Put in place at Taylor Square in time for the 2013 Mardi Gras parade, Oxford Street’s rainbow crossing looks set to be removed soon. The City of Sydney council obtained permission from Roads Minister Duncan Gay to create the crossing on the condition that it be a month long trial only, and that a decision on whether or not to keep it would be made at the end of that month. The City of Sydney wants the trial extended to 12 months due to the popularity of the crossing and the $30,000 cost to remove it.
“I have concerns that we would have to approve every sporting club colours, charity colours, or business colours, which could pose a road safety issue” – Duncan Gay, Roads Minister (1 March 2013)
When asked about it more recently, Mr Gay repeated his concerns about safety, citing cases of people who had laid down on the road to pose for photographs. City of Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore dismissed the safety concerns, pointing to a council commissioned safety audit that found no accidents or injuries had occurred on the crossing.
The position of the Premier Barry O’Farrell is uncertain, though he earlier appeared to present the rainbow crossing as an either/or proposition alongside the renaming of Taylor Square to Kirby Square. His Twitter poll saw a slight majority (51%) in favour of the crossing.
Barry O'Farrell (@barryofarrell) March 01, 2013
Independent MP for the area Alex Grenwich, who was previously convenor of Australian’s for Marriage Equality, also supports keeping the crossing, and obtained 15,000 signatures in an online petition to Mr Gay to keep it.
It appears that Mr Gay wants the crossing removed in order to avoid setting a precedent, and it is his prerogative as the Roads Minister to make that call. Unless, that is, he gets rolled by the Premier, the cabinet, or the party room. This is what happened with the proposed helipad on Sydney Harbour, which was put forward by Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner but opposed by both the Sydney Morning Herald and federal MP for the area Malcolm Turnbull (whose Liberal Party is a coalition partner of Mr Stoner’s Nationals). It was later abandoned.
Malcolm Turnbull (@TurnbullMalcolm) December 17, 2012
Popular opinion would seem to want to keep the crossing, but this will only happen if its profile is raised sufficiently and quickly. The clock is ticking.