfield Residents' Anti-Airport Group, local NSW MPs and Camden Mayor Geoff Corrigan.
Community activist and Democratic Socialist Party member Alastair Dickinson told Green Left Weekly that the local council-organised meetings were a good start, but were not enough to ensure the defeat of the Badgerys Creek proposal. "The WSA is made up predominantly of politicians from the same parties — Liberal and Labor — that are gunning at the federal level for a second airport in Sydney. I am certain that the councils would not be putting in the same effort against Badgerys Creek if council elections weren't scheduled for September.
"This campaign needs to involve large numbers of residents, community activists and trade unions in a whole variety of protest activities if it is to stop the Badgerys Creek airport."
Dickinson pointed to campaigns such as the Builders' Labourers Federation-led green bans movement of the 1970s as an example of what is needed. "The second airport at Badgerys Creek can be stopped, but not by relying on Labor and Liberal politicians or parliamentary manoeuvres", he said.