Anyone who knows Sydney and the inner city will know that the Circular Quay and the Waterloo ends of Pitt Street are very different.

Clover Moore, the incoming Lord Mayor of the supersized City of Sydney, realises this – hence her policy to create a New York style “city of villages”.

However, will her team and their Green allies that look likely to control the SCC be able to straddle the divides?

With hindsight, the post mortem on the furiously fought election campaign we’ve just seen will probably simply be “it was bloody stupid to bung a whole pile of inner city residential suburbs in with the CBD”.

Their interests are completely different.

But how will the products of a protest vote from these residential areas go managing and fostering Australia’s commercial heart – the area between Central Station in the south, the Harbour in the north, Darling Harbour on the West and Mrs Macquarie’s Walk, Cook & Phillip Park and William Street on the east.

Will they be up to the task?

Will their team even hold together when they confront the difficult issues the job will doubtlessly involve?

Both are surely only maybes.

So what might happen then?

Even Hieronymus Bosch never pictured such an unlikely scene, but if you peeped into the right office in Parliament House, Macquarie Street, late one afternoon a few years back you would have found then Special Minister of State John Della Bosca proudly explaining to yours truly how Sydney stole the commercial crown of Australia away from Melbourne.

It was history as written on Sussex Street – but the basics were accurate enough.

In the last generation, Sydney has not only become the commercial capital of Australia but a major regional and international business and financial centre.

After Saturday, however, will Melbourne strike back?

The Cain and Kirner decade – and the havoc their union mates wreaked across the manufacturing sector in the early eighties – left the state and city gutted.

Does Melbourne have the business people left across enough sectors to take advantage of the uncertainty business now faces in Sydney?

Do they have the nous?

Della Bosca and his Sussex Street successors, puffed up in their pride, have just given Melbourne the biggest gift it has received since it won the 1956 Olympics.

Now it’s up to Collins Street’s finest.

They need to grab it and run with it. Victorian Premier Steve Bracks and Treasurer John Brumby need to get the hell out of their way, while Melbourne’s Lord Mayor John So better make sure they don’t trip on his pavements.

Perhaps it might be an exaggeration to say that Melbourne was gutted. Names like Pratt, Fox, Grollo – not to mention Walker – still get enough column centimetres on the nation’s business pages, and new names keep turning up.

BHP Biliton and Coles Myer are still there.

And while Jeff Kennett be gone, well, if you want to see his monument, look around.

Docklands, City Link, the world’s tallest apartment building and big biotech developments are all monuments to the glory that was Jeff.

The opportunities should be there for business and government – state and local – in Melbourne and Victoria to present a united front and launch investment raids across the border.

However, if they are to succeed, Steve Bracks needs to get a spine – and a couple of balls.

It seems he still can’t believe just how he got lucky back in 99.

His government is overcautious to the point of conservatism. It’s sluggish.

He won’t let Transurban finish off the Tullamarine/Calder part of City Link, for example. He’s afraid it might smack of Jeff’s “grand projets”.

Bracks needs to realise that dynamic political leaders don’t necessarily have to shovel dirt over journos at official openings, that they can actually impress people as much as rub them up the wrong way by everything the do.

He needs to shove some short blacks down the throats of his bureaucracy and get that sense of urgency that Kennett engendered firing again.

He needs to cut through the booming red tape and political correctness industries.

He could even do with a half decent opposition. If they could sweat him a bit, things might get moving.

Clover Moore is clearly popular. Her election is a win for democracy rather than the old deals-in-smoke-filled-rooms spirit that infects the New South Wales ALP.

However, she and her team face a mammoth task in convincing the world that they want to keep a global commercial centre open for business – and are up to the job.

Moore should mean more for Melbourne – more opportunity. It’s up to them to grab it.

Her supporters would have to agree. They don’t like over development. Think about how even Bob Carr moans on in his Malthus moments about all the pressures being put on Sydney and his state.

The more things are spread around, the better for the country.

Hillary Bray can be contacted at [email protected]

Peter Fray

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