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Trains, Plains and Automobiles: New South Wales Political Debates (1985) and the Invention of Western Sydney



There has recently been conjecture as to the decline of the major political traditions and the rise of a more fragmented politics in Australian cities. This paper uses a “slice history” approach to explore the evolving concept of “the West” in Sydney, New South Wales, its place in public debate, and the interplay between centre and periphery during the single “axial” year of 1985. New South Wales Legislative Assembly debates are tabulated, analysed and discussed in the context of larger government programs and public debates. The paper concludes that the concept of “The West”, while of vital political importance in both state and Federal politics, is an elusive term which has been used in unreflective, and often self-defeating, ways by those tasked with providing the region with services.