The NCA can stop the tram going south

The National Capital Authority (NCA) finished 2021 on a low note. Not that would surprise those who have recently dealt with the NCA.

For the citizens of Canberra, this body should be a leader in how urban initiatives are undertaken in those areas where it has responsibility. That’s not what many people experience. Some have even witnessed short tempers when they seek answers to legitimate questions.

Canberra is a “lucky city” and with that comes Donald Horne’s original ironical meaning.

He wrote: “Australia is a lucky country run mainly by second rate people who share its luck. It lives on other people’s ideas, and, although its ordinary people are adaptable, most of its leaders (in all fields) so lack curiosity about the events that surround them that they are often taken by surprise.”

In the case of Canberra, the NCA is seen as an authoritarian body constantly diminishing the benefits of this city as delivered by former agencies and governments. You have to work hard to find an original and creative idea that originated from the NCA management.

However, despite the perception that the NCA has a lack of empathy for residents, Canberra remains a good place to live and it is worth the effort to call out the management style of the NCA (and its partners on urban issues within the ACT government).

That decision in December to approve planes landing on the lake said it all. Very silly given Canberra Airport is just down the road. No doubt someone from Vaucluse will enjoy the on-water experience.

Last year residents learnt that despite an enormous number of submissions opposing the War Memorial redevelopments, it was the will of the political class that carried the day. Pesky residents were put in their place and their submissions filed in the appropriate box.

That experience should have been a clear message that residents are consulted only after decisions have been made. The logical notion that consultations were about taking on board different views remains wishful thinking.

When the NCA sought comments about the ACT government’s tram-related proposal to mess with London Circuit, to redo the ramps on to Commonwealth Avenue and deliver years of disruption to those travelling to and from Civic, residents again slogged away with facts-based submissions.

Did residents not learn that NCA consultations are tokenistic? Nevertheless, the submissions were delivered on the due date – December 24. Obviously the NCA management was keen to read them over Christmas!

Is there anyone within the NCA’s world who thinks it is a good idea to insert another set of traffic lights on Commonwealth Avenue to allow the tram to enter every couple of minutes?

The ideological fundamentalism around the tram going south will have serious consequences for residents and those who need to enter and leave Civic via Commonwealth Bridge.

There will be years of disruption by the ACT Government’s Disruption Taskforce – a body that must exist within Chris Steel’s portfolio of things. Who else would implement such stupid decisions to mess up traffic flows around Civic? But wait – one of the Labor MLAs has a plan.

She suggested that southside people make alternate arrangements for travel to work in Civic and use an app to assist – whatever that means in the real world. The current ACT Labor/Greens politicians have succumbed completely to the political Kool-Aid that blocks sensible thought-processes.

The NCA could stop this tram nonsense very quickly. Will they? We wait to see if the NCA management is more competent than they have been judged to have been in recent years. L

et us not forget the notorious land swap whereby the NCA did a deal to take possession of the North Curtin equestrian paddocks so that Andrew Barr’s Labor/Greens coalition could fill in West Basin for later suburban development.

Finally, thanks to the individuals and groups who make submissions to the NCA. Yes, it is more often a waste of time.

But as the NCA descends to low depths with how they treat residents, it remains important for future generations and for the concept of good governance that residents continue to aim high – as you do. Thank you, again.


This article is a version of the piece originally published online with City News

Paul Costigan is an independent commentator and consultant on the visual arts, photography, urban design, environmental issues and everyday matters.

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