NO person could accuse Ballarat City Council of not listening to its constituents in the lead-up to the decision this week to designate Ballarat Show Day as a public holiday.
A vigorous debate has raged over the one public holiday the council has the power to determine on an annual basis since the Ballarat Cup was moved to Sunday.
The business community has lobbied hard for Melbourne Cup day to alleviate further lost retail opportunities in the vital lead-up to Christmas.
The Ballarat Agricultural and Pastoral Society has been working hard behind the scenes to sell the virtues of show day for the benefit of the greater community.
The late push to have a public holiday to mark the events of the Eureka Rebellion has merit in a broader sense and it remains puzzling that the significance of the events of 1854 are not marked in a more formal manner than the annual events to mark the occasion in Ballarat every December.
In the end, every-day Ballarat people left the council with little choice – show day is the day they wanted.
Now the decision has be made – thankfully providing certainty for the next four years – those who have been part of the debate in recent years are being forced to reassess their options.
Firstly, how the business community will react. Simply it has one option – use the decision as an opportunity rather than a defeat.
Retailers and service businesses have more than seven months to prepare a plan for November now the decision has been made. Of continuing relevance is the issue of Ballarat Cup day. The cup, from a racing perspective, has been shunted from pillar to post in recent years. It may no longer be directly part of the public holiday debate since its move to Sunday but its date is nonetheless a subject of significant conjecture. Given the investments made in racing facilities and Ballarat’s standing as a centre for racing excellence, the cup deserves a more prominent position on Racing Victoria’s calendar.
In a perfect world, that means a Saturday date in the spring calendar which attracts better quality fields and a better showcase of the biggest day on the local racing calendar.
It’s unlikely to happen this year but those advocating for better showcase for the cup will have a strong case should a track redevelopment slated to begin after the 2013 spring carnival go ahead.
All the permutations mean nothing for mums, dads and kids. The show, a permanent community fixture for almost 150 years, may be seen by some as a relic and by others as unfashionable, yet it remains heartily integral to the happiness of hundreds of Ballarat children each and every year. Hard to argue with such people power.
Political change augurs well for Ballarat
A little more than a week on from the resignation of Premier Ted Baillieu, his successor, Dr Denis Napthine, has stamped his authority through a new cabinet.
The fallout is good for Ballarat.
For the first time in more than half a century both the Premier and Deputy Premier will be regionally based. Both know Ballarat well and have visited many times in the past two years.
The change in leadership provides an opportunity for Ballarat to restate its case for further investment – a fresh look at projects which can deliver a positive vision for the future. With a state budget only six weeks away, there’s no time like the present.