The Pencil Guy: Hourann's illogical blog

Places like Armadale, Thornlie, Clarkson, Mandurah … and Clarkson

Monday 31 August 2009 at 10:26 pm
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Lots of ideas, but not so much action

Friday 23 March 2007 at 8:20 pm

(Apologies for the delay in service: I think I’ve wrought control from the unruly plugin that was randomly breaking things.)

So in the two-ish weeks since Charles Landry left, there’s been a remarkably fiery debate about how best to handle the future of Perth, with plenty of ink spilled, but sadly little in the way of signs of change among the leaders who are holding us back. (At least this was a better reception than what he seems to have earned at his next stop, Mumbai.)

The West Australian published a two-page spread last Saturday which basically repeated things that have been said for ages, like “connect the city with Northbridge” (even though that’s already planned and is pretty much a done deal, since every major stakeholder has agreed). There was also a generic “more support for the arts” call, which is great, but the implied qualifier “from the public purse” isn’t a real solution; as Landry pointed out, we actually need a greater sense of private patronage.

They also published a bunch of letters on the matter, with some others online (note that what’s online aren’t comments in the normal sense, but in fact letters in the old-school sense). PerthNow did something similar. It’s interesting that many comments are saying things like “Perth is fine as-is, if you don’t like it, why not leave?” … maybe someone needs to tell these people that that’s exactly what is happening!

I’m also a bit suspicious of all of the comments calling for “better public transport” — while I agree with the sentiment, it seems like lots of these people don’t actually use the existing services. For instance, I read several calls for a circular service linking the train lines, which already exists! (That’s not to say it can’t be improved — higher frequencies would be great, and the CircleRoute passes close to the same airport that lacks bus services …)

Some vaguely promising signs came from the Liberals this week, with suggestions like free wifi in Joondalup (in Perth, the owners of the overpriced existing service would complain) or establishing a carbon trading market. This latter idea is, in fact, a brilliant concept that’d do wonders for Perth, and fits nicely with Landry’s suggestion of making Perth a centre both for mining and for repairing the damage it does. Sadly, I doubt there’s strong enough political will anywhere in WA to see this through to reality.

Meanwhile, when speaking to CEDA the Opposition Leader announced he’d be interested in using the convention centre as a catalyst for change, making it the centre of an entertainment district by the waterfront, to complement sports and culture districts at Burswood and East Perth respectively. This sounds like it might be the start of a useful idea (although I see things wrong with it already) … problem is, so far it’s just two paragraphs in a speech. Good luck finding any real policy on his official site, which is about as well-organised as his party!

So let me take a shot at gap-filling: a pollie with real guts might suggest sacrificing the outermost lanes of the freeway as it passes over Mounts Bay Road, turning them into ramps that go straight down to meet the road. Then, Barrack Street and The Esplanade could be changed back to two-way streets, thus turning the Mounts Bay Road intersection into a standard freeway diamond. This would allow all four flyovers south of the Convention Centre to be demolished, and for Riverside Drive to be ripped up from Barrack Square to the Narrows Bridge — which would free up hectares of prime land for riverfront development.

Similar ideas are emerging on this SkyscraperCity thread, which incidentally is one of the few online discussions of the topic I can find (another is in a local queer publication). This is a shame, because creative and out-of-the-box thinking was exactly what Charles Landry asked for, and it is exactly what we need to make the convention centre stop sucking.

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A few observations …

Monday 25 September 2006 at 9:21 pm

… now that I’ve finally finished (w00t!) my first thesis draft. Well, mostly. Almost all of it. Okay so maybe it’s not quite there yet, but anyway.

  • Happy Ramadan, which starts today. In the current climate of fear and distrust, it would be nice if there was some acknowledgement of this fact in the mainstream Western-world media :-(
  • Speaking of Muslims (ahem, all migrants, but of course we really just care about Muslims): you know the kerfuffle in the media about a possible citizenship test for new Australians? This is actually in response to a discussion paper that is open for public comment until 17 November. I encourage you to say something!
  • Like many other nerds, I’ve been eagerly following word from the blog of the latest space tourist, Anousheh Ansari (she of X-Prize fame). Aside from the whole geeky millionaire going into space thing, it strikes me as interesting that many of the American reports about her, such as the press release from her old uni, seem to bring up how she came to America with (almost) nothing and built a life and fortune for herself. “Never mind that she’s Iranian, she followed the great American way, so she’s one of us now!”
  • Last week the State Government announced new railcars for what will be the Clarkson — Mandurah line, adding on to the batch that the same supplier has just finished delivering. Finally, some acknowledgement that there’s a capacity problem on the northern line — and also that the current number of trains is hardly ideal for servicing a 107km route!
  • Speaking of the State Government: last week they introduced an amendment bill to bring some sense to our horridly restrictive liquor licensing laws. I’ve not yet read it but it seems to be a significant step forward, albeit still far short of fixing problems like the silly noise complaint rules. It remains to be seen if it’ll pass the upper house, but amazingly, there’s actually a website created by a bunch of Perthonalities trying to drum up support for the changes in a petition. (Amusingly, they’re running Joomla and previously had comment-spam problems; now they’re being bitten by escaped quotes in comments.)
  • And concluding with other public transport related matters: I’ve posted a few times about SmartRider, which will be the first deployed system of its kind in the country, and the PTA’s dude-in-a-suit marketing tricks for it. (The ERG readers in both Melbourne and Sydney speak RFID, but are only used by some travellers, notably most Sydney school kids.)
    It turns out that SmartRider Man pales in comparison next to the flashy website and converted truck “discovery centre” set up for myki, Melbourne’s forthcoming answer to SmartRider (or should that be “Metcard 2.0”?) … which should be an entertaining budget-burner!
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