I do not take exception to Federation Square, and this is despite some good effort. It’s a proud Melbourne custom to stay angry at the city’s largest acts of architecture and we would hardly know ourselves if we failed to resent, say, Crown Casino together. But, there’s something about that square that deadens this tradition. You enter the place just once and you think, “Yeah. That’ll do.” We suffer a paralysis of rage.
If you’re from out of town and planning a date with belligerent Victorian relatives, take note: this place will soothe the passions of most, although not that alt-right Blair chap whose passions might only be soothed by the sight and sound of shiny boots. Otherwise, it’s a good place for a potentially bad meeting. Not a good place for a potentially good one though. I do not recommend this venue to those seeking spirited exchange.
On Wednesday night I attended an informal union meeting at a Fed Square joint. This bar, like all the other bars, cafes and cultural institutions in the precinct, had taken on the peculiar non-atmosphere of the concrete territory outside. I am quite sure that my union had not selected this anodyne part of the city to calm its members or persuade them not to agitate—all unions are currently up to the business of Change the Rules, the ACTU’s largest campaign in a decade and one whose success depends on ordinary members becoming extraordinarily cross. I am also quite sure that my union, like all unions, has little real memory of how to provoke real anger.