Tram to nowhere

In the midst of all the flack he gets, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews got a few free kicks this past week.

That came with the government’s decision to give away 134 W-Class trams, those bone-jarring, drafty old things that used to shudder and bounce along so many suburban routes.

The first reaction of many might well be “wow”. So much of that is about reminiscing about family trips decades ago, or a few years spent as an inner-city uni’ student.

But this is not altruism, rather an easy bit of public relations.

Nevertheless, Wodonga councillor Kat Bennett reckons a tram would be a perfect fit for the city and, when suggested by a Wodonga resident, backed one for Junction Place.

Give the whole thing a cursory look and, yes, there’s doesn’t seem to be any real harm. It would certainly attract a few people, albeit briefly. But then what?

What has been achieved in Wodonga and is still to come is truly visionary and exciting.

An enormous amount of work has been done to get things right, because another opportunity to redesign a city’s centre probably won’t come along again.

It is why a tram is so at odds with the way things need to be done.

It’s about planning.

Plonking one in Wodonga has as much relevance as it did when one sat outside Wangaratta’s Bruck Textiles mill for so many years.

The railway precinct, with its foodie culture, is an example of just how good things can be.

It would be easy to get caught up with the shallow excitement of “Dan’s Great Tram Giveaway”.

But anyone already not in doubt about its worth need only look back a few years – to Wodonga itself.

During Melbourne’s 2006 Commonwealth Games, the council embarked on an enthusiastic campaign to secure one of the big fish sculptures used on the Yarra River in the opening ceremony.

Wodonga was aligned with the Jamaican team and within weeks, the fish had arrived in town.

It was a bit of harmless fun, but just who knows much about the fish now?

Like the trams, it has no relevance to what makes Wodonga the great regional city it is today.

And so a thanks, but no thanks, might be the best, embarrassment-free way forward.