Eyes of the world on Brisbane (G20), Department of the Absurd

Channel 9 News yesterday had a story about how the massive worldwide TV audience for G20 news coverage will discover that

* Brisbane has graffiti
* Roma St Transit Centre is ugly.

In reality of course, they will discover that we have a Convention Centre and hotels, providing backdrops for political leaders to pontificate about nothing much.

49 thoughts on “Eyes of the world on Brisbane (G20), Department of the Absurd

  1. For anyone that lives in brisbane during the g20 talkathon
    time to get away and go on holiday in NSW or north qeensland
    who wants to be in a city full of politicains that just talk

  2. @jimbo


    Don’t forget the Darling Downs; it is almost always bit cooler up here and less humid than in the rest of Qld. The wheat fields are very pretty at the moment despite the lack of rain to make the grass green – when that happens it is just beautiful – the colours are wonderful.

    And…the locals seem to realise that they need to be nice to people if they want tourists to come. They are not good at being nice yet but they are a bit more motivated than they used to be.

  3. @Ikonoclast
    Absolutely spot on suggestion to turn your backs on the G20. Give them no chance to play the terrorist card. Sydney during Bush’s visit was like a cage with whole blocks fenced, in snipers on rooftops, choppers overhead, police in paramilitary garb kettling a medium size crowd who put on the usual good natured Sydney picnic demo; they even dragged out Australia’s one and only water cannon. The coppers and spooks looked ridiculous.

  4. I’m a bit late commenting here but I did want to say, I went to Brisbane for the climate action summit recently and it’s lovely in many ways, but I do want to say, that transit centre, that is ugly and bad. You should do something about it.

  5. Also I know it’s too late, but why that freeway on the river? Why why why?
    Take Paradise, put up a parking lot (again)

  6. @ZM
    Yes I did two posts in September, the first about my own presentation, the second about two different trends I saw there, the first of which I described as “technology can get us there, with a bit of political will” (BZE type position, similar to some of the things JQ writes here), the second “we have to change the way we live, starting at local level” (closer to my own position, I’ve included some links there).

    I’m not suggesting they’re incompatible, but there is a difference. I think the first is a bit too much like business as usual, though I’m certainly keen on some forms of technology (internet and solar in particular).

    I won’t link because links seem to get me into moderation at present, but you can always google fairgreenplanet or click on my name here.

    Interested to hear your thoughts.

  7. Thanks Val! Your presentation was really interesting (I’ll try to think of a more intelligent comment to write on your blog ).

    I’ve noticed the two trends too, and thought that they seem to be getting stronger in their differences presently. I think its a shame because I think both probably need to go hand in hand – I doubt the current population can be maintained without technology*, but consumption needs to be much more prudent and local than it is now , and we will need to develop different sorts of communities and life practices to go with this.

    I talked to some young people and they felt quite upset that the climate movement seemed to be splintering in these different directions at a time when the movement needs to get stronger rather than weaker. But possibly it makes space for discussions. (one can only keep hoping)…

    * The Limits to Growth idea makes continued reliance in the long term on technology somewhat more difficult. Graham Turner gave a presentation on his work recently, and he said that even if we become better at recycling (say 75%) which would be like the high tech LtG scenario – eventually resources will still dwindle to a level that can’t provide for the needs of the high population that has developed in relation to the use of technology.

    I hope maybe recycling could get much higher in a fully circular economy, but have been told it is an engineering problem that is unlikely to be 100% solvable. I think this is because some use and recycling degrades the integrity of the material until it is no longer able to be reused and recycled.

  8. Just for fun – I tried to name the countries of the G20 (without cheating).

    I then checked with the official site, there were 3 I left out and several that I wrongly included.

    Hint: the “European Union” is counted as one single member.

  9. I hope Greenpeace is working up a decent stunt to embarrass Abbott at the G20. Taking climate change off the agenda has removed the main reason any other leader might have to spend 2 days flying to the antipodes and back, so anybody who goes (in many cases number 2s) won’t be feeling grateful to Abbott for providing him with the vanity photo-op. Enterprising journalists could try to ask the Chinese delegate about its coal policy, the Indian one about wind and solar incentives, the German on the Energiewende.

  10. Thanks for all the witty commentary here, it makes the G20 easier to bear.

    Yair friends who can are taking off to Byron and up the coast. And considering how many people (24,000) Campbell Newman has sacked, how many sick and elderly people have been thrown out of hospital and nursing home beds, how many environmental regulations have been shredded etc – it is nice to see Lord Mayor Quirk and his Liberal mates begging residents to come into the city for the G20.

    There really seems little other way to express our complete revulsion at what the LNP has done and continues to do and is planning to do to the fair city of Brisbane.

    But they’re spending $10 million on festivities so I personally expect many people will be in the city for the bright lights.

  11. what do diplomats do now that there are 747s, then the Internet, and now Skype. What do embassies do to fill in their day?

    The first wondered this when I was reading the Washington Post and New York Times on the web because when I got to work was about when they updated for the new day’s news and editorials – this was about 15 years ago.

    A day later, a cable from foreign affairs would arrive summarising what I’ve read a day previous.

  12. They spy. They interfere in local affairs. They make a token effort to help their own nationals in trouble. They help billionaires and corporations do business.

  13. @ZM
    Thanks ZM, very interesting. Bit off topic for this thread I guess but I would like to continue the conversation. Might write something more about this on the blog soon, or in the Sandpit here because it seems it’s controversial. I don’t know why it’s controversial because the two ideas – thoughtful use of technology plus reducing consumption – seem to me quite compatible, but it didn’t seem so to JQ for example. He seemed to be denigrating those who advocate a simpler way of life. Anyway as I said, I’d better not continue this on this thread, but it’s definitely an issue worth further discussion.

  14. Val
    It’s my understanding that, since the redevelopment of Roma Street Railway Station with two commercial tower blocks could hardly qualify for the name “transit centre”, the incorporation of a regional bus centre was an afterthought, while the construction of an underground busway for local buses was a very late addition to the scene(i.e., years later.) Does it explain much to know that the major shareholder is Lendlease?

  15. Ironic G20 news of the day

    Trade minister vigorously supports State owned enterprises – as long as they are foreign States’

    “”It’s been to the great benefit of Australia,” Mr Robb said of foreign state-owned investment. “If you look at the past 14 years, for goodness sake, it got us through the global financial crisis and it’s been an enormous contributor to wealth in Australia.””

  16. @lesleym
    Thanks Lesleym (I had to do your name with a capital L because spellcheck to foil spellcheck). It sounds like one of those arcane local slow moving scandals that outsiders never really get, but no doubt the involvement of Lendlease goes some way to explaining it.

    Not that our most recent “transport hub” or whatever you call it, Southern Cross station (although one example of renaming – from Spencer St station – that does add something, even though it doesn’t live up to its rather nice name) is all that great. The bus part, as usual, is not nice – why do people in Australia hate buses so much? – some transport buff should do something on this – and the rail part aspires to be nice, but the escalators feel unsafe and the whole thing smells of diesel – but it’s all reasonably tidy and rational. Whereas your bus part on the west side (is that right?) of the river – the open air part – is unattractive and doesn’t make the most of its surroundings (do town planners in Brisbane hate the river or something?) but at least it doesn’t feel totally irrational, the way the underground part does. I went in there for some reason (thinking it would be quicker to take the bus over the river and then walk to QUT I think) and it felt a bit like going into the vowels of the earth with no guarantee of returning, especially when the bus went into a place where it had to wait a long time, for no apparent reason, so it could do a u-turn and come back again. Anyway I got out in the end, though it was a bit challenging.

    Meanwhile we still have here – thanks to the goddess – the Victorian era glories of Flinders St station and the trams trundling their stately way about the inner suburbs. They’re not only tourist attractions, they actually work, to the extent they’re often uncomfortably over-crowded in peak hour.

    As you can see I’m rather obsessed with public transport!

  17. Jim Rose :
    what do diplomats do now that there are 747s, then the Internet, and now Skype. What do embassies do to fill in their day?

    What do centrelink workers do given that anyone can telephone the human services minister?

  18. Meanwhile we still have here – thanks to the goddess – the Victorian era glories of Flinders St station and the trams trundling their stately way about the inner suburbs.

    Interesting piece of historical contingency there: the conversion from cable to electric trams involved ripping up and replacing all the track [electric trams are far heavier than cable and required much heavier rail], which meant that when the rest of the country was ripping up its tram tracks, Melbourne’s were twenty years younger.

  19. A man has been arrested because he was not “accredited” whilst in the G20 fascism zone and taking a photo of the convention centre.

    This is a police state.

  20. @Jim Rose

    In the 1980s, before there was Skype or the Internet, there was an episode of Yes Minister where Minister Jim Hacker rang his friend the Foreign Secretary about an international story he’d just seen on the BBC news. The Foreign Secretary didn’t know anything about it because his television wasn’t working. He explained that he got all the international news from the BBC; the Foreign Office cables, he said, only came in a day later. They discussed the implications of the report for their relations with the (fictitious) country concerned, and then Hacker asked the Foreign Secretary to tell him if he heard anything more. The Foreign Secretary replied that it was up to Hacker to keep him informed, because Hacker was the one with the working television.

  21. @Collin Street
    Thanks that’s very interesting, I didn’t know that. I do remember, back in the 80s, when there was talk about getting rid of trams, and some patronising journalist in the Age (I forget his name, but I have a memory that he also did the restaurant reviews) suggested that as the people mainly using trams were school children and people on low incomes, they could never financially sustain themselves and we should get rid of them. (Thats what I think he said, though it was a long time ago. Not sure what he thought the pensioners and school children were going to do.)

    Now they’re used by commuters, especially I guess because of the popularity of inner suburban living now, and are often over crowded in peak hour. Everyone’s promising to improve public transport now in the state election – at least it’s an election issue here, even if half of what they say is fantasy land.

    Interesting article by Gay Alcorn in the Guardian today, talking about how Tony Abbott comes here and tries to talk about roads and East West link, and Denis Napthine can’t wait for him to leave so he can change the subject back to public transport again!

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