The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'victoria'
A landmark of 20th-century Australian experimental architecture faces demolition: the Fairhaven pole house, which stands on a platform atop a 15-metre concrete pole near the Great Ocean Road in Victoria, is scheduled to be torn down this week, despite calls for it to be placed on the state heritage list:
''The Dixon pole house is one of the most striking and unusual examples of an 'experimental house' which takes risks and which may serve as a design prototype,'' Mr Lewis said. ''The design of a dwelling on a pole is unique in Victoria, and rare elsewhere,'' he said.
But the Heritage Council rejected the application, saying it was ''not of importance above a local level'' and should be included by the local Surf Coast Council in its heritage overlay.The house, built in the 1970s, will be replaced by a new house of roughly the same size, which is intended to remedy design flaws in the original, such as the fact that none of its windows would open, making it less than comfortable.
Through the four or so decades of its existence, the house has survived three bushfires, including 1983's devastating Ash Wednesday fire, and attracted considerable attention; some from tourists, and some less favourable attention from the common Australian feral bogan:
Mr Dixon, who conceived the house while recovering from a surfing accident, said it always attracted interest from passers-by. ''Even at 2 o'clock in the morning they'd walk around the balcony on the outside and make comments that wouldn't be printable.
This Saturday is the Victorian state election. For those wondering what's going on there is a summary here:
State politics is a strange, sad, almost cute realm, where those ambitious, energetic people gather who are, on the one hand, far too inept and devoid of personal magnetism to succeed in federal politics, and on the other hand, far too inept and devoid of personal magnetism to succeed at anything else either. Oh the dilemma of the state politician: caught so exquisitely between the pincers of their dual incompetencies. But then, that is the life they chose when they decided to make no useful contribution to the world for their entire lives.
The combatants provide a fascinating study in contrasts. For example. John Brumby graduated from the elite Melbourne Grammar in 1970, whereas Ballieu graduated in 1970 from Melbourne Grammar, which is quite elite. So the sharp ideological differences began early on... And then of course there is the difference in their choice of parties. Whereas Brumby chose Labor because of its strong commitment to social justice, Baillieu chose the Liberals, because he believes in a just society.
What is important to focus on is the potential consequences of voting Green, which have been spelled out for us by trained investigative journalists from the major newspapers, who "went the extra mile" to unearth and expose secret Greens policies by cunningly visiting their website and then sniffing a bunch of glue. Basically, the Greens’ policy platform consists of three major planks:And here is a profile of the inner-city seat of Richmond (where your humble correspondent last lived in Melbourne), which the Greens are hoping to take (though, with the Tories putting them last, that may not happen). It's interesting to see that all the candidates are fairly socially liberal; the religious parties have given up on this seat, and even the Tories are running a gay bar proprietor as their candidate, and jumping through a lot of hoops to balance appealing to affluent small-L liberals in the city whilst not alienating their conservative core:
So we’re not saying don’t vote Green, we’re just saying, think long and hard about just how stupid you are.
- Forcing everyone to be gay
- Murdering old people
- Criminalising electricity
McFeely is not your average Liberal candidate, being an openly gay man from a working class family in Scotland. He also runs one of the best-known gay venues in Melbourne, the Peel Hotel in Collingwood, though the Liberal party website just refers to it as a 'busy Collingwood hotel' and also skips over issues of his sexuality. McFeely previously came to prominence in 2007 when he won a Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal ruling granting his hotel an anti-discrimination exemption so that he could exclude heterosexuals. This infuriated radio talkback callers, most of whom wouldn't have actually wanted to visit the hotel in a pink fit. He is opposed to gay marriage (because of its religious connection) but supports civil partnerships, and in 2006 tied the knot with his partner of 18 years at the British Consulate in Melbourne. McFeely briefly withdrew as candidate after a dispute with Liberal headquarters over his campaign, including a dislike of the photo that the Liberal Party suggested he use. The Liberal Party finally relented, McFeely the only Liberal candidate with a non-standard photo.
After a recount in the Victorian state election, the DLP has lost one of its two seats to Labor, who, in turn, have lost one of theirs to the Greens. So now the upper house looks like:
- ALP: 19
- Liberal Party: 15
- Greens: 3
- National Party: 2
- DLP: 1
Meanwhile, political scientists are blaming the election of this bunch of fusty relics (who are rather unlikely to speak for the fabled Silent Majority Of Suburban Battlers) on the above-the-line preferential voting system used to elect candidates. In short, this system works by allowing voters a choice: vote below the line, enumerating your candidates of choice in order from most to least preferred (and there's usually a good 40 or 50 there), or tick the box of one party above the line and automatically vote according to whatever preferences the party has chosen in its various deals. The political enthusiasts who keep up to date with the details of the preference deals are, for the most part, the same tiny minority of voters who can be bothered to vote below the line; meanwhile, the vast majority of voters tick one box and hope for a result with the flavour of their particular party.
IMHO, there is a solution: make above-the-line voting preferential, allowing voters to rank their parties of choice in order, removing control over the exact distribution of the preferences of above-the-line voters from party dealmakers.
Scotland and the Australian state of Victoria have just signed an agreement declaring themselves as "sister states", citing common history and successful multiculturalism as reasons:
Scotland's First Minister, Jack McConnell, says Victoria's multicultural reputation is the reason that the state is such an attractive option with which to forge a formal alliance.
"We are both places of about 5 million people," he said. "Victoria and Scotland have a bright future together, working on sporting, cultural, industry and trade-type opportunities, and this sister-state relationship will do just that."There are other similarities: both places are notionally across the border from where the real power is concentrated, and yet manage to wield considerable influence. And both of their major cities are largely Victorian in vintage, laid out on a grid, and with vibrant cultural scenes of the sort that don't quite flourish in their glitzier counterparts across the border.
Though Glasgow, of course, doesn't have trams.
Massive taxpayer-funded bailout of Victoria's floundering public transport system, with hundreds of millions of dollars being given to multinational corporations to keep the system, hobbled by a problematic ticketing system and a privatisation regime seemingly designed to help the road lobby and euthanase the unfashionably socialistic institution of public transport, from collapsing. Wouldn't it just be cheaper to just tear up the tracks, replace them with roads, sell off overhead wiring for copper and stations to real-estate developers (you could build lots of car parks), and give every Victorian a car-buyer's grant or credit towards taxi fares?
The Victorian government is talking with private contractors about procuring 160kph trains for high-speed rail links to regional centres. On the surface, this looks like a good thing; though the PTUA (that bunch of ratbags) did warn that high-speed trains could mean the closure of smaller railway stations between urban centres, and ultimately could lead to the degeneration of passenger rail to a US-style commuter rail system, running only at peak hours to shuttle workers between dormitory cities and their workplaces.
The Victorian government is reopening four passenger railway lines closed in the early 1990s. The Ararat, Bairnsdale, South Gippsland and Mildura passenger railway will be reopened within 3 years, with services run by private operators. Not surprisingly, three of the reopened lines are in the electorates of independent MPs who hold the balance of power. (Still, decent passenger rail coverage is a Good Thing, IMHO.)
Speaking of historical railway maps, here is an archive of maps of the Victorian Railways network, by decade. Fascinating; now I know that the Fitzroy line closed sometime in the 1980s, and the branch line to East Kew (which once linked Oakleigh to Fairfield or somesuch, around 100 years ago; not to be confused with the Kew one) was closed in the 1950s sometime. Though there is no trace of the rumoured railway line which ran from Elsternwick to Oakleigh or somewhere like that.
(I have been interested in historical maps for some time; since I started looking through a 1970s-vintage Melway street directory which had belonged to my late stepfather, probably from back when he was a features editor at the Herald. Unfortunately, this book has since been lost, some time before when I became curious about the dismantled railway lines of Melbourne.)