Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has announced that $100 million will be invested to give Melbourne’s Flinders Street Station a much needed facelift, noting that the upgrades are “a maintenance problem”.
The news comes weeks after the Labor Government publicly shelved plans to bring to life HASSELL and Herzog & de Meuron’s designs for the station, calling the international competition held by the former Napthine Government a “colouring-in competition at taxpayers’ expense”.
However, Premier Andrews said that without urgent repairs, parts of the station will become “unsafe, unusable and unsalvageable”.
“Flinders St Station used to be the pride of our state, but now it’s an embarrassment. Disgusting toilets and dingy platforms don’t belong in our grand old dame,” said Andrews.
“I won’t sit by and watch this icon crumble. We’ll end the decay now – it’s the first step to restoring this station to its former glory.”
The funds will be devoted to restoring the station’s crumbling exterior and clock tower, fixing its leaky roof and toilets, and cleaning up dingy and underutilised areas. New information displays will be created to make it easier for passengers to know what platform they need to be on, and when.
A business case is also being developed to allow the Labor Government to consider options to fix the old ballroom and other derelict parts of the building, so they can be opened up for possible commercial tenants.
The current state of Flinders Street Station an "embarrassment", says Premier Andrews. Image: Robert Baird. Source: ABC
However, Opposition spokesman David Hodgett has told the ABC that the $100 million is a pittance, and “little more than a band-aid solution”.
“To patch a roof and give it a lick of paint is hardly what I’d call deserving of this iconic building,” said Hodgett.
“The (previous) Labor government were in 11 years and never spent one cent on that station.
“Now we’re going to see for the next four or five years they’re just going to look after basic maintenance and leave it to a future government to do what that building requires, which is a full refurbishment.”
The $100 million will be in addition to Labor’s election commitments and is to be accounted for in May’s budget, with Premier Andrews noting that the private sector, universities and the City of Melbourne will be consulted about possible uses for the space once the station’s roof has been restored.
Upgrades will begin this year, and is expected to take four to five years.
Hassell and Herzog & de Meuron's winning Flinders Street Station design