Published in City Hub, 5 October 2016
By Jordan Fermanis
On Saturday October 1, protestors and partygoers descended upon Sydney Park in what was billed as a ‘protestival’. The protestival was organised by the WestCONnex Action Group and Reclaim the Streets.
The protestival came together with only a weeks notice. It commenced at 1pm, where music acts kept crowds entertained until 6pm.
The event was held not far from where WestConnex protestors have set up a tent blockade which has been running for almost three weeks.
Sydney’s Lord Mayor Clover Moore has offered her support to members of the tent blockade who have vowed to stay to protect the removal of trees to make way for the road.
The protestival was a joint effort in solidarity to those protesting as well as a protest against Premier Baird’s controversial lockout laws.
Longtime advocate against WestConnex and Member for Newtown, Jenny Leong addressed the crowd at the start of the day’s events, unveiling the Green’s ‘solidarity wall’ which attendees signed for the members of the tent blockade.
“Those people [occupy Sydney Park members] don’t roll over, they don’t comply, they don’t refuse to resist and they don’t stay silent when they see injustice occurring. They actually come together and say, ‘I’m sorry, we don’t like your system, we don’t agree with your rules. We do not want to see you destroying our green space. We don’t want see you bulldozing our trees and we don’t want to see you putting a $16 billion tollroad next to our Sydney Park,” Ms Leong said.
Ms Leong implored that the only way to stop WestConnex from completion was to physically prevent construction works.
“The Baird Liberal government will not stop unless we physically prevent them from building this road.”
“There is only one way for us to stop them destroying Sydney Park and that is for us to continue occupying it,” Ms Leong said.
Newly elected councillor from the Clover Moore Independent Team, Jess Miller also spoke to the crowd at the start of the day’s events where she criticised the Baird government’s road project.
“Like Jenny and the Greens, we know that you, our neighbours and the broader Sydney community stand absolutely nothing to gain from Westconnex.”
“We gain nothing but a sense of loss for the 350 plus trees that will be lost of Campbell and Euston Streets and our public space being covered in bitumen,” Cr Miller said.
Cr Miller said that the process behind the construction of the road has not been adequate.
“The major parties are backing Casino Mike’s biggest and dodgiest gamble yet.”
“A bet made with our money where the stakes could not be higher. Decisions are being made behind what can you be presumed as ‘high roller’ doors.”
“Make sure the parties know there’s nothing for them to gain by supporting this ludicrous act,” Cr Miller said.
Reclaim the Streets spokesperson, James Loch said that Sydney Park is an important hub of the free, renegade party scene and loss of space to WestConnex is a further blow to Sydney’s night life.
“Where we see a park, Casino Mike sees an opportunity to sell us out.”
“If money grew on trees, you can bet he wouldn’t be cutting them down,” Mr Loch said.