On Police,Drugs and Backpackers

 Laughable NSW Police operation which has been going on for some time now, targetting drugs.. well, in particular marihuana. Pot smokers, some with amounts deemed commercial, are being harassed and some busted .While we express no view on drugs, we would have thought police would be especially interested in targetting the illicitly manufactured chemical drugs with which the city is absolutely awash – but, they seem to studiously avoid the vendors of those substances. It seems that the NSW Police “War on Drugs” is really a “war on pot”. Why?? Perhaps distribution and production are not controlled by interests who act favourably towards police?? Not being in the inner sanctum of either the drugs or police scenes, we wouldn’t know. But NSW has a history of corruption in the police force, and it was not necessarily a bad thing. Police actually did the job the public expected them to do, not just fulfil the aspirations of out of touch politicians, Christian sects ,oh and a few businessmen.

 On the subject of Police and it seems European Backpackers get an immunity card with their visas. Seen again last night in the Haymarket quadrant yelling screaming and smashing bottles,knocking rubbish bins over; aboriginals would be locked up immediately for that type of behaviour, even Aussies would get a caution, but these lucky backpackers have immunity. Its not a one off thing either – we’ve noted the last couple of years, police & security diligently searching families eskies & bags as they enter venues, while in the background,but in plain view, backpackers stagger in in large loud groups with cartons of beers on their shoulders.

 And on the subject of backpackers, I have an issue with 2 companies engaged on civil projects in the Sydney CBD. Australian Traffic Management & Subakette are both contractors to Energy Australia, and always busy in Sydney City. Both seem to use more backpackers or English / Irish migrants than locals. Why? I’m sure there are plenty Australians who are at least as well acquainted with traffic control as these tourists. I’m equally certain that many of our homeless would be more than capable of carrying out traffic control at least as reliably and responsibly as tourists can. Another thing I noticed about Australian Traffic Management is that their staff all seem to be euro, blonde and, well, female. Not that I have anything against blonde european female traffic controllers, but the Human Resources people at ATM must surely excel at their work-they manage to find almost their entire staff fitting this demographic, and at the same time having superior traffic control abilities to the rest of Australian licensed traffic controllers-an incredible feat. Now it wouldn’t be cricket,old chap, to discuss such deeply private and confidential details as pay, but could it be a factor that these tourists in fact are prepared to work for less, prepared to undermine the efforts of the local workforce to maintain pay equity, to ensure local workers have livable wages and salaries?? Well, most come here on 12 month visas, and try, successfully, to find the cheapest accommodation in Sydney,as close to the City Centre as possible. Exactly the accommodation our marginalised community need. Many of the old boarding houses have in fact been converted to backpackers accommodation – for some very sound financial & legal reasons. 6 beds per room at  50% of what a room would rent for – no residential tenancies act to comply with, oh, and no people with mental health issues smashing or messing your building up. I can see that logic. I spoke a couple of days ago to some of my now retired greek community friends ( actually, it was Theo’s 86th birthday) They used to own some old boarding houses in East Sydney, Darlinghurst Woolloomooloo and Millers Point. I asked them why their families had got out of boarding houses. “You nuts??” they replied. It seems that since ex premier Nick Greiner first decided to start using boarding houses as defacto mental institutions, the demographic, nature ambience and profitability of the boarding house changed. Rooms got smashed up every fortnight. The Greeks helped Bob Carr Labor get in to power – but Right wing Labor carried on pushing ever more mentally unstable into the community, assisted by NGOs like Vinnies, into the cheapest accommodation- boarding houses. Unsurprisingly, boarding house operators could ill afford to constantly revamp their rooms, or tolerate their new unpaid role as psych workers – they got out of the business. Some converted to backpackers or student accommodation providers. More profitable, less hassles.

 In our view Backpackers undermine sustainable incomes for residents, Hog an excessive proportion of the cheapest accommodation and resources near the city, are willing to rent substandard properties undermining rent conditions, receive priority in some employment opportunities which Australians would enjoy, and in general contribute to homelessness, marginalisation and the maintenance of a business culture which thrives off worker exploitation. The backpacker community aid and abet the exploitation and marginalisation of Sydney residents. A call on the pro- business Labor or Coalition Parties to legislate to prioritise sustainable wage jobs for residents would be futile. Both strongly support wageslavery and government supported laissez faire capitalism as the cruel building blocks of a sound economy – A sound economy regardless of the social consequences.

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