As the political battle digs in on the western (Sydney) front, Nigel Bowen defends his turf against endless media clichés. Warning: May contain traces of satire.
Dear rest of Australia,
On behalf of my fellow residents of Western Sydney I would like to offer my sincere apologies.
First, a brief summary for those who may have missed the insightful anthropological studies authored in recent days by those members of the Fourth Estate adventurous enough to have once spent 90 minutes trailing a campaigning politician around some god-awful pokie palace out in the boondocks.
To briefly summarise: we westies are all tradies who pull in six-figure incomes by overcharging for unplugging the S-bends of decent university-educated people with the good taste to live in more civilised areas.
Unless, that is, we are socially excluded, third-generation-unemployed, single-mother housos or, even worse, Mark Latham.
Similarly, we’re all Hansonite Anglos, except for when we’re members of Lebanese bikie gangs shooting the joint up like its Beirut circa 1975.
When it comes to our religious affiliations, all you need to know is we friggin’ hate Muslims (or ‘muzzies’, as they’re known round these parts), apart from when we’re overwhelmingly voting for the likes of Ed Husic.
Speaking of muzzies, youse just might have heard we’re not too keen on asylum seekers. Too right! The only reason any westie voted Labor in the 2010 election was those heart-warming images of Julia Gillard and the Member for Lindsay on a battleship looking like they were itching to rush to a machine-gun turret and strafe a boatload of incoming queue-jumping reffo scum, just like in that grouse scene near the end of Apocalypse Now.
A word to the wise: don’t ever get a Cabramatta local started on how they feel about the kind of disease-ridden, uni-student-raping, welfare-rorting terrorists who try to sneak into this great country on boats.
When it comes to politics more generally, we’re both utterly disengaged and simultaneously outraged about, well, just about everything. We unthinkingly parrot whatever reactionary positions are advocated by the more beetroot-faced, spittle-flecked talkback radio blowhards and unhinged Murdoch columnists, but being moronically stupid we mistakenly keep voting Labor whenever a federal election is held.
But don’t worry, according to the same top-notch pollsters and pundits who predicted certain victory for Bill Hayden in 1980, John Hewson in 1993, Kim Beazley in 1998 and Mark Latham in 2004, we’re definitely voting en masse for Tony Abbott come September 14.
Of course, none of this is likely to be news to you given the unrelenting media attention the kind of simple folk who live in Western Sydney receive. Frankly, even we find it a little over the top and smugly self-satisfied. How many times have you turned on Q&A hoping for a lively discussion about legalising gay marriage, the latest developments in the Julian Assange case and the tragic plight of upper-middle class women unable to secure a board seat, only to find a bunch of University of Western Sydney academics, Casula Powerhouse curators and a teenage graffiti artist from Bankstown engaged in yet another mind-numbingly predictable discussion about whether Cold Chisel should have reformed and the trivial inconveniences encountered by blue-collar men thrown on the scrapheap as a result of the social and economic changes of the last three decades?
And it’s an outright disgrace the way the nation’s political class, notorious for taking such a hard line whenever approached by proudly self-reliant Queensland farmers, innovative Adelaide car makers and selfless West Australian mining magnates keeps announcing plans to shower our neck of the woods with taxpayer largesse… at some point in the near future.
If we could just get off our fast-food-bloated arses, all two million of we westies could easily walk the 80km to the nearest available job but, no, we bleat like stuck pigs just because it takes a few hours to commute in on the one-lane dirt track that’s a shining testament to Bob Carr’s visionary build-nothing-and-nobody-will-come approach to managing Sydney’s population pressures.
Yet if only shameless (if largely ineffectual) rent-seeking were all that westies had to say sorry for! Instead, our hyper-consumerism, narrow-minded prejudice and all-consuming self-interest have infantilised political discourse and made Australia all but ungovernable. How often has a politician yearning to implement deeply unpopular but necessary reforms been forced into a populist policy position purely because of us westies? Given no Australian citizen outside of Western Sydney has ever complained about cost-of-living pressures, expected the government subsidise their lifestyle, or shown the slightest hesitation about having their wages and conditions slashed to further the noble cause of raising national productivity, one can only weep at the opportunities for this nation that have gone begging, sacrificed on the altar of our bogan venality.
And now the Prime Minister, in the latest and most humiliating of a seemingly interminable series of indignities, is reduced to spending a week in a suburb that incorporates ‘root’ in its name, in order to pander to an outer-suburban elite exercising shadowy and sinister control over Australia’s government, media and financial system.
If it is any consolation, in refusing to countenance any form of carbon pricing, no matter how ridiculously overcompensated we are for it, we westies may have finally, literally and deservedly cooked our own goose. If the temperatures reached out here this summer are anything to go by, we will be the first to be fried in the coming ecopocalypse that, like everything else that’s gone wrong with this country, we must bear complete responsibility for.