Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Times change - but not always for the better

From 1993 to 1998 I worked at Hampton Rehabilitation Hospital – a small publicly-funded hospital across the road from the beach, in the bayside Melbourne suburb of Hampton. I was its medical director, and also a senior medical specialist. And for a time I was CEO too. I loved it there. My Hampton years were among my career’s best. But due to organisational changes wrought by Victoria’s then neocon government, my job became untenable. Thus my 1998 resignation. During my Hampton time I rode my bicycle to work and back. My route varied according to whim. One of my routes crossed the railway line at the corner of New Street and Beach Road [1] – 300 metres from the Hospital. The crossing was controlled by railway gates – not electric and automatic, but rather hand-operated. Each time I rode through the open gates, the attendant and I would wave and say g’day to each other. Times change. The Hospital closed in 2002, the government sold it in 2005 [2], and now it’s a luxury development called Edgecliff on the Beach [3, 4]. The railway crossing? I’d lost track (pun intended) of its fate – until last Monday [5]. I didn’t realise it’s the last hand-operated railway crossing in Australia. Or its cabin’s on the National Trust’s heritage list. Or it’s closed to traffic. Or the current (neocon) government may re-open it. Well may it do so. But it can’t re-open the Hospital. And the people of Victoria are the losers for that. Ho hum.

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