What’s really in a name?

October 13, 2017

Former City of Greater Shepparton councillor John Gray.

Highway, freeway ... Tom-ae-to, tom-ah-to ...

Does the name of the local advocacy group pushing for the long-awaited Shepparton bypass matter?

This question was posed to Greater Shepparton City Council last month.

Former councillor and sometime rabblerouser, John Gray, used public question time at last month’s meeting to quiz the council on the terminology of the local action group tasked with pushing the billion-dollar project forward.

‘‘Back in May 2016, the council of the day adopted the terms of reference for what was described as the ‘Goulburn Valley Highway Bypass Action Group’,’’ he said.

‘‘Can you explain the use of the term ‘highway’ rather than the term ‘freeway’?’’


Mr Gray later said the name ‘‘highway’’ was less aspirational than ‘‘freeway’’, which broadened the scope of advocacy to the entire project — not just specific corridors.

Council chief executive Peter Harriott responded that the previous advisory committee had originally been known as Goulburn Valley Highway Shepparton Bypass Action Group and that subsequently the word freeway had replaced highway.

‘‘However, following council’s adoption of the staged approach to the realisation of the bypass including a single-lane carriageway in the initial stages, it was considered inappropriate to refer to ‘freeway’ in the name of the action group,’’ Mr Harriott said.

While after the council meeting, Mr Gray himself admitted to ‘‘nit-picking’’, he stressed the terminology associated with the action group’s name mattered.

For the record, he thinks it should be ‘‘freeway’’.

‘‘The committee is to promote the progress of the freeway (bypass), so why would you call that committee a highway bypass (committee)?’’ he asked, following the meeting.

‘‘To call it a highway is confusing.’’

Following the meeting, Mayor Dinny Adem took the former councillor’s point on board, but did not believe the group’s name would make much difference to advocacy efforts.

He stressed the name of the action group one way or another was unlikely to sway governments on providing funding for the project.

‘‘I think it’s semantics,’’ he said.

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