Sydneysiders and Melburnians have questioned the need for concrete bollards plonked around their cities to stop trucks and cars from ploughing down pedestrians.
Deemed a design disaster, hundreds of the ‘garish’ blocks popped up in Melbourne and Sydney’s CBDs overnight on Friday, with fears a terror attack could be planned to coincide with the end of Ramadan on Saturday night.
The installation of the blocks was fast-tracked by six months as part of the government’s plan to combat the latest terrorist trend of using vehicles as weapons in populated areas or mass events.
The bollards, estimated to weigh five tonnes, were first seen in Melbourne’s Bourke Street and Federation Square earlier this month.
In Sydney, concrete barricades were installed in Martin Place, between Phillip and Elizabeth streets, just metres from the location of the Lindt café siege.
Talk radio host Chris Smith was among many to make their opinion about the cinder block-like bollards known on social media, arguing they were a sign local governments had been cowed by terrorists.
“This garish concrete approach to anti-terror is wrong. We can’t give evil a win by ruining our iconic locations,” he said in a Twitter post.
Many were concerned about the aesthetic blight they placed on some of the cities’ most touristy areas, suggesting they be replaced by flower boxes or painted by artists or schoolchildren.
If we need anti-terror bollards, I wish they weren't such unsightly blocks of concrete. Are authorities hoping it's all just temporary? pic.twitter.com/fe6sRFn1QH
— Colin (@ColinLongAUS) June 24, 2017
Giant concrete bollards now enhance the beauty of downtown Melbourne & convince trucks of peace to kill people in less nice neighbourhoods. pic.twitter.com/NwOWr4Ap9C
— Hamish (@Broowster) June 23, 2017
Parisian tourist Oumaima, who spoke to The New Daily next to the bollards at Bourke Street Mall, said she was in Paris during the terrorist attacks in November 2015.
She said there were fewer police, security personnel and armed forces in Melbourne compared to Paris and wondered if a stronger presence would be more effective than the concrete bollards.
“We definitely need policeman, not just these things. They’re ugly.”
Steve Lenny from Cobram said it was “disappointing” Melbourne had to have them. “I reckon its overkill; it’s horrible to think that you have to have blocks of concrete in the street.”
Andrew Paterson of Melbourne said the bollards wouldn’t stop terrorism, adding that terrorists could just target other areas where there aren’t any bollards.
“It’s showing that the authorities are doing something when they’re not really doing anything,” he said.
Some on social media said it was “sad it’s come to this” but acknowledged public safety was of the utmost importance.
Victorian Police Minister Lisa Neville acknowledged for many people the bollards were not the “most attractive”, but stressed they were temporary and there to reduce the risk to communities.
“They’re in areas that police have assessed we have the highest numbers of foot traffic and where we often might have public gatherings,” Ms Neville said.
“We’re still looking at the best technological solutions to not create too much disruption for transport users but provide the safety we need,” she said.
The Victorian Government allocated $10 million to the anti-terrorism scheme in this year’s budget to replace the temporary blocks with permanent or retractable bollards.