City News

Community push back against Premier Baird is getting results 

BY ANDREW BARCLAY

A recent backflip on the Glebe Island Bridge is proof community opposition to the Baird government’s agenda is getting results, according to Leichhardt Mayor Darcy Byrne.

“A combination of pressure from council and community groups is having real results,” Clr. Byrne told City Hub.

Councillor Byrne says the about-face is a response to a community that has “had enough of the government’s high-handed approach”.

“Baird has lost his shine.”

“People are taking another look at Baird and questioning just how modern and moderate he really is,” he said.

Mr Byrne cites the lock out laws, redevelopment of the inner west and the “criminalisation of democratic protest” as key drivers of community opposition.

“Mike Baird doesn’t give a damn about people in the inner west, so he’s having to match his rhetoric with policy reality.”

The criticism comes after Transport NSW notified Leichhardt Council the agency is considering refurbishing Glebe Island Bridge as part of the Bays Precinct Redevelopment.

Under the Transport and Mobility Plan, the bridge would be opened to pedestrians and cyclists after being left dormant for the past decade.

“The NSW Government is considering refurbishing Glebe Island Bridge as a walking and cycling connection between the Bays Precinct and Pyrmont,” the letter read.

The decision follows lobbying by a number of organisations, including the Glebe Society, Bike Leichhardt, City of Sydney and Leichhardt Councils.

In 2013, Roads Minister Duncan Gay criticised his own government’s decision to protect the Glebe Island Bridge and recommended the demolition of the bridge.

Minister Gay did not respond to questions put to his office.

David Shoebridge, Greens MP and spokesperson for Local Government, says the backflip is an attempt to “claw back confidence within the community”.

“The Baird Government’s arrogance has isolated them from the community,” he told City Hub.

Mr Shoebridge says another recent back down, this time on on a new stadium at Moore Park, is proof community opposition can achieve results.

The NSW Government had originally planned to demolish the Sydney Football Stadium, yet announced last week the site would be refurbished instead of rebuilt following widespread community opposition.

“There is only so long a politician can survive on a likeable voice and demeanour.”

“The problem with Baird is a lot of what he is delivering is attacking what people stand for.” Their agenda is anti-community and people have realised this.”

Campaigners who spoke to City Hub said they aren’t celebrating just yet with Westconnex, Powerhouse and trees along Anzac Parade still in their sights.

Responding to the shift in community sentiment, Premier Baird recently told ABC News he acknowledged the tide has turned against his Government.

“I think that’s a natural thing: The longer you are in government the more people are going to respond, the more decisions that you’re making … some of them not popular,” Mr Baird said.

A prolific user of social media, many have noted comments made by followers of Premier Baird have become negative.

Mr Baird says the government’s consultation regarding council amalgamations is proof the government is listening to the community.

“Every decision you make some people will be upset, and some people will protest against it for a short time or a long time. My hope is what people are seeing is we are governing in the majority.”

“There’s no doubt this might not be popular but it’s the right thing to do,” he said.

Despite ongoing community opposition, a NSW Newspoll from January shows the Premier Mike Baird has a strong lead over the opposition leader Mr Foley Luke Foley.

Mr Foley is preferred by just 15 per cent of voters, compared with Mr Baird’s 58 per cent.