“However modern we might feel, corruption is a pre-existing and ongoing fact of Sydney life. Certainly this is the implication of Lesley Muir’s marvellous book.”
– Elizabeth Farrelly
The early years of the New South Wales Government reads like a ‘who’s who’ of 19th century corrupt politicians—in many ways echoing the more recent scandals that have cast a shadow over the State. Lesley Muir’s new book, Shady Acres, takes us on an illustrated tour through the Henry Parkes and John Robertson era which saw massive transport and land developments, expansions which became the foundations of modern Sydney. Beneath the dazzle of these prosperous transformations Lesley Muir demonstrates that the NSW Government made its planning decisions to suit the interest of developers—decisions which Sydney is living with to this day.
The sheer magnitude of the transformation of Sydney and its outskirts since the 19th century is startling; the transformation of the NSW government—or lack thereof—even more so. This all too familiar subject of development scandals and widespread political corruption shows how vested interests set the agenda, constructing modern Sydney on a patchwork of shady acres.
Dr Lesley Muir, Senior Vice President of the Royal Australian Historical Society and professional historian, died in 2012. This book is based on years of profound and forensic research which brought the extent of NSW Government corruption in the 19th century to light. She died with her work nearly finished. Her husband, Brian Madden and colleague and friend, Joy Hughes, then prepared the manuscript for publication