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ANZAC Parade Deserves Better

By Dr Marjorie O’Neill on February 2, 2018 in News

Looking south along Anzac Parade from Moore Park Road, circa 1875.

In August 1914, after the start of World War I, the first of the volunteer troops were dispatched to German New Guinea. As the war progressed, more troops were dispatched to serve overseas. On their way to board their ships, they marched to the city along Randwick Road. This very road was later named Anzac Parade in their honour, and the Memorial Obelisk was later erected. It was in Moore Park, near Kippax Lake, where the soldiers stopped to bid farewell to their families. This is sacred turf in the history of Australia.
The Anzac Parade Memorial Obelisk, together with the Parade and its grove of trees, became the diggers’ own ANZAC memorial. Subsequent commemorations held at the Obelisk after the end of the war were less formal than official services – very much a family affair for those who had made it home from the war, while remembering those who did not. Anzac Parade is much more than just a road that connects the East to the city and it deserves far more respect than what it is currently getting.
What a tragedy we now see unfolding along this special road. If you don’t suspect that powerful forces in NSW have grandiose plans for Moore Park, you simply haven’t been paying attention. A juggernaut development at Moore Park, no less – part of the State Government’s multi-billion ‘stadium strategy’. This reminds me of that old ‘80s classic kids’ movie, The NeverEnding Story.
Come on Gladys, it’s time to come clean with the full plans that you and your mates have in store for Moore Park.
Here in the East, we have already been deeply impacted by the mediocre light rail that has come at the expense of a historical and culturally significant site, not to mention the demolition of hundreds of trees and desecration of indigenous artefacts – all carried out under the cloak of darkness to dodge those pesky protesters.
It saddens me to see what Anzac Parade is fast becoming, especially given the history of the area. I can’t drive down the street without thinking about all the boys who kissed their mothers goodbye, marched to the Quay, and died senselessly at Gallipoli and in France. Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it.
If you believe that the current plans for Moore Park are just for a harmless little sports field, you might be kidding yourself. Look at the light rail, the coming major WestConnex feeder road planned for the Alison Road/Anzac Parade intersection, and the preposterous Tibby Cotter Bridge – a bridge to nowhere, at least until the full plans emerge.
Premier Gladys and Sports/WestConnex Minister Ayres know full well about the massive development precinct set to consume all the remaining open space in Moore Park, eat into the golf course, and bring an eight-lane motorway right to our doorsteps. It’s time the people of the East were let in on what this precious pair are cooking up for us, and all roads lead to Moore Park.
So what’s the big deal? What’s so bad about progress and the development of major new facilities? Absolutely nothing, if it’s done the right way, with urban amenity preserved, communities and history respected, and our cultural sites protected. And not at the obscene cost of $2.5 billion, which will come at the expense of badly needed hospital beds and public classrooms.
What’s wrong with what the State Government is doing now? The proof is right there, staring us in the face. Anzac Parade and Alison Road were once beautiful roads flanked on either side by large, 100 year-old trees, bringing fresh air and pleasing aesthetics into the heart of our busy suburbs. Now, both streets resemble something out of a sci-fi flick – a moonscape and steelscape of concrete blocks and hideous metal poles with a tangle of wires obstructing our view of the skies. Grey and silver replacing green and blue.
Moore Park and Centennial Park are, for most people in the East, our literal backyards. Our easy access to free, publicly owned green open space is what makes living in a 50 square foot apartment bearable. And you don’t have to be an unreconstructed hippie resurrected from the ‘70s to understand that the most densely populated part of Australia needs trees to produce oxygen and mitigate the impacts of climate change and heat. Enough is enough, Gladys.

Dr Marjorie O’Neill is a current Waverley Councillor. The views expressed here are her own.