Port Phillip councillor slams Lord Mayor over Disneyland in Fishermans Bend “thought bubble”
Former Port Phillip Mayor Cr Marcus Pearl has criticised Lord Mayor Sally Capp over her comments in support of a Disneyland theme park in Fishermans Bend, arguing it reflected “the City of Melbourne’s lack of commitment to the precinct”.
Cr Capp expressed her support of a push for a Melbourne Disney theme park in a Herald Sun article published on August 7, and argued Fishermans Bend would be “the perfect spot for it”.
“As Australia’s capital city of fun, of course we should have a Disney theme park in Melbourne! We’ve even got the perfect spot for it – Fishermans Bend,” the Lord Mayor told the Herald Sun.
“We saw with the Firefly Zipline just how much Melburnians love a thrilling ride. At Fishermans Bend, exhilarating rollercoasters could soar over the Yarra as part of a Disneyland, Magic Kingdom or Animal Kingdom.”
“Melbourne also offers visitors the best tourism experience available in Victoria, from world class hotels, unbeatable retail offerings and some of the best food and drink in Australia.”
“I know a Disney theme park in our municipality would be a huge hit with residents – myself included – visitors, students and traders.”
Fishermans Bend – Australia’s largest ever urban renewal project spanning a peninsula two-and-a-half times the size of Melbourne’s CBD – is locally governed by the City of Melbourne (north of the Westgate Freeway) and the City of Port Phillip to the south.
While the state government forecasts 80,000 residents and 80,000 jobs for the area by 2050, the project is currently the subject of an investigation by the Victorian Office of the Auditor General to establish whether responsible agencies are effectively delivering the Fishermans Bend Framework.
It follows a controversial rezoning of the precinct as “capital city” by former Liberal Minister for Planning Matthew Guy in 2012 and nearly a decade of reset planning by the current Andrews Labor Government.
While development in the Montague precinct, which is serviced by two existing tram lines, is proceeding as forecast, the remainder of Fishermans Bend still awaits announcements on vital tram and train infrastructure.
Port Phillip councillor Marcus Pearl, who represents the Gateway Ward which includes Fishermans Bend, described the Lord Mayor’s push for a Disneyland theme park in the precinct as a “thought bubble” that detracted focus away from the area’s “critical issues”.
“I have always been a strong advocate for innovative ideas and development that fosters community growth and engagement. However, Sally Capp’s recent proposal for a Disneyland at Fishermans Bend, in my view, does not address the pressing challenges we are currently facing in Melbourne,” Cr Pearl said.
It reflects the City of Melbourne’s lack of commitment to the precinct.
“Fishermans Bend is at a critical juncture where key issues of public transport, open space, housing, and long-term planning require our undivided attention and focused effort.”
“While a theme park idea might add limited entertainment value, it distracts us from our focus on the urgent and critical issues that are fundamental to a thriving, liveable Fishermans Bend precinct.”
Cr Pearl also took aim at the state government, which he argued had “taken no action” to “implement public transport infrastructure, the development of open spaces, and has failed to release the all-important precinct plans for more than three years”.
“I implore the City of Melbourne to turn their attention and resources to addressing the lack of action from the state government on Fishermans Bend rather than thought bubble ideas,” he said.
The community is still awaiting the government to reveal its detailed plans for the area’s four mixed-use precincts of Montague, Sandridge, Wirraway (Port Phillip) and Lorimer, as well as the employment precinct (City of Melbourne).
Another former Port Phillip Mayor Bernadene Voss told Southbank News in July 2020 that the precinct plans “were done” and should be released for community consultation, but the government continues to delay their release.
The City of Melbourne continues to advocate to the state government for public transport to Fishermans Bend in the form of Metro 2 and a new tram line as outlined in its most recent 2023-24 annual plan. •
Main caption: (left) City of Port Phillip Cr Marcus Pearl and (right) Fishermans Bend Development Board chair Meredith Sussex (L) with Lord Mayor Sally Capp (R) in Fishermans Bend in 2022.