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Howard’s End: Good On Yer, Mate!

NSW Premier, Bob Carr, has launched a $A24 billion post-Olympics investment drive for Sydney and regional NSW and is planning to make a series of major announcements over the next 10 days. John Howard writes.

Capitalising on the success of the Sydney Olympics and worldwide publicity NSW Premier, Bob Carr, held meetings with representatives of major business organisations last week.

Mr Carr's strategy is to translate the interest of large overseas corporations into direct investment in the NSW economy.

"Over the next 12 months we will launch a raft of publicly and privately funded projects and announce the arrival in NSW of the regional headquarters of some very major overseas companies," Mr Carr said Thursday.

70 new public projects are set to create 130,000 jobs including a new cross-city tunnel, a Parrammatta-Chatswood rail link, a $A1 billion upgrade of country roads and a new business park.

Mr Carr said that during discussions with chief executives of major overseas companies, he had found a willingness to invest more in Sydney.

Alongside the business strategy the NSW government is planning to secure Sydney as the premier sports venue for Australia and the Pacific.

On top of scheduled rugby league, union and Australian rules fixtures, Sydney Olympic Park is set to host the Youth Olympics in January, the Britsh and Irish Lions rugby union tour in June and July 2001, the Tennis Master's Cup in November 2001, and the Gay Games in October-November 2002.

Australian rugby union chief executive John O'Neill said the 20-nation World Cup to be staged jointly with Australia and New Zealand in October-November 2003 would also bring an overall economic benefit of about $A800 million.

The Sydney 2000 Olympic Games has generated a massive tide of patriotism of a magnitude not seen since Gallipoli.

Nearly everywhere you looked people were clutching or flying an Australian or boxing kangaroo flag - even on their homes and from car windows and radio aerials.

Green and gold boxing kangaroo flags have filled the sporting arenas throughout the Olympics. Their athletes ascended the medal podiums clutching a stuffed yellow boxing kangaroo. (and three times Fatso, the fat-arsed wombat - a symbol of the irreverence held by Australians to bureaucracy)

Rarely seen on the field of sporting endeavour in the past two weeks was the official Olympic mascots of Millie the echinda, Syd the platypus, or Olly the kookaburra

That's a point - perhaps New Zealand needs an aggressive icon as a defacto symbol to our loveable Kiwi national emblem - a flag with a relative of the fighting dinosaur's depicted - a boxing tuatara standing upright on its tail. Go get 'em.

Clearly, the Olympics has created an emotional bond and a purpose within the hearts of the Australian people - a potent sense of togetherness.

Australians, like New Zealanders, are well known to be sport mad, but this went well beyond that.

This was public participation in a vast international event which had somehow been transformed into a sweeping expression of nationalism seen previously only in solemn occasions of war or national sadness.

The Olympics, riddled as it has been with sleaze and corruption, was merely the catalyst that has suddenly bought the diverse elements of the Australian psyche together.

The Games have underlined the idea of the global village but also identified Australia as an isolated land far from the great population centres and the origins of much of its culture.

In many ways both Australia and New Zealand may be on our own, but we are also together.

Australia is now seen by the rest of the world as a fair dinkum, cohesive, self-confident nation.

The Australian people have now provided the answer to the knockers and the proponents of the tall-poppy syndrome - Don't give me reasons why it can't happen, give me reasons why it can!

Good on yer, mate!


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