Saving Our City: politicking and voting in Albury 1977-1978 and 1995-2003

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Distress signals rallied the politicians, community leaders and residents of Albury to oppose political decisions that seemed to threaten the well-being and growth of the city three times in the last quarter century. Twice Albury’s daily newspaper pushed itself forward to act as a community champion by running extraordinary press campaigns. In June 1977, as the Border Morning Mail, it rallied protests against the Fraser Government’s decision to cut funding to the Albury-Wodonga National Growth Centre project under a bar line ‘Growth SOS’. In June 1995, as the Border Mail (it changed name in July 1988), it ran a similar campaign, rallying protests with the slogan ‘Save Our Cities’ against the Keating Government’s decision formally to s end the growth centre project and retrieve Commonwealth investment. At the end of 1995, ‘Save Our Cities’ slipped into another ‘Save Our City’ rallying cry, this time not for the press, but instead for a group of Albury citizens protesting against the proposed choice of a new highway route through rather than around Albury.All three distress signals were calls to political action. The newspaper campaigns were short, sharp and effective. On each occasion government modified the proposal that had stirred protest. On the other hand, the citizen action group campaigns were long, divisive and, in the end, comparatively ineffective. The bypass issue became a local obsession, looming as a factor in all six of the local, state and federal government polls that voters in the City of Albury were obliged to attend between 1995 and 2003. The issue was enmeshed into the politicking and electioneering at all three tiers of government. It excited consternation and passion. It was the central concern for voters at the state election in 1999 and was still a major concern in the subsequent state election in 2003. The local, ‘our town’ issues centred on urban development led voters in a regional city to challenge thepattern of established party representation in 1978 and to flirt with independent rather than party representation, just over twenty years later.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)218-240
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of the Royal Australian Historical Society
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2007

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