East-West Link Hearing Rookie (Friday)

 Sue Jackson attended the public hearings for the first time on Friday.  This is what she encountered.

 mercure

By Sue Jackson

I skived off from work for a couple of hours today because I was keen to see for myself what the hearings about the East-West Link were all about. But nothing had prepared me for this trial by boredom.

To be fair, as I had come from work, I was late, so was utterly ignorant about the dramatis personae. I could see my fellow protestors at a distance in the audience, but had no one to fill me in on the action – or rather inaction.

As photography is forbidden in the hearing, I didn’t have that to divert me. I wished I could draw so that I could produce pictures like court artists do, where everyone looks like extras from ‘Breaking Bad’. But drawing is way beyond me.

To pass the time, I took to calculating how much of the public purse might be being expended on this room full of suits, debating the merits and demerits of a project that should never have seen the light of day in the first place. I ended up nearly cross-eyed with boredom, in awe of my fellow protestors, some of whom endure this experience daily.

Fortunately they briefed me during morning tea break, to which I had been briefed to bring biscuits. Obviously the powers-that-be are on an economy drive and can’t run to snacks. On my way to the Ladies, I noticed an ominous presence in the bar:

Grand Prix

Not the guest, but the Grand Prix flags

Recently the peace of our days have been disturbed by the roaring of the Formula 1 cars miles away in Albert Park. The citizens, who protested long and hard against the abomination of re-locating the Grand Prix in Albert Park, lost the fight. Spotting the flags, arrogantly displayed in the very place where we are struggling to save our own park from destruction, made me shiver.

Perhaps I should have said I noticed two ominous presences. Everywhere I go these days the police seem to be hanging out, and today was no exception.

Police

Police presence

Four officers were stationed in the lobby of the hotel – after all, who knows what those crazy protestors might do next?

By the time I had to leave the Hearing I had learned who was who. There was Stuart Morris, QC for the Linking Melbourne Authority, trying but failing to box Eric Keys, an expert for the City of Melbourne, into a corner. Another City of Melbourne expert, Jim Higgs, was trying, unconvincingly in my opinion, to make the case that there were creative ways to minimise the impact of the East-West Link on Royal Park.

I was sorry to have to leave in the end and will definitely return next time I have a few spare hours. Fortunately there are a further 21 days of hearings to choose from.

Submissions by the Moonee Valley, Yarra, Darebin and Moreland councils, professional, business and community organisations as well as individual citizens will be well worth listening to, I’m sure. So get down to the Mercure and give them your support. In my experience, rookies (especially those bearing cookies), are guaranteed a warm welcome.

Originally published at  Sue Jackson – Therapist, Trainer, Writer

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