Sunday, October 29, 2006
Prahran: Vote Clem... the Movie
Like him or not, Clem Newton-Blog is full of creative campaigning energy. This time he's heading to cyberspace to get his message heard. "Vote Clem... the movie" might not be quite as controversial as the works of the Werribee Kings, but it shows that the internet can be a local force as well as a global one.
Kudos ought to go to Newton-Brown and his campaign team for putting together the video in the first place. As for the content, it's a mixed bag.
Newton-Brown seems to have an absurdly illogical position on car parking. Setting aside the objection that it's a local issue rather than a state issue, N-B wants to have his cake, and eat it too. To start with, he makes clear that there should be no metered parking on or around Chapel Street. He then goes on to say that the car park at Cato Street, adjacent to Chapel Street, should be demolished and a public square put in its place. In other words, N-B wants to both reduce the supply and the price of a scarce commodity. Presumably he will be equipping local traders with stun-guns and pepper spray to deal with the angry mobs of dissatisfied commuters who unwittingly visit Clemsville.
The truth is that N-B is right with his second suggestion, not his first. Cato carpark would indeed make a wonderful public square and the land could be used far more effectively than it is at the moment. But the quid pro quo needs to be that motorists accept a charge for using those parking spaces that do remain, and given the significant demand, a hefty charge will be warranted. Only then will economics shift in favour of public transport.
N-B is spot on with his push for bike lanes, although he could be even bolder and argue for the Copenhagen-style bike lanes, where the bikes are shielded from passing traffic by parked cars. Given this is being tested out by VicRoads under the current government, his reluctance is understandable. He's on the mark as well with his push to clean up the Yarra, where I one day look forward to swimming, with Clem by my side.
N-B is foolish, though, when it comes to 2030. Using the backdrop of a supposedly inappropriate development, N-B plays into the hand of NIMBY local residents who love to object whenever a neighbouring property attempts redevelopment. Rather than a spirited defence of the importance of progress, economic development and property rights, N-B makes clear that he believes the real enemy is VCAT and greedy developers.
And so he calls for the abolition of 2030, ironically in part because he believes the infrastructure in the inner city can't cope with high density housing. The fact that massive amounts of infrastructure would need to be put in place to cope with a sprawling low-density metropolis doesn't seem to occur to the candidate. 2030 is far from perfect, but the underlying philosophy of containing urban sprawl and basing lifestyles around activity centres is the only viable way for the city to keep growing.
As a final aside, the emphasis of Baillieu's message at the end it interesting. Though there are probably an army of advisers who have encouraged a touchy-feely message, Baillieu has taken a different tact. In just over a minute of airtime, he uses the following phrases:
- "We've got strong plans for this state, action plans that we'll deliver."
- "A Liberal government will deliver on all these projects, because that's what we're good at, that's what we have a record at. Liberals have always delivered on time and on budget."
- "Vote for a Liberal Goverment in Victoria, because we'll deliver on time, and on budget, because that's what Liberals always do."
The language is bold, just a touch agressive, and very Kennett. Schools and hospitals get a mention, but they're presented as projects that require a keen businessman's eye. The dithering of Bracks, Thwaites et al is replaced with a crisp sense of confidence. Baillieu looks for all the world like he'd rather be an entrepreneur than a bureaucrat, and that's got to be a good thing.