I am still not sure whether we should be offended, excited or curious when it comes to Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s decision to spend a week here in western Sydney.
Basing herself at Rooty Hill RSL, Ms Gillard is expected to visit a number of key electorates here in the west, where the popularity of the Labor Party is, if the polls are to be believed, dwindling by the day.
Let’s firstly point out that, despite the way this story dominated the news agenda on Tuesday and Wednesday, Ms Gillard’s week-long trip to western Sydney is hardly deserving of the enormous coverage it has received.
After all, she’s bloody driving down the M4, not hot-footing it over to Afghanistan for a week.
Had Ms Gillard really wanted a taste of western Sydney life, perhaps she should have committed to commuting from Kirribilli House to Rooty Hill every day for a week.
After all, tens of thousands of western Sydney locals do such a commute day after day, week after week, year after year.
It’s called real life.
For the record, it’d actually only take about 45 minutes by car from the Prime Minister’s Sydney residence to Rooty Hill RSL, where she is staying next week.
It would of course require paying the Lane Cove Tunnel toll, the M2 toll and the M7 toll – but hey, that’s what plenty of us here in the west do every day.
However, public transport is so great in Sydney, that Ms Gillard could leave the car at home and simply jump on a train.
The 8.00am train from Milsons Point arrives at Rooty Hill’s platform four at 9.02am. Perfect!
Seriously, needing to STAY at Rooty Hill RSL’s Novotel for a week (as lovely as it may be) when you have a Sydney residence an hour away doesn’t quite make sense to me.
There was nothing stopping Ms Gillard from staying at Kirribilli House and making the trek to the west every day for a week to do the same set-up announcements, visits and media conferences that she will do anyway.
And for those who will write the obligatory letters to me this week, let me make it clear that if Tony Abbott tried to pull this stunt, my opinion wouldn’t change.
When she named September 14 as the election date, Ms Gillard made it clear that she wasn’t throwing the nation into its longest ever election campaign.
But if this isn’t classic election campaign fodder, I don’t know what is.
Perhaps instead of the pre-planned visits to schools, universities and factories next week, Ms Gillard should instead cancel her plans and truly experience western Sydney.
That said, it’s not that much different to the rest of the nation, really.
We even have colour TV.
But if she does want to experience life here in the ‘burbs, perhaps she should spend a few days with a real family.
Mum, dad and a few kids.
Bills, work and housekeeping.
Very few people will tell Ms Gillard the cold, hard truth over the next week because everything will be organised and planned to ensure that the media entourage following her doesn’t experience the spontaneity that may occur from a “real” opinion.
You see if this wasn’t all about media management and saving her bacon, Ms Gillard would be spending a week in Rooty Hill with Mr and Mrs Smith – no cameras, no microphones.
She’d hear the cold, hard truth about life in this outer space world politicians believe western Sydney to be.
In fact, I’m having a BBQ on Sunday night and Ms Gillard is more than welcome to come around.
We can walk down my street (it’s classic suburbia – even has a pizza place on the corner) and talk to the real people – off the record.
If not, perhaps she’d at least do us a favour and trade in the cost of staying at Rooty Hill RSL for a much cheaper, but still quality room at the Colyton Hotel.
The schnitzels aren’t bad there, either.
If Ms Gillard must spend the week in the west next week, let’s get her away from the limelight and the tight-knit hero’s welcomes.
Let’s get to her to AMF Bowling over in Batt Street – we’ll even let her use the bumpers.
Or what about Penrith Stadium for our round one clash with Canberra? Not in the Chairman’s Lounge or the corporate boxes, but on “beer hill”.
And let’s walk through Panthers – not with the CEO and the Chairman, but with the common person who will tell it like it is.
Western Sydney is not here to be used as a political tool. It should be a legitimate and respected part of the world – every day, not just for a week.