Geraldine Mitchell March 20, 2008 12:00am
ACCLAIMED actor Geoffrey Rush has thrown down the gauntlet and warned of a voter backlash if the State Government does not open up public debate over the city's changing landscape.
At the opening of a major exhibition illustrating Melbourne's history, Rush yesterday said government decisions about the city's future were at a crucial stage.
"We are at a critical stage of long-term planning," he said.
"We can look back and see many mistakes that have been made but I'd like to think we're better educated now and slightly more resourceful.
"We need to open up public debate where community responses are just as valid as government decisions."
Rush, who is famously involved in a battle against a redevelopment of Camberwell railway station, has flagged a campaign across all suburbs if the Government fails to listen to community concerns.
He said the line of activism in the suburbs was obvious and a groundswell of groups challenging the Government's planning decisions had emerged.
Rush was at Melbourne Museum to launch its largest exhibition, The Melbourne Story.
The $3.8 million exhibition, tracing Melbourne's history from the 1800s, features more than 1200 objects including an historic bark canoe from the Yarra River, a Cobb & Co coach and never-before-seen Phar Lap memorabilia.
It reveals key moments and major changes in the city's history and also aims to explore what is unique about Melbourne.
In his address in front of Premier John Brumby, Rush fired a warning shot at the Government and said the exhibition demonstrated the importance of leaving a lasting legacy.
"The one element of this exhibition we may not remember when we leave it will be us, the people at it," he said.
"All of us are the ones who will be writing the next chapter -- the yet-to-be curated display of 2009 to 2031. I chose that date very carefully, Premier.
"The chapter after that, up to 2050 and let's extend our vision, 2050-2080.
"My 12-year-old then, I hope, will be a spry 85.
"With what degree of admiration or embarrassment will our own chapter be perceived?
"Will we have collectively, with all of our educational resources and a broad-thinking community, will we have combated and resolved or at least eased the pressing environmental and urban issues that are our seismic events, the stuff of our daily front-page news?
"What quintessential Melbourne aesthetic, what preferred level of sustainable liveability will we have created?
"For all of the extremities of life that beset our forebears, our long-range forward mapping, we know, places us at a very crucial time in history."