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Concerns continue over crossing
Concerns of spiking costs, a lack of accountability and the prospect of imminent removal have dogged the new Oxford St rainbow crossing at Taylor Square.
Originally proposed as a permanent fixture over two of Taylor Square’s three crossings at a cost of $75,000, the project was reduced to cover only one crossing that must be removed by the end of March after a ruling from Roads and Maritime Services.
City of Sydney Council, led by independent Lord Mayor Clover Moore, voted to allocate a further $35,000 for the crossing’s removal last week, bringing the total cost of the project to $110,000.
Living Sydney councillor Angela Vithoulkas voted against the budget expansion, alongside Liberal councillors Christine Forster and Edward Mandla, on the grounds that it was unjustifiable given the installation’s temporary nature. She questioned Moore’s motives in approving the measure, saying the extremely swift rollout of the project only hours after the vote raised questions about council transparency and accountability.
Sydney state MP Alex Greenwich accused Vithoulkas and Liberal councillors of being “mean-spirited” in voting against the measure, saying their stance showed “a lack of respect for the Sydney LGBTI community”.
Forster, who is openly gay, defended her vote against the measure and reiterated her commitment to the gay community.
“I felt the cost to ratepayers could not be justified at $110,000 for just over four weeks,” Forster said.
All three dissenting councillors voted to approve the original crossing project when it was proposed in December.
Both Greenwich and Forster have contacted NSW roads minister Duncan Gay asking that the crossing be allowed to remain permanently, but comments by NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell suggest the state government will allow the crossing to be removed at the end of March.
Last Friday, O’Farrell wished state Parliament a “happy Mardi Gras” before questioning the crossing’s suitability, highlighting a potential to “mess up road safety rules”.
O’Farrell then proposed renaming Taylor Square after iconic High Court judge and gay rights advocated Michael Kirby, saying he was “a great individual who epitomises just how good that community is”.