Dear Save Our Station Ballarat Follower,
Thanks to all of those who have helped with our campaign, in the lead-up to the Victorian election and also over the last couple of years. Whether it was delivering flyers to tens of thousands of Ballarat houses, writing to members of parliament, councillors and the media, or making donations to cover our costs for printing or social media promotion -we couldn’t have done what we did without you.
The landslide statewide victory to Labor swept our local campaign aside. The implications for the future of our campaign cannot be ignored. The Andrews’ government has, for a second time, faced the electorate with their Station Redevelopment proposal. Although they did not make much mention of this project during the recent election, preferring to concentrate on the amounts of money they are spending on the line upgrade between Melbourne and Ballarat, and the hundreds of millions of dollars promised to Ballarat for car parking, local traffic projects, sports club grants, Her Majesty’s Theatre, and so on, they did not back away from it either. Even though we believe they will ultimately be on the wrong side of history, they can argue that they have stared us down, and have a legitimate mandate from the electorate.
SOS Ballarat simply could not match the impetus of the extensive and relentless advertising Labor did in the local media, which together with their promises, more than over-compensated for any damage our campaign could cause them. Our message about the inappropriateness of the Station Redevelopment was swamped by Labor’s millions.
In any other circumstances we could take credit for making them sufficiently worried about their two seats in Ballarat that Labor threw so much money at this community. But that was not our purpose, which was to get a 21st century, accessible transport hub that respected and invested in our historic rail heritage precinct. We have not achieved that, and the prospect of the precinct being destroyed by inappropriate development to build apartments and shops is more likely now than ever.
Over the coming months, the Save Our Station Ballarat Inc committee members will continue to monitor the performance of the government, the public service and the developer as they deliver their project. We will strive to ensure this project meets all of its legal and stated obligations. This includes continuing to encourage the legal action underway by the Disability Discrimination Legal Service and Grampians disAbility Advocacy, as they fight for basic access by people with sensory and mobility challenges within the existing Station buildings. We will also alert commercial tenants to possible brand damage they may suffer through association with insensitive redevelopment of a heritage area. And finally, we will see if any opportunities arise to advance our original cause with the new government and our freshly-minted local parliamentarians.
While we will use the mass media wherever we can to bring these and other issues to the attention of the public, we acknowledge that after a long campaign over years, our actions are often no longer rated as news by media outlets. Just because you don’t hear or read much about what we are doing in the months ahead, does not mean nothing is happening.
Thank you again for your interest in what SOS Ballarat has been doing, and for your support. So far, we have not been successful in redirecting money being spent at the Station toward much-needed improvements to transport services, or in protecting our heritage assets. We now will adopt a different strategy to have additional funds provided to achieve just that. When (and if -as success is far from assured) we have something to report, we will again be in touch.
Lorraine, Gerald, Ron, Stephen, Hedley, Anne, Maureen, Dinah and John.
Postscript: According to an article in Saturday’s Courier, a public information session on the Station Redevelopment is being held from 3pm Friday, 7th December, at the Provincial Hotel. This is more than has been offered for the last couple of years, and at the least, gives interested members of the public the chance to hear first-hand what is coming and when.