Seeking transparency in ACT Government

Legislative-P1120744There are many things about the current ACT Government that are causing concerns, to me and local residents I meet with often – and I think most of us voted for them.

Now that’s a worry!

If all that was not enough, then along come a couple of Canberra Times articles concerning the employment of the TAMS Minister’s husband. According to the articles he is employed by developers on the push to super size the Manuka oval precinct. Wow! Now that caught many of us out!

I see loads of benefits in enhancing the Manuka Oval precinct. But….

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In a better time the government may have initiated friendly and transparent forums to elicit the electorate’s ideas and aspirations for the whole site. I wish!

Once the options had been identified, the terms of reference for a competitive tender would have been drawn up in partnership with the residents. Easy!

Instead we have a giant developer spruiking why they should be handed some land to plonk a ‘vibrant’ super sized development into this peaceful urban village.

Everything about this so-called ‘unsolicited’ Manuka proposal is amazing. That such a proposal materialised at all without any of the usual competitive processes is evidence that something has perverted the way this government goes about planning and development.

There is just no way, unless they had been given a friendly nod or two, that corporate developers would be allocating such resources to ‘get the community onside’ in order to have the government sign off on this questionable deal.

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The community is yet again being forced to deal with a stressful process that is already favouring a set outcome – and one that delivers huge profits to someone – and that ain’t to be the local community!

TAMS Minister Meegan Fitzharris, whose husband is directly involved, is reported as saying that she will ensure that she stays out of any dealings and decision-making when it comes to Cabinet.

Then I have to ask, what are we paying her to do? A part-time job?

When the government meets to discuss such major proposals, the electorate should expect all of the ACT Cabinet to be contributing to the decision. To have a minister absent herself from any such matters is ridiculous.

If there is the possibility of any conflict (real or perceived), then any minister should have been wise enough to make the necessary prior family arrangements or to have simply opted not to be in this government – especially as a member of the cabinet.

She was elected by the electorate to represent the electors in all matters – not just the ones she chooses. The ACT Government structure allows for a very limited number of ministers. They have complex portfolios, but they accepted that when they took the job. They are paid to be there and to contribute – full time – not part time.

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I am actually party to an email discussion involving many people on development matters. One current thought is that maybe – just maybe – there could be benefit in talking to one of the relevant ACT ministers about planning, urban development, urban infill, and the importance of biodiversity and green infrastructure.

My advice is always that we should be open to talk to politicians. But when by their own actions and words our politicians consistently demonstrate that they are removed from the realities of the aspirations of residents and are openly very close to developers, their lobbyists and advisors, is there even a chance that you would have something in common and anything to talk about?

This ACT Government is already not respected on so many issues around planning and development. Having this issue of a Minister’s direct family connection to such an important and controversial development – is just not a good look and I cannot find anyone who does not think likewise.

People want to respect those who have been chosen to lead.

People want their government back! People like transparency.

The 2016 ACT elections are not far away – let’s hope this matter is addressed soon.

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Background links – The Crimes’ article on the husband’s links.

Michael Moore on how serious things are.

A warning from someone who has seen it before.

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