Live, Music, News & Commentary, Stage, Visual Arts

Sydney: A Case Study in How To Suffocate A Vibrant City

| |

Dear fellow managers of cities around the world,

Is your city at risk of becoming too vibrant?
Is your city becoming far too interesting a place to live?

If so,­ then we’ve put together this case study for you.

Over the past few years down here in Sydney, we’ve learnt many lessons that we felt were important to share with you. You see, after quite the concerted effort ­we’ve managed to pull our wayward city back into line.

For a long time, Sydney was beginning to thrive. There were late nights, it was brimming with effervescence and some actual personality was beginning to show in its swagger. There were even whisperings of that word, ‘culture’. Alongside its natural beauty, it was becoming a charming place to live. Sydneysiders began to talk about their home like it was an ‘international city’. You know, up there with the likes of New York, London and Tokyo.

Something had to be done.

So, after much consideration, and much ‘trial and error’ ­ we created and implemented what we like to call “The Seventeen Steps of Sydney.”

We believe that a clinical implementation of these simple steps will help you to knock the life blood out of your city. In no time at all, you’ll begin to taste the vanilla again and to relax with a smooth regime of comfortable predictability. We recommend just working through them, one by one.

Of course, always open to feedback and suggestions on on how to optimise these straightforward controls.

Kind regards,
The Managers of Sydney

Step 1: Cost Of Living — Exorbitant Is Best

Everything is a rip-off down here. Businesses charge whatever they can get away with. We do nothing to quell that and we actually encourage the belief that high prices are the norm. $4 for a coffee. $5 for a bunch of bananas. The more they’re spending on the basic staples, the less they have to spend on going out and having a good time.

Step 2: Property Prices — Allow Them To Soar

This has been an easy one. We just sat back and did nothing! Property in the city centre is now unobtainable. This suits us, because it pushes the riff raff further out West to fend for themselves and to spend money on our toll roads (see Step 11). It also keeps the more manageable ‘nouveau riche’ closer to the centre (see Step 3). Meanwhile, we maintain the myth that inner city property is still ‘aspirational’. Also, high property prices lead to rental hikes ­which means less spending money again for leisure activities.

Interestingly, the absurd property prices dominate much of the local conversation.
“What did you pay for it? How much did it go for? Did you hear about so and so?”
There’s a healthy level of property gossip and hearsay. This suits us, because if the population is preoccupied with this sort of crap, there is less of a need for more cerebral things like the arts (see Step 7) and museums (see Step 8).

Step 3: Gentrify — Wheel In The ‘Nouveau Riche’

We adore this group because they’re vanilla, colourless and spend a fortune on active wear. With their help, some of the more interesting suburbs in the city centre have been gentrified and sanitised. They have a real knack for applying that uptight polish of theirs. They’ve also been loyal allies in the fight against inner city noise from raucous places like beer gardens, nightclubs and music venues. All you need to do to keep them happy is to give them rich coffee and clean parks where they can ogle each other, do yoga and talk property.

Step 4: ­Public Spaces — Stifle The Use Of Them

A city with vibrant public spaces is one inclined to thrive. So we do what we can to stifle these. Alcohol is banned in most public piazzas. This hardcore stance has helped to eliminate that lovely aura you get in cities like Madrid, Milan and Paris, where locals congregate in main squares to share red wine and to chat. We don’t waste our time in offering initiatives for these spaces either, like cool activities for the kids or world­class buskers for atmosphere.

Step 5: ­Nightlife — Implement A Curfew

We heard these were incredibly effective in the European cities during WWII. So we thought we’d give them a go in Sydney during peacetime. All you have to do is give them a cute name like ‘lockouts’, and your electorate will think they’re all about safety, rather than control. Even though Sydney consistently ranks in the top ten safest cities in the world, we still think there’s room for improvement. What’s more, if you give these bastards an inch they’ll only take a mile.

Step 6: ­Security — Empower The ‘Bouncer’ Community

Our police force is often stretched hunting for speeding fines and busting jaywalkers (see Step 16). So we lean heavily on a robust community of security staff, more affectionately known as ‘bouncers’. These guys patrol every night time venue in the city and hustle to keep a fastened lid on any form of excitement or fun. They’re like hawks in spotting the smallest signs of inebriation. Often, they’ll refuse entry or service without a reason, and take real pride in squashing the flow of a fun night out. Great bunch of blokes.

Step 7:­ The Arts — Spend Your Money On The “Cherries”

With your arts funding, invest all of it on the ‘cherry’ venues ­then just ignore the rest of the cake.You’ll then be able to tell the world and the media that you’re kicking goals. As long as your ‘Opera House’ glistens, your ‘Walsh Bay’ is in good nick and your ‘Carriageworks’ is smiling, ­there’s no need to concern yourself with the rest of it. Everyone is down at the beach half the time anyway, or bitching about those property prices to worry about the lack of creative vision.

Step 8: Museums — Move Them Out The Centre

We’re moving ours out West, where we’ve been telling Sydneysiders the new cultural centre of the future will be. They’ve been swallowing that crap for years! We know, we know ­Berlin, Amsterdam and Buenos Aires (not to mention most big capitals) all concentrate their museums in the centre where the tourists visit. However, when everyone else zigs, we prefer to zag. After all, if we followed this trend, then we couldn’t sell off the prime real estate to developers to build more unaffordable apartments to peddle to the nouveau riche. See how it’s all just one big jigsaw puzzle!?

Step 9: ­The Music Scene — Turn Off The Taps

Rigid implementation of Step 3 and Step 5 should be enough to tick this box. Simple.

Step 10: ­Heritage — Casinos Are To Sydney, As Cathedrals Are To Rome

Here’s a bit of local knowledge that you won’t find in Lonely Planet. Gambling is to Sydneysiders, as bullfights are to the Spanish or burritos are to the Mexicans. Visiting casinos, therefore, is a quintessential part of life in our city. Fostering cultural fundamentals, like this one, are critical. We make sure our casinos have preference, pride and place. We also make a pretty penny from them too, which is a bonus. This then allows us to fund new toll road projects, polish the Opera House and hire more police officers.

Step 11: ­Roads — Enough Toll Roads Is Never Enough

Sydneysiders love sitting in traffic and paying extortionate tolls. Without a good transport network, they don’t have much choice and it’s another great way to keep them out of trouble. Once again on this step ­ not much to do, but loads to promote. We just think of the concept, bulldoze some old houses, sell the idea to a business and they build and manage it. That way, we can take credit or absolve ourselves ­where needed. When locals kick up a stink about the surrounding routes being strategically choked up, we fall back upon our default response of “Wasn’t us, it was them”. Seamless!

Step 12: ­Transport — Dilly Dally On The Infrastructure

If you take a step into two of our main train stations, ­Wynyard or Town Hall ­ you can quite honestly still smell some of the 1960s. Down there, they blow these outrageous whistles and attempt to slow down trains by waving big orange flags. It’s hilarious! In all seriousness though, after years of trying to get away with just ‘talk’ ­ we’ve finally decided to build these whingers a light rail. Cheekily though, we had a good giggle along the way. We told them we needed to tear out some of their favourite trees to build the thing. “Progress means sacrifice”. Never let them forget that.

Step 13: ­Taxi Industry — Strive To Maintain Your Monopoly

The ideal taxi industry model is a monopolised one. For years, all of us were making a killing. We’d charge the customer through the nose, while paying the driver a pittance. It was quite the racket! It’s only been recently that we’ve conceded some ground to an irreverent community push for more competition. We keep the locals flummoxed, though, by not giving the driver’s knowledge tests and swapping them over at the same time as the pubs shut. You’ll often see the them frustrated, sitting in the front seat, having to direct the driver all the way home.

Step 14: ­Parking — Torment Them With Meters

Once you’ve identified the most beautiful spots in your city, inundate them with parking meters. These things are a simple way to piss off the locals and to remind them that this is not their city. Always prioritise parking infrastructure over secondary things ­ like playing fields, community centres and general suburban ambience. Furthermore, these will discourage the Westies from migrating in to visit the beaches. These traditional family days out will increasingly feel like a ‘chore’, or an ‘expense’, rather than a ‘joy’.

Step 15: ­The Cycling Community — Make Life Tough For Them

The more cyclists you have, the less tollway and parking meter revenue you can generate, and the fewer speeding fines you can tally up each year. Cyclists are near impossible to milk revenue out of and they’re frighteningly independent. So, we just intimidate our cycling community. We stymie their infrastructure and force them to carry identification, even if they’re riding down to the shops to buy a litre of milk. Keep those bastards on their toes.

Step 16: ­Police — Hunt For Infringement Revenue

With a large police force, low crime rate and a population that still doesn’t know what’s good for them ­one of our favourite things to do when we’re bored is to hunt down infringement revenue. It’s easy pickings and a simple way to keep them uptight and on the backfoot. Jaywalking, not wearing a helmet, parking crimes and speed excesses we sting ‘em for all they’ve got. The higher the fines, the less they’ve got to spend on piss and the better the books look at tax time.

Step 17: ­ New Years Eve — Give Them A Real Party

The final step is one we’re proud of. Proud, because it’s cunningly creative. On New Year’s Eve, we grab a big handful of cash out of the overspilling coffersand basically, just blow it up! Then, underneath one of the world’s most drawn out fireworks displays, we have our final laugh of the year.

We tell them that the curfew has generously been switched off for the night. We tell them the transport will run until dawn. But then when they make it down to the harbour foreshore to marvel at the expensive drama we tell them they’re not allowed to have a drop of alcohol in public spaces. They can’t share a bottle of red and they can’t sip on a cold beer. And if they do? Well, we sting them for it. You should see their faces, it’s classic! And yet, they always just seem to roll with it. No one ever says a thing.

Writer Joseph O’Donoghue supports Clover Moore in the upcoming City of Sydney elections.





Sydneyweb 2 - CBD Space

53 responses to “Sydney: A Case Study in How To Suffocate A Vibrant City

  1. Hmmm…funny how you dump on gentrifiers and then dump on Western Sydney. Your arguments are interesting and its fine to vent…but I am unsure who this article is for.

    Certainly the Arts funding only “cherries” is VERY TRUE but that’s what Govt always wants.

    The Real Secret is Australian cities will NEVER be as good as International ones. Just too good a life and too much apathy I’m afraid. No real sense of risk at all.

  2. Great article, we should all forward to Mike Baird’s email address, no doubt it will be reported as a DoS (Denial of Service attack).

  3. Sorry Scott,
    I disagree. Sydney was as good as anywhere, until we started trying to compete and be “international”. First, kill off the band scene with fire regulations and replace it with pokies and bland dance clubs, throw in moral panic about safety, whipped up by shock jocks, the Tele and the SMH, and you have the unfortunate, vanilla mess we live in now.

  4. Unfortunately spot on. It’s been going on since the british came 250 years back – for the authorities to make sure that the peasants ‘ grovel for their existence’ and that they pay through the nose for it. No fun allowed.

  5. Wow, stunningly accurate article. The truly scary thing abut these Sydney inner city ‘steps’ is just how applicable almost all are to the Brisbane city centre as well. What makes this worse for Sydney is the gobsmacking issuing by the State LNP of two Council votes for every registered inner city business – seriously? How is this even allowed, much less justified? Hey, why not give …let’s say…, three votes for every sole-trader cleaner & gardner servicing exclusive inner city LNP electorates for the next Federal election..?

  6. Probably all true, but the reason why the entertainment scene works in other places but is tightly controlled in Sydney, is that the local yokels don;t know what the responsible use of alcohol means, with the inevitable consequences ending up in our city hospitals.

      1. MDX can you tell me more about why you disagree? It’s my experience from working in bars & nightclubs in Australia, Canada and the U.S. that Aussie are much more aggressive drunks than the other two. And from being a patron in many other places around the world, I can’t say I’ve ever seen the aggressive nightlife behaviour that I’ve seen every night I’ve ever been out in all of my years in Sydney and Bris. It stands out to me, but I’m interested that you haven’t seen the difference? Where have you seen the fights etc when at bars overseas? Or where do you not see it in Australia?

  7. I have to say, on their own, they are great points. But together, if I gave it some time, I feel the holes will stand out.

    I would probably hold that writing 17 points on how Sydney sucks, and who is responsible, is quite an Australian thing to do.

    Yes, people love their property prices, and they are scared to rock the boat etc etc, but you are talking mainly about Anglo-Australians who keep to certain beliefs.

    We aren’t going to be AA forever, and the more we become Chinese (first Portugese, Dutch (failed), English (win), French (fail)) in the next 100 years, the above list will change as well.

    As the AA populate become more ethnic-enclaved, the fear of thousands of bogans losing it every night will dissipate away.

    Sydney is the long-game like all cities in the world, and the current list is a pissed-off list that may or may not last this author’s lifetime. Sometime soon, he, like me and probably others, will be a part of it to a degree.

    The minutes going to a music gig becomes ‘done’, and I have a kid, I want quiet. I dont want others to stop having fun, but personally, the lock-down doesnt affect me because I dont need younger people to approve of me and to have lot of acquaintences that, if given the moment, wouldn’t visit their best hipster friend in hospital with second degree burns [true story]. They are notoriously undependable when it comes to real things happening in life.

    A lot of the above seems to be about having this world propped up. Good luck to them. I wanted that desperately at 28.

    Baird will go eventually. We will have our survival needs met. If the new inner-city needs to pop up in Banksia, then so be it.

    Otherwise, if we wanted to change anything above for real, I still dont have a greater idea on how to do this. And in the end, this article comes short.

    But I like the issues raised here.

  8. Step 3 describes today’s bland Balmain. I’ve lived here 40 years. The interesting people have moved to Newtown, replaced by escapees from Hunter’s Hill and Wahroonga who paint their houses shades of grey to reflect their personalities, then complain about the noise from pubs that have been here 100 years or more. Welcome to Dead Balmain. I’m staying, hoping the tide will change again. And the ferry is just down the road.

    1. And lock little fingers (not pinkys) David. I’ve lived in Paddington and the same is the same. No communities in pubs any more, just Trendoids locked in to their own electronic masturbation and clicking through number after desperate number in their even more desperate need to be thought of as NOT ALONE. And, horror of horrors, actually share a smile and a chat WITH A PERSON THEY DON’T KNOW AND WHO MIGHT EVEN BE FLESH AND BLOOD REAL!!

      The old and very lovely apartment where I live now has a backstreet photo on line, obviously taken by Drone. I keep getting inundated by agents, who have obviously checked when my apartment was last sold, and hoping I will die soon and give them my post mortem business, neither of which I intend to do very soon. Nevertheless, WITHOUT ANY SORT OF PERMISSION, my place is estimated at a low and high price and a medium of $1.3M, without anyone ever seeing inside (of course) but at least whoever posted had the good grace to add: NOT FOR SALE AT THE MOMENT. (!!!).

      The Paddington shops that were interesting and different when I first moved back to Sydney after 11 years of living in London and Madrid, have now been replaced by shoe shops and sushi. The few really good neighbourhood shops (like Paddington Fresh) have to work really hard to continue to exist. (Most) Paddington pubs are no longer places where all sorts of people come and drink and exchange conversation. Has anyone ever rediscovered the fact that the word Pub is short-hand for a Public House, which means just that?

      The last pub to reopen, The Paddington Inn, in William St./Oxford St., has just opened its new (old) distressed timber doors after many months and zillions of dollars refurbishment. A year ago it was a place where you went to meet and exchange with old Creatives like yourself, still working writers and musicians as well as people, famous or not, who had lived in Paddington all of their lives.. Now The Paddington Inn, gussied up to the max (but with trees in big planters dying from neglect) offers Share Plates (UGGH!) of main course meals for $69 and $10 a glass for the House White.

      Paddington Markets killed the goose that laid the golden egg when it upped its rental price a number of years ago. Now, except for a few welcome pockets (like the 3 Weeds next to the Arts Hotel in Oxford St.) it has done the same with its pubs. Not for the tourists, who used to love the Paddo scene with its live music, affordable and good food and wine and even sell behaved dogs allowed in. The only people who frequent Paddo pubs now are mostly cashed-up locals who love to feel it’s there place and they call the shots. And the Beautifully Presented Staff of Justin Hemmes and his ilk and the Paddington Inn are just there taking Platinum Cards to their bosoms and doing just that.

      Good for you, David, to keep staying on, as I will as well for as long as I can. I fear the ferry you’re describing might be the one that plies across the River Stix. But I will NEVER give in to the resale of my home to agents who have intruded without my permission.

  9. Last time I was in Sydney and Melbourne, one thing I noticed was that the majority of new high rise apartment buildings weren’t lit up after dark. A case of the lights are off and nobody’s home. This mainly due to developments having been sold off the plan to foreign investors who are more than happy to park cash and aren’t too bothered about whether they are occupied. A recent Melbourne study by water utilty companies concluded: ‘The urban-renewal suburb of Docklands had the highest number of speculative vacancies, with 489 or 17 per cent consuming no water Iin 2013. Another 290 used less than 50 litres of water on average each day, leading to assumptions that they were empty or rarely used.’ This alone does two things: prices locals out of the market and contributing to ghost zones which destroys street-level activity and culture. Being that the housing and mortgage industry is now officually Australia’s biggest business sector (it shouldn’t be) the incentive to stifle it wouldn’t be there, thus perpetuating the problem. We’ve outsoured to Asia the auto, whitegoods, terxtile, footwear and clothing industry enriching them (instead of us) who then use their spoils to buy vacant Sydney apartments in these prime areas inner city areas. A self fulfilling prophesy.

    1. Lol the result of successive governments who have consistently failed to do the jobs we elect then for, which is to protect OUR interests, OUR incomes, OUR cost of living. Instead all they have done is line their pockets, set up their business buddies, and sell off or give away every single profitable industry in Australia to foreign interests, starting with the power, gas, water and telecommunications sectors. This country is going downhill and it is ALL thanx to the stupidity and greed of the rich and power hungry elitists of Australia, and probably other nations too, working to improve their own stations while failing miserably and visibly to achieve the goals they are employed to achieve.

      This country’s government needs to reclaim the mainstays of national income, the utilities. We need to bring gas, power, water and telecommunications back under government control, with all profits going into the federal coffers. We also need to stop allowing other interests to limit us – we are still 20-30 years behind the States for internet and communications technologies, and there really is no VALID need, reason or excuse to still be so far behind.

      This housing problem is just the latest in the long line of complete fuckups perpetrated time and again against the people of Australia by its own elected government and the external factors they kowtow to!

  10. My unhappy experience as a visitor to Sydney some years ago has left me with more than a bitter tast to Australia
    One New Year’s Eve whilst out with my family, brother, his wife, my daughter and my aging mother I somehow managed to get separated from them, being in a strange city New Year’s Eve in the thronging masses I decided to take a pew on a shop door front and watch the crowds whilst I considered my next move, now being an obvious law breaker I had a bottle of wine with me and decided to take a few sips as I watched revellers pass me by, some minuets later some guy came up to me and demanded my bottle of wine off of me, I obviously refused and told him to get on his way, not thinking much of it, some minuets later ‘on a main road in the city’ I was surrounded by four or five guys who started to attack me, one getting me in a choke hold whilst the others set about me with fists, obviously I tried to defend my self, till luckily ‘I thought’ the police arrived! It’s at this stage I’m made aware by someone these thugs are bouncers from an unbeknown nightclub some ways down the street who apparently have the right to meat out alcohol bylaws to anyone 100 feet either side of the club!?!?! I was having non of this and remonstrated with the police officer that ” I had just been attacked in the street and I wanted to press charges” the police officer said I was in the wrong, and that I had apparently been the aggressor and also to boot racist!!?!? Which came as a shock to me and probably my black girlfriend of 11 years, again I remonstrated with the officer, till a more senior officer amongst the group off attending walked up to me, and shouted ” are you fuckin def you Pom…FUCK OFF” and then PUSHED ME TO THE FLOOR!?!?… I now found my self on the floor in a main part of Sydney ‘Kings cross’ I belive it was called, with thugs standing around me laughing, as well as police standing over me as people looked on as they passed …. I got up , looked at them and said ” classy city” and walked off…

    That is your city and country for me, and that is why I’m glad I live where I do, and not in that nasty ugly chip on its shoulder back of nowhere shithole.

  11. Australian’s have it good, we just keep screwing it up for ourselves. I am an Australian living O.S. (in Japan, but also Korea and the U.K.) and I’ve been back plenty of times during this recent shutdown of the city. While some of the ‘vibrancy’ is gone, we only have ourselves to blame. For me it’s a cultural thing. Australian men in general are defined by this ridiculous ‘macho’ culture, where toughness defines your manliness. Generally quite a few of us also disregard others in the community – you can’t set up anything new and shiny without it being destroyed by someone else. These draconian measures have been put in place to stop people being idiotic towards each other and frankly the city should be safe and fun for everyone at night, not just people who drink. I don’t agree with the Baird government though, as it’s not the rules you need to change, but the people they are meant to govern.

    The other cities you mention (plus the one I am currently living in, Tokyo) don’t have these measures in place largely because they don’t need them. In Tokyo people aren’t drunk and throwing punches at each other. A woman can walk alone at night here at 2am and still feel safe (that took me a while to get used to seeing.) People get drunk here and they have a lot of fun and sometimes sleep in the streets in ridiculous poses (google it – hilarious) but they aren’t out to hurt each other. Even the drunks waking up in the streets the next morning know that when they wake, everything they own will still be on them because again – people aren’t blatantly assholes to other people here. In Australia it’s a different story. It’s not always ending in bloody violence but it doesn’t mean that all people felt safe in the streets. I know that stupid people will always do stupid things – we can never stop all of the idiocy – but the Sydney you speak of before the shutdown wasn’t as amazing for others as it was for you.

    My solution to improving Sydney nightlife:

    There should be more available then just places to drink, old Sydney nightlife was too one sided. Shops should open late at 11am (who buys dresses at 9am) and stay open until 9pm every f*ckin’ night not just Thursdays (my Japanese friend was laughing at the idea of late night shopping night…). It will mean cafes and restaurants can stay open later and they get more customers, which also means that there are then other opportunities to for other venues that aren’t just pubs or bars. But then I bring it back to culture – are Australians the late night types? Asian cities are truly 24 hours and most of it isn’t alcohol related. I can head out for coffee late with friends or grab great food (not just Pancakes at the Rocks or Kebabs) at 2am from any number of restaurants open late. Tokyo has a populace who are willing to shop, play and work (for horrible pay mind you) at these hours – would Australians be willing to work this late? Can business afford the time and a half costs of wages?

    1. You sorta have the right idea, but two main points I disagree with is that Sydney men are overly violent and drunk in comparison to other places. I find that to be a lazy stereotype that doesn’t have much grounding in facts. Also, yes Asia is dynamic night and day, but you’re kidding yourself if you think a lot of it isn’t based on alcohol. Particularly in Japan and Korea. The issue in Sydney is not with the people, that’s what the establishment want you to think. No, the issue is poor governance that restricts businesses from opening into the night and people from making the culture they want to participate in.

      1. Not Sydney men.. Australian men… English on the same level… For some reason, Irish in Australia are also on the same page….

      2. Ever lived anywhere else, Ted? I agree with Roberto, particularly about the almost singular focus on the consumption of alcohol. And frankly, blaming ‘the establishment’ is just lame.

      1. You can blame our retarded self-defence laws for this shit. When something real happens, bouncers have literally no power to defend themselves without landing up in court and getting SENT INTO JAIL because the bad guy wins the case.

        We need to go back to the old days when bouncers were allowed to bash the living daylights out of people who kept taunting them and threatening them while drunk. But no, some office-dwelling hipster made laws that said we need to have “proportionality” in our response, which means if someone is threatening to bash you up, you respond by giving them flowers and roses and telling them how much you love them. Either that, or risk being prosecuted for assault or “emotional distress.”

  12. Some good points raised in the article and in the comments… but also many fabrications and red herrings…. My take is that the ‘Sydney’ people say is lost, never existed in the first place… It’s an illusion… Looking back to the halcyon days of Sydney with rose colored glasses is not doing anyone any favors… .. The suggestion that late night culture in Sydney was a sophisticated, bohemian affair comparable to Europe is simply not true. Just because YU, Chinese Laundry, Soho, Cargo and Backroom et al allowed people to run amok whilst listening to questionable house music, doesn’t mean we had a night life to be proud of. Night time in central Sydney was not a time for the whole community, it was safely accessible to a small portion. A large percentage of people out at night were out of control. Not all were violent, but many were. And many more far too drunk for their own good. I’ve been one of them on many occasions. There is no way a tourist would have been advised to take a young family or older guests through Kings X on a Thurs/Fri/Sat night. I shed no tears for Kings X, as the proprietors, many with affiliations to organised crime, were milking the cow too long without taking personal responsibility. Sure the lock out laws and associated measures are bad policy, but there is no denying something needed to be done about late night, forgive me for saying it ‘Alcohol fuelled’ culture and violence, in some areas, specifically Kings X. My take is this… As a nation we’re hopelessly insecure, and that manifests itself in excess drinking or violence under the influence…. As far as Sydney is concerned the traffic is bad, the property prices are high and the nightlife is questionable… but you can still catch the Ferry from Circular Quay to Manly, you can still have a beer at the Watsons Bay Hotel, you can still go for a bushwalk in the Blue Mountains, you can catch a show at the Opera House, you can go for a swim at Gordon’s Bay or watch cricket at the SCG… The world is changing and whilst its not perfect in Sydney, you’re in the lucky few who have this at your doorstep, be grateful…

    1. Your comment ignores that the reason the nightlife offerings left much to be desired were the fault of legislators. The larger, seedier clubs gained prominence because the licenses were so expensive, only crooks were able to afford them, and because the government/police turned a blind eye to the backgrounds of the operators. Meanwhile, little guys weren’t allowed into the market until 2008 when small bar licenses were passed and nightlife began to diversify. Meanwhile, the issues you point to about violence and drunkenness aren’t unique to Sydney, and all indicators suggest a downward trend in both alcohol consumption and assaults since 2008 (since the diversification of bars… coincidence? You decide.). The last few sentences of yours amounts to a melange of ‘bend over and take it’ and ‘here, have a lollipop’.

      1. Simplistic to say only crooks could afford licenses so only those venues prospered. Demand created those venues. It’s the reason Hemmes venues are always full. Most kids like the supermarket style nightlife. They go with the flow. They don’t want intellectually stimulating debate over candle light. They want strobe lights and shots. Doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be a place for less mainstream venues but a majority of these offerings are even superficial. Live music venues have been disappearing for the last three decades so it’s not like it was utopia pre lock out. Also, the insinuation that there has been a downward trend in violence is definitely up for debate. On my final point, sure there is bit by of both… But the overwhelming sentiment is – the city is different and will never compare with the great cities of the world on many fronts, but they won’t compare in many other aspects – appreciate what’s great about the city rather than continually whinging about some of the issues.

    2. Joe’s article is depressingly accurate in so many ways, despite all of the efforts of Sydney’s Lord Mayor Clover Moore to bring our city into the 21st century. The NSW government recently passed legislation to allow businesses 2 votes each in the City of Sydney’s upcoming elections, compared to 1 vote for actual residents of the city. And the businesses that don’t vote (because their owners don’t live in the city, which is typical) will be fined. Ah, how the NSW government loves its fine revenue! They are determined convert the remaining open space in Sydney to overpriced and jerrybuilt blocks of flats, with no nightlife or amenities. Why do you need nightlife in a city with one of the world’s highest rates of forced unpaid overtime?

    3. Spot on post, lived there 30 years, last decade in Paddo, Bondi and Coogee, Sydney used to be rough as guts, yobbos abounding. The O’Donoghue article is in fact self contradictory or unusually ignorant, even for a commentator. Bananas and coffee are expensive because the property prices are high and the purveyor of goods has to pay the rent – which is based on the property price. Grow up, get some business knowledge, get real. And one day have a good look at Circular Quay and the Opera House precinct – now, fantastic.

  13. Yeah, tell me about it. I’m to 1k in stupid fines this year. Feel like they’re coming after me. So oppressing. $325 dollars on the pushbike (for taking my phone out of my pocket), $433 on the scooter (for “negligent riding” on a quiet street in Curl Curl) and, surprise, the lowest one, $114 on the car for speeding (60km/h) on Oxford Street. FML

    We need to organise a massive bike ride in the CBD.

    PS: I’m seriously thinking of moving somewhere else because of all this nonsense.

  14. Meet Sydney, Casino “Mike” Baird’s bit of fluff on the side, she’s perfect, she’s too Good Looking – Not too clever – Pretends to enjoy sex – Ridiculously expensive -she’s the “Trophy Bride”.

  15. I agree with most of these things,but when you got to speeding, it seemed rather childish. What has being able to drive fast got to do with vibrancy? It’s not just being able to defy authority. . Sydney people are stuck with rules because a lot of them have no manners. And that may come from not being out on the street much. A vicious circle.

    It would be good to see more cultural activities and nightlife in parts of Sydney other than the centre. That may eventually happen naturally in the west because of the younger population.

    As for New Year’s Eve, it seems pointless. A tedious expensive meaningless display organised from above to distract the people, who do not really participate.

    Good luck with the vote for Clover.

    1. Hey! Clover is mayor and she cruised on in with 60 % of the vote – even after that vile 2-1 rule passed to give those poor ol’ city-killers ; the state Libs – a better chance! Didn’t work.
      We hate the Baird Govt; we despise it in fact.

  16. There seems to be some form of selective delusion when it comes to the levels of violence that had become the norm in the CBD prior to the lockout legislation. The laws could be wound back a bit in my view but if the SMH poll is to be believed, young people feel safer now and don’t want significant change. And the SMH has been championing the push for relaxation for many months.

  17. As someone who has lived in and loved our beautiful city for a lifetime, it just makes me feel sad now. It seems to have been run by morons, and sold out badly now. The traditional joys are just not there. Sydney got greedy, and so much money but lack of equanimity. Our airport could be in Hong Kong, going to the beautiful (once accessible and delightful) art galleries a test of endurance. Og Sydney, you have broken our hearts, and sold your soul. At best the recent changes are profoundly mediocre. At worst they are simply economic prostitution, corruption, theft – and vandalism.

  18. You think its bad there>>>>>>?????then DONT come to the Gold Coast because we share too much of what you have said..and more of the incompetence!

  19. And what about the biggest scam of all by this government of ignorant merchant bankers and their toadies — Westconnex. Multi-million dollar vandalism to enrich the mates at Macquarie Bank and render huge swathes of inner Sydney unliveable just at the time when we need to be discouraging the use of private cars and building a world standard public transport system instead of the third-rate shambles we currently inflicted upon commuters. (Tried getting out of the BMW and on to our disgracefully clapped-out and over-crowded buses recently Mike Baird? No, I thought not.)
    Clover Moore for Premier!

    1. Well said Ken, and Joseph.
      I was lucky enough to have lived in Sinney in the late sixties and early seventies when the Balmain Push still met at the Forth & Clyde, the pubs full shoulder-to-shoulder, and parties at someone’s house usually on Louisa Road most nights. Everyone was a poet, a student, a bikie, a writer, in advertising, a musician, printing, a film-maker, a psych nurse, or public-servant, scientist, architect, and we cared and marched against Vietnam and the Sprinbox tour, and got arrested and beaten up and make a real difference. Everyone had a laugh, passion, a story, and disco was ignored. It was live or dead. No grays.

  20. The Managers Of Sydney advice is excellent. You could have also mentioned the excellent use of drug dogs in our streets and the criminalisation of people who smoke marijuana. Also the harassment of young people on public transport,for suspected possession of a joint, is putting us up there with the least vibrant places on earth. You can drive a day after a dozen schooners but can’t drive a week after a joint. Now that’s the kind of place I want to live in!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *