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Port Botany: A Planning Dilemma (1979)


A documentary that examines the environmental and community impacts of the Botany Bay port development and the conflicts between the different parties involved.

Curator’s notes

Presented by the University of Sydney’s Planning Research Centre, this documentary represents a transition in Zubrycki’s development as a filmmaker. Prior to this documentary, Zubrycki had made a series of quickly-made community-based videos using black-and-white portable video technology. These works often focused on a central event or issue and followed the drama as it unfolded in a short period of time. Zubrycki’s work immediately following Port Botany extended into more finely crafted feature-length documentaries, the first of which was Waterloo (1981).

Here, the ‘planning dilemma’ of Botany Bay’s port development is clearly set out, and through interviews with residents, developers, environmentalists and council representatives, weighs up development, progress and economics on the one hand with the environmental and ecological impacts on the other. Many groups express their concern that while a consultation process was set up in the late 1970s to enable some of these conflicts to be discussed, it was too little, too late.

Tom Zubrycki’s career began in the early 1970s and he was involved in the community video and television movement of that era. Since then he has made over 30 documentaries. As the needs of the documentary filmmaker dictate, he has also worn the cap of sound recordist, producer and editor at various points in his career.