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A disconcerting flashback

WHILE nostalgia isn’t what it used to be, sometimes something occurs which zaps you back to a previous time, place, situation or event which reminds you how far civilisation, if not you, has advanced since then.

Sometimes you realise what has not advanced. Recently, while waiting for the designated hour for my song and dance routine at the state conference of the Australian Property Institute, the assembled mob heard Shane Crockett, head of WA Tourism Commission and a chief pooh-bah in the selection of the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre (PCEC).

We saw colourful powerpoint slides full of charts and graphs while Mr Crockett spoke about the winning Convention Centre bid by the Multiplex consortium – that name does keep popping up as winning the biggest government construction projects around Perth.

What Mr Crockett said that zapped my flashback button was a double-whammy statement.

First, that he was not going to discuss the selection process used to decide the winning bid, and second, that the only issue of interest to the government was the financial side, not what the building looked like nor how it functioned.

Environmental or social factors did not rate a mention.

This all smacked of the 80s and WA Inc days where government involvement in major projects occurred without public awareness or comment or approval. Ditto PCEC, ditto secrecy.

The second flashback was to the 90s and such globally important achievements as the Kyoto Accord where Australia agreed that world sustainability meant no-one could remain blinkered by believing that only the financial factors of business were important.

Not so with the WA Government, it would seem – not with the PCEC. We are expected to allow the expenditure of $110 million taxpayer without an informed debate about all the costs and benefits of the PCEC.

City Vision, a group of skilled planners, architects, urban designers who voluntarily work toward a healthy vibrant Perth, will hold a public open forum on the proposed PCEC, on Friday from 1 pm to 4.30 pm at His Majesty’s.

n Ann MacBeth is a futurist and principal of Annimac Consultants.

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