Well this is interesting.
Matthew Guy, watching a possible victory in November’s state election slip away as the federal taint spreads, is going both right and left in his attempt to gain any traction. Right, with every more surreal-sinister law ad order measures, and now left-ish with a commitment to keep Federation Square in public hands.
Fed Square should remain a place for the people, the Libs said in a press release last night, hours before Labor announced the largest infrastructure project in Victorian history — an outer rail tunnel (gosh the Libs do politics well) — and Apple needs to find another home.
The Libs have been trying to find a way to come out against Apple in Fed Square since it was announced by restyled geek hipster minister Philip Dalidakis. But they’re a free enterprise party and so it was a tough reach. But they’ve been watching the gradual rise of the Our City, Our Square campaign, and the fact that the general disgust with Labor for giving away public space has not abated.
Apple helped by producing a gold-plated ’70s-era McDonald’s of a design, and then replacing it with a giant golden iPad. At this point, even the cynical right-wing goombahs who had pushed the Apple store through must have felt a little queasy at how they’d been played. The Heritage Council gave the Libs the final break they needed by slapping a four-month interim protection order on it. As with the Libs line on suburban planning — which is in some respects to the left of Labor’s scorched-earth suburbs policy — this may yield very little.
But it will be an extra pincer movement in an attempt to win the Melbourne southeastern middle classes, who swing between the two major parties, and who do not regard heritage as unimportant. In the inner city, it’s going to bite Labor’s ass. People of all stripes are really, really pissed off at this giveaway.
The Andrews’ Labor government has become so functionally cynical in its four years in office that it could never see how nihilistic it is to give away a public square — even, or maybe especially, one created by, gasp, a Liberal government — as a progressive social democratic party. Those who didn’t fight it in cabinet may now pay a heavy price for their acquiescence.