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Following the unfortunate hospitalisations at Electric Parade this past weekend, the University of Melbourne Student Union would like to once again affirm its commitment to drug harm reduction.

This incident, along with a number of other high profile tragedies over the last few months have highlighted the need for a broad approach to harm reduction that includes not only the provision of rudimentary pill testing kits, but also information relating to contraindications and safer practices surrounding the consumption of drugs.

Australians are some of the highest users of illegal drugs, with 41.8% of Australians aged 14 years and over using illicit drugs in their lifetime. Drugs consumed in Australia are among the most dangerous in the world due to huge variances in purity and a high incidence of toxic adulterants.

These issues disproportionately affect young people, with people aged 20-29 being more likely to have used illicit drugs than other age group.

UMSU passed a motion in 2016 supporting the implementation of a pill testing scheme because zero tolerance approaches have been ineffective and harmful. Instead of treating drug use as a complex health issue with societal and structural factors, Victoria Police and the Andrews government have reduced it to a criminal issue that can only be dealt with by suppression and force. Zero-tolerance policies cause active harm to individuals and communities in a way that is unhelpful and potentially devastating. Access to high quality methods of testing and information about safer drug-taking practices empowers Australians to make informed choices about their health and behaviour.

Our pill testing scheme is taking longer to roll out than we had expected to accommodate for this measured and evidence-based approach to reducing drug harm. We will be expanding the program to include education on steps that can be taken to ensure that you and your friends are as safe as possible. Our information sessions and publications will be available to you free of cost, and will include information on a wide variety of substances including alcohol, ‘party drugs’, psychedelics, and the broad class of stimulants used as ‘study drugs’. We will also be lobbying for high-level reforms in drug policy to allow for more accurate and reliable testing methods to be available to the public.

It’s no longer acceptable for Australians to expect that there will be drug-related hospitalisations and deaths every summer as if they are a permanent fixture of our festival and party scene. Through increased and improved drug education, the provision of high-quality testing services and policy reform, we can move towards a safer Australia for our young people.

 

Yan Zhuang
UMSU President

Words by Hamish McKenzie
Photography by Alice Fane

We Melburnians dwell in what was once a humble village. Perched on the edge of the world, we are protected from the violence and overpopulation that plagues many cities beyond our shores. And the world has noticed. In 2013 we won, for the third year in a row, the much-vaunted accolade of world’s most liveable city.

But when one digs a little deeper, the picture left of our metropolis gives less cause for celebration. We are growing at over 1000 people a week. We have had no major expansion of our rail network in what feels like a century. Our metropolitan area covers 8,000 square kilometres, larger than Tokyo, New York and Delhi combined. With the combination of a backyard-obsessed population and a road-addicted political culture, we are left with an expansive and unmanageable system that creates chaos at peak-hour.

And in the face of a looming social, environmental, and economic struggle, the Victorian government in 2012 made the decision to cut all funding to bicycle transport programs. Only months after, the $8 billion East-West Link was announced.

The future development of liveable and prosperous cities will be reliant on the prioritization of pedestrian, public and bike transport. Building freeways to solve congestion is akin to loosening one’s belt to solve obesity. It doesn’t. The fat must be shed.

The Copenhagenize Index is a biannual ranking of the world’s top cyclist-friendly cities. The 2013 ranking lists cities like Rio

The benefits of bicycle transport both to individuals and communities are well documented, but given our battle to accept the bike, they warrant redressing.

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Economically speaking, spending on bike projects is a lucrative investment in productivity. A 2009 study found a benefit-cost ratio for cycling projects to be five-to-one. That is, for every dollar spent on bicycle infrastructure or programs, society accrues five dollars’ worth of benefits. Road projects often struggle to hit one- to-one, and by way of example, the East-West tunnel has a benefit-cost ratio of 0.7. That equates to a net loss. This is perhaps because freeways cost 100 times more to construct than off-road bike paths.

In many cases, bikes are actually faster than cars. 50 per cent of trips in urban Melbourne are less than 5kms, and under this threshold, cycling is usually a faster option than driving. For trips of between 5-10kms, the difference is negligible. A 2010 study found that average car speeds in the inner Melbourne morning peak were just 22.2km/h, compared to an average cycling speed of 20km/h, equating to a 1 minute difference for a 10km trip.

Single occupant vehicles on roads occupy 20 times more space than cyclists, meaning that transitioning to a bike-centered society could massively reduce the congestion that will cost the nation $6 billion a year by 2020. Furthermore, evidence from bike-centered cities overseas has shown that bike riding in segregated lanes to be significantly safer than driving, meaning we could cut into the $27 billion annual cost of road accidents in this country.

Catherine Deveny perhaps says it best: ‘It’s faster than walking, safer than driving, cheaper than public transport and it’s the closest thing to flying’.

And cities around the world have caught on to the fact.

Last year, London’s mayor Boris Johnson announced a 900 million pound policy to revolutionise cycling in the British capital. The plan involves a 15 mile bike highway through the middle of London, an expansive network of back-road ‘quietways’ for timid cyclists to gain confidence, and the creation of three suburban ‘mini-Hollands’ where concentrated infrastructural spending aims to completely transform car-dependent communities into Dutch-style bike-centered ones. London’s boroughs are now aggressively competing to be one of the chosen three areas for transformation.

More radical still was the January announcement of plans to construct SkyCycle, a network of elevated bike-paths across the metropolis, involving ten entirely car-free routes stretching a cumulative 220kms. Accessed by 200 entrance points, SkyCycle could transport 12,000 cyclists per hour, away from the danger of cars, and cut half an hour off journey times. Most significantly, the network would be suspended on beams above existing railway lines, meaning no new land would have to be acquired to construct it.

Meanwhile, on the world’s busiest cycling road, Copenhagen’s Norrebrogade, used by 38,000 cyclists daily, the council has instituted a fast lane, and a special ‘conversation lane’ allowing casual cyclists to chat and ride at leisurely pace. The strategy sees positive social interactions and increased cycling patronage as mutually reinforcing. It’s a far cry from Hoddle St road rage.

Additionally, Dutch planners have proposed the notion of a cyclist friendly ‘bio-mall’ where shoppers circulate on bikes. In the same way that the automobile encouraged the growth of the Chadstone-style malls, the idea is to reconfigure urban spaces that encourage bike access which would in turn encourage a more bike-friendly environment.

So what are the possibilities for Melbourne?

A SkyCycle Melbourne could be built over our radial rail network to construct bike-exclusive routes into the city from all directions. A SkyCycle network could enable trips from Footscray, Northcote or Hawthorn into the city in 10 minutes, without risking life and limb on the roads, with no traffic lights, no carbon emissions and no need for touching on or off.

The creation of ‘mini-Hollands’ in inner city areas, in suburban hubs like Dandenong, and in new developments on the city fringe, could shift the structure of our city away from its unexamined assumption that private car ownership is a desirable and indeed inevitable prospect.

The construction of a safe and continuous network of dedicated bike lanes along major arterials, but also the provision of quietways through the backstreets may encourage entry-level options for less confident cyclists. One study shows that only 8 per cent of Melbourne’s population feels confident to ride on the roads, whereas 59 per cent of people are ‘interested but concerned’. This massive potential cycling demographic must be accommodated. Quietways might be the way.

Furthermore, Melbourne is on the verge of developing massive swathes of prime inner city land into major new mixed-use developments.

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Fishermans Bend/Grant Wyeth

The Fisherman’s Bend redevelopment is set to house around 80,000 residents by 2050 in a high-density area of 240 hectares just south of the CBD. The E-Gate redevelopment is a 20-hectare site over the West Melbourne rail yards earmarked for redevelopment into a mixed-use development for 10,000 residents by 2030. Both of these large scale urban renewal projects give the City of Melbourne and the state government a clean slate to design people-centered urban spaces by prioritizing bike transport. Who knows, in the same way today’s suburbanites drive to Docklands to hit up Costco, by 2050, we may see Melbournians flock to Fisherman’s Bend to shop in the bike-friendly bio-malls.

In 2014, the liveability of the world’s darling city lies at a crossroads. We can either pursue expensive and inefficient road options or invest in cheap, lucrative bicycle transport to maximise the social capital of city and stimulate sustainable economic growth. The Melbourne of today is still riding high on the good planning and heavy investments of the city founders, and we must now decide whether to emulate this example for our children. At this most important of crossroads, Melbournians, by which I mean all those, newly arrived and nearly departed, must vote with their wheels.

Words by Jeremy Nadal
Photography from Orin Zebest (Flickr)

When two graffiti artists drowned in a Sydney drain in 2008—allegedly after learning about the tunnel from the Cave Clan’s website—Deputy State Coroner Hugh Dillon recommended “that the New South Wales Police investigate the activities… of the Cave Clan” and its “shadowy characters.”

Wikipedia has it that the Cave Clan is a “primarily Australian group dedicated to urban exploration”. However, the internet offers few other clues about the Cave Clan. This is because the group communicates over their own semi-private forums, and because the mainstream media have buried the Cave Clan beneath an entire sewerage system of sensationalist shit about “a cult graffiti gang”. I figured the only way for me to fairly judge the Cave Clan was to speak directly to the ‘shadowy characters’ in question.

My initial email to their homepage, asking for an interview, yielded no reply. So I decided to try and apply to join instead.

As the public section of their forum describes, their initiation program is designed to keep people away who are “just looking to get new locations to make their Flickr account look cooler.” An applicant has to express their interest via email, attend one of three monthly beginners’ expos, get a probationary membership, and attend a certain number of explorations within six months before they can be officially admitted to the Cave Clan.

To my surprise, they got back to me within a week. I was invited to a beginners’ expo at a tunnel, 20 minutes by train from the city, called the Maze.

To be honest, I expected to meet a band of gamers with hunched-backs, greasy hair, and pale skin, who’d just hobbled out of their parents’ attic for the first time in twelve weeks, but it wasn’t like that at all. There were at least 40 attendees and only two of them were members. The others were people looking to join. In age, the applicants ranged from 18 to 40. In occupation they ranged from landscapers to telemarketers to training dentists.

The two members went by the aliases Ath and Black-Lodge. In a very Fight-Clubesque way, the members of the Cave Clan avoid learning other members’ real names. That way, if the police catch one member, they won’t reveal the identities of their compatriots. Despite this, the Cave Clan didn’t have a cultish atmosphere at all. The people who wanted to join were mostly the outdoorsy type, eager to find a new hobby.  Ath, with whom I managed to strike up conversation, was passionate about the rich history of Melbourne’s storm water system. He told me about his adventure through the bluestone, colonial-style walls of the drain, which run from the Yarra River, beneath Flinders Street, and along Elizabeth Street all the way to Carlton. The tunnel was built during the late nineteenth century to contain Williams Creek, which was prone to flooding. He even told me he’d encountered markings on the walls of the tunnels that had been made by the convicts who built them.

The expo through the Maze took about an hour. The tunnel was about three metres in width and height. We entered at an opening in a park and exited near a river. The most memorable section of the tunnel was a ten-metre vertical drop, where we were compelled to descend a ladder. Even when it is not raining, a fast-flowing waterfall plummets down this precipice.

Since the Cave Clan was first established in 1986 by three Melbourne teenagers (Woody, Dougo and Sloth), a whole philosophy has flourished around it. As a lot of Melbournians lose interest in their old theatres, warehouses, and other antiques of the landscape, urban explorers seek to understand and appreciate the past. Cave Claners view themselves as lucky enough to have discovered that between the cracks of our safety-padded city are tiny little manholes that lead to a forgotten universe of underground waterfalls, colourful murals, and a general aura of freedom.

Words and pictures by Ashleigh Bonica

There’s nothing a great knit can’t fix. When you have to battle an overcast morning that turns into a sunny afternoon here in Melbourne, layering knits and coats over summer pieces is the best way to create a practical trans-seasonal look. This edition’s Posing a Thread stars nailed it with their eclectic mix of colour, print and texture.

MEDIA_char_1080x1747Charlotte

4th year – Global Media and Communications

How would you describe your personal style?
I like to go for things that are comfortable, casual, but also soft and feminine. This changes when I’m dressing for an occasion though. For parties I like to go bling-bling.

What trend do you love?
I absolutely love the vintage trend, although it’s not always appropriate to wear for uni.

What’s your lust-have for autumn/winter?
I would love some more comfortable sweaters.

Who are your favourite designers?
I love this Chinese designer called Wei Wei Wang. She designs a lot of wedding gowns and is quite big in Hollywood—designing for awards shows and celebrities.

Where do you seek inspiration?
I love magazine spreads. I think they are something you can collect ideas from and they have this dream-like quality.

Do you have a go-to item in your wardrobe?
I have this small orange bag that’s quite simple but I always get compliments when I wear it. I love it because it makes me feel fashionable and confident.

MEDIA_laura_1048x1747Laura
1st year – Arts

How would you describe your personal style?

I often end up just mixing things like my gym gear with what I call ‘legit’ clothes. So most of the time I either go for the naked look, like today, or the I.D.G.A.F.—I don’t give a fuck—look.

What trend do you love?
I love the monochrome look, with a pop of colour in an accessory. I’ve been doing that a lot lately, just wearing my plain white tee with a bright hot pink necklace.

What’s your lust-have for autumn/winter?
I’d really love a good winter coat or maybe a fur coat. And I’m also just on my way to buy these awesome slouchy drop waist pants from Bassike. I’ve been lusting after them for a while.

Who are your favourite designers?
Gorman, Bassike.

Where do you seek inspiration?
Definitely Instragram and street style. Otherwise mags are good too. Lately I’ve been reading Elle and Peppermint.

Do you have a go-to item in your wardrobe?
I live in plain Bonds tees. They are literally all I wear.

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Liam and Zoe

How would you describe your personal style?
Liam: Cheap (laughs)
Zoe: I’m a pretty dishevelled, top of the laundry basket kind of dresser. I do try to have a bit of fun with it though, mix up prints and patterns.

What trend do you hate?
Z: Those stupid foot-glove shoes that have the individual toe sections. I hate them passionately.

What’s your lust-have for autumn/winter?

L: Grey sweatshirts.
Z: A nice warm wool jacket.

Who are your favourite designers?
Z: I don’t really have one. I’m neither here nor there about labels.
L: I love Kmart. I got this sweatshirt there yesterday for $9.
Z: And he hasn’t taken it off since.
L: I think I’m going to buy another one.

Where do you seek inspiration?
L: I just go with whatever the kids are wearing. Damn kids are trendy these days.
Z: I actually really love Japanese fashion at the moment and looking at the way they clash prints.

Do you have a go-to item in your wardrobe?
L: Grey sweatshirts.
Z: Love a comfy knit, and black jeans. Can’t go past a good pair of black jeans. They go with everything.

 

“Here [in the United States], you can always do more, push harder, be better. Dare I say it, but ‘tall poppy syndrome’ really prevents that back home.”

Is anybody out there? Julia Friend investigates renewed Australian interest in gaining American success.
Illustrations by Lynley Eavis

Living as an expatriate artist in the United States sounds irresistible. The success stories from time abroad are always so alluring. The Australian accent seems to lend itself to party invites, networking opportunities, and a lifestyle you could only imagine here in little old Australia. Our fascination with honing our craft in America is stronger than ever. No one wants to be a part of the little creative town of Australia that could – at least not initially.

Even though Melbourne is a UNESCO “City of Literature”, and home to some of the most renowned art galleries in the world, we remain uncertain of our validity as a cultural hub. Sam Twyford-Moore, a Melbourne-based writer, suggested in his 2011 piece ‘Letter from Australia’ that Australians still look towards the US for “cultural confirmation.” He cites writers such as Geraldine Brooks, Peter Carey and Nam Le as examples of the felt necessity “for writers to travel to other centres to pursue greater opportunities.”

“There is just such a dearth of opportunity in Australia. You can excel, to a point, and then there’s a cut off,” says Kat George, a freelance writer for Thought Catalog, VH1 and Vice“I would have been more afraid of putting myself out there in Melbourne, because there really isn’t the culture of hustle or self-promotion there that exists here.”

Kat moved to New York City in 2010, and now calls Brooklyn home. Currently working on a book proposal and writing a script, Kat is constantly pushed by people’s honest and earnest ambition that she believes is much more commonplace in the US. “Here [in the United States], you can always do more, push harder, be better. Dare I say it, but ‘tall poppy syndrome’ really prevents that back home,” she says. “If you fail at something, there’s so much else going on that you can just dust yourself off and try again.”

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When asked if the US offers more contacts and opportunities for the aspiring writer, Kat answers definitively. “Yes, one thousand billion million per cent. I think the sheer propelling force of New York gives you a motivation you don’t have elsewhere. Everyone here is doing something amazing, and everyone works so damn hard.”

We have world-class art schools on our doorstep, but despite the huge expense of studying a postgraduate degree internationally, many artists still value a Master of Fine Arts from an overseas institution more than one you could obtain here. And this is at great financial disadvantage: the MFA at Victorian College of the Arts is currently just over $26,000 per year, whereas the same course at Columbia University in New York is double that. This price doesn’t include the exorbitant living expenses demanded by cities like New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. However, the payoff can be much more than just a piece of paper with a US college seal on it. Twyford-Moore suggests that when artists board their flight to America, they immediately gain more attention, as “we are looking not necessarily to fine an audience there, but to do work which impresses people here.”

“Los Angeles is a much bigger pond and you have to start from the beginning,” says Hannah Moore, a returned expatriate filmmaker who, lamenting the lack of sketch comedy opportunities in Australia, moved off to Los Angeles in early 2012.

Hannah had originally planned for a three-month trip to the US to have “one last crack at acting,” but ended up living in Los Angeles for nine months to attend The Groundlings School, a sketch comedy troupe boasting the likes of Kristen Wiig, Will Ferrell and Jimmy Fallon as alumni. Though it is a much wider playing field, Hannah found “a willingness to help people within the industry in LA that just doesn’t exist in the same way in Australia.”

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“It’s incredibly competitive [in Australia], because it’s a small pond. People don’t want to share their contacts because that would increase someone else’s prospects and potentially decrease their own,” says Hannah. Where Australians will compete for what Twyford-Moore suggests is “very limited space, extremely limited resources, and minute audiences”, Kat believes “everything feels limitless” in the United States.

Despite our growing legitimacy as a centre of arts and culture, we still have an inability to get past the notion of “making it” in America. There is success, and then there is US success. We’re focused on starting what Twyford-Moore believes is “the little heat you burn in the US” which “burns hotter back home.” Even Lara Bingle spent her reality show discussing, plotting, and finally, failing to make it in America. We are less inclined to stick around the little town that could, and more inclined to pay the US dollar to get our clout.

Follow Julia Friend at @juliamfriend

Sarah Black takes a look into the crystal ball for the 2014 AFL season

With apologies to Austen, it is a truth universally acknowledged that a person new to Melbourne must be in want of a football team. Even if you have absolutely no knowledge or interest in Australian Rules Football, it is essential to nominate a club. It will prevent people from chastising you and trying to convince you to barrack for their team.

It is not for me to explain the intricacies of the hands-in-the-back rule, or attempt to explain just why the umpire won’t call holding the ball (an impossible task), but here is a guide to the 2014 season, and an attempt to help you pledge your own allegiances.

Adelaide Crows
The Adelaide Crows surprised many by struggling last year after a honeymoon season under new coach Brenton Sanderson in 2012. The return of Taylor Walker after a serious knee injury will help to plug the gigantic hole in their forward line, but the most serious problem the Crows have is that Sanderson is in fact fitter than most of their midfield, an issue exacerbated by the loss of captain Nathan Van Berlo to an achilles injury.
Verdict: Could be a long year with many teams pushing for finals. 15th.

Brisbane Lions
The combination of two defunct teams, Fitzroy Lions and the Brisbane Bears, the Lions were really good. Once. 10 years ago. The only people who support them in Melbourne are old Fitzroy fans. Now better known for drafting players that no one else wants, and being surprised when they end up blowing up in their face, as well as sacking coaches on the basis that a better one MAY be interested.
Verdict: In a similar situation to Adelaide, but with more promising players. If Jonathan Brown is fit*, they could be pushing for finals. 11th.

*Jonathan Brown once had a car crash into him while riding a bike. The car was a write off, and Brown walked away. He should be fit.

Carlton Blues
If you want to be in with the Italians and Greeks and aggravate Magpies supporters, pick the Blues. Coach Mick Malthouse has come from arch-rival Collingwood and brought players with him. Only made the finals by default last year after Essendon’s supplement scandal penalties resulted in Carlton taking their place in the eight. With the third-oldest list in the AFL they’ll struggle to make the playoffs again this year, especially without a genuine key forward. Could also be former captain Chris Judd’s final season of a wonderful career.
Verdict: See Adelaide and Brisbane. There’s a whole heap of teams who are going to be pushing for the top 8, and they aren’t all going to make it, including Carlton. 12th.

Collingwood Magpies
The biggest club in the AFL, the Magpies are a walking soap opera. Last year, the playing list contained a self-named “rat pack”, a 14-year-old fan was kicked out of a game after calling indigenous Sydney player Adam Goodes an ape, club president Eddie McGuire apologised to said player and then later suggested that Goodes could be used to promote the musical King Kong, and star player Daisy Thomas was poached by aforementioned ex-coach Malthouse. Bold and the Beautiful, take note.
Verdict: Having said that, Collingwood should make finals, being keen to atone for last year’s shock loss to Port Adelaide in the first week of finals. May not make it with the quality of other teams. 7th.

Essendon Bombers
Essendon gave the media a field year in 2013. Their membership slogan was “Whatever It Takes”, and it signalled an annus horriblus for the club, who came under investigation for a suspicious supplements regime. A massive fine and bans for several key officials was the result, as well as expulsion from the finals. Go for Essendon if you like widespread media coverage and being the butt of drug cheat jokes.
Verdict: In all seriousness, the Bombers have a very strong, young list, and in acting senior coach Mark Thompson, have a man who knows how to win Grand Finals. 3rd.

Fremantle Dockers
If you want to be unique, pick Freo. From their appalling theme song (consisting almost entirely of the phrase “Freo, heave ho”), to their vividly purple uniform, no one quite knows what to make of the Dockers. Never seriously threatened for a premiership until last year, and were overawed on the big stage upon making the grand final. Their best team contains an absolute giant in Aaron Sandilands with a badly stubbed toe, and a small forward in Hayden Ballantyne who has been suspended on separate occasions for pinching and pulling dreadlocks. Coach Ross Lyon is also slightly crazy.
Verdict: In spite of their unusualness, Fremantle will be better for their Grand Final experience last year. A serious threat. 5th.

Photography by Tim Moreillon (Flickr)

Photography by Tim Moreillon (Flickr)

Geelong Cats
Seemed to have discovered the fountain of high-quality youth. A champion team in the late 2000s, the Cats proved that despite being based down the highway from Melbourne, they can mix it with the best. A huge spate of retirements from champion players has only slightly lessened their potency, with young and inexperienced players filling the void. Geelong even managed to turn a steeplechaser vying for Olympic representation into a first choice ruckman, such is their golden touch.
Verdict: May drop out of the top four due to pressure from other teams, but will play finals for an incredible tenth successive year. 6th.

Gold Coast Suns
One of the AFL’s grand plan expansion teams, the Suns are coming into their fourth season. Not being based in Melbourne means little is known about them, except that their captain Gary Ablett defected from Geelong at the height of their powers, and their only other experienced player in Campbell Brown was sacked at the end of last year in a bizarre incident in Los Angeles involving teammate Stephen May and Rihanna. As in the singer. You can’t make this stuff up.
Verdict: The Gold Coast are growing up, and nearly threatened to steal a finals spot in 2013. Will definitely give some teams a fright again this year. 10th.

Greater Western Sydney Giants
Even younger than the Suns, the Giants seriously struggled in 2013. After their momentous first two wins in 2012, the Giants went backwards last year, only winning one match against the lowly Melbourne. Currently best known for their garish orange uniform and paying a rugby player half their salary cap to play a couple of games in their first season. However with Jeremy Cameron, Jonathan Patton and new acquisition Tom Boyd, GWS will truly have a “giant” forward line in the next few years.
Verdict: Will have another extremely difficult year. Avoid like the plague. 18th.

Hawthorn Hawks
The premiers of 2013. Present themselves as a family club, but there is a deep-seated arrogance about the Hawks and some of their supporters – although you can afford to be cocky when you’re as successful as they’ve been. Defeated every club last year except Richmond, even overcoming their bogey team in Geelong, thereby smashing the Kennett Curse.
Verdict: Will be very tough to beat again this year, but the defection of star forward Lance “Buddy” Franklin to Sydney may affect their structure even if the club claims otherwise. Regardless, they’ll be top four, for sure. 1st.

Melbourne Demons
Don’t be fooled into picking the Demons just because they seem to be based in the city centre. Often referred to by the media simply as a “basket case”, the Demons have been entrenched at the bottom of the ladder for a good seven years (an eternity in an AFL that does everything to equalise the competition). Mocked for their wealthy supporters, Melbourne is more likely these days to be pitied for their dismal performances. The coaching job is as cursed as the Defence Against the Dark Arts post at Hogwarts.
Verdict: Even with the acquisition of supercoach Paul Roos, will be vying with the Giants and the Saints for the wooden spoon ‘awarded’ to last place. 16th.

North Melbourne Kangaroos
Perennial also-rans, the Roos have always been one of the smaller and poorer clubs in Melbourne. Famous for their fighting spirit, North Melbourne struggled last year, often leading higher placed teams right until the last ten minutes of the game upon which they proceeded to throw it away. They consequently missed the finals. Notable things about the Roos include their best player being almost 36 years old, and their coach being the identical twin of Geelong’s coach. He’s a hell of a lot scarier though.
Verdict: May just break through to reach 7th or 8th. Prepare for a lot of pain and near misses though. 8th.

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Photography by Fairv8 (Wikimedia)

Port Adelaide Power
The Collingwood of Adelaide. Only their supporters love them, except for when they beat the Magpies, their upset win in last year’s elimination final being an example. Their mascot is a lightning bolt, and their jumper was designed by a nine year old. Literally. Surprised many by making the finals last year but surprised no one when they fell to perennial finalist Geelong in the second week.
Verdict: Will struggle to back up last year’s efforts with teams like Essendon and North Melbourne coming through. 9th.

Richmond Tigers
A club of cliches, the Tigers are slowly turning it around. Finally broke through last year for their first finals appearance since 2001, but before that had finished 9th on numerous occasions, a popular point of derision. Have been known for their disastrous trading and drafting of new players (Richard Tambling ahead of Buddy anyone?), but have picked up some decent players to fill specific roles in recent years. Set an unwanted record last season as being the only team to lose to 9th place (Carlton) in the finals.
Verdict: Should be right to make finals, as long as Jake “The Push-Up” King stays away from those highly illegal bikies. You never know what influence they could have on a football team. 4th.

St Kilda Saints
Far from setting the field alight, the only thing the Saints set on fire last year was a dwarf, during a post-season celebration gone horribly wrong. A very messy sacking of coach Scott Watters followed, where revelations of miscommunication were proved to be correct when he appeared on radio convinced he still had a job but was sacked hours later.
Verdict: Will be down the bottom of the ladder again, especially with the defection of ruckman Ben McEvoy and star midfielder Nick Dal Santo to other clubs. 17th.

Sydney Swans
While Sydney might have lost to Fremantle in the preliminary final, they pulled off the coup of the century last year when they drafted Buddy Franklin right under the noses of cross town rivals GWS on a twelve million dollar, ten year contract. With the Swans’ record of getting new players to abide by the selfless “Bloods” culture, Sydney + Buddy = grand final potential. For the uninitiated, Sydney are a good team to barrack for as no one really cares about them.
Verdict: Will be nearly unstoppable in their forward line, making them very hard to beat. 2nd.

West Coast Eagles
Despite having the most feared ruck combination in the competition with Dean Cox and Nic Naitanui, the Eagles disappointed many with an ordinary 2013. They also lost their long-time coach John Worsfold, who was replaced by Adam Simpson. This appointment made no waves in Melbourne, such is the lack of splash the Eagles make outside of WA.
Verdict: Despite shedding their bad boy reputation (they are based in Perth after all), West Coast have struggled to make an impact on the competition. They will continue to struggle in 2014. 13th.

Western Bulldogs
Along with North Melbourne, the Bulldogs are traditionally one of the weaker Victorian clubs. Currently a very young team, they showed signs of improvement in the latter part of last season. The Bulldogs have lost quite a few characters over the last few years, and now are a team of virtual unknowns. They’ve recently gained a coaching panel of ex-Geelong players, so the unknowns could become a champion team. In another five years.
Verdict: If you want short-term success, steer clear. Their one premiership came back in 1954, and they will be waiting a while longer. 14th.

Sarah Black’s predicted ladder
1. Hawthorn
2. Sydney
3. Essendon
4. Richmond
5. Fremantle
6. Geelong
7. Collingwood
8. North Melbourne
9. Port Adelaide
10. Gold Coast
11. Brisbane
12. Carlton
13. West Coast
14. Western Bulldogs
15. Adelaide
16. Melbourne
17. St Kilda
18. GWS Giants

The East West link is dividing Melbourne—both figuratively and literally. We asked two students to weigh in on the debate.

FOR

Words by Charles Everist

The Eastern Freeway is pumping enormous volumes of traffic into arterial roads and suburban streets. As traffic bursts at the other end of the pipeline into different channels, the results prove chaotic.

Without a tunnel, Carlton’s streets act like a bottleneck on traffic moving from the eastern suburbs to critical destinations such as the airport, industrial zones and the port of Melbourne. Only the East West Link can solve this specific problem.

Nevertheless, the East West Link will not be the solution to our traffic chaos in and of it self. Certainly, Melbourne needs improvements to its public transport infrastructure. For instance, we still need to extend the city loop to include the University of Melbourne and the Domain interchange.

New roads and new public transport links are not mutually exclusive sets of policies. Transport is not a zero-sum game. Government should have capacity to invest in both. At the present time, however, Victoria’s economy has limited capacity to fund a rail extension under the city, let alone both a road and rail tunnel.

In an election year we must evaluate the policies that have actually been put on the table. The transport policies that State Labor and Daniel Andrews have recently released are unrealistic. Figures from the Public Transport Victoria and the Department of Justice show that Labor’s removal of level crossings will cost double than expected and will take years to complete.

For this reason, unions in Victoria have backed East West Link. Electrical Trades Union state secretary Troy Gray has said “we need to see credible alternatives before we are critical of this project”. Other union officials have come out in support of East West because it will deliver jobs to their members sooner during this unsettling time for the construction industry.

Finally, the East West Link is not just about cars, trucks and trains. Hidden behind the protestors’ chants, the debate on Spring Street, and the words opined in the papers, a human element remains. East West is the difference between employment or the dole queue. It’s the difference between a working mother or father being able to pick their kids up from school on time.

Melbourne still has a long way to go before its citizens can be proud of their transport system. But building East West is the first step.

AGAINST

Words by Alexander Sheko

I could go on for pages about the negative impacts of the Victorian Government’s proposed East West Link toll road. It will destroy a good part of Royal Park and Moonee Ponds Creek, increase traffic volumes and congestion in suburbs like Flemington, displace residents of over a hundred homes, and relegate thousands of others to five years of drilling, blasting, trucks, noise, and contaminated soil.

However, the reality is that these impacts are local in scale. While devastating to those that experience them, they—from a utilitarian perspective—pale in comparison to the project’s effect on Melbourne and Victoria. The East West Link represents a phenomenal expenditure that provides disproportionately small benefits to a disproportionately small proportion of the state’s population. It will consume a generation’s worth of infrastructure funding, ensuring our transport system remains firmly fixed in the last century—to say nothing of the opportunity cost to our health and education systems.

Proponents of the road claim it will relieve congestion along Alexandra Parade and the Eastern Freeway. How can this be the case when the majority of the freeway’s traffic is headed for the CBD (not west) and its traffic volumes are, by the government’s own modelling, projected to significantly increase once the road is constructed? It is claimed that the road will take traffic off local, inner suburban roads. How could this possibly be true when the likely cost to use the road will simply encourage more of the same ‘rat-running’?

Whatever one’s political bent, it can be agreed that wasting public money is bad. Owing to the commercial failure of similar toll roads in Sydney and Brisbane, the private sector is now demanding that the government assume the revenue risk for projects such as the East West Link. This means that if traffic volumes and therefore toll revenues are less than expected, it is the Victorian taxpayer who bears the cost.

Ultimately, the East West Link means a huge amount of money spent for political reasons, rather than for public gain. This is money that could be better spent expanding the frequency and reach of our rail and bus networks, so as to ensure that people, wherever they live, have access to an efficient and reliable public transport system. Only when we focus on getting people—not cars—around can we move Melbourne’s transportation system into the twenty-first century.

Every month, For & Against will tackle a different issue—some serious, some not so serious. If you have a debate you want to see resolved in Farrago, email us at farragomagazine2014[at]gmail.com

Words by Ella Shi
Photos by Kevin Hawkins

Melburnians tend to jump at the idea of any kind of cultural celebration, especially if it’s in honour of their glorious namesake. However, given its vague title, the Melbourne Now exhibition doesn’t seem to spark the same level of interest a prominent international exhibition does. Melburnians, particularly city dwellers, would most likely feel they already know what Melbourne is all about. But this exhibit encompasses far more than graffiti-covered laneways, quirky cafes and iconic landmarks such as Flinders St station. Spanning across two locations and featuring over a hundred artists, Melbourne Now provides an opportunity to feel a bit like a tourist in your own city. And the best part is it’s free!

The exhibition tells us that Melbourne is a city eager for the future. It’s a city that is more concerned with the abstract than the concrete, with a particular emphasis on social issues. Artworks address everything from culture, gender, and Aboriginal identity, to individual and community concerns. A visual project entitled ‘ZOOM’, curated by Ewan McEoin, is an example of this, giving an empirical analysis of Melbourne’s social landscape, alongside personal thoughts and values augmented from visitor surveys.

Though Melbourne Now accurately reflects a city where there are voices calling for change, the quirkiness of some displays can detract from their underlying message. However, the high level of interactivity can  be seen as an attempt to encourage individual action. Its varied composition allows the visitor to take away from it what they would like to (quite literally in some cases) and those hunting for fun can definitely find it. Alternatively, if one chooses to focus on heavier social issues there are equally as many artworks to draw upon. Like the aspiration of its city, the exhibition relies on people engaging with it.

Those who consider it a bit tame and walk away slightly disappointed would do best to remember that it can only present what Melburnians have to offer. Melbourne Now does not attempt to orientate where we are heading but challenges what the future should hold. We should not only be involved but be inspired by it.

MelbourneNow is running until 23 March at the NGV International and Ian Potter Centre.