Free park­ing costs some­one

Shepparton News - - VIEWPOINT - JOHN GRAY john.gray@ shep­p­

‘‘Slow mov­ing traf­fic with free park­ing avail­able in the mall would al­low im­me­di­ate ac­cess to this ex­cit­ing precinct.’’

What’s the hith­erto non­pub­li­cised word in a re­cent in-part quote from a mall spokesman from Shepparton’s Cham­ber of Com­merce — even be­fore four Maude St op­tions are pro­fes­sion­ally con­cepted and an­a­lysed?

You’ve got it in one — ‘‘free’’, whatever that is. Not only does the cham­ber favour traf­fic Fry­ers to High via Maude, but it wants the es­ti­mated new 27 park­ing bays, with a max­i­mum po­ten­tial per an­num me­ter in­come (at cur­rent $1.50 per hour) of $89 000, to be for­gone.

Now $89 000 max per an­num on its own wouldn’t, even at coun­cil bor­row­ing rate over 10 years, ser­vice in­ter­est and re­demp­tion of a mall re­ju­ve­na­tion loan of much more than a half a mil­lion — but added to the to­tal park­ing me­ter net in­come from all CBD park­ing, hey presto, there’s your to­tal spend without dig­ging into the hap­less ratepay­ers’ in­creas­ingly de­pleted hip pocket.

An­other cou­ple of down­sides of that ‘‘free’’ mall park­ing are, firstly, why would you make your ar­guably most pre­mier park­ing only $1.50 per hour when you could eas­ily com­mand $3, tops, but cer­tainly $2.

Se­condly, ‘‘free’’ park­ing in the mall would, quite un­der­stand­ably, trig­ger nearby out­side-mall trader re­volt.

Widely re­garded pro­fes­sor of ur­ban plan­ning Don­ald Shoup from the United States wrote a book wellen­ti­tled The High Cost of Free Park­ing. He’s highly re­spected as an ex­pert in the eco­nom­ics of park­ing.

It’s worth a Google — pity we can’t get him here.

One of his best quo­ta­tions, though, is well worth re­it­er­a­tion: ‘‘Who pays for free park­ing? Ev­ery­one but the mo­torist.’’ He’s quite cor­rect, de­spite pop­ulist clam­our; this is one Amer­i­can Don­ald worth heed­ing.

● There was an in­ter­est­ing ar­ti­cle in a free local weekly pub­li­ca­tion head­lined ‘‘Lovell wel­comes fire ser­vices bill se­lect com­mit­tee fi­nal re­port’’ — copied ver­ba­tim from Wendy Lovell’s me­dia re­lease.

All good Lib­eral Party pro­pa­ganda but se­ri­ously mis­lead­ing by omis­sion, me­thinks.

What’s left out, you ask? Just two sig­nif­i­cant facts.

First off, the omis­sion that she ac­tu­ally was a mem­ber of that Se­lect Com­mit­tee — the re­port from which she’s so ea­gerly com­mend­ing in her own ‘‘news’’ story.

The con­clud­ing res­o­lu­tion from that all-party Leg­isla­tive Coun­cil Com­mit­tee — ‘‘That the Draft Fi­nal Re­port (in­clud­ing Pre­lim­i­nary pages, Find­ings 1–10, Rec­om­men­da­tions 1–10, Chap­ters 1–5, and Ap­pen­dices 1–3), be adopted as the fi­nal Re­port of the Com­mit­tee, and that it be Tabled out of ses­sion as soon as com­pleted’’ — re­sulted in a di­vided vote (Ms Lovell and oth­ers were not present).

Now all mem­bers have a de­lib­er­a­tive vote. In the event of an equal­ity of votes, the chair also has a cast­ing vote.

You can guess what hap­pened: yes, the Lib­eral Party chair­man, as is his pre­rog­a­tive, used his ‘‘sec­ond vote’’ (ef­fec­tively) to en­dorse find­ings against the Leg­isla­tive Assem­bly’s pre­vi­ous sup­port for the con­tro­ver­sial bill.

● While we’re on state party pol­i­tics, have you no­ticed in our re­cently rein­vig­o­rated let­ters to the editor, no fewer than three sep­a­rate party hack post­ings — each cul­mi­nat­ing with snide dis­par­age­ments of local mem­ber Suzanna Sheed?

What’s the syn­ergy there, you ask?

Each of the cor­re­spon­dents just hap­pens to be a long-time ad­her­ent of the local Shepparton branch of the Lib­eral Party — one, at least, known to have held the ex­alted po­si­tion of pres­i­dent.

Just a co­in­ci­dence I sup­pose, but yes, it’s less than 15 months un­til the state elec­tions and re­li­able tes­ti­mony is that the Libs, de­spite earnest en­deav­our, can’t yet find a suit­able and will­ing can­di­date while the Nats, with one very re­cent par­lia­men­tary res­ig­na­tion and an­other in­cum­bent in a pre­car­i­ous po­si­tion, will be ex­per­i­ment­ing with an in­ter­est­ing com­mu­nity-pre­s­e­lec­tion process.

Whether letter-writ­ing is part of an on-go­ing com­mit­ment by the party afi­cionado, cal­cu­lated repet­i­tively to in­flu­ence vot­ers’ psy­ches, re­mains to be seen. Just keep your guard up — the com­mon­al­ity isn’t hard to pick.

● The con­tro­ver­sial ac­tions of met­ro­pol­i­tan Dare­bin and Yarra City coun­cils adopt­ing a ‘‘no-go’’ stance on the is­sue of Aus­tralia Day be­ing cel­e­brated by them on Jan­uary 26 has met with con­sid­er­able con­dem­na­tion from op­po­nents — from the Prime Min­is­ter down to what could well be a ma­jor­ity of we every­day Aussies.

One com­mon view put for­ward is that it’s no busi­ness of coun­cils — they should stick to core busi­ness like ‘‘roads, rates and rub­bish’’.

Maybe, but let’s have a squizz at the Local Gov­ern­ment Act, the pre­scrip­tive bible for coun­cil­lors, to see where the is­sue fits in.

What are the leg­is­lated func­tions of a coun­cil? Sec­tion 3e(1), among other things, dic­tates: ‘‘The func­tions of a Coun­cil in­clude — ad­vo­cat­ing and pro­mot­ing pro­pos­als which are in the best in­ter­ests of the local com­mu­nity and (2) for the pur­pose of achiev­ing its ob­jec­tives, a Coun­cil may per­form its func­tions inside and out­side its mu­nic­i­pal district.’’

As I see it, as a lay per­son, those coun­cils are en­ti­tled to ex­press a sup­port­ing view, con­sis­tent with the opin­ions of even an af­fected mi­nor­ity of their local com­mu­nity, and I strongly sup­port their stance. Not that I’d ex­pect such a rad­i­cal move down at our city hall.

There are heaps of ra­tio­nal rea­sons for sup­port­ing a shift of the Aus­tralia Day date — the in­sen­si­tive ‘‘In­va­sion Day’’ main as­pect is one, but there are many oth­ers to do with gen­eral eco­nom­ics in­clud­ing tourism and of­ten-oc­cur­ring four-day week­ends crank­ing up at the con­clu­sion of sum­mer hol­i­days.

Any­how, who re­ally wants to cel­e­brate 11 sail­ing boats, many car­ry­ing heaps of petty crims, sav­agely dis­pos­sess­ing the real orig­i­nal Aussies who lived here?

This is­sue is not go­ing to go away. In the in­terim we can be proud Aussies ev­ery day, can’t we? ● Shepparton’s John Gray has vast ex­pe­ri­ence in local gov­ern­ment, ur­ban wa­ter re­form and nat­u­ral re­source man­age­ment.


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