RLC in the Media: Data shows Western Sydney in recession and may not ‘bounce back’

Western Sydney is technically in recession and will struggle to recover from the recent lockdowns, new data suggests.

Elena Garcia Araujo reports for Central News.

After nine months of recovery without lockdown restrictions in the earlier half of this year, it looked like the economy in Western Sydney was bouncing back. However, recent data indicates a much longer road to recovery, with an alarming 54 per cent decrease in job advertisements within those local government areas.

Samantha Lee, a solicitor at Redfern Legal Centre in the police accountability practice, said over-policing and tough LGA restrictions contributed to layers of inequality and the inevitable economic downturn.

“There were more police allocated to those local government areas,” she said. “Those areas are made up of people who mostly can’t work from home, they have to leave their home to go to work and that makes them more susceptible to being on the roads and visible to police stopping them and asking questions.”

Lee added communities were at a disadvantage from the start with strict lockdowns.

“If you’ve got more police in those strict lockdown areas, those people are going to be policed more and will be issued with more fines,” she said. “So from the very beginning, there is an imbalance in that equation. It disadvantages those in the community, who are already actually from your data financially disadvantaged.

“So you’re giving a $1,000 or $3,000 fine to a person whose income is at the lower end. Then they have to struggle to pay this horrendously costly fine.”

Lee said the COVID restrictions changed so frequently that they had a substantial impact on unjust COVID fines, particularly to those with English as their second language.

“The orders were amended more than 70 times from when they first came in,” she said. “People were just overwhelmingly confused about what they could or could not do… certainly, I think class and race came into this whole equation.”

Lee said Police Commissioner Mick Fuller instructing police to issue fines without any warning or caution, had made the situation worse.

“Police have just issued fines without really thinking or turning their mind to whether they’re the person in breach of the order,” Lee added. “The police commissioner said ‘don’t worry if you get it wrong.

“Those who are well off will always probably come out of this a lot less scared than people already struggling financially or socially. This is a time for compassion for those who are already vulnerable. It’s not the time to fine people.

Read the full article here. (Central News, 23 November 2021)