Dickson Parklands and Bureaucratic Failures

parklands-southRecently the Dickson Residents Group were sent copies of reports that were published following a series of consultations about the redevelopment  of a range of sites in South Canberra.

These were fairly thorough reports and have formed the basis of some further healthy debates.

The residents in and around Dickson attended workshops in 2014 and had been expecting to see the resultant consultant reports. Nothings was published and there was a deafening silence from the bureaucracy for seven months.

To everyone’s surprise, the government has jumped to announcing what seems like the per-ordained decisions about converting a community lease to allow for an apartment development.

This has been a serious failure of the bureaucracy involved and a complete lack of respect for the communities involved.

The trust in the Chief Minister yet again suffers and drifts below zero on urban issues. He is not respected within the inner north and I expect his reputation is not much better elsewhere given the consistent mishandling of urban issues by his bureaucracy.
parklands-workshop-P1080438The government bureaucrats has been on air and in the media pushing their spin and the myths about the Dickson Parklands proposal on to naive mainstream media journalists who have accepted the media releases without any fact checking.

Click here for some of our own fact checking.

While there will always be a few that do not see the value of community cultural assets to the growing number of people coming into the surrounding suburbs – there is no doubt that the tone of the 2014 workshops was not about accepting more residential units on this site. This was despite the hard work by the consultants to get such an answer – and they certainly worked hard to achieve that.

Having been involved with arts and cultural advocacy here in Canberra in times previous, we always had the advantage of an arts minister who at least understood the arguments and worked to achieve the best outcomes possible.

This was a pleasant change from the last days of NCDC – who did very little for local community cultural/arts facilities – except in a few cases as a result of direct lobbying.

I include amongst the previous sympathetic ACT arts ministers, Bill Wood(labor) and Gary Humphries (Liberal). Significant cultural facilities were then achieved across town; for instance the ANCA studios on the Dickson Parklands (Thanks to Bill Wood).

Unfortunately there is no-one amongst the present ACT politicians who has expressed or demonstrated any understanding of the value of arts and community cultural development. Hence the present difficulties for the argument for the Dickson Parklands as a potentially significant community cultural site.

There is a lack of arts and cultural facilities within the inner north of Canberra and this site has the potential to rectify this long-term bureaucratic planning failure.

There are a huge number of successful community cultural/arts sites throughout Australia and in the UK. Sadly our present bureaucrats have demonstrated a lack of knowledge of what these facilities deliver for the communities involved.

This is a complete failure of the present ACT government and its various bureaucracies to understand the value of community and culture assets and how important will be for the growing populations within the inner north of Canberra.

Final note – in decades past, one would have also had the involvement of the unions in such cultural issues. The unions in Australia used to have a very close relationship with artists and cultural activities. The local unions are more about property development and poker machines and have no identifiable interest in community cultural development or the arts.

How things have changed!  Рthis is a real shame!!

Where are the creative, intelligent and aware individuals who used to be involved with the unions and used to work from within the government bureaucracies to achieve arts and cultural facilities?

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Paul Costigan

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