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.
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.
The danger to Australia’s civil society is the current Australian Prime Minister.
This blog article based on personal experiences reinforces that. click here.
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.
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.
With the 2021 Australian budget announced last night, the sad part is the way most in the media accept the spin.
The humbug around the spin on taking actions on climate happens internationally, nationally and locally. Continue reading Climate Change humbug
The ACT Government’s planning directorate has an impenetrable structure that reminds me of the “Star Wars” concept – the Borg Hive – called The Collective.
When government bureaucrats present at community meetings, their spin and prepared lines do not go down well.
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.
When the Watson Community Association (WCA) puts forward the community’s views about a proposed development, it does a really thorough job.
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.
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.
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.
Several community associations have had presentations about an ACT government initiative titled the “Demonstration Housing Project”.
In the lead up to the October ACT election, trees were an item of interest to anyone wanting to be elected.
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.
While the October ACT election returned a new version of the Labor/Greens coalition, this result was not because it was respected.
Two weeks into 2021 and thoughts go back to early last year when the pandemic struck and Canberra went into lockdown – not as tough as the later Victoria episode, but it was an experience that possibly changed some habits.
When it comes to the ACT government and planning and development, 2020 was not a year to be celebrated.
Wandering down a street in Auckland, NZ, in early June 2016, we came upon a small group of people having a laugh about an advertising poster.
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.
The last couple of years has been bad news for parks in Canberra.
With the ACT Labor/Greens coalition in place until October 2024, it’s a good time to start reporting on how it’s performing.
Attention to a significant piece of national land is being overlooked among the misinformation used to justify the demolition of West Basin.
Sometime during the last election, a candidate said something about revising the public sculpture program initiated by Jon Stanhope when he was chief minister.
not so normal travel during the pandemic
We took the opportunity to travel to what seemed like a faraway place – Adelaide.
It could be said that residents and community groups have been a little foolish.
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.
Hands up anyone who was surprised by the ACT Liberals’ election results.
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.
Canberra used to have an active level of advocacy across the spectrum of arts, social and welfare groups.
There are corflute wars again with the ACT elections.
With one week to go to the ACT elections, my interest has definitely reduced.
It took my breath away when I read the line by the prime minister’s office – “nothing in the budget is gendered”
Has the electorate of Murrumbidgee been overlooked again?
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.
Given that I will be voting as an early voter next week, the time has come to decide on the candidates to be given the tick – or the flick.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It’s begun; politicians are on the phone calling people asking if there are issues they want to discuss. What joy!
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.
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.
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.
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.
The sign above is in Deakin and placed after an intersection and well before the next. Continue reading Signs of Something
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.
There’s not much new about politicians today. The ancient Persian rulers knew they could control their own image though propaganda.
Last July “City News” commented about the progress of a questionable development on the former CSIRO site in Campbell.
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”.
There’s a plaque in the Dickson Library that marks the site of Canberra’s first aerodrome.
How candidates perform in the electorate of Murrumbidgee is going to be a focus in the October 17 ACT election.
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!
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?
One of Canberra’s hard-working community groups has discovered that it has been bestowed an authority it did not know it had.
As the COVID-19 crisis took hold and people bunkered down, residents hoped for less stupid things by the ACT Planning Directorate.
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.
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.
Surfacing in community meetings across Canberra is an issue that is upsetting people’s enjoyment of their neighbourhoods.
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?
When the ACT government announced in February that it was funding the ACT planning review to the tune of $1.2 million there was not much dancing in the streets.
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.
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.
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.
What is the ACT Government’s attitude to good architecture and good landscape design? That’s easy. It does not consider such things important.
Woden Valley Community Council (WVCC) meetings have commenced the year 2020 with priority themes that are much the same as in 2019.
In May 2019 the ACT Government declared a climate emergency. The expectation would have been for high-profile urgent actions.
A media statement by an ACT Minister would surely be fact checked and at least have someone cast their eye over it for a reality check.
Taking the time to observe the many birds in our garden provides a complete distraction from the more serious matters of life.
Well, at least this is what it should be.
When in Civic around 10pm on Wednesday last week we were confronted with what the ACT government now defines as a Christmas tree.
One of the pleasurable experiences of where I live is to sit around the garden, usually in the morning or evening is best, and to take in the cacophony of suburban bird sounds.
When the ACT Legislative Assembly voted in October to establish a committee to examine the planning problems that plagued the development of the Molonglo suburbs of Wright and Coombs, it would follow that this signalled that someone may be paying attention to what residents have been saying for the last few years.
At least that is what we should be thinking.
The Yarralumla Residents Association (YRA) is 32 years old.
The association was formed because of the first proposals to redevelop the Brickworks site on the western edge of the suburb.
First the good news. The ACT government is committed to adding overdue facilities to the Woden Valley Hospital.
Into the inner-north letterboxes has appeared a pamphlet from one of our local members, the ACT Greens’ Shane Rattenbury. There will be more from others given the October 2020 ACT elections.
The problem with the Greens’ pamphlet was the spin. The heading read “Putting our climate first”.
The many books available on good urban design seem not to have been delivered to ACT agencies involved with urban renewal.
In the last few years there’s been a consistency in approach to upgrading urban places – and it is not about long-term thinking.
As happens regularly across Canberra, developers have a set style in their presentation to community groups.
Here’s a tale of the use of alternative facts by both the government and a couple of its supporters.
This opinion piece only scratches the surface of the enormous problems we have here in Canberra with planning and development. The whole of the planning system has been corrupted by decades of bad management and the development of a culture that has residents as the enemy to be tricked and out manoeuvred. Click here for my piece in City News.
Good journalism is welcomed and embraced. Journalism that is written to promote bad decisions by government must be called out. Here’s an example of the latter. The author, Tom Greenwell, starts well by making some points about Walter Burley Griffin’s planning for Canberra. But then he commits the crime of using Griffin’s name and visions to justify some outrageous developments being planned by the ACT Government (Urban Renewal Authority again!) that will destroy a wonderful part of the foreshore of Lake Burley Griffin. Click here for the article in City News.
and for more about West Basin alternative facts – click here; includes letters from Richard Johnstone of kingston – a supporter of West Basin developments.
And for more on the arguments against what Tom Greenwell has written – click here for a very well informed piece by Penny Moyes, one of the Lake Burley Griffin Guardians.
Before the 2016 ACT Elections, the chief minister promised that there would be a panel formed to bring about master planning for the precinct around the Manuka Oval. That panel was to meet by the end of 2016. Did not happen! Instead there have been games, spin and alternative facts. The most recent insult being a meeting called that pretended to be about Manuka planning – but was simply a waste of people’s time. Another broken commitment by the ACT Chief Minster. Another insult to the intelligence of residents by Andrew Barr and his planning barbarians. click here for the opinion piece in City News.
When developers eye off ACT Government green spaces – the trend in Canberra is that those developers get to buy that land and the people lose yet another piece of precious community open space. This is happening with land behind the Kippax shops in west Belconnen in Canberra.The local Labor member is Yvette Berry and she loves to show up with a shovel to be photographed when community land and green spaces are being removed from the public ownership. Click here for the opinion piece in City News.
Two stories about a meeting at the Woden Community Council meeting in late July. The first is about an ACT Minister, Rachel Stephen-Smith, addressing the audience and apparently not having an understanding of the depth of anger about the lack of facilities in this centre – despite the enormous growth in apartments. The second involved the ACT Government’s planning bureaucracy’s mishandling of a small green space within the suburb of O’Malley. Both performances were astonishingly terrible – sort of funny if it was not about people’s lives. Click here for the opinion piece in City News.
The agency that is supposed to be the steward for the national capital, the National Capital Authority (NCA), does come out with some rubbish at times. In this case it floated the idea of pulling down Commonwealth Ave bridge to build a new bridge for the tram. Luckily the project engineer who worked on the bridge is around t point out how stupid this thought bubble was. Click here for my opinion piece in City News.
The suburb of Reid in Canberra is one of the oldest and residents accept that there are heritage values to be considered for most of the suburb. When a house was demolished and plans were approved by the ACT Government that paid token attention to these heritage values – residents were not happy. To make matters worse the ACT Heritage Council approved the development application. What were they thinking! Click here for my opinion piece on this in the City News.
Chris Steel became an ACT Labor Minister about a year ago. Watching him recently at a Weston Creek Community Council meeting I became aware of how these Labor politicians have so easily accepted the arguments of the classic NeoLiberals. It is all about market forces. Click here for my opinion piece in City News.
There’s misleading information being used to justify apartment developments on West Basin. It is overdue for all our local politicians to get involved. more on this from my opinion piece in City News – click here.
and for a later article on this — click here
There’s a long saga at play in Dickson in Canberra. Here’s the latest on this – click here.
and there’s more..
a story of a Christian School corporation, their use of public lands and significant trees being removed. Here’s a link to my opinion piece in City News.
Something very worrying has happened to the National Capital Authority (NCA). There’s been a shift in its planning culture somewhere in the last five years. click here
ACT residents have become convinced that the ACT Government operates in a completely different universe. This separation is having a huge impact on people’s lives. click here.
A large plane tree, wedged between buildings on the cinema site in Manuka, has almost achieved celebrity status. click here for the story in City News
Talk to a builder, a building designer/architect or tradesperson working in Canberra’s construction and soon the conversation turns to the frustrations of having to work through development applications (DAs) with what is seen as the badly managed ACT Government’s planning directorate. click here for more
During the last decade the ACT Labor Party has depended on the ACT Greens to form government. What has come of the ACT Greens? Click here
“Meet the Candidates” forums for the coming Federal election can be fun, can be interesting, can be boring and can sometimes change your mind on a candidate. Click here for my opinion on one such forum.
Imagine this. You have bought a home and paid extra for views of the hills and to be opposite a quiet park alongside a pond with bird life and other animals. Trouble is the ACT Government then wrecks the place.. click here
CANBERRA voters are about to elect Federal politicians to represent the people of the ACT. But do they? Click here for my piece on this in City News
Two years ago the new ACT chief planner, Ben Ponton, went on the record in the daily paper with a statement about how wonderful he would be. I have used those statements to assess whether he has met his own key performance indicators (KPIs). He didn’t!
Here’s the piece in City News – click here.
I wrote a piece about the barbarians now running the ACT’s government – click here for the piece in CityNews.