To help pass the minutes I started looking at the small details on the map, and noticed that it had aged quite significantly. Just south of the Yarra was "Crown Casino Complex (proposed)", whilst just opposite Flinders Street Station was nothing but an unwieldly collection of railway lines and the Gas and Fuel building. Based on what was an wasn't published on the map, I estimated that it was circa 1995, just over two years into the Kennett era, and with many of his major projects still to come.
I betchya Jeff did most of the talking
In the time since the map was published, there have been a multitude of changes to the shape of Melbourne. Dividing them between the Kennett era and the Bracks era is revealing:
- Crown Casino Complex (licence issued by Kirner, but construction was under Kennett)
- Federation Square (Kennett, though completed - late - under Bracks)
- Melbourne Museum (Kennett)
- Docklands Stadium (Kennett)
- CityLink (Kennett)
- Exhibition Street extention (Kennett)
- MCG Redevelopment (Bracks, although in response to winning Commonwealth Games, a Kennett project)
- Spencer Street redevelopment (ditto)
Though the past ten years has been shared roughly equally by both Kennett and Bracks, the imprint on the shape of the city by the former is stark, whilst the latter's legacy is modest. In recent years there has been a lack of excitement about developments in the inner city. The mystery and excitement of heading into the city and seeing a skyline full of cranes is no longer there. Instead, there is a sense that the city is complacent and not keen to grow.
Perhaps I am falling victim to the craving for bread and circuses which ultimately cost Kennett his Premiership. After all, Bracks himself has claimed that he wishes to focus on social infrastructure rather than major projects. But even with this rearrangement of priorities, surely there is still a role for the state Government is ensuring Melbourne remains a vibrant and ever-growing city.
As the 10:53pm to Frankston pulled up, I couldn't help but have a secret longing for Kennett, in all his big-haired, arrogant-speaking major-project-loving goodness. Is there truth to what I'm saying, or am I just a development fascist?