Rant: Sydney’s Addiction

The New South Wales Government is desperate. It ignores ongoing advice from friends, family and experts to seek alternatives. It fights all obstacles in its path for more. It cares only for the short-lived gratification, euphoria and high, to the detriment of healthy decades ahead. I guess when life feels is so good right now, why would it care?

That’s right Sydney-siders, our government is addicted – really, seriously addicted – to the car.

In fact, we’re all users. Some of us have managed to maintain control, but others amongst us are addicted too. Many of you make excuses for your habit: you blame it on where you live, what you do for work, and even your kids.

But I’m telling you now – before it’s too late – we can fix this problem. We can wean our city off this addiction. We can be healthy again. It may take time, but the first step to recovery is admitting there’s a problem.

Before his death, my grandfather spoke of the days before it was like this. There were always users, but very few addicts. Reminiscing on his youth, he spoke of healthy communities: people were active, everyone socialised, and there was far less fear in our streets. But as our leaders became addicted, so too did the rest of the city.

Many of you pretend to believe that the same old compulsive behaviours won’t cause further pain. I’m afraid you’ve swallowed too many lies and slander. Deep down, we all know we must seek alternatives. Why wouldn’t we? Despite the State’s attempt to make substitutes less enticing, they have worked well in the past, and can surely work again.

I recently heard that cities abroad are getting clean, so I hold onto hope for us. Apparently in London they are taxing users within the city centre. In Paris, they’re restricting them entirely. I read that in New York, alternatives are now so popular that addiction is also fast disappearing. I’d never have believed it, but even Los Angeles – the biggest junkie of them all – is now on the mend. In recovery, these cities have looked to role models: Copenhagen and Amsterdam have been happy to assist.

Each night I pray that our government will seek help. Only then can Sydney wean off its ugly addiction to the car.

Words by Tom Payne, Inner–Westie since 1987

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