COMMENT | Goodbye, green views

RURAL MENANGLE PARK NO MORE: When does Campbelltown reach a point when we’ve done our bit? When the last patch of grass is bulldozed, or when the last patch of trees is cleared?

RURAL MENANGLE PARK NO MORE: When does Campbelltown reach a point when we’ve done our bit? When the last patch of grass is bulldozed, or when the last patch of trees is cleared?

Dunno about you, but I have a very patchy memory.

For example, I have no trouble at all remembering the big announcement, 26 years ago, when “Macarthur South” was abandoned.

That was the vast growth centre proposed for south Campbelltown and Wollondilly in 1988, but dumped in 1990 because of concerns over air quality, river pollution and a lack of infrastructure such as public transport and roads.

But then, my memory fails me completely.

I have absolutely no memory of the big announcement Mike Baird must have made that all those pollution and infrastructure problems have now been fixed.

Because here he is ramming through his plan to put an extra 35,000 homes on greenfield sites between Appin, Wilton and Rosemeadow in coming years.

I guess it’s the growth centre you have when you’re not having a growth centre.

This month, the Chinese Dahua group has been given the green light to squish thousands of homes across the hills at Menangle Park.

My patchy memory fails me again. I have no memory of Mr Baird’s announcement of the electrification of the rail line south to Menangle Park to service these new homes...unless, of course, the plan is simply to funnel all those cars into the existing gridlock around Macarthur Square. Narellan Road, eat your heart out.

Of course, the biggest concern back in 1990 was the photo-chemical smog isssue: due to  our geography and winds, most of Sydney’s smog settles over Macarthur. So, how’s the status on that? Well, Premiers from Manly and developers with harbour views don’t live in Macarthur – so problem fixed.

And, what about the “crisis”…there’s always a crisis.

If those 35,000 homes at Menangle Park, Gilead, Wilton and Appin don’t go ahead Sydney will be bursting at the seams by 2036.

Bursting is a relative term. Sydney at present has an estimated 90,000 to 120,000 homes standing empty because of tax incentives from Malcolm Turnbull that encourage capital growth over rental returns. I think that means our green hills need to be bulldozed so real estate investors, many of them from overseas, can profit from empty houses. Hmmm.

Macarthur it seems needs to remember our place in the world. We’re Sydney’s “dumping ground”, whether it’s homes, dead bodies or the maximum-security prison Mr Baird wants to put here.

I don’t mean to sound cynical, but decades of reporting on lies and government/developer promises have left me jaded. I feel a need to ask, when is enough enough?

I was born in the 1960s when the entire population of Campbelltown was 25,000. In lust under half a century I’ve watched it reach 160,000, as one hill or patch of trees after another vanished – an experience that many of you in Camden and Wollondilly are now confronting.

Some critics will reply: you can’t stop progress.

But progress, too, is a relative term. When I got my licence in 1984 it took me 10 minutes to drive from Campbelltown to Narellan, even with the “ding ding ding” of a level crossing in between. It can now take half an hour.

I’m a Macarthur patriot through and through – but when does Macarthur cease to be Macarthur? At what point does a featureless sea of rooftops rob us of the very landscape that defines us?

The Dahua Group is busy promoting its upcoming Menangle Park estates as being “nestled amongst picturesque rolling hills”.

Well, yeah, until you’re finished with them.

I feel a need to ask, when is enough enough?

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