BATHURST’S $7.5 million Flannery Centre has come under fire from a Liberal MP and right-wing commentators even before its doors have opened.
The training centre, now nearing completion on Panorama Avenue, is designed to provide apprenticeships, training, workforce development and sustainability skills for a new generation of Aust-ralian workers.
But it seems to be the choice of name, in honour of author and former Australian of the Year Tim Flannery, that has some opponents seeing red.
The federal opposition’s Member for Hume Craig Kelly last week presented the government with a long list of questions regarding the construction and operation of the local centre.
He told the Western Advocate his problem with the new centre rests not on what it does, but on how much government money will be spent on it.
“They are spending several million on something called the Flannery Centre,” Mr Kelly said. “I see that our job in Canberra is to ensure we live within our means.”
But look a little deeper though and it isn’t too hard to see that it is the centre’s name that really gets his hackles up.
He admitted he believes the Flannery Centre was a very bad choice of name.
“Mr Flannery has become a political figure and naming it after him has given them some adverse publicity,” he said.
“I’m sure many prominent citizens of Bathurst would would be happy to loan their name to it.”
And he is not the only one angered by the choice of name.
News Ltd columnists Andrew Bolt and Tim Blair have been having a go in their blogs, too.
“It’s been nothing but delays, delays and more delays during construction of the Flannery Centre, a $7.5 million sustainability shack mostly paid for with your taxes and named after millionaire rain-denying drought doomist Tim Flannery,” Mr Blair writes.
In a similar tone, Mr Bolt said: “Construction of the Flannery Centre, named after the Chief Climate Commissioner who predicted ‘the rain that falls isn’t actually going to fill our dams and river systems’ in a permanently drier ‘new climate’, has been again delayed. By rain.”
But local Skillset CEO Ben Bardon believes the “orchestrated case against Mr Flannery” is a simple case of shooting the messenger.
“In the last few days a number of conservative commentators have questioned Skillset’s rationale for naming its new sustainability skills centre after former Australian of the Year Tim Flannery,” Mr Bardon said.
“We welcome the opportunity to explain why and thank them for putting our centre in the media spotlight.”
Mr Bardon explained that Skillset is building the Flannery Centre as a regional response to the global issues we face.
“In bestowing the honour of Australian of the Year on Tim Flannery, the prime minister of the time, John Howard, said Tim Flannery had encouraged Australians into new ways of thinking about our environmental history and future ecological challenges,” Mr Bardon said.
“Mr Howard recognised the thoughtful and detailed contribution that Tim Flannery has made to highlighting these issues through his many books, articles and academic work on the subject.
“The global issues we face pose serious challenges to the way we live and work.
“The organisation’s sustainability programs deal with energy efficiency, waste management, water management and improving the building environment.”