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Home sweet tunnel

Posted by: Justin Smith | 17 July, 2013 - 8:55 PM
Several homes in Bendigo Street, Collingwood, could be making way for the East-West Link. (Photo: The Age)

Our city's so big, and the new tunnel must come. But when your own home gets attacked, it's personal, writes JUSTIN SMITH.

Something happened this week that makes you look at your own home and want to give it a cuddle.

Ninety-two homeowners walked out to their letter boxes and found a letter from a cold, cold government.

Thinking it was a bit early for an election campaign, they found out their homes were in the way of progress and increasing traffic congestion, and that they might need to get hold of some packing boxes. When questioned, the Premier said he just wanted to keep people informed.

Then, after a day of wondering, the “might” and “informed” turned into a “get out of the way”.

The Premier held a press conference, and you could hear guts wrenching and hearts breaking. The worse fears of losing a home became real.

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MAKING WAY: Homes in Bendigo Street, Collingwood, could be bulldozed for the East-West Link.

The conservative government was getting very progressive. With big machines of progress, they can knock down homes, drill holes under others and tunnel like Steve McQueen in The Great Escape.

It becomes a very personal thing when a home gets attacked. When the bureaucrats come kicking in the door - plus the windows, walls and gates - it’s war. You build a moat, you point weapons through the gaps, and you fight.

And then you try to think about the good of the state. A new connection between the east and the west needs to come. This old place is just getting too big. And every bugger wants a four-wheel-drive or six cars to a family.

Almost every day we get the chance to enjoy – or drive along – something that’s the fruit of compulsory acquisition. The East-West Tunnel is not the first. And there will be more through the years.  

But this week, we’ll let the emotion roll. Simply because it could happen to us.

How many people who made the decision to build the tunnel live in those houses? How many politicians? It’s easy when you didn’t build the house, or paint it, or love it. Then you don’t care when you hear things like “fair market value”.

Then it’s all about the 92 homes. 92 door bells. 92 backdoors. 92 stains in the carpet or on the wall that just won’t come out. 92 places to be when the day’s finished. 92 roofs for the rain to slide off.

The great scenes from The Castle come into your head. With the voice of Darryl Kerrigan saying, “Tell ‘em to get stuffed”.

There’s a big part of us that would love to see the people of Collingwood hire Bud Tingwell, run with an armful of files to the High Court and “stick it up ‘em”.

But we’ll cry inside for them a bit this week. There will be fights in court. There will be banners on the roads and protests in front of Spring Street. And then the homes will fall. And the road will come.

And we’ll all drive along the progress and hope it gets us home before the kids have eaten everything.

Justin Smith is a senior producer at 3AW.

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Blog comments Your Say

  • Stop boom time mass immigration, stop sad stories like this.
    Australians ever growing bill for new roads, rail, hospitals, schools, services is driven by the policy for mass immigration. Stop that and you stop the bill getting bigger and bigger.
    Mass immigration is fuelled by permanent and temporary visas at an unprecedented rate for a country like Australia. 80% of people that arrive on a temp visas do not leave. We face crushing social issues later, once the mining boom has finished its transition to Africa etc.
    New arrivals have no pensions and require infrastructure and services meaning they are a net cost to the economy, not a benefit to it.
    We need a Balanced approach to Immigration.
    Mass immigration only suits employers and governments because it reduces the cost of labour without the burden of having to tackle the cost of living. So its in your interests to stop this policy.
    Its a Federal Government issue that has been dumped on the States to sort out.
    We will see more urban crush, more roads and rail cutting through once leafy suburbs and more taxes to pay for the construction, if Australians do not put mass immigration on the political agenda.

    PJ Thursday 18 July, 2013 - 9:36 AM

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