What is a well-heeled art gallery near the Mornington Peninsula doing aiding and abetting a freeway project that is trashing the environment within 100 metres of its own door?
According to a report in the well-heeled McClelland Gallery and Sculpture Park in Langwarrin is to be paid $4 million to provide sculptures along the on 25 JanuaryPeninsula Link freeway, now being constructed from Carrum Downs to Mt Martha.
The Linking Melbourne Authority, the Victorian government agency responsible for the project, and the Southern Way consortium which is building the freeway have both refused to publicly disclose details of the sculpture deal.
In an unfortunate turn of phrase director Robert Lindsay told The Age the gallery will “eventually be a green oasis in this area.” The construction of the freeway itself is environmentally degrading with the removal of substantial bushland along its route, including on the Westerfield property in Langwarrin and which was recognised in a state government report to include three hectares of rare bushland of state conservation significance.
The Mornington Peninsula has for years been acknowledged by the Victorian government as a vital element in the “green lungs” of Melbourne. However, projects like Peninsula Link, which is estimated to cost the public nearly $800 million, will make the Mornington Peninsula more car dependent. Public transport is for practical purposes near enough to non-existent on the Peninsula.
Ambitions to extend the freeway to Rye and plans to develop a container port at Hastings would further erode the local environment. Collectively they would comprise a bizarre and alarming lurch in the wrong direction at a time when Ross Garnaut and others warn that due to continuing failure in political leadership we now face a 4 degree increase in global temperatures and catastrophic climate change.
So the McClelland Gallery’s Mr Lindsay will have his green oasis – in the middle of where? And to house the sculpture pieces for the Peninsula Link perimeter – it’s tempting to see them as mocking artefacts of environmental indifference, a kind of treat for dazed travellers on the macadamised gash that was once a rural and bush landscape.
Placing gimmicky and distracting features along new freeways has become a trend. They were introduced onto EastLink. Who knows what the freeway spinmeisters might have in store if North East Link were ever to be built?