The results are in: 58.9 per cent of voters rejected the proposal for a $55 million museum.

I don’t subscribe to the belief that most people support a museum because only 31 per cent of those eligible voted. The result must be accepted for what it is.

Is the museum proposal ‘visionary’ or just a fantasy? If council votes in June to remove its contribution from the budget, have we lost something real or was it a figment of our imagination to begin with?

Council’s contribution has been capped at $20m, with $35m to come from philanthropists, trusts and government.

How much of the $35m needed has been pledged so far? Exactly zero. It could be argued that the proposal was a ‘ghost’ museum and just like you can’t break up with a girl you weren’t in a relationship with, you can’t build a $55m museum without, well, $55m.

Council, legally, must hear oral submissions with an open mind before deciding in June (that’s why the referendum couldn’t be binding), but I can tell you the referendum result will weigh heavily on deliberations.

Museum supporters might ask what went wrong? In my view, like the fool at the local boat ramp, we pushed the boat out too far and couldn’t get in! Given the priorities our residents expect in transport and the unprecedented rates rises proposed, our community lost confidence in its council.

If we get rates rises closer to inflation and fund a proper transport plan, our residents might support a more realistic museum in time.

Straight from city council
A personal view,
by Councillor Steve Morris