Take that, tunnels and ticket touts

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Our city, it is becoming increasingly clear, is run by halfwits. One bunch of bureaucratic fools tried to improve our road system, but instead they gave us Cross-City congestion and a tunnel no-one uses. Another pack of incompetents tried to protect our precious Ashes tickets from being swamped by English fans, and ensured that the only place you can now buy tickets is the Barmy Army website. We Sydneysiders are a placid lot, and it takes a lot to get us riled. But we’ve had enough, and we’re taking matters into our own hands.

The Cross-City tunnel’s 50% discount ends today, and will be replaced with a permanent reduction of just 17c. People had started to use it because they felt that it was quite a good deal at $1.78. But now that it’s going back up, guess what’ll happen, Cross City Motorway Pty Ltd? We’ll stop. It doesn’t matter how much advertising there is. Sydney has made its position to the operators entirely clear: with all due respect, we contend that it’s a bloody rip-off. And we simply aren’t going to use it. So there. We’d rather sit in an interminable traffic jam, thanks all the same.

Nor do we appreciate being bullied into paying an exorbitant toll by road closures. A toll road should offer a superior service at an attractive price. You don’t just bully people into using it. That’s tantamount to extortion.

It’s not a good thing that the government’s decided to reopen the closed roads, though; with the possible exception of the Druitt St dogleg which just seems like a deliberate attempt to irritate motorists. Making William St less trafficky and keeping cars off Darlinghurst residential streets is clearly a good idea. Cars should be bypassing the city from east to west on a motorway, the same way they do from north to south. If they aren’t, everyone loses: the residents, the operators of an unprofitable tunnel, the government which is clearly going to lose the inevitable court case and have to shell out even more compensation than the contract specified, and above all the drivers who sit in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Only Sydney could take a great idea and botch it so badly through bureaucratic penny-pinching and mismanagement.

These State bureaucrats are the same geniuses that redesigned Australia’s one world-famous building, the Opera House, so that it didn’t have enough seats to host opera profitably, and priced ordinary people out of the market.

We’re at the point now, I suspect, where the government should just buy the stupid thing – they’re going to have to shell up whopping fines as it is – charge $1.50 and hope they don’t lose too much money on the deal. At least it’ll deal with the congestion, the original point of the whole exercise. Except for the tunnel operators, who foolishly thought they’d been issued a license to print money. Next time, do your market research.

But the Cross-City Tunnel looks like a work of prophetic genius next to the “Australian Cricket Family”, Cricket Australia’s attempt to keep Ashes tickets for Aussie fans. The English fans had their own smaller allocation in designated areas, as you’d expect, and we wanted to keep our home-crowd advantage. So how did they do it? Rather than giving first dibs to people like my parents, who’ve shelled out to watch SCG Tests for the past few years and therefore count as genuine fans who actually support Australian cricket, they shafted us and set up a “foolproof” anti-scalper and English fan system. They didn’t even get an email from Ticketek to say – hey guys, CA’s got a new, stupid-ass system you might like to know about. Thanks, Cricket Australia. Enjoy the sea of Union Jacks at every Test this summer.

CA created an Aussie test in an online questionnaire where you had to tick which team you supported and nominate your favourite player – as if scalpers and dodgy English backpackers have too much integrity to lie. You can just imagine the sunburnt lager louts wrestling with their consciences, saying “Cor, I’d love to watch them Ashes, but if it means tickin’ a box sayin’ me favourite player’s Warney on an online form no-one will ever read, then no flippin’ way.”

Then there was the requirement that you needed an Australian mobile and address. Well, I challenge the ACB to identify one single cricket fan in the entire United Kingdom who doesn’t have some compatriot mate down here on a working holiday visa whose details they could use.

But dumbest of all was the decision to set the number of tickets anyone could buy at 10. What possible justification is there for so many? They may as well have just dumped the tickets into a truck and shipped them directly to dodgy scalpers. And what nationality is virtually every scalper in Australia, by the way – as anyone who’s ever queued outside a cricket ground could tell you? English.

We’re spitefully getting some of our own back, though. I love that we’ve launched a fake-bidding vendetta against the eBay scalpers who’ve ruined our summer of Ashes-watching. May the Don heap blessings on everyone who frustrates an English scalper. And I hope every Australian fan remembers the way we’ve been treated, and refuses to buy a single ticket to next summer’s Tests. Let’s see how many of the Barmy Army members who’ve joined the Australian “cricket family” turn up to next year’s Tests against India, shall we?

And next time some idiot bureaucrat stuffs up our lives with this kind of moronic bungling, let’s adopt the same principle we’re using for the Cross-City Tunnel and eBay. Swift popular punishment that directly affects their bottom line. That’s what they care about, so that’s where they must be hit. Hard. I vote that when the Ashes start, we divert all the English tour buses into the Cross-City Tunnel and then seal the stupid thing off at both ends for five days, successfully killing two birds with one stone. Then we’ll go and reclaim the seats that are rightfully ours. Now there’s a land rights movement to reclaim sacred sites (for instance, Yabba’s Hill) that even John Howard would support.