Pet projects show allegiances

By Shane Scanlan

As the City of Melbourne in June moved closer to adopting its 2018/19 budget, councillors negotiated extra spending on some “pet” projects.

With an operating revenue of $470.6 million, the additional spending is small change, but it is interesting to note what particular councillors were prepared to fight for.

Leading the charge was new lord mayor Sally Capp who took the opportunity to extend the olive branch to disaffected traders with a $770,000 maintenance “blitz” at the Queen Victoria Market.

Cr Capp had another dip with $200,000 to “prepare concepts” for the “HighLine-like project of public space connecting Flinders Street Station to Docklands” she promised during her election campaign.

Hopefully, potential costings will be at the centre of this exercise so she can effect an expedient and dignified about-face should the “does-she-know-the-real-costs” critics of this idea be proven correct.

Cr Jackie Watts’ successful extension of this exercise – all the way to Ron Barassi Snr Park in the shadow of the Bolte Bridge – certainly won’t help the numbers.  But her advocacy for Docklands will be appreciated by harbour-side locals.

Cr Watts didn’t stop there though in her support for Docklands.  She successfully put on the agenda a serious look at a “maritime commercial heritage museum” for Docklands as part of the long-overdue Harbour Esplanade upgrade.

Deputy Lord Mayor Arron Wood had earlier put Harbour Esplanade in the spotlight, successfully securing $200,000 to: “Partner with Development Victoria and the AFL to develop a Stadium Precinct Masterplan to deliver exemplar connected public spaces in Harbour Esplanade, Bourke and LaTrobe streets, integrated with the future direction of Etihad Stadium, Southern Cross Station and Central Pier.”

Cr Rohan Leppert was also active, going into bat for both the Southbank and the LGTBI communities.

He secured $500,000 to kick-start the long-promised City Rd transformation project and $75,000 to help All The Queens Men produce and present this year’s Coming Back Out Ball.

Cr Philip Le Liu, on the other hand, was content to bind the council to create a “property portfolio plan” in the future.

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