Image: Qantas

Sydney Wants To Be A Global City? It Needs To Do This, ASAP

To improve, you must first recognise your faults...

Are you really an international city if you have to paint yourself as an international city?

That’s the question that’s been raging in Australia all week, from sharehouses in Sydney’s inner west to milk-crate Melbourne cafes.

Why? A comment made by NSW Premier Dominic Perrotett has got thumbs frolicking on Twitter.

His comment? Perrottet last week claimed Sydney was Australia’s only “global city” now that we are the only city from which you can fly to from overseas without having to quarantine (from the 1st of November, anyway).

The Daily Mail labelled this a “stunning broadside” at Queensland and Victorian premiers, and they weren’t as far off as you might think.

Per The Daily Mail: “Premier Dominic Perrottet has declared Sydney is Australia’s ‘truly only global city’ as NSW re-opens to the world while Victoria and Queensland remain shut.”

“Mr Perrottet pointed to the Harbour Bridge as he delivered the stunning dig on Friday while announcing changes to Covid-19 restrictions and hotel quarantine. ‘The alternative is to stay closed from the world, we’re not doing that. Sydney is Australia’s truly only global city. When people think of Australia, they think of this,’ he said as he pointed to the landmark.”

Mr Perrottet also said Sydney was laying the groundwork to make itself the gateway for international travellers to come to Australia as soon as safely possible.

“We are rejoining the world and and we want returning Australians to come back,” he said.

“I want those from other states who want to come back to come through Sydney. If you are a returning Australian and want to come here, stay in New South Wales and stay in Sydney. Have a great time here before you home and spend up big.”

“Help our small businesses and the fact that we will be the only city and state open to the world is going to be boom time for New South Wales.”

Volleyball in Bondi. Image Credit: Getty Images

Some Sydneysiders thought Perrottet hit the nail on the head, saying “he’s not wrong.”

To a degree, they are right.

Many Melburnians, however (and residents in other cities in Australia), took to their phone screens, taking cracks at everything from Sydney’s nightlife, to its culture of banking, real estating, and personal training.

“Well Sydney is Australia’s only global city that shuts at 6pm,” one Twitter user wrote.

Another said if Sydneysiders really were of a global mindset, they wouldn’t be thinking so much about how they stack up compared to other domestic states.

“Perrottet is in the wrong state to make the ‘Sydney is the only global city’ argument. We don’t care. We are not Queensland or WA. People in NSW and Victoria are Australians first, state identity comes second. Maybe even third, we are quite international in our outlook.”

Another Twitter user, probably from Melbourne (due to their use of the word ‘flog’) wrote: “Sydney is the only global city in Australia, that’s why Melbourne hosts the grand prix and the Australian Open…Perrottet is such a flog.”

Another hammer was the following: “Why is it only ever people from Sydney who use the phrase ‘global city’?”, which came from a teacher, writer and broadcaster living in Melbourne.

The response to this, many Sydneysiders might add, is that we don’t use the phrase: it’s the sort of thing you only really hear university professors and politicians say.

On that note: it perhaps tells you something about how Sydney authorities want the city to be seen as in the future, and where their insecurtities lie.

It’s not exactly a KGB scandal. But still: if someone loudly says ‘I’m super global’ enough times you start to think maybe they’re not.

It’s also not the first time a NSW government figure has used this expression. Shayne Mallard MP, Liberal MP NSW Parliament – Parliamentary Secretary for Infrastructure and Aerotropolis – used it on March the 14th 2020 on Twitter, when announcing a landmark plan for 300m towers in Sydney.

Former premier Gladys Berejiklian also used the words “global city” when talking about the plan to revamp Sydney’s nightlife in 2019.

This kind of rhetoric, though, doesn’t seem to really resonate with anyone – even the Sydneysiders who you’d think it’s designed to be lapped up by.

One Twitter user, who claims to live in Sydney, wrote: “This guy seems to be on a mission to tar everyone is Sydney with his uber arrogance brush. I live in Sydney but have lived and worked in NYC, LA, Zurich, Barcelona and have visited over a 140 cities globally. Melbourne on a par with any city for food and culturally as good as any.”

Another Twitter user said: “Anyone who’s done any real travelling around Australia knows the incredible beauty and diversity of this place. Our states and capital cities all have amazing things to offer. To hear a leader engage in a lame gaslighting-pissing contest is so bloody juvenile.”

The upshot? Many Sydneysiders really do have a chip on their shoulder about Melbourne occassionally being called a more cultured city (or even, shock, horror, a more global city). Likewise, Melburnians never fail to be infuriated by Sydneysiders getting the best of the weather and lifestyle and yet still insisting their theatre and restaurants (or whatever ‘culture’ is) are better.

In other words: we’re all insecure we’re not international enough (just look at the Betoota Advocate’s poppy cutting of Aussies who do actually leave and live overseas). There’s just no need to broadcast (or segment) it…

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