THE grand plan by the Baillieu government to redevelop Flinders Street Station is heading into its final stages. The 117 entries to the design competition are down to a shortlist of six, and by late July we will have a winner. The anticipation is building.
Before that happens, there will be a people's choice award, with Victorians being asked to decide which of the designs they support, to finally rescue a precious icon of Marvellous Melbourne that has been left to rot. We should be excited. The people will be heard. Vox populi triumphs.
Well, not quite. Read the fine print of the competition conditions and while the people might be given an opportunity to speak, it is, at best, unclear if anyone will be listening. At worst, it is a hollow exercise that gives the impression that the people will have a say, when they won't.
A jury of experts will make the decision on the winning design. As the competition rules stipulate, the jury will not be told the outcome of people's choice. Both the people's vote and the jury decision will be announced at the same time. The two may coincide, in a fabulous moment of serendipity. But maybe they won't.
The jury's winner is up for a $500,000 prize, and the prospect of seeing their design turned into reality, if this cry-poor government can find the funds to rejuvenate the 1910 landmark. (The government will also have to be re-elected, for this is a two-term plan.) There is no cheque for the people's choice award winner, just a warm inner glow that comes from being loved, if not embraced.