Monday, December 25, 2017

THE GREAT CIVIC GAMBOL


Governments play with our places and lives for their own short-term benefits. We get fed propaganda to justify any and everything, treated like the proverbial mushrooms. The Queensland Government’s ambition to demolish the traditional government precinct in the river-front heart of the city of Brisbane, and replace it with a glitzy casino, slick hotels and smart shopping centres, has been presented to the community as all benefits and no problems, yet details of the land transfer and other agreements have been kept secret – well, not made public. Why? Who knows what is going on? Has any study been undertaken to reveal the impact such a development will have on the existing CBD commercial core? Who cares? - not the politicians who ignore all protests and reason. The dollars appear to dazzle as much as the images: to stupify.

The casino dominates the remnants of the government precinct (on right in dark)


Old Brisbane

The only public face of this work is the new civic gap, the gaping hole in the core of the city currently being excavated for underground car parking. Three AIA (Australia) Award-winning buildings have been demolished to make way for what has been promoted as a whizz-bang casino development, ‘world class’: see - http://voussoirs.blogspot.com.au/2015/11/new-brisbane-casino-reviewed.html and http://voussoirs.blogspot.com.au/2015/09/brisbanes-new-casino-proposal-approved.html and http://voussoirs.blogspot.com.au/2015/09/casino-dliemma.html The media is fed words to promote the benefits of this sacrilege, and dutifully bleats these lines out to the people as war-time propaganda might be: perhaps there could be some profit in this scheme for these companies too? Governments appear to believe a casino can constantly lay ‘golden eggs’ that will overcome all budgetary problems.


Old Brisbane - George Street on left; river on right with Victoria Bridge (casino site top middle)


Channel 7 6:00pm news, on 21 December 2017, raved on with poncey, smart, hypnotic words as the glowing images of a slick bridge and glossy, glazed forms filled the screen with colour, gleam and movement: "The new shape of our city rises from the rubble of the past" was the hype that had been scripted for the resonant voice to read. One could sense the self-indulgent smugness, the considered cleverness of the text felt by the smarty-pants news writer.

The development is presented as being as 'flashy' as fireworks


Why might any city choose to demolish its government precinct and replace it with a casino development, especially when recent news has told about the crackdown in China on high-flyer gambling? It is a real gambol that plays with the city and its people's lives, creating an icon out of tempting hope, complete with a new bridge that leads only into the heart of the complex, and out of it, nowhere else. The approach might be full of gleeful anticipation, but the retreat south will most likely find folk spinning into the void of Southbank and its giddy ways, Ferris wheel and all! Why does each city now seek to have an 'Eye,' however miniature it might be? Why base a city heart on gambling? It is not as though our city lacks appropriate fringe sites that would benefit from such a place, if it is seen as an essential part of lives today.



It was the term “rubble of the past” that grated. Three quality, historic buildings had been demolished and were now described as trash. One can only sit back and despair. Ruskin saw such madness as wasting ‘other people’s time’ – see sidebar: ON DEMOLISHING BUILDINGS. Our governments do not appear to show any interest in this, preferring only to concentrate on their own personal circumstance – the need to hold on to power: The little natures that will make us cry (Auden): see - https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/dec/26/how-i-fell-in-love-with-wh-auden-again-and-again Governments gambol with our lives, our well-being; the city subtly reflects this complexity in our everyday toings and froings. Why do we forget this? Why does no one ever ask about mental health and place – simple contentment? The lies of hype can destroy us, as will casino-city hearts.


Old Brisbane - looking along George Street to the site of the proposed casino development (on right)


For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul (Mark 8:36 KJV) comes to mind. One has to ask this of cities too.

There seems to be little embarrassment in showing the casino as the city's core


NOTE
27 Dec 2017
Christmas has passed; now we have Easter to look forward to. Chocolate eggs will be in the supermarkets soon. As this idea is pondered with a cringe, yet another idea arises from the images of the casino proposal, one that is equally cringe-worthy. Government headquarters - its new, chunky office tower and nearby heritage parliament building with its quirky, 1980s 'monkey wrench' tower annex - now finds itself tucked away in a dead-end corner of the CBD, separated from the remainder of the city by the casino development. In order to access this remnant government precinct, one has to pass through this privately managed gambling place that has been given the nearby streets as part of its land grab.
In one way this signifies exactly what has occurred. Government only ever had ears for the casino lobby. The architectural profession was ignored as a bunch of fanciful wankers. Indeed politicians spoke mockingly of architects as wasteful dreamers. When governments are prepared to ignore the experts in the community in favour of the promoters pushing their own visions, then the results are likely to be problematical, at least lopsided. The decision makers, the politicians, will be as rational as excited children let loose in a lolly shop, as they wallow in the glory of astonishing visions and profitable promises set out persuasively before them, all designed to beguile and mystify with gleam, gloss and glitz that is said to be able to produce enormous government incomes forever and ever - AMEN to all sensible analysis and rational reason when politicians believe that all their Christmases and Easters have come at once: will there really be golden eggs in the coffers soon? Whose coffers?

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