Melbourne, The Games & Keeping Ourselves Nice

When visitors are about to drop-in we like to get our house spick and span. It’s nice to look our best — fluff up the welcome mat, mow the lawn and dust off the best china.

So it goes with the 2006 Commonwealth Games. Melbourne is getting its house in order. Of course there are the highly visible ‘capital works’ projects like the Southern Cross Station and the MCG development (as featured this issue), but that’s the equivalent of re-tiling the roof without edging the lawns. So, the powers that be are hard at work looking into the devilish detail. For example, it looks like all the homeless people that congregate in Melbourne’s City Square will be bundled off to temporary hostel accommodation for the duration of the Games. What a great idea! They’re such an eyesore… lounging around detracting from our image as affluent, joke-cracking, wine-sipping, antipasto-munching citizens of the world.

Being one of Melbourne’s more outspoken fans, I thought I’d add my two bob’s worth. I’ve been working on a ‘shopping list’ of stuff I’d like to see improved or swept under the carpet.

• For starters, if we’re packing off the homeless then surely we need to round up all those scruffy ‘windscreen washers’ you see plying their trade at Hoddle St intersections, or, at the very least, supply them with orange MCC overalls, some proper kit and get them directing traffic.

• Other scruffs should also be forced to keep themselves ‘nice’. In particular I’m thinking of leftie university students, who litter our streets with their shambling, self-conscious, op-shop-sponsored un-niceness. I’d suggest that each and every uni student be issued with blazers and boaters… now we’re talking!

• Then, while on the subject of unsightly eyesores, what are we going to do about all the terrible graffiti that covers train line embankments into the city? My suggestion is we call in graffiti artists that actually know one end of a spray can from the other and get world-class graffiti instead.

• Transport in general needs to be addressed. If Connex can’t get the 7:21am ‘ghost’ train from Broadmeadows to the City to run more than once a week then… well, slap them with some sort of court order… like transporting all the homeless people to their outer suburban hostels free of charge.

• And taxi drivers: can we give them a crash course in Melbourne geography? The number of times I’ve had the Melways on my lap shouting directions to the cabbie… well, it’s a total embarrassment.

• Parking. I know we’re trying to encourage people to leave their cars at home but for those of us who do occasionally need to park in town over the Games period, could we be provided with a map that clearly show all non-Wilson parking? Getting sucked into a subterranean black hole under the pretext of ‘$3 parking’ (only to find out the second hour costs $30) is a painful experience… It may be a little too late for more ambitious capital works but I’m not sure why we haven’t relocated Bells Beach to St Kilda and installed an industrial-sized wave machine — at the very least it’d give Sydney one less thing to crow about.

• Another last minute large-scale project would see Healesville Sanctuary relocated to the Botanical Gardens so that visitors can quickly and conveniently hug a koala, while the odd kangaroo can also be released onto the streets to avoid visitor disappointment.

• And finally, I have a job for the ASIO spooks: bundle Derryn Hinch into the back of a panel van and take him to Baxter. While they’re at it they may as well pick up Sam Newman as well… Job done. – CH

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