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The Carnivale is over

(by Ray Dixon – Regional Victoria’s grumpiest blogger)

Too much colour for Wodonga?

Too much colour for Wodonga?

Or: How to stop growth in a regional city

The city of Wodonga located near the NSW border is Victoria’s fastest growing regional centre with new homes going up everywhere. Wodonga’s come a long way in the past decade and was actually starting to look a bit more livable as it emerged from its previous drabness and Struggletown image, as the poor relation to its cross-border twin city of Albury.

Heck, it even started to get a bit interesting with the very successful and colourful Carnivale event that has been put on every year over the Labor Day weekend in March since the Commonwealth Games year of 2006 when Wodonga was paired with Jamaica – hence the Jamaican theme depicted above.

But such advancement is apparently too much excitement for the Wodonga City Council who seem to have decided that Wodonga’s really just a backwater … and that’s the way they want it to stay:

CARNIVALE, one of Wodonga’s premier events, won’t be held next year. No funding has been allocated for Carnivale in the city’s draft budget.
The council’s community development director, Debra Mudra, said last night a review was taking place into Carnivale’s format and its return could not be guaranteed.

Ostensibly, the reason the council has given for pulling the rug on the event and withdrawing its $100,000 in support is “so works can be done on the closure of Hovell Street and other significant changes to traffic and pedestrian flows around the city” but that’s just a joke. The city’s central streets are closed down for the event anyway, so what does it matter that road works will be taking place through the week? It’s not like they’ll be working on the roads over a long weekend, is it?

Of course the council claims it’s not necessarily the end of the event and says: “There has been no talk of Carnivale not coming back. The talk has been about let’s seize this opportunity for a review” but that’s like  telling your partner “I just need some time on my own to think about our relationship” – i.e. it’s an excuse to dump her.

So what’s all this got to do with you and why should you care what goes on in remote north-east Victoria, I hear you ask? Well, nothing, but I just wanted to have a bitch about it.

Actually, it should concern you, because if regional relocation is ever to become a reality (and God knows we need to redirect populations away from the crowded capitals), this type of backwards thinking and lack of vision and support for vibrant communities is just the sort of thing we don’t need.

End of sermon.

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3 Comments

  1. Tony says:

    We have seen the demise of these wonderful events for decades Ray. It is sad to see the loss of one in your community.
    Not unexpected though is it ? After all, look what they have done to Moomba ? As kids we used to watch the parade, or even sit on the edge of Swanston Street, and watch the parade go by, and then wander down to the parks for the traditional BBQs and then the water skiiing.
    Admittedly, at that point in history I think was when there were massive problems getting public liability insurance for such an event. The costs were prohibitive, but now ?

    They don’t even televise either of them now, from what I hear ?

    In your case though, the council may not be able to afford to put on the event, but what about the loss of income to local business owners, from the throng that come to watch the event ? Did the local business owners, such as yourself, put up a case in that regard ? I know if I owned a business, I would have been on the council like a dose of the trots until they changed their minds about it ?

  2. Ray Dixon says:

    I don’t actually live in the Wodonga council area, Tony, but as it’s the largest & closest major regional centre (about 100 kms away) I take an interest in what goes on there. So I don’t know the real reason(s) they’ve effectively dumped this event – which btw is their ONLY big event – although it wouldn’t surprise me if the twin city of Albury over the border in NSW had something to do with it. They’ve got a habit of pinching any event Wodonga puts on. If that’s the case, it suggests a bit of internal corruption @ Wodonga is at play in removing the funding for it. Local politics is about self interest it seems.

  3. Tony says:

    That was why I was surprised ?
    Typically, the local pollies of a town or region, are also high profile business owners, or local identities, with a financial interest in what happens within a district ? That was the surprise, when you said that local council wanted out. There must have been members within, who thought the financial benefits, wouldn’t benefit them in the long run, but rather perhaps their competition ?

    You know, as I do, that it is generally which palm is greased the most, wins ?

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