Category Archives: opinions

ACT Government too busy for community issues

In November Liberal MLA Jeremy Hanson proposed the ACT Legislative Assembly meet for longer than the allocated 35 days for 2022.

Continue reading ACT Government too busy for community issues

Inner South Canberra District Planning Strategy

Residents  take the lead in  planning for their suburbs

First, a shout out to the hard-working community council volunteers who bring together views of residents and then present these to the government. The latest has just been published by the Inner South Canberra Community Council (ISCCC).

Continue reading Inner South Canberra District Planning Strategy

ACT Government fails on landscape design

Design leadership missing in action

The south side of Franklin Street, Manuka, was shut off during November for several clusters of seats and tables on fake grass. It was apparently another of this government’s pop-up experiments.

Continue reading ACT Government fails on landscape design

Something nasty is stirring in planning reforms

ACT hides its real intentions on planning reforms

This year’s planning reform announcement was accompanied by the usual spin (sorry, media release) and another misleading online document (sorry, progress report).

Continue reading Something nasty is stirring in planning reforms

The Chris Steel boy band plays Woden

ACT Government fails on equity and empathy

For almost half a decade, the Woden Valley Community Council (WVCC) has been careful not to oppose development. The WCCC has focused on the quality of the developments and to have the redevelopments include social and sporting facilities.

Continue reading The Chris Steel boy band plays Woden

innovative architecture versus boringly normal

NCA challenged on suburban design

When you think of planning and development and who is making a mess of this city, attention usually turns to the dark arts as practised by the ACT Planning Directorate.

Continue reading innovative architecture versus boringly normal

Sports club as developer

the need to make money leads to development

There are three major development issues within Canberra’s inner north that are going to make things interesting in 2022.

Continue reading Sports club as developer

Boxes ticked, it’s time for morning tea

ACT Government reports how they do not much

A good strategic or corporate plan outlines what is being done and proves timelines.

Continue reading Boxes ticked, it’s time for morning tea

the nightmare of the ACT’s Better Normal

This was to be the year the ACT government was to deliver the much-vaunted reforms to make planning simpler and more accessible.

Continue reading the nightmare of the ACT’s Better Normal

Spin and ACT Demonstration House

More spin from the ACT Government

Last week ACT Planning Minister Mick Gentleman announced the approval for the draft variation for the first of the “Demonstration House” projects.

Continue reading Spin and ACT Demonstration House

Mick Gentleman passed used-by date

What if the ACT minister for planning was replaced?

About a month ago community organisations floated the idea that the ACT Planning Minister Mick Gentleman, should be replaced.  What a great idea!

Continue reading Mick Gentleman passed used-by date

ACT Public Art and inequality

It was stunning to see the images of Premier Dominic Perrottet after NSW opened up on October 11; he welcomed people back to his version of normal – that of blokes, pubs, beers and more blokes. Women were absent.

Continue reading ACT Public Art and inequality

Kingston Arts Space reboot – maybe

Inner-south community groups received a curious, but welcomed, phone call on Thursday (November 4) from the communications officer of the ACT Suburban Land Agency (SLA).

Continue reading Kingston Arts Space reboot – maybe

Urban infill on a human scale

In response to my September 8 column on how the ACT Greens have turned their backs on biodiversity, a question popped up asking: “You’re a consistent opponent of higher-density development. Do you not think that urban sprawl is bad for the climate?”

Continue reading Urban infill on a human scale

ACT Government stuffs up Woden Town Centre

On May 12, I finished a column on the shocking state of Woden developments with this statement: “This government’s expertise in town cramming is worthy of an award.

Continue reading ACT Government stuffs up Woden Town Centre

It’s been a year, what do we think of this mob?

The ACT political parties have had enough time since the October, 2020, elections for voters to see what they are about.

Continue reading It’s been a year, what do we think of this mob?

Move ACT Racing

Time to duplicate the Urambi Village model

A lot has been said about the folly of the ACT government’s Demonstration Housing Projects. The bureaucratic spin has been frequent and blatant.

Continue reading Move ACT Racing

ACT government planning gets personal and stupid

On Wednesday, September 15, the ACT’s planning bureaucrats issued their decisions on an application for re-consideration for the second stage of the development of the Manuka hotel-residential cinema complex by Liangis Investments Pty Ltd.

Continue reading ACT government planning gets personal and stupid

ACT Government northside planning mess

When it comes to the future travel for southside residents coming north across the lake, things are looking grim thanks to the tram follies about to be played out by the ACT government.

Continue reading ACT Government northside planning mess

Public Art in Canberra

When “Seven Days” columnist Ian Meikle remarked in “CityNews” on July 19 that the ACT Legislative Assembly’s Standing Committee on Economy and Gender and Economic Equality is seeking submissions to its inquiry into memorialisation through public commemoration, it did raise an issue or two.

Continue reading Public Art in Canberra

The good, the bad and too much ugly!

This city is fairly ordinary when it comes to public architecture. There are a few exceptions, often Federal buildings and those on the ANU, but not many.

Continue reading The good, the bad and too much ugly!

ACT Government planning a lost cause

bunkum, untruths and ACT planning

Two ACT government statements surfaced recently relating to planning issues in different parts of the city.

Continue reading ACT Government planning a lost cause

ACT Government misplaced spending priorities

As the West Basin foreshore fills with expensive rubble, and a huge chunk of money is being spent taking the tram west around London Circuit to the Commonwealth Avenue Bridge, how does anyone justify such excessive expenditures given so many other priorities are being neglected?

Continue reading ACT Government misplaced spending priorities

ACT Government and planning

Is there a planning minister?

Following the media release from the Planning Minister announcing the ACT Planning Review, local community groups were stunned to realise just how badly the current review is progressing.

Continue reading ACT Government and planning

Another failure of the ACT Greens

The ACT Greens fail being green again

This piece starts with recognition of the many community members who made submissions over many years that consistently emphasise that greenery, trees, biodiversity and open spaces are a priority.  Continue reading Another failure of the ACT Greens

ACT Ministry of Misinformation

It is a conversation I now have repeatedly. I have it with community group members, with people at Tilley’s, at the supermarket, while meandering through Dickson or other centres, and when wandering around galleries.

Continue reading ACT Ministry of Misinformation

ACT Government fails own climate actions

Rhetoric alone is not climate action

Once upon a time, Canberra tourism included views of tree-lined suburban streets. That was Canberra as we knew it – a city in a landscape. The ambience was greenery and open spaces.

Continue reading ACT Government fails own climate actions

Cherry picking your values 2

follow-up on a community groups choosing their values

Proposal to answer queries – a follow up piece

More on Bill Pye Park Ainslie and the YWCA

An article was published this week about the proposed building of social housing on a site now leased by the YWCA on the corner of the block that is largely Bill Pye Park in Ainslie.

Continue reading Cherry picking your values 2

Cherry picking your values

Community Group as developer chooses to ignore basic values

When the ACT government announced it had approved the development application by the YWCA to build social housing on the corner of Bill Pye Park in Ainslie*, there was a collective sigh of frustration from residents.

Continue reading Cherry picking your values

ACT planning directorate past its use-by-date

The ACT Government’s planning directorate has an impenetrable structure that reminds me of the “Star Wars” concept – the Borg Hive – called The Collective.

Continue reading ACT planning directorate past its use-by-date

ACT Government lacks design leadership

A pamphlet arrived in Dickson letterboxes that won’t bring much joy to the other areas of the city. It announced that $3 million is to be spent on Woolley Street, Dickson.

Continue reading ACT Government lacks design leadership

Watson community knows about planning

The ACT Government is a planning failure

When the Watson Community Association (WCA) puts forward the community’s views about a proposed development, it does a really thorough job.

Continue reading Watson community knows about planning

ACT Government Design Panel a disaster

the failure of the National Capital Design Review Panel

Along with the wish the government would look after the city’s landscapes, its greenery and its open spaces, a common frustration is that the government does not understand design and does little to encourage good architecture.

Continue reading ACT Government Design Panel a disaster

ACT Minister for heritage in trouble

The clock is ticking on this ACT Minister

Having been in government for four months, Rebecca Vassarotti, ACT Minister for the Environment and Heritage, should now have a firm view on heritage and comprehend that her role is about being a leader in the stewardship of Canberra’s environments.

Continue reading ACT Minister for heritage in trouble

ACT Planning learn nothing

planning blunder follow planning blunders

Think back to 2015 when Chief Minister Andrew Barr had to back down on a mess of land dealings locally known as the Manuka Land Swap.

Continue reading ACT Planning learn nothing

ACT Government questionable housing program

Zone changes to maximise profits

Several community associations have had presentations about an ACT government initiative titled the “Demonstration Housing Project”.

Continue reading ACT Government questionable housing program

ACT Government chops down more trees

In the lead up to the October ACT election, trees were an item of interest to anyone wanting to be elected.

Continue reading ACT Government chops down more trees

ACT City Renewal Authority

An authority being a  waste of space

The ACT’s City Renewal Authority, a 2016 bright idea from Andrew Barr, is something the people of Canberra did not ask for and is spending a lot of taxpayers’ money in one place – a selected part of central Canberra.

Continue reading ACT City Renewal Authority

ACT Government Stupidity Halted

ACT Greens save park from bulldozers

While the October ACT election returned a new version of the Labor/Greens coalition, this result was not because it was respected.

Continue reading ACT Government Stupidity Halted

ACT Planning has to change!

or better still – sack themsleves

When it comes to the ACT government and planning and development, 2020 was not a year to be celebrated.

Continue reading ACT Planning has to change!

A day out in Braidwood

Making the time out to visit regionally

Earlier this month we ventured out for the day to meet a friend at Braidwood. She was from the south coast and so Braidwood meant we both travelled just over an hour.

Continue reading A day out in Braidwood

Margaret Timson Park Belconnen

ACT Government fails on parks again

The last couple of years has been bad news for parks in Canberra.

Continue reading Margaret Timson Park Belconnen

ACT Government score card

They are not doing well!

With the ACT Labor/Greens coalition in place until October 2024, it’s a good time to start reporting on how it’s performing.

Continue reading ACT Government score card

ACT Government ignores Commonwealth Park

Commonwealth Park neglected by government

Attention to a significant piece of national land is being overlooked among the misinformation used to justify the demolition of West Basin.

Continue reading ACT Government ignores Commonwealth Park

ACT Government and public sculpture

Need for a new public art policy

Sometime during the last election, a candidate said something about revising the public sculpture program initiated by Jon Stanhope when he was chief minister.

Continue reading ACT Government and public sculpture

ACT Government and its electorate

They talk to voters at elections only

For Canberra residents involved with advocacy on planning and development over the last decade, a major frustration was the attitude of ACT politicians once elected to government.

Continue reading ACT Government and its electorate

Canberra’s missing arts centres

ACT Government failure on culture

In 2015, the now disbanded Land Development Agency announced the follow up to its 2011 master plan with the go-ahead for the Kingston Arts Precinct.

Continue reading Canberra’s missing arts centres

ACT Government and Greenery

Canberra’s green infrastructure

Driving west on Belconnen Way, under the Gungahlin Drive Bridge, there is a view that demonstrates how planning and landscape aesthetics are not in the skill set of those who run this city.

Continue reading ACT Government and Greenery

Deafening silence of the ACT Greens

Election 2020  and Shane Rattenbury

Many residents who voted for the ACT Greens are disillusioned given how the partnership with ACT Labor has sidelined many planning, development, environmental, heritage and urban issues.

Continue reading Deafening silence of the ACT Greens

Floriade Canberra 2020

Flowers in the suburbs

It is all happening again in Kingston and, as with other locations throughout Canberra, Floriade Reimagined saw locals planting more than 8000 bulbs and annuals in May.

Continue reading Floriade Canberra 2020

ACT Government planning mess

How planning went wrong in MacGregor

In 2010, Dickson residents lodged objections to a unit development and eventually took the developer and the ACT Planning Directorate through the appeals tribunal and won.

Continue reading ACT Government planning mess

Ainslie residents and local park rezoning

YWCA as unthinking developer

While attention is on larger issues such as the pandemic and a host of planning and development disasters, it is important to not overlook the ever-present local development issues.

Continue reading Ainslie residents and local park rezoning

A flawed plan gets the nod

Mick Gentleman waves through bad planning

When, on August 7, Planning Minister Mick Gentleman made a rare appearance to call in the decision on the Common Ground Dickson development application, there was no surprise. This had been forecasted by residents’ groups.

Continue reading A flawed plan gets the nod

Chris Steel works hard to lose 2020 election

A loser in the 2020 ACT elections?

Chris Steel is currently a Labor-elected member for Murrumbidgee and happens to be the Minister for Something within the ACT Labor/Greens coalition government.

Continue reading Chris Steel works hard to lose 2020 election

the failed City Renewal Authority experiment

time to close this waste of space!

Following a commitment at the 2016 election, the ACT government abolished the Land Development Agency and replaced it with two agencies, the Suburban Land Agency (that sells land) and the City Renewal Authority.

Continue reading the failed City Renewal Authority experiment

2020 ACT Elections

Andrew Barr to win – again?

It’s an interesting exercise to commission a friend to draw a cartoon of the three people (two politicians and one bureaucrat) who are largely responsible for Canberra’s planning and development.

Continue reading 2020 ACT Elections

Vote for Greenery

Difficulties for Canberra voters to support greenery

On World Environment Day, June 5, the Canberra Liberals committed to planting one million trees over the next decade if they form government following the October 17 ACT election.

Continue reading Vote for Greenery

Signage wars in Kingston

More about Geocon in Kingston

When the spin doctors for Geocon published the proposal for an eight-storey tower in the middle of Kingston (where two is the norm and three/four nearby), the locals were not happy.

Continue reading Signage wars in Kingston

ACT politician almost gets it right

Here’s praise for an ACT politician. The accolade goes to the Greens’ Caroline Le Couteur for her work in chairing (from 2016) the Legislative Assembly committee on planning and urban renewal and the release of the April report – “The Inquiry into Engagement with the Development Application Process in the ACT”.

Continue reading ACT politician almost gets it right

Complexities of the ACT Murrumbidgee electorate

the empty chair waiting for the right candidate

How candidates perform in the electorate of Murrumbidgee is going to be a focus in the October 17 ACT election.

Continue reading Complexities of the ACT Murrumbidgee electorate

Mistake being polite with ACT Government

Time to stop being polite to rude people

Artwork: Stephen Harrison

Some of us sit at desks writing loads of stuff to bring about change while the barbarous politicians and bureaucrats just keep on doing what they do best – wreck the joint!

Continue reading Mistake being polite with ACT Government

ACT Government overdue to go

Canberra voters can do better

There are about five months to the next ACT election. There’s a lockdown in place. So how do ACT politicians get noticed if they cannot stand around crowded places to try to be noticed?

Continue reading ACT Government overdue to go

ACT Government attack on Dickson residents

Yvette Berry continues her Boris Johnson moments

As the COVID-19 crisis took hold and people bunkered down, residents hoped for less stupid things by the ACT Planning Directorate.

Continue reading ACT Government attack on Dickson residents

ACT Government messes with Gungahlin

Developers ruin the town centre, politicians silent!

In late 2019 the ACT government proposed to vary the plan for the Gungahlin town centre. It didn’t take long for the Gungahlin Community Council to spot the devil in the detail – or to be more accurate – what detail went missing.

Continue reading ACT Government messes with Gungahlin

ACT Government allows excessive noise

ACT Government fails to listen about noise

Many Canberrans have the luxury of living in established suburbs and until recently had some confidence that the nature of the suburb probably would not change radically during their lifetimes.

Continue reading ACT Government allows excessive noise

The degradation of Canberra by the ACT Government

Canberra’s lack of good design

After any neighbourhood auction, the conversations usually follow a similar line: will the property be occupied and the garden maintained or will it be up for demolition for yet another large, grey box with the established greenery taken away as rubble?

Continue reading The degradation of Canberra by the ACT Government

ACT Government not trusted on greenery

How Canberra’s greenery is being trashed

At the February public forum staged by the Inner South Canberra Community Council (ISCCC), the answers to particular questions indicated how much the ACT’s Greens/Labor government values the city’s tree canopy, its biodiversity and its green infrastructure.

Continue reading ACT Government not trusted on greenery

ACT Government makes a mess of the hospital

Time to call out this government on health

On January 29, “CityNews” published a well-researched article about how the Woden Valley Hospital’s future had been mishandled and is now seriously hindered in its capacity to deliver to the people of Canberra.

Continue reading ACT Government makes a mess of the hospital

ACT Government burns tax dollars

City Renewal Authority waste money – again

In centuries past when a colonial power arrived somewhere foreign (to them), they presumed that they knew how to improve the local culture and commenced with handing around beads and trinkets.

Continue reading ACT Government burns tax dollars

ACT Government hospital mismanagement

Woden Valley Community deal with serious issues

Woden Valley Community Council (WVCC) meetings have commenced the year 2020 with priority themes that are much the same as in 2019.

Continue reading ACT Government hospital mismanagement

ACT Government on climate emergency

When an emergency is not an emergency

In May 2019 the ACT Government declared a climate emergency. The expectation would have been for high-profile urgent actions.

Continue reading ACT Government on climate emergency