The Melbourne Quiz - Rod Eddington

The Age

Friday August 29, 2008

Interview: Peter Barrett

Former airline boss Rod Eddington is a transport consultant to the State Government.

What does Melbourne's transport network have going for it?

A tram network and some important rail infrastructure. I think we've got a good airport too. Tullamarine's 24-hour airport serves the city well.

Should the airport have a train link to it?

What does a train network do that a good bus service from Southern Cross Station doesn't do? Is there a better place to spend money on the rail network?

Are Melburnians too reliant on the car?

Personal transport, whether it's a car, motorbike or bicycle, has been one of the things that's liberated my generation. If we continue to invest intelligently in public transport then we'll give people the option to leave the car in the garage.

Will we have congestion taxes on Melbourne roads?

I have no doubt some form of congestion charging will come. You could argue it's on us already because there's a tax on car parks in the CBD.

Won't a congestion charge simply force people away from the city?

Not necessarily. London introduced a congestion charge but they've made substantial investment in buses.

Where did you grow up?

Western Australia. I was one of three kids. My father worked for the Commonwealth Bank and we got posted from little country branch to little country branch. We got transferred back to Perth just as I was about to start secondary school.

Where did you go after that?

I got a Rhodes scholarship and went to Oxford. I had five years there.

How long have you lived in Melbourne?

When I left Oxford, I worked in Asia for 18 years. I came back to Australia in '97 and lived in Melbourne from then until early 2000. Then I came back here in early 2006. So I've lived in Melbourne for about five-and-a-half years.

Why did you come to Melbourne?

To work for News Corporation, who owned half of Ansett. I was executive chairman of Ansett for three years.

Are you settled in Melbourne now?

Absolutely. I decided to come back and live in Melbourne when I wanted to come back to Australia. I love the place.

Where do you live now?

In Toorak, with my wife, Young Sook, who's from Korea, our 14-year-old son who's at Timbertop (Geelong Grammar) and our 12-year-old daughter.

Where and when did you last get drunk?

Not for a very long time. When you're in the airline business, it's a culture where you have to be careful when you drink.

What would you abolish from Melbourne?

I'm a Dockers fan so when I go to watch a footy match there's usually 200 of us and 50,000 of the opposition.

What's the most overrated thing in Melbourne?

The Yarra River. Having grown up with the Swan River - it's much bigger and much wider; you can do a lot of things on it.

What's the most underrated thing?

The way in which the forefathers of this city laid it out with lots of space in the centre. And you can get around so easily.

What's the most expensive meal you have ever had in Melbourne?

The Flower Drum, and it was worth it.

Federation Square - yes or no?

Yes, absolutely.

What shop couldn't you live without?

Vintage Cellars. I love my red wines and Rutherglen muscats.

Where's the most romantic place in Melbourne?

Our old theatres. The Regent's terrific and I also love the Princess.

What did you last spend $500 on?

I took the kids for a week's skiing at Mount Buller last week for school holidays - we had a great week but I certainly spent a lot more than $500.

What club memberships do you have?

The Melbourne Club, the Fremantle Football Club and the Vincent's Club at Oxford - if you were a member of a university sporting team, they made you a member of the Vincent's Club.

What makes you angry?

People who don't do their bit; people need to embrace their obligations as well as their rights.

Which Melbourne person would you most like to sit next to on the tram?

Dame Elisabeth Murdoch on one side, Sir Zelman Cowen on the other. They're both great Australians.

Which Melbourne person would you least like to sit next to on the tram?

There is no one I'd put in that category.

Where would you have your ashes scattered?

In the bay in Busselton, in Western Australia. We had a little family holiday place there for more than 20 years.

What's your favourite building in Melbourne?

The MCG. It's one of the world's truly great sporting arenas.

Describe Melbourne in three words.

A great place.

© 2008 The Age

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