This is not a review of Metro Gallery’s exhibition of Mrs Bennett’s (Nyurapayia Nampitjinpa) paintings because I couldn’t get to see it due to Melbourne’s public transport. From one of the world’s most liveable cities (but that was only if you were a senior executive) Melbourne is fast becoming unliveable due to a serious neglect in infrastructure. Melbourne has a lack of drinking water, public transport and other basic items needed for a metropolis of approximately 4 million people. Infrastructure problems have also led to power brownouts and blackouts especially in hot weather. Many of Melbourne’s suburbs like Coburg, are built without adequate public toilets, purpose built libraries and other amenities.
There has been decades of neglect and I mean decades. I frequently review exhibitions at Platform in the Degraves St. subway at Flinders Street; the subway was completed in time for the Melbourne Olympics and hasn’t been renovated since.
The 19th Century colonial vision of Melbourne was for a European city with wide boulevards of trees with trams running up the middle and suburbs connected by a network of trains. However, post-war Melbourne grew to a vast size as a huge suburban sprawl encircled the city. Flying over Melbourne you realize how flat the architecture is; there are very few buildings over two stories high and the suburbs spread out to the horizon.
The lack of a functional public transport system (actually it is not a “system” and the operators use the term “network” to describe the mess), bicycle paths, pedestrian areas and a sprawling car-based post-war metropolitan geography has created other problems for Melbourne. The cars, along with a primary reliance on coal fired power stations to provide electricity, contribute to the greenhouse effect and more extreme weather, as if Melbourne didn’t have enough variety of weather conditions.
This is might appear beyond the scope of this blog’s culture focus (‘get back to writing about art exhibitions’). But the culture of Melbourne includes its infrastructure and the political culture that has allowed the decades of neglect. It is the reason why you aren’t reading a review of an exhibition. If you would have preferred to read an art review instead of this entry then this is yet another reason for you to stop voting for the ALP and Liberal Party that have and will continue to neglect the city’s infrastructure and ruin its environment.