I like to read my local news…

20 Nov

I like to read my local or community news because they either tell me something which I am unaware of or something which I ought to know. That is in addition to the helpful classifieds, updated going out cafes/ restaurants/ nightlife guides; theatre and cinema reviews which comes in handy when you are planning a night out.

To top if off, these papers are free. Just because it does not cost a penny does not necessarily mean poor quality reporting. Maybe there is some semblance of truth to Janet Jackson’s song, ‘The best things in life are free’ ?

Just to give you an example of how helpful they can be. In one of my school assignments, I quoted an article on ‘tolerance’ in Australia from City News whose catchphrase is ‘Sydney’s free weekly independent newspaper’.

There is always something that catches my attention in this perky but informative community paper. Another example: my previous post, ‘Is homelessness worsening in Sydney and Australia?‘ was an attempt to discover how serious ‘homelessness’ is in Sydney. In the November 13 issue, it continued to report on this often neglected concern with a story on Kevin Rudd and his attendance and opening of a homeless learning centre in Woolloomooloo’.

Then, there is the report on increasing number of families who are falling behind in payment of their bills. According to Melissa Lahoud, while this is a trend that has been noted by welfare groups, the state government ‘doesn’t believe it is a problem’. Someone is not telling the truth here.

The latest issue of Central, another local newspaper, but with a magazine feel and design, also did another report on homelessness though this was with regards to complaints by Surry Hill residents on ‘anti-social’ behaviour of homeless people visiting a lodge which provides services to the latter.

The magazine also features stories that are highly relevant to Sydneysiders. In the last two issues, it has focused on transport and its impact on the local environment. In the article, ‘Transport chaos no joyride’, Bradley reported that Sydney’s bad traffic ‘costs the economy $3.5 billion a year’. He interviewed a Sydney University anthropology lecturer who replied that traffic congestion has contributed to increased road rage and stress. In ‘Tunnel stacks leave locals fuming’, pun intended, the story shines the spotlight on how the cross city tunnel ‘remains without stack filtration’ three years after it was in operation. Sydneysiders Against Pollution Stacks have petitioned for the installation of filters though RTA has argued that the polluted air emitted is not dangerous enough to warrant concerns to surrounding residents.

My latest grouse with the local government is the implementation of lockout on selected bars and clubs this December, in a bid to reduce alcohol-related violence. The facebook group, ‘A venue lock-out is not the answer to street violence!’ explains why such drastic measures will likely backfire. After doing my own research and reading through the local gay press – SX and Sydney Star Observer, I have also posted my own facebook ‘note’ on why this measure will be detrimental to the Sydney gay community. Here is an excerpt:

‘Why would gay-friendly Lord mayor Clover More endorse a lockout which is unpopular and likely to cause negative repercussions?…

… On this issue, I side with the majority of the opponents. Given that the lockout is likely to restrict freedom of movement for patrons, I fear that its intended effect will produce the opposite effect which most of the opponents have voiced out.

Moves to make Oxford Street a much safer place for the community is to be welcomed but I suspect that those who are out to create trouble on the streets, drunk or not, is unlikely to be deterred by lockout laws. They may even find ways to circumscribe it. In fact, they may even take this chance to prey on gays who cannot get into the safe LGBT venues.’

Kitty Glitter has set up a facebook group, ‘Locals against venue lockouts’, urging concerned individuals to email Cloover Moore and Nathan Rees to reconsider their decision.

I quote from her, ‘We all agree violence can not be allowed anywhere in a society and measures must be taken to stop it; however, to legislate against 50 legal businesses, to destroy or harm their livelihood, without properly investigating and giving these businesses the right of reply is a denial of natural justice and does nothing to inspire the business confidence in Sydney or NSW… The 50 venues named should be given the right of reply. I ask them to consider these points’.

There is much news and community action needed at the local level which we tend to gloss over at times. I am equally guilty for focusing on the ‘bigger issues’ such as international politics or social injustices in other parts of the world, primarily in the South, at the expense of neglecting local politics. My bad.

I believe we need to keep an eye on the community we live in. After all, this is where we live and where everything good or bad happens. Occurences within our immediate environment have a major impact on not just our daily lives, but also those whom we come into contact with because of our physical proximity. This invariably places some responsibility on us to speak out if we think something wrong is going on. So for those who feel that local politics is as less important as national or even international politics, I say, come again?

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