Next year on October 17, the date for the ACT government election, voters must choose a government for the following four years.
Given the views about current ACT politicians, the thought of being compelled to vote is a real dilemma. The leadership chair that trusted politicians should occupy is empty. Yet by this time next year, voters need to put someone in that empty chair.
Local politicians are seen as no longer representing or working with residents. Consider the response by a Gungahlin politician about doing better as a local representative. The issue was brushed off with the statement that, once elected, loyalties are to the “team”. He meant the Labor Party team not the local community.
Progressive Labor voters are worried that we could end up with another four years of government led by Andrew Barr and even more urban destruction by his band of barbarians.
Who could be a new Labor leader? Could it be the deputy leader, Yvette Berry?
She has a terrible record including clearing out social housing along Northbourne Avenue, an embarrassing record of not delivering supportive and social housing, and residents know well her unfriendly and tricky manner in how she rules that valuable community green spaces must be hijacked for social housing – to deal with the problems of her own making. Heaven help us!
Progressive Liberal voters are in despair as the party leadership looks more like the national ultra-conservatives and most of the elected members avoid speaking up and pushing for actions on residential and suburban issues.
We now enter that time in the election cycle when ACT politicians come out from behind communications officers, bureaucratic spin-doctors and their other minders whose job it is to make it hard for residents to talk directly with their elected representatives.
Surely voters for the 2020 ACT election should not have to be eyeing off that vacant chair as the best alternative to the present political parties.
Somewhere in the fog of despair about governments and governance that engulfs this city, there must be candidates for the next election who can empathise with residents’ aspirations, be honest with residents, are genuinely capable of being representatives of the voters – and who refuse to be “team” loyalists.
The empty chair awaits them.
This piece was originally published in City News
Paul Costigan is an independent commentator and consultant on the visual arts, photography, urban design, environmental issues and everyday matters.