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.
When government bureaucrats present at community meetings, their spin and prepared lines do not go down well.
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”.
When governments don’t want to do much about something that requires actions, they hold inquiries, set up “Have Your Say” websites, present loads of useless stuff to public gatherings, talk a lot as if they are doing something and produce draft strategies.
People try hard to have faith in the federal government and its processes. When it comes to important matters, such as heritage, how can we expect the federal government to behave?
Canberra residents care for their homes, their streets, their suburbs and wish that the urban environments and facilities were maintained and enhanced for future generations.
The boards of the City Renewal Authority, the National Capital Authority and the Suburban Land Agency have little connection to the everyday life of residents.
When it comes to the ACT government and planning and development, 2020 was not a year to be celebrated.
With the ACT Labor/Greens coalition in place until October 2024, it’s a good time to start reporting on how it’s performing.
It could be said that residents and community groups have been a little foolish.
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.
With one week to go to the ACT elections, my interest has definitely reduced.
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.
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”.
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.
The Chief Minister Andrew Barr and his Labor/Greens government have made it clear that their view of Canberra’s future is different from that of the city’s residents and those that cherish its place in the world as Australia’s bush capital.
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.
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 topic that dominates “CityNews” columns and other media, is how the ACT’s Labor-Greens coalition government collects and spends your money.
In August 2019, Ben Ponton, the ACT’s chief planner, said: “Your feedback plays a key role through your unique ability to communicate useful observations into issues that may affect your neighbourhood…”
And the reality?
The Singapore government of the ’70s, led by Lee Kuan Yew, was hell-bent on building a modern and prosperous city/state. It took a close relative to point out that if he wanted tourists to visit, then he needed to stop bulldozing the old stuff.
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.
Here’s an issue now being looked at in the inner north – and no-one has yet to work out what happened.
It was announced on Wednesday (October 23) that the government is reviewing the ACT’s Tree Protection Act. Good news! Maybe.
The devil is in the detail and we are talking about a government that we have learnt not to trust.
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.
Canberra, our bush capital, is a good place to live (no surprises there). Part of the credit for this goes to residents who have put in time and energy over decades to bring people together through neighbourhood groups and the larger combined community councils.
These community leaders encourage debates (usually friendly) and exchanges of information on a whole range of issues, with planning and development being the usual hot topics (thankfully, not always).
Here’s a tale of the use of alternative facts by both the government and a couple of its supporters.
Canberra planning is in a mess. How can a residential site be left as a rubbish tip for 16 years despite people contacting authorities to see if it can be fixed. Click here for the opinion piece in City News.
Mick Gentleman is the ACT planning minister – and is the local Labor member for this suburb. Nothing has happened! Go figure!
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.
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.
How many ACT politicians actually catch the public transport that they continue to make a mess of? Click here for my piece on this in City News
oh what a planning mess – complete with strange deals and ACT Government games and incompetence. Click here for the story in City News.
The bush capital is under threat from the ACT Government – it’s about trees
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
When it comes to arts facilities in Canberra, the ACT politicians are well behind the game. They know nothing! 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.
The Greens/Labor coalition ACT government is infamous for its cabal of ministers who are making a mess of Canberra’s planning and development. What is happening in the Woden Centre demonstrates this. click here
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
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
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.
For residential representatives in Canberra, the last few months have been very onerous due to the simultaneous release of a load of government consultation documents as well as the usual tricky development applications (DA) that need to be consumed and feedback provided. Click here for my piece on this.
The ACT Greens/Labor coalition government has a host of ministers who are making a mess of the planning and development of Canberra’s urban environments. The question asked by the community sectors is where do the ACT Liberals stand on these planning issues. Click here for my piece in City News on this topic.
You can tell when residents are hitting the government where it hurts – when the press coverage from the government turns to spin – and more spin. There is no doubt that this is a response to the successes the pesky residents of Downer have had in getting attention through their brilliant “Don’t Dump on Downer” grassroots campaign. Click here.
WHAT happens within the ACT government’s planning and development portfolios points to how the ACT Greens/Labor coalition is travelling. Click here for my piece in City News
THE ACT’s muddle-headed bureaucrats keep coming up with planning brochures laden down with alternate facts and marketing spin. Ministers then blindly sign letters to residents based on the bureaucrats’ gobbledygook and then wonder why people get upset. I wrote about what is happening in Downer in City News.
No surprise here! The ACT Government often plays with the truth.
Here’s my piece in City News on this.
The ACT government has failed to care for Canberra’s urban forests. We are constantly losing trees. Click here for my City News article on trees.
In Canberra how developers bend and get around planning rules is a common debate. The ACT Government has several ministers who mess around in planning and development – and all not good at it. See my City News article – click here.
Canberra has a reasonably new City Renewal Authority. It does not come cheap. Problem being people just do not know why it exists. Here’s my take on this – in City News.
Social housing in Canberra as overseen by the ACT Government is not something seen as being well done. Here in Canberra’s inner north residents are involved in a long running battle to save some precious community land being rezoned for residential use – with social housing being used as the Trojan Horse. Here’s my piece in City News
Unfortunately what has been happening for years in Canberra, being bad planning and development, looks to continue given the on-going bad decisions by the ACT’s planning minister and his bureaucrats in the planning directorate. Click here.
People are sick of the dumb statements that infill is necessary and therefore we must give up our cherished suburbs for high-rise. This is stupid.
The government’s real message on infill is not for residents but for developers seeking a green light to carry on as usual. Here’s my piece on this topic – click here.
The ACT Government has a sad history of very nasty behaviour by some bureaucrats towards the residents. This is not new and it continues today. Unfortunately when it occurs our elected politicians tend not to want to hear about it – they turn away.
This is the story of one such incident – it is bullying at its worst.
Here’s my opinion piece in City News.
There’s a massive urban development on the western edge of Canberra (beyond Belconnen) called Ginninderry. There are a lot of good things being done by the developer at Ginninderry. But it is hard not to notice issues around the ACT government’s involvement as a partner. It is a very dubious arrangement.
I wrote about this in City News – click here.
Congratulations to all the residents who care and work hard on planning matters – endlessly. The shocking thing is that those in government, on all sides, now take it as normal that they are not trusted and respected. It is not something anyone should simply live with.
I wrote for City News on this topic – click here.
On December 5 our blessed planning minister, Mick Gentleman, ascended Mount Ainslie to hand down the 2018 ACT Planning Strategy. This was just another media performance to try to convince someone that this government takes planning serioulsy.
It does not.
Here’s my piece in City News on this silly performance.
The ACT government’s decisions on trees are often contradictory and not in the context of long-term strategies for the bush capital. It continues to make a mess of the legacy it inherited.
There are so many stories around how the ACT Government handles significant trees and so many people who have had bad experiences because of the bureaucratic stupidity.
Click here for my piece in City News on this – these are just a few of those stories.
As with other cases like this, the ACT Government bureaucracy fails to see the logic and ignores the consequences of their stupidity. A site visit would inform anyone of the issues.
I have written about this in City News
The news from the residential battlefront around the future of the community and cultural life of the Dickson area is not rosy. The government continues to lie…
I have written about this in City News.
The ACT Government has a bad reputation in its dealings with residents and their concerns for the future of Canberra.
I have written about this topic in City News – here’s my piece – click here.
When your government plays dirty and is not transparent – things get really tough for the local residents.
This is a slightly revised version of a previous post of mine previously written as the government moved to close the public housing along Northbourne Avenue in Canberra as part of its Urban Clearances programs
I have a new piece on City News that goes part of the way to addressing the sad state of heritage under this ACT Government.
Once you realise how corrupted the ACT Government is – it would be so easy to get depressed and walk away.
Canberra once had a reputation as being a planned city. Not so any more.
Observing the current government and its attitude towards the electorate, it does make you wonder about the 2016 election results and whether this will be repeated in 2020.
The Dickson Parklands is an important site for the inner north of Canberra.
Here’s Jane’s January 31 2018 update on goings on with planning and developments around Dickson:
With Canberra having such an informed and aware community, one would have thought that a community-focused government planning minister would have surfaced by now – one being committed to development and the future growth of the city while simultaneously embracing the enhancement of (rather than reducing) the city’s amenities that are admired internationally.
Surprising things can happen when you are involved in advocacy with the ACT Government on urban environment issues.
Some issues just do not go away. Dogs that are dangerous or potentially dangerous is such a topic.
Very strange events have been unfolding since the local ACT elections in late 2016.
A lot has been written about the ACT Government’s announcement to establish small government housing estates on community-zoned land in Weston Creek suburbs.
Canberra’s planning system remains super complicated and out of reach of ordinary citizens.
Sometimes you wonder just what is going on in the heads of our local government and its bureaucrats who make funding decisions.
When a system is broken, how easily it is to point the figure at one person and say “It wasn’t me, it was that person over there.”
Following a couple of pieces in the local press, one would think that the ACT Government’s planning was in turmoil because key people are on the move.
At the meeting in August 2016 on the government’s proposals to redevelop the West Basin of Lake Burley Griffin, the main line taken by the government was that their proposals were based on the Griffin Legacy.
It took about three hours of argument on Friday 28th October for a decision by the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal (ACAT) on whether certain government planning documents should be released to those making objections to the Government’s agreement to the revised Development Application (DA) for the Dickson supermarket.