Allan Takes Aim Blog

City Hill: part of Canberra’s future greatness

Posted on: 22 March 2010

Published The Chronicle Tuesday16 March

My mind is often filled by political dreams the colours of which put rainbows to shame. Unfortunately, the effect when some of the colours get mixed is often less than pleasing particularly when black, the colour of a space devoid of illumination is produced. When this happens my mind switches immediately to some MLAs and Members of the National Capital Authority whose minds seem to fit the latter condition.

Not that that is how it appears to them. Indeed for them the only spaces devoid of illumination are voter’s mind, which proves that the inside of their heads are spaces devoid of illumination.

Little wonder that these people are surprised when the public says that many of their ideas lack common sense. One idea that illustrates this to perfection is the current proposal centred on the City Hill Precinct, a combination of natural and built infrastructure, which, according to the ACT Land Development Agency, is one of the city’s most significant locations. As I wrote in my column of Tuesday 22 Jan 2008, City Hill is both the heart of Canberra and the city’s most significant sacred site.

Unfortunately, this sacred site is about to be desecrated and developed simply to make money. Sadly, ACTPLA and the NCA seem not to realise, and if they do, don’t care, that cities without a heart cannot be great cities. For example: in the way Central Park helps make New York a great city and Hyde Park does the same for London – and other great parks do the same for other great cities – just as it took time for these parks to help create their respective city’s greatness, it will take time for City Hill to do the same for Canberra.

I suggest also that if the NCA and every Government MLA and Minister read The Chronicle and The Canberra Times letters and opinion pages, they would find many ideas that could be used use to make money without destroying City Hill. These ideas come from citizens who spend time and money trying to make sense of the Government’s policies and also try to give it ideas from which the community at large can benefit. Unfortunately for the community, both the NCA and ACT Government seem to have a list of preferred suppliers of ideas.

NCA aside, had the ACT Government listened to the community, the GDE initially would have been four lanes, not two, and the community would have been better served. But if it’s a hard job educating children to listen, it’s an even harder job educating Government Ministers to listen and accept that many in the community have better ideas.

And talking about listening, it should be even more important that Government listens to ideas from non Government MLAs. In fact why have party government and opposition? Why not extend the current Greens/Labor arrangement and have a full coalition government? It seems silly to me but why have 10 MLAs out of 17 doing nothing except trying to find flaws in the policies of Government?

Taking up this idea could well scotch what is becoming a political perennial: MLAs calling for an increase in their numbers from 17 to 21 or 25. It seems to me also that if all 17 MLAs were involved in the process of Government, there would be no need to increase their number. And because MLAs are supposed to serve the whole community not just people who share the same political philosophy, all 17 could share the current workload.

Not only could this idea could put a stop to the rhetoric of overworked Ministers, it might also show voters that the MLAs who oppose it are more interested in status and satisfying their party and less interested in satisfying them.

I feel such an arrangement would also make the Assembly more attractive to a wider range of candidates, something that would redound to the benefit of Canberra. Rather than having Ministers responsible for portfolios of which they have no knowledge, each of the 17 would have portfolios in which they have experience.

It might mean also that, come election time, potential MLAs would need to demonstrate their experience to voters and, if elected, also deliver better governance.

The Chronicle for the best of Canberra Community News. Published every Tuesday


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