Spin, spin, and spin again
Russell Degnan

Mary Delahunty has made a fairly piss-weak attempt to defend Melbourne 2030 from the likes of Kenneth Davidson, appealing to history, the noble goals of the strategic statement, and the government's record in implementation. If this was just another op-ed piece I'd probably ignore it as lacking in the substance to be worthy of comment, but since it is the Planning Minister...

Melbourne did not become the world's most liveable city by accident. Our parks and gardens, our wide boulevards, our user-friendly city street grid, our extensive tram and train network and a catchment system that delivers drinking water that is the envy of the world are legacies of visionary planning.

Dodging the debate on whether Melbourne even is the world's most liveable city, or even if urban form has much to do with that tag. This statement is only tenuously related to how Melbourne came about. The parks and gardens, I will grant. The wide boulevards exist around the inner city only; nearby suburbs don't have wide boulevards (think Sydney Rd., Bridge Rd., Swan St. Victoria St., Brunswick St.). And Hoddle himself is quoted as upset about this in the mid 19th century. The street grid is not user friendly, is barely a good idea, would be horrendous without the laneways and has been criticised for over 150 years. Regardless of its benefits, for the most part the tram and train network was built with political handouts and corruption of the worst sort, and very little planning as such - as opposed to the freeway system which wasn't mentioned. And, the water catchments I will also grant,

She then misattributes a quote to Davidson that was from Miles Lewis, and misrepresents his argument as being about one site; before following up with some banalities that hardly refute the point and don't in any way get down to the important matter that is still unresolved: how is the government actually going to implement Melbourne 2030. The results quoted for public transport increase on two bus routes are hardly "spectacular". A 30 percent and 20 percent improvement is a long way short of the 100 percent improvement needed to meet the proposed 20 percent share for all motorised trips. I regularly used to take both the Springvale Rd. and Blackburn Rd. buses and improvements of this magnitude are probably 1-3 passengers extra per trip. Taken from the traffic on those roads that means they have removed barely 1 percent of all cars from those roads!

The Bracks Government is making the hard decisions to protect Melbourne's liveability.

The Bracks government has no opposition to speak of and yet, is still so spineless that Melbourne 2030 is effectively dead as a plan for anything except undeveloped land (ie. the UGB and Green Wedges). They haven't made a hard decision regarding the Melbourne area in five years in office.

Rural areas on the other hand, are having their wishes over-run because of the government's commitment to wind farms. I'm ambivalent on the issue of wind-farms. I think we should be investing in storage technologies instead. But I also think it should be determined locally. This is not happening:

Local councils have been totally excluded from any approval processes. Assessments of the suitability of wind farm locations and government guidelines specifically declare that its environmental targets should have greater weight than community concerns about visual degradation of the coastline.

The 'Greater Good' is not a good reason for ruining a local environment. This is why it is used to justify dams, power stations and freeways at great expense to local amenity. Local residents almost never receive adequate compensation for these kind of schemes, which again, is why I think it is a local issue.

However, noone owns the bay. The Channel Deepening Project will almost certainly go ahead. This article takes what sounds like a relatively nuanced assessment of the EIS and tries to imply that there might be serious implications. There might be of course, particularly near the Heads, but neither assessment seems to indicate a major risk.

Sterner Matters 31st August, 2004 13:10:21   [#] 


Safe seats
Bracks is still governing like heīs on a one-seat majority. You know and I know that outer-suburbanites love their four-wheel-drives and wonīt give them up easily. You also know where the marginal seats are, of course.

One lesson that I wish Bracks had taken from Kennett is that itīs not the length of your term that matters, itīs what you do with it that counts...
Rob Merkel  2nd September, 2004 17:04:49