Allan Takes Aim Blog

Does Canberra need a new model of government?

Posted on: 25 August 2011


Does Canberra need a new model of government?

 Many people in the ACT believe that neither the ACT’s Labor/Green Coalition nor the opposition Liberal Party have the leadership, business skills and social vision necessary to govern the ACT properly and so secure its future and that of its citizens, young and old.

Indeed a view growing more prevalent is that some current members of the Assembly are so interested in battling for supremacy within their own party that not only do they put their personal interests above the interests of their constituents they also think that without their presence in the Assembly, government will grind to a halt. As the community considers these matters many of them have come to the view that some current MLAs would be wise to consider their future with some of our more radically minded citizens also of the view that not only should some MLAs be ditched but also the ACT’s current electoral system.

Some have also gone as far as to suggest that the ACT should be governed by a coalition of responsible Labor, Liberal, Conservative, Social Democrats, Greens and other like-minded citizens who understand that unless there is real consultation with the wider community, Canberra’s progress will be slow. I should add that some members of current parties in and out of the Assembly think this a good suggestion.

But it is a suggestion unlikely to be welcomed by current parties. Why? It will not be welcomed because it is too democratic; they think their particular brand of politics can cure every problem faced by the community. Not that history shows this to be the case. The fact is that not only in Australia, but at one time or another in virtually every country across the world, so called major parties have been given the chance to show their philosophy working. The success rate to date being nil is the reason we have election after election and why century after century, war has reigned supreme and peace went a-begging.     

You might think this a harsh judgement, but it does seem to many people that parties, particularly major parties, merely pay lip service to the idea of democratic government. Indeed many people seem to think the main activity of parties in Government is not to govern but to work out how keep the Opposition parties in opposition. Conversely Opposition parties think their only job is get Governments out of government.

Speaking personally I think peoples across the world not only wants governments that value their community but also want them to enjoy a healthy and sustainable environment based on progressive development and sound economic principles.

If asked to create a prospectus for such a government what would I say? I make no claim to be a political sage (indeed I doubt such a political animal exists), but here are some ideas that have been suggested to me as being good for the ACT. A Consultative Council comprising representatives of big and small business, cultural groups, education groups, environmental groups, health groups, trade unions, the wider community and importantly, a young people’s group, from which will come the Capital’s future citizens.

The Council should meet regularly to discuss how Canberra’s future economic and employment base can be secured and how to attract new business. At the same time and because Canberra is the Nation’s Capital, a Federal Government member should be part of the Council so that he/she can keep Federal Government aware of the need for funding to ensure Canberra’s Capital image can be maintained and enhanced, domestically and internationally.

The Council’s task should be to work towards developing policies that will preserve the Capital’s environment and improve social justice and social equity particularly with regard to affordable housing being readily available for those who need it, particularly those suffering from mental illness and the unemployed.

While I understand some people not wishing any further development in Canberra they should remember that it was they who made Canberra what it is today, the prelude to the unfinished architectural overture, City of the Future. Having helped compose it let them now allow the young to help finish it so that their future will be lived in harmony.

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