Saturday, December 3, 2016

CEO Strategic Vs Minutia

“What happens when an organisation becomes introverted on itself and is so concerned with the management of minutia that not only does the ‘big picture’ get shuffled aside, but the future of the organisation becomes hostage to spotlight seeking vocal minorities who even further divert good people from strategic planning to managing minority imposed day to day crises?  And, like any dysfunction causing attention to be held captive, the more it continues the more people shrink inside self imposed boundaries and their new norms become more and more subjugated to real strategic requirements.
Everyone at times prefers to think and act in minutia terms because it’s a way of stabilising the mind but we all don’t actively try to get everyone else to do the same.  For example think of the golf driving range or archery as ‘wellness’ activities because they force a singular focus and a resting of the mind.  In most organisations the minutia set never move to actually playing golf in the big world away from the driving range with the corollary being ‘small minded management misfeasance’ rises from the bottom up and infects all levels including the CEO.
Every company has good people who plan their socks off but their plans fail to make it to reality because, senior staff are so bound up with minority groups, minutia thinking and top down micro management that they lose sight of creating greatness and a company leaping into the future with people who rise above the everyday – as the norm.
Creating this future focus is the role of the CEO and unfortunately that role is often occupied by traditional thinking small thinking people who act as they believe they have to.  For example, the expression, ‘Government moves slowly’ is brain sappingly wrong and diverts strategic thinking to an introverted view of the world focusing on minutia. Governments do not move slowly, people do.  These slow moving people are the ‘minutia set’ who feel at home analysing every detail before they can move on.  We need these people to survive the information potpourri but we also need those who can think strategically, create greatness and make it happen.
Some years ago I gave an address on ‘block people Vs jigsaw people.  I coined this term to describe strategic Vs minutia thinking in an organisation and how important both were to survival.  Problems arose when one infected the other.
The new world CEO must lead from a strategic view backed up by senior management then the minutia set can run the day to day aspects of the organisation within the framework as set by the CEO whilst he or she develops with the key stakeholders a grand plan for the future – and implements it!”

 Seems obvious, doesn’t it.  Yet, it’s anything but common place.

Friday, September 30, 2016

VIETNAM AND US [2]

HANOI - VIETNAM ...

Hanoi is insane!  Cars, scooters and millions of people all vying for the same space. It is also hot and humid only curtailed by another zillion electric fans on the footpaths aimed at where locals virtually live, cook and eat on tiny plastic chairs between the quadzillion scooters perched on the same footpaths.  Pedestrians are forced to walk on the road risking ambush by any one of a million teenage Rambos on 50cc scooters of death.  Indeed, pedestrian crossings only mean that the petrol driven onslaught may move around you as you cling onto some deity whilst wishing for a slightly longer life.
Chaos worthy of a comic.  Yet, it all works amongst the cacophony of horns and overworked horn laryngitis-bleats. Mum, dad and two kids on one scooter blissfully carving through and around buses, trucks and other parents on the school run.  These kids will be able to handle anything as they grow up.
Then, add vendors carrying payloads four times bigger than their bike, cyclo men hawking business as they roll by and more traditional shoulder denting double basket women ignoring everyone.
I did say chaos didn’t I!
We didn’t quite figure out what a ‘walking street’ was as they were also full of the above mentioned chaos.  Perhaps these streets were labelled as ‘walking’ to concentrate tourists into more targeted strike zones with lots of hole-in-the-wall shops selling everything as well as people on the aforementioned plastic stools drinking indeterminate beverages.
All this capped off by on-display barbecued meats on street side trolleys one of which was piled with preroasted dogs. Yes, what seemed incredibly like a bunch of Fidos; head, teeth and all.
Taxi’s are an oasis of semi-calm as long as you keep your eyes closed whilst a ride with a cyclo man can be a life changing experience.  Semi-reclining whilst looking at traffic between your toes having completely surrendered life and limb to a stranger pushing you-first into the chaos. He knows who will get smacked first!
Repairing to any air conditioned space with a sound proof door is cathartic and indeed critical for brain-load survival.  The concierge saying hello whilst he opens the door is therapeutic only bettered by the door closing behind you.
Yet right in the middle of chaotic dysfunction we have a university which has focussed on literature for around a thousand years.  How cool is that!

For a Melbourne bloke Hanoi is gob smacking and quite an experience.  Every facet is different and challenging but isn’t that what makes a good holiday?

VIETNAM AND US [1]

GETTING THERE AND BACK ...

'Air Vietnam'

Flight VN300 Saigon to Narita 13/9/2016
Booked a window seat specifically but on arriving at the allocated seat we found ‘no’ window.  Yes, no window – it was blank!  However to the staffs’ credit on asking we were transferred to another row with a window so all was well but the question remains as to why we were allocated a totally inappropriate seat. Adding on to this level of dysfunction was the fact that one of our screens didn’t work as didn’t several other screens in the immediate area.  How can this lack of maintenance happen and what does it tell you about airworthiness?

Flight VN257 Hanoi to Ho Chi Min 24/9/2016
No wine, beer, tea, coffee or indeed even headphones plus the worst sandwich I have ever part eaten on a plane.  On the reverse trip from Saigon to Hanoi we received all of the above so therefore it is this flight which failed to offer expected and standard services.  As this is less than standard we suggest that you check what is supposed to be served on each leg.  Service is a critical part of flying and staff curtailing this service so they can sit down for most of the flight is not on.

Flight VN781  Saigon to Melbourne 24/9/2016
More problems.  This was an 8 hour flight which meant we were captive for the duration depending on Vietnam Air for entertainment, comfort and sustenance.  My knees were hard against the seat in front which was tighter than our other two flights with the same airline.  This made it difficult to move and most certainly difficult to try and sleep.  As well and once again, one of our screens had a vision fault.  But, the worst part of this flight was the food.  Fish for supper was undercooked, mushy and thoroughly awful and the entire breakfast was inedible with the exception of the yogurt.  I have pictures.

Go elsewhere.  It’s a pity because the staff were great and most hospitable. Our problems were management based around maintenance, food and misrepresented expectations.  Dysfunctions on one flight may have been a one off but three in a row says Vietnam air need help with a few aspects.


BREAD

I have always been confused as to just why bread is supposed to be served with everything.  Bread is a filler and except for certain specific dishes it has little place in a properly constructed meal.  Mop up sauce with a teaspoon and savour the true flavour without diminution of flavour through bread.  
We make our own bread and charge for it but really hope people never order it. 
As an example of where bread IS important, we serve a steak tartare which as you know is yummy gooey soft and full of flavour but it needs a texture change so we serve butter sauté ‘soldiers’  to act as the fork.  The bread is integral with the entrée because of that texture change.   
I just thought of another exception, a chip butty.  Standard unwholesome white bread buttered and wrapped around crispy hot salted chips.  That’s about as good as woofing a dimmi on a street corner at 2am.  Yum.
So fine dining at work vs  gob smackingly good chip butties - time and place.  Eat bread at home but let a proper restaurant tempt you with all sorts of flavours and textures.
Jon

Mon Ami Restaurant

Monday, May 30, 2016

LEADERS [?] DEBATE


There was something prophetic about Sunday night’s ‘leaders debate’ replacing ‘Grand Designs’ on the ABC.  Or at least it should have been.
The media nor the leaders seemed to recognise or understand that here and now in the public arena were two blokes each of whom purported to be the better than the other at leading the political party which would take Australia roaring into the future.
Instead the self absorbed intellectual lightweights asking the questions focused on minutia to which they both should have retorted, ‘Do you know what a leader is?  If you want to know about tax cuts or healthcare go and ask the appropriate minister – I deal with the vision for our country and where we need and want to be – the grand design’.
The trouble is that reporters deal in minutia because that’s their job.  They are not paid to think about the so-called big picture; and it’s so obvious it’s galling.
There was no doubt that the Prime Minister was way ahead of Mr Shorten in this respect albeit he also was dragged down by stupid questions.  This was supposed to be a ‘leaders’ debate, not a portfolio debate.
For example, if anyone cares to remember the ‘I have a dream’ speech by Mr King in 1963, he focuses on a vision and brings everyone along for the ride.  A ‘grand design’ vision so prophetic it and Mr King will live forever.
Now, no one expects that sort of belly fire from either man but we do have a right to expect a ‘grand design’ by each ‘leader’ which we as mere mortals can cling to, believe in and focus towards.
This is standard business 101 and, at least for this little black duck, is mission-critical.  Don’t be dragged down by small people.  I have written many articles about the difference between jigsaw people and block people both of whom are indeed so called mission critical because block people work from minutia up whereas jigsaw people work from the perfect down.
Mr Prime Minister and Mr Shorten, as leaders and jigsaw people, what are your parties’ perfect visions for Australia?

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

ACLAND STREET DOWNGRADE



Since when does PTV dictate what happens on our streets?  Is it lawful for PTV to demand the inclusion of so called tram ‘super-stops’ especially where it is obviously not in the best interests of Melbourne’s history or tourist nature and serves little benefit?

For example, PTV has managed to ruin Bridge Road in Richmond, Fitzroy Street in St Kilda and Bourke Street in the city with the inclusion of the concrete behemoths commonly known as ‘superstops’ and now they want to add another lump of concrete in the middle of Acland Street St Kilda only 100m or so away from the from the existing super stop outside Luna Park.

The stupidity of this is amazing.

Acland Street is a go-to spot for any and all local, national and international tourists because it is somewhat quirky with frenetic bustling people fighting for room with cars and trams.  It is this chaotic mix in a grung-ish setting which makes it unique.  Parking’s free, if you can get one, and trams rattle through dodging tripped out tripped off or tripped up peds.  Add the odd Ferrari or bikie and the picture is complete.  All things for all people.  The cruisers, the diners, the rubberneckers, the locals and the transient homeless all cohabitating.

Fantastic.

Now some closed eye bureaucrat wants to plasticise the street into yet another boring as bat-shit foreign inspired mall.  The same as any other grassed in plastic have-a-nice-day space. Has Melbourne lost the plot [pun intended] in as much as we seem to want to destroy our icons in the name of stupidity.

Why not build a 'vintage' tram line between St Kilda and Port Melbourne instead and increase the tourist potential instead of destroying it?

Think what will put Melbourne on the map in 50 years and it will not be super stops!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

TERRORISM AND SUBVERSIVE MATERIAL


There is an issue developing with the way we treat people and who read what some may call subversive material. 
When I was a lad I read everything I could about homemade firearms with a view to building something which went bang!  You remember, a penny bunger down a lump of pipe with a ball bearing thrown in on top – point it at the fence and wait - only to suffer the ignominy of a hiding from Dad when a large hole appeared.  Or, reading up on how to make a boat only to launch an old door off Black Rock beach and float to glory.  Half a mile out and it dawned on our collective pea brain that we were heading into the shipping lane faster than we could paddle back to shore. Rescued by a fisherman and another hiding.  How about reading up on making a bow and arrow only to have my best ‘friend’ shoot me in the face – quivering arrow embedded in my cheek and, you guessed it, another hiding. This is normal boy’s stuff, adventure and projectiles. 
There were a plethora of books available for boys to ponder over and discuss what would be considered by today’s moral police to be subversive and indeed even anarchistic as well as deeming those evil tomes for corrupting the minds of boys leading them into the paths of terrorism and world domination!
Can you imagine what one of moral turpitude could write about my antics as a boy?  “Terrorist plot foiled by fisherman when youths caught in shipping lane on homemade boat waiting to sink American container.  These same despots have previously been caught developing home made weapons of mass destruction designed to inflict maximum damage. They have also been caught with terrorist instruction manuals. They should be immediately jailed for the rest of their horrible and unchristian lives!”
 Sounds like a big call for a couple of 10 year olds somewhat lacking in a sense of self preservation and an overinflated sense of adventure with no allergies or colds or disease or, brains.
The exampled news article from the moral high ground person was created from the very dark side of their own thoughts and desire to sell news papers turning a couple if idiot 10 year olds into perpetrators from the ‘axis of evil’.
I have read part of David Hicks book yet I don’t think I will be developing any desire to go and follow some passion in another country through and by just reading his book.  I can remember reading books by Dennis Wheatley as a kid on the occult and being fascinated but I don’t think I will be buying a pointy hat any time soon.  At our school we had a church service every morning – 2400 sessions of attempted indoctrination - yet I have no desire to pursue a role as a religious do-gooder. 
I have read the bible dozens of times and indeed have a couple of those inculcating tomes floating around the house somewhere.  Does this mean I am a religious extremist with views taken from a collection of part phrases?  Not bloody likely.
As I am scrawling this I am looking around at our library.  Right there in front of me is another mine of information allowing me to research possible malfeasant targets.  This incendiary publication is innocently called the ‘The White Pages’.  I can slobber over this whilst wearing my pointy hat and thinking of my antics as a “despot youth reading unchristian terrorist instruction manuals such as Popular mechanics”.
Then there is the internet.  That terrorist inspired publication, The White Pages’ is on-line!  God help us all.
This week a person was arrested for reading ‘subversive’ material and accused of a crime because someone somewhere deemed the material subversive and of Al Qaeda origin.  Every bloke should therefore be arrested who had read the White Pages, Popular Mechanics, The Bible, any thriller novel or has seen any ‘action’ movie over the last 50 years.
Mao Tse Tung tried to remove Chinese culture by removing books. Stalin and Hitler did the same. These delightful despots believed that if you removed people’s ability to seek information then you gain control.  The sad thing is that they nearly pulled it off and worse, their idea of censorship is still alive and well in today’s challenged dictatorships.
It has been proven time and time again that people will seek information and then disseminate what they think is right and what is wrong.
There will always be people who read into a sentence just what they want to hear and make judgements based on no fact.  Take the article written about my attempts to sail to glory as a 10 year old - nothing to do with reality.  It’s not the act but the reporting which creates angst.
It’s not what people read, it’s how they interpret it. What’s more, if too many books have been burnt then the total picture is not available and people will make decisions on limited and possibly spurious texts.  Not good.
I was lucky because as part of my 2400 church services we discussed all religions on equal terms with an overriding agenda not to judge.  Obviously, as a Presbyterian school, the preference was to guide us into the true light of that belief, but not at the expense of intellectual understanding.
The same cannot be said for other doctrines which attempt to blind and demand adherence to what is a very small section of life.
Therefore, the issue is not what they read but what they DON’T read.  Balance in everything is good whereas dictated opinion is bad.  Take ‘Reds under the beds’ and ‘George Orwell’s 1984’ as examples.
I personally don’t think it an issue that someone reads a subversive document.  Every Christian, Muslim, Mormon, Christian Scientist or orthodox Jew could also be accused of subverting another’s chosen true way if all we had to judge on was the specific written word of each doctrine.
Every one of those believers who decry other’s beliefs should also be arrested and jailed as was the person downloading alleged Al Qaeda subversive material.
Perhaps not a good thought as this act alone is heading towards Hitler’s idea of a free world.
I personally have been threatening to read the Koran.  It’s about time and like Popular Mechanics, The Bible and the White Pages, it’s an obvious terrorist book designed to subvert the masses into a proletarian uprising.
Can you imagine how the same writer who wrote the article on me as a floating kid could perceive this wanton act.
“Brainless dropkick youth previously guilty of terrorist plots grows up to continue his life of subversion and anarchy by downloading and indeed even reading the other side’s religious text!  His intentions are obviously Armageddon generated from the axis of evil.  God Help us all”
Yep, if that drivel is what we believe and those beliefs guide our actions then truly, ‘God Help us all’.
Jon Langevad   

MONTSALVAT

Montsalvat - Australia is extremely lucky to have Montsalvat.  Make no mistake, this ‘artist’s colony’ built through the vision of Justus Jörgensen early last century has survived to this day and is a place people go to marvel at just how a French Gothic village could be created on a hillside in Eltham.  Not just a French low-line thatched affair but grand architecture inclusive of a great Baronial hall, a beautiful chapel, a delightful pool and some of the best ‘balanced’ architecture one could hope to see.  We are still lucky enough to have residing at the property the man who helped build this icon with his father, Mr Sigmund Jörgensen as patriarch, arts advisor, multi-hat-restaurateur and board member.
It is approaching 50 years ago, when I first stepped onto the property marvelling at the community feel by just wandering aimlessly around dodging killer geese and surly peacocks and stopping to watch artists at work perhaps to buy their wares. 
In my mind, Montsalvat must be both protected as a national icon and cherished by celebrating its history and making sure it continues in the manner visioned by Justus Jörgensen all those years ago.  In this way a zillion new people over the next 80 years can go and gawk and admire and experience a slice of living history without Walt Disney like exuberance. 
Ethos discomfort - But now, Montsalvat seems to be in some degree of ‘ethos-discomfort’.  Whilst the buildings remain and are most certainly worth a visit or ten, I am concerned that the current board and management do not understand the raison d'être behind Montsalvat and are failing to manage critical business aspects and heritage responsibilities.
As the saying goes, there is no free lunch!  To preserve Montsalvat requires vision and money and focus and clear strategies all leading to informed decisions by a coherent and transparent board.  Decisions which ensure working capital for infrastructure maintenance and development.
Board and management have failed - As I watch events unfold, monitor blog and change sites, read publicly available documents, watch everything and listen to all and sundry it seems to be increasingly clear that the current board and management are failing in their primary duty to make sure Montsalvat is protected, cherished and financially sound.  Unfortunately, there are many board and management decisions seemingly incongruous to these three very basic visions leading to profit diminishing year on year thereby curtailing infrastructure repairs let alone being able to take advantage of any ongoing strategic initiatives. 
Directors are required to make informed and independent judgments on decisions put to them [AWA Ltd v Daniels (t/as Deloitte Haskins & Sells) (1992) 7 ACSR 759] and are required to place themselves in a position to guide the company and monitor its management but Montsalvat seems to have a board riven with infighting whilst making questionable [even ultra vires] decisions in possible breach of the Corporations Act [2001] S180 etal. All board decisions seem to be treated as confidential subject to secrecy provisions inserted within the constitution. The result being the ‘self elected’ board only answers to itself with no members other than the actual board members - so there are no checks and balances.
Just a cursory look at the 2013 financial reports indicates problems like consultant’s fees, employment expenses and professional fees amounting to around 87% of gross profit, non current liabilities increased by $103,000 and the loss of a $600,000 revenue stream through gifting the popular albeit badly managed restaurant to a third party by tender for a fraction of its worth as that revenue stream. As directors have a lawful duty to be informed of the companies actual financial affairs [Statewide Tobacco Services Ltd v Morley (1990) 2 ACSR 405], how can this happen?
Just three examples:
Deliberate sacrifice of a major revenue stream - Money was and is critical to the survival of Montsalvat but revenue streams are limited.  A few years ago we worked with Mr Sigmund Jörgensen to reinvigorate the restaurant establishing a vision, mission, strategic directions, strategic objectives, change plans, spatial changes, and cuisine changes all financially documented with timelines.  We estimated a nett profit to Montsalvat from the restaurant of some $3,000 to $4,000 per week and, based on later published turnover of up to $14,000 per week, they should have easily achieved that profit and more - providing it was properly managed.  Unfortunately, management did not take any of our advice apart from some spatial changes [since destroyed] resulting in losses roughly equivalent to profits foregone in as much as $300,000 per annum was lost to forecast.  That’s a lot of maintenance and marketing money just gone.  Management must have actually budgeted for wages etal  near 90% of gross profit and a cost of sales well above industry norms to screw this up.  Much worse, instead of fixing the problems, as a board and senior management should, and given they had all the information we gave them, decided instead of actually managing the restaurant to profit, to lease the space out for a fraction of its worth as a revenue stream for Montsalvat.  How can that be acceptable?  These are not the actions of a competent board and/or management given that under the Corporations Act each and every director must exercise their power and discharge their duties with the degree of care and diligence that any reasonable person would exercise.
Wasted marketing opportunities - Mr Jörgensen had just written a book on Montsalvat launching it a couple of weeks ago at Montsalvat itself.  This major event should have been embraced by board and management, but no.  Sigmund had to do his own marketing, beg entertainment, seek his own speakers and believe it or not the entry doors remained locked until after the advertised start time leaving guests outside in the dust for no reason. I was there, being extremely underwhelmed by the board and management in their conduct towards the launch and Mr Jörgensen but far far worse, their ambivalence if not rejection of the huge marketing opportunity this launch could have provided for the future benefit of the property they purport to direct and manage.  It is shameful as this conduct seems to be driven by board dysfunction and infighting to the detriment of Montsalvat.
Destruction of heritage - An example which really strikes at the heart of Montsalvat.  When Justus Jörgensen designed and built Montsalvat he designed a beautiful pool gated from the outside world and surrounded by artist accommodation and galleries.  This pool is an integral part of the ethos of Montsalvat as are the pools at Ripponlea and Mooramong.  Indeed we were at the National Trust property, Mooramong, a little while ago enjoying afternoon tea around the unfenced pool and have enjoyed many a visit to Ripponlea around their also unfenced pool which they use for functions and receptions. These heritage pools are unfenced for heritage reasons with no requirements by council or anyone to fence same.  Yet the board and management at Montsalvat decided to erect a glass fence [which they can’t afford to pay for] around their heritage pool.  This they are doing against significant objections [change.org] and no lawful imperative or need [no council requirement].  It is public information that the Board even lied to protect their decision to erect the fence by stating there was indeed a lawful requirement.  Heritage aesthetics are ignored and a vital part of Montsalvat’s ethos is being ripped away by a board who just doesn’t understand Montsalvat.
There are many more such examples - Montsalvat has lost its direction.

Three things need to happen starting right now to ensure Montsalvat’s protection and survival:
Stop - The current riven and dysfunctional board along with senior management must resign forthwith apart from Mr Jörgensen who, pursuant to Montsalvat’s constitution as a family member, must remain. 
Assess - An independent administrator / chair / chief executive needs to be appointed for a period of 12 months to instigate a totally independent assessment of all finances and decisions for the last 5 years.
Plan -  Develop a proper strategic plan.  During this time the board needs to be rebuilt with appropriate people after which senior management need to be appointed. 
As I said, I am very concerned about Montsalvat and its future.

Jon Langevad MBA

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Justice Heydon

There are several things which define us as people and as an advanced society.  Of prime importance is the ability to stay a course of conviction through and by focussing on key points of change. On the contrary one of the things which define a low intelligence is swapping a focus on key change points for an attack on the person in the misguided belief that this is a rational behaviour in line with our adversarial Westminster system but is instead based on a desire to win at all costs.
Events over the last few days have shown quite clearly that the unions and the labour party have gravitated to the second group whilst Justice Heydon has exhibited the strength of character demanded of a High Court Justice by staying his course of conviction.
Union officials and labour politicians are devolved to absurdity in their criticism of Justice Heydon saying quite openly that he is guilty of bias seemingly just because his commission uncovered unlawful acts in the union.  David Oliver on Lateline disgraced himself and his union members by accusing a high court justice of what is essentially an unlawful act totally abhorrent to his former role as a Justice and current role as commissioner.
Both the unions and labour politicians have disgraced themselves and made Australia a laughing stock by personally attacking Justice Heydon over him finding against them and recommending several of their number for police intervention. 

They are bordering on personal defamation against a lawful commissioner and in my opinion should be firstly prosecuted and secondly removed of any political power by resigning their posts.  They are not attacking the issues but the commissioner.  This defines low intelligence and a misguided belief that attacking the person is a valid course of debate whereas attacking the issue is the only fair game in a democratic and respectful society.

Monday, August 24, 2015

The farce with a sad end that is Fitzroy Street St Kilda.


AN OPEN LETTER TO PORT PHILLIP CITY COUNCIL

Concerning Fitzroy Street ...

In my opinion the Councillors for the City of Port Phillip, PTV and Vic Roads should have to personally reimburse the 18 or 20 businesses which have turned up their toes and given up in Fitzroy Street.  If it had been that just one or two failed then one could possibly blame the operators but being there are so many who have gone broke it would seem that there is more to it than just an incompetent operator or two.  From top end to plebeian, they have all failed to meet their owners expectations lost money and had to just close.

Who’s to blame?  The overriding answer is simple – people are in public authority positions of power wherein they can make decisions about which they have little expertise, historic perspective or strategic view.  This describes the Port Phillip City Council, senior city management, PTV and Vic Roads.  As far as the council are concerned, a bunch of people elected on some criteria far removed from what should be essential skills. There are many examples proving this point such as at least 18 years of no action on the Port Melbourne foreshore despite having an acceptable urban design framework for the whole period.  Examples such as the stupidity surrounding the original design for the triangle site which thankfully, due to public force, was eventually withdrawn but still cost us millions of wasted dollars.  Another example is the cost of car-parking.  A 10 year old reading ‘statistics for dummies’ could analyse usage [read tourists], rates against time and costs and see that there is a correlation between high costs of parking and empty spaces.  Drop the costs and people will come and nett profit for the council would remain as is.  Simple but too hard for some people to digest.

A fourth example is Fitzroy Street and its destruction as a must-go-to destination for both Melbournian’s and tourists.  This is a direct result of a weak council failing to recognise what Fitzroy Street was all about and acquiescing to minority groups and statutory authorities by allowing these groups to create urban havoc all without a feel for the area, its history and its future.

When there are 18 vacant shops in one smallish street, with past tenants ranging from high end restaurants to boutique businesses - just closing down - there can be no escape from the fact that there are major issues with the street itself.  Traders across all levels walking away from millions of dollars says quite clearly that the street is the problem and not the traders.

Given the inescapable fact that the street is the issue then what’s happened?  Once again the answer is simple Fitzroy Street has become a throughway but in fact it should all be about recognising that not every street in every suburb needs to transformed into a super fast tram route with channelled traffic and dedicated bike lanes.  This is because some roads deserve to be slow and visual so the strolling rubberneckers can see, taste and enjoy.  Not every street needs a few more tons of concrete to create unneeded and unwanted super fast throughways for cars, trams and bikes.

St Kilda is ‘Melbourne quirk’ and that’s what people expect and want to see and be a part of whilst being kept safe away from the disaffected. 

Changes to Fitzroy Street have destroyed its character which in turn means that it has lost the ability to attract both tourists and normal Melbournians.  It does however attract the bottom end of society and the drug affected.  With the ‘ice’ epidemic it has now become seedy and dangerous.   Take the Gatwick Hotel for example – it is a dangerous place.

The solution is unfortunately not simple.

Firstly, and in the immediate short term, the disaffected have to be removed.  CCTV is but one of the critical tools to make that happen.  Councillor Touzeau said, whilst recently voting against the installation of CCTV,  ‘everyone has the responsibility to make the sort of world we want to live in’.  This is just plain stupid and far removed from the real world.  Especially so given the Council created the problem in the first place. 

Secondly, Fitzroy Street needs to be made a ‘slow’ destination street by creating a streetscape for both pedestrians and destination visitors through creative parking.  There is no need for a somewhat dangerous bike lane and there is no need for any tram super-stops other than at the beach end [already installed] and St Kilda station end [already installed].  The middle bit needs rethinking.

There is need to remove the dangerous and little used bike path and replace it with 60 degree free parking because car parking correlates to visitors.   Then add lots of mature trees breaking down the long visuals, large quirky sculptures and more non-food retail.  Then add public seating in the middle of the road under the canopy of shade trees where people can just sit and watch the slow trams and the streetscape; after mandatory facia regeneration. 

We need the development of a ‘tourist’ precinct where wandering becomes an art form instead of a dice with dropkicks.

I personally remember the days when we ventured to dinner at Tolarno’s [since closed as Mirkas - once again] wandered around after dinner and absorbed some of the quirkiness of the street before returning to our dormitory suburbs. Successive councils have destroyed this ambience.

This council has to make a decision.

Are they going to recreate Fitzroy Street by removing the disaffected, recognising that Fitzroy Street is not a speedway for trams, cars and bicycles and spend some of our money creating a streetscape which will attract tourists and locals alike seeking a quirky but safe immersion experience.

This is a no-brainer – YES.

And with a properly designed triangle site and Acland Street precinct we have a chance at creating a world class tourist area.  Let’s not wait another 20 years.


Say thirty million dollars over 3 years is absolutely nothing in terms of the financial return and the benefits to all Melbourne.