This nonsense from City Hall continues despite the fact that architects have said it just won't work at half a million dollars. The biggest tree? Who cares? Let Geelong be known for its educational opportunities, sport, spectacular beauty in nearby forest and sea, and kindly people. Not a silly fake tree.
from the Geelong Advertiser Opinion piece.
Less a floating Christmas tree, more a pie in the sky
a joke you may discover in your Christmas bon bon: Geelong councillors approved
$2 million of our money for Christmas decorations. This includes half a million
real dollars for a floating Christmas tree.
This decision was approved with no
accompanying business case and no costings. Only one councillor voted against
the allocation; Cr Andy Richards the portfolio holder for the arts. Oh and
that’s right. This is no joke. The floating tree is real.
When the draft Budget was approved, the
Mayor went home and tweeted about war and fighting negative people, which is
his right as there is no social media policy for councillors at City Hall.
There was celebration from his deputy; Cr Bruce Harwood was in love with the
idea: “This will undoubtedly get huge coverage around the world. The media are
always looking around the world to see who has the biggest tree. We’re going to
see this on the television, on YouTube; this will go global.”
On Tuesday, the Geelong
tendering architects Rara Architecture (from Melbourne), described the tender
as “basically impossible”.
“The consultant fees alone for structural
engineers and architects was $120,000 to $130,000, which was a significant
chunk of the ($500,000) budget.”
Anthea Cannon reported that Rara estimates
an 85m tree (to rival Rio de Janeiro) would cost $2 million. Rara suggested 35m
might be possible for the budget Council had allocated.
A Christmas shrub is not going to go global.
If you don’t believe me, go and Google “second largest floating Christmas tree
on the planet”.
So what’s going on? How can so much money be
spent on an idea so underdeveloped?
Apparently councillors were inspired by Rio,
but if they did some fact checking, the Brazilian comparison is tenuous: 35m of
baubles on Corio Bay is not going to compete with the giant 85m South American
Let’s look a little closer.
Brazil’s largest insurance company pays for
the tree. Not a council.There are about 100 million Catholics in Brazil who
celebrate the birth of Christ. There is community traction for the Rio floating
tree. Finally, the Brazilian tree is not
based on drawing tourist dollars. It is a celebration of community and
recognises their religious commitment.
allocation seriously calls into question the fiscal wisdom of council. When it
was first presented, Cr. Jan Farrell was quoted: “We’re throwing ... $500,000
up in the air. We have no costings.”
Even so, it progressed straight through to
“Go” and collected half a million dollars.
Finance portfolio holder Cr Stretch Kontelj
has spent a lot of characters on Twitter explaining why the Federal Budget is
necessary and why we have to share the pain in order to fix the triple-A rated
ALP mistakes. But in the same feed he is happy to approve $2 million (uncosted)
on Christmas lights and baubles. Hard to see the logic.
I’m going out on a limb here, but I do not
believe we need a floating tree for Christmas. I do not believe we should
transplant Central Park and I honestly believe that a Chinatown grows; it does
not get built like a Gold Coast theme park.
this money on retraining, social services and youth support, because we are
about to enter a Winter of Discontent.
If, during the last mayoral election, one of
the candidates had guaranteed a $500,000 allocation for a floating Christmas
tree, would that candidate have won the election?
This council bush is not going to “go
global”.Frankly, the news of this sapling will be lucky to reach the northern
suburbs — where this cash really should be splashed.
Mueller is a writer, director and Geelong Football Club member. Follow Ross on
Twitter at @TheMuellerName