Saturday, October 30, 2010

Altona Bashing

Kyle Sandilands is not the first celebrity to derogate Altona when he described Altona as a rathole (Ref 1). Jon Faine, a radio host on 774 ABC Melbourne, has said worse things about Altona during his interview with Jill Hennessy (now the Member for Altona) and David Strangward, the Greens candidate for the 2010 Altona By-Election.

The radio interview took place on 12 February 2010. The embedded audio may take a little longer to load. Click the arrow button to play.



Here is a transcript of the Jill-Jon exchange.

Jill: Well Jon, there’s a reason that people are moving in droves to this part of the western suburbs, it’s because it’s a terrific place to live.

Jon: Why? In what way? Name the best thing about Altona.

Jill: Well, we have great …

Jon (interrupting): It’s industrial, it gets the fumes from the industrial zones wafting across it. It’s not a very attractive area and never has been and never will be.

Jill: Oh well Jon, I don’t know what parts of the Altona electorate you’ve been down to look at, but there’s the gorgeous bay along Altona, there’s fabulous wetlands …

Jon (interrupting): They’re spoiled, it’s the worst part of the bay.

Jill: There’s Cherry Lands and there’s fabulous vibrant communities throughout the entirety of the electorate.

Jon: It’s cheap real estate, that’s the only reason people look to it, come on.

Jill: Well Jon, people are entitled to access affordable housing and as this community grows it is absolutely essential we continue to invest in community infrastructure to ensure that the west is a livable part of Melbourne. Melbourne has again been identified as the world’s third most livable city.

Jon: Most of the area you represent — there are some houses that sell for a lot of money with water views — but the rest of it is cheap real estate for people who are getting a foothold in the ‘own your own home’ market.


Crickey, an online magazine well known in Australian political, media and business circles, has said that Altona bashing is a classic Inner Melbourne snob pastime (Ref 2). It appears that Point Cook, Hoppers Crossing and Werribee are also targets of snobbish remarks made by people who look down on the western suburbs.

It is heartening that our Prime Minister has defended Altona and said she is happy living in Altona (Ref 1). When she moved to the Lodge, the Age had reported that she would probably check into a hotel, like her predecessors, when she visits Melbourne (Ref 3). It was with great surprise that I found out that she chose to go back to her Altona home on her last return to Melbourne.

In an interview with Wyndham Leader, she said she was still settling into the Lodge in Canberra, and that she had been back to her house at Altona. “The Lodge is obviously very different from the house in Altona,” she said, adding: “I always do have that sense of going back home and being amongst friends when I’m in the electorate.”

If Altona is good enough for the most powerful person in this country, what more can others say? I would suggest that the Altona community gets Julia Gillard as the Patron of Altona.

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