The Andrews Government’s plan to replace Federation Square’s Yarra building with an Apple megastore is being challenged by a new community group, Citizens for Melbourne. It will launch its Our City, Our Square campaign on Tuesday, 13 February 2018.
Citizens for Melbourne believe that Fed Square should be a public space for public benefit – not corporate profit. It is an incorporated association of Victorians, formed after the shock pre-Christmas announcement, and is not aligned with any political party. It has no financial backers: every dollar spent to launch this campaign has come out of the pockets of the individuals involved.
As a first step, Citizens for Melbourne facilitated over 840 submissions to the City of Melbourne against the Apple plan - a record number. Another 750 people follow @ourfedsquare on social media. Add to that number Change.org signatories, and the numbers are fast approaching 100,000 committed people opposed to the Andrews Government and Apple megastore.
Citizens for Melbourne will campaign across Melbourne, on the streets and online, bringing together people and groups who believe that Fed Square must remain a public space.
“We think the Government has completely misread public sentiment around this proposal. People are outraged at this blatant privatisation of our premier civic space,” says Citizens for Melbourne President Tania Davidge. “Over a year of secret negotiations, a surprise announcement and a mystery deal; this is bad for our city and for all Victorians.”
The development was not subject to public consultation. Even the City of Melbourne was kept out of the loop. Premier Daniel Andrews and Planning Minister Richard Wynne took responsibility for this project and have fast-tracked the planning approval process for Apple. Even now, Apple nor the Andrews Government will release financial or architectural details of the proposed store.
Citizens for Melbourne call on Opposition Leader Matthew Guy and all of Victoria’s elected representatives to oppose this Apple megastore. In the coming days, Victoria’s MPs will have opportunity to support the motion introduced by the Greens to State Parliament to disallow the planning amendment.
Right now, the focus is to mobilise the tens of thousands of people that oppose the Andrews Government’s Apple megastore. Victorians and Melburnians need to phone and email the Labor and Liberal parties. Citizens for Melbourne has contacted the leaderships of the Labor, Liberal and Greens parties. The politicians are spending too much time listening to Apple’s corporate lobbyists, and not enough time listening to their constituents.
Despite the size of the task, Davidge is optimistic. “We know there’s been dissent about the plan within the Andrews Government. We’re hopeful the Premier will come to his senses and reverse the decision, before it comes to a vote next week. After all, it’s an election year and Victorians are united against this project.”
“Across Melbourne the message to Premier Daniel Andrews, Opposition Leader Matthew Guy and Apple is clear: this is Our City, Our Square.”
Further quotes attributable to the conveners of Citizens for Melbourne:
- Brett de Hoedt, spokesperson: “Apple’s megastore will be plonked right in the middle of Fed Square: a priceless location. Apple knows it’s getting an incredible deal, while Victorians are being taken for a ride.”
- Michael Smith, Architect, Director Atelier Red+Black: “Federation Square was built by taxpayers. The annual cost to each Victorian of Fed Square, our cultural and civic heart and open 365 days a year, is less than $1 per person. Compare that to the Grand Prix long weekend at $10 per Victorian. As an investment in our city, Fed Square must be worth at least as much as the Grand Prix?”
- James Lesh, Urbanist and Researcher, University of Melbourne: “After decades of searching for a civic square, the people have found one. Melburnians have made clear that we do not want an Apple megastore in the middle of Fed Square. When we look back at this moment, will Andrews and Wynne go down in our city’s history as the politicians who spoiled our civic square?”
- Our website collects the views of many other Victorians, with whom we have corresponded.
- We also invite Victorians to have their say on our website.
Contact and launch:
- For interviews or background, contact spokesperson Brett de Hoedt on 0414 713 802.
- Citizens for Melbourne can connect you to a range of experts in architecture, urban planning, community making and public space.
- Brett De Hoedt is available tonight (13/02/18) from 7:00PM at Federation Square.
- President Tania Davidge is available tonight (13/02/18), following her public debate appearance on behalf of Citizens for Melbourne at the ‘Apple in Federation Square Public Debate’, hosted by Open House Melbourne.