Ageism and ACT politicians


Following weeks (or was that months) of questions over land dealings and major developments, and now audits being announced into departmental processes, the Chief Minister has  gone on the front foot and announced an idea to change his government’s methods of consulting on ‘Urban Redevelopment’.

It is all about using quotas and not time based methods. (click here)

Many were surprised by this – while others wondered whether it was simply a thought-bubble.

On seeing the subsequent emails in circulation and other comments on blogs, it seems that he has convinced absolutely no-one that his intentions are as noble as he would want people to believe.

And then there is the fact that residents have memories.

Residents remember the public meeting with the Chief Minister in Dickson when he kept going on about young people and that the suburb (his own) was full of older people who needed to leave. His statements on the night were greeted by cheers from members of Young Labor who had been bused in for the meeting.

It was also later revealed that some of the speakers at the same meeting who spoke in favour of the Leader were relatives of property developers.

We remember views that have been reported regularly about how those who have objected to the current land sales and development programs have been deemed as being unrepresentative, being viewed ‘older’ people and therefore of little relevance. OMG – could this be so? Isn’t Canberra ‘The Age Friendly City’ – as seen on some vehicle number plates.

There is the story about the development of the infamous Dickson master plan. Someone standing in a queue at the bank had the pleasure of listening to a property developer ringing friends to stack those consultations. Surely not!

So when Mr Barr made statements for quotas to be part of future consultations, was he trying (unsuccessfully) to distract from the real issues that are now being reported on almost daily?

What people also suspected was that he was proposing quotas to ensure that developers and lobbyists could have even more more say on planning issues.

Then there is a more serious matter.

There seems to be an increase in innuendoes by certain local politicians and others that once residents get to a certain age that their voices are not important. One wonders how long it will be before they realise that they will soon be in this category? It happens to us all – it is not one of the secrets of life.

Then there is the reality that if residents are in their fifties or retired, according to all the latest stats they may have decades of enjoying an active life here in this wonderful city. So why wouldn’t they feel as though they should have a say in the future of their homes, their suburbs and their city?

Over the last few years there has been an unfortunate increase in statements that deem any opposition by ‘older’ residents as being not representative of the ‘majority’. I suggest that that those who make these statements need to check the stats on Canberra’s population. They may find that those they define as the ‘older’ generations are in quite large numbers.

Many residents in these ‘older’ groupings, who remember how their comments, feedback and aspirations have been treated by the current planning regimes, are now approaching the next ACT elections looking to favour candidates who respect others and do not indirectly encourage any form of ageism.

It is timely for our elected representatives to take a mature approach to all the electorate and to acknowledge that the so called ‘older’ residents have a huge range of opinions, aspirations, experiences and expertise that more than qualify them to offer informed comments.

With this in mind I recommend a piece by Clive Hamilton in the Canberra Times – click here.

One last note – The Chief Minister and others often state that the people who raise objections are not representatives of the residents because of the small number of ‘younger’ people present at public meetings.  Please stop going on about the lack of participation by younger people. Everyone agrees that Canberra’s younger generations need to be heard – so please do something about it. Get out there and engage with them. Seriously – no-one is stopping you.


Originally published on RiotACT


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