Allan Takes Aim Blog

Join the disagreement club

Posted on: 8 September 2011

First published The Chronicle Tuesday 6 September 2011 

After many failed applications for membership of Canberra’s Disagreement Club (not to be confused with The Disagreeable Club) I am pleased to say that according to e-mails from Canberrans claiming to be experts on the subject of disagreement my application for membership is to be reconsidered. I expect the club’s decision shortly.

Occasionally after a column some people e-mail me and say in no uncertain terms they disagree with me. Perhaps many will come to the same conclusion at the end of the column or even before they get there.

 Without referring to anyone in particular, I feel sure some Chronicle readers are already members of the disagreement club. I hasten to add that this is a compliment. And likely as it seems that some readers are members already, some members seem to be shy.

Many of you also might find it difficult to believe that, once upon a time, not only was I shy but tongue tied, a condition that took years to cure but which finally disappeared when I came to the ACT and Canberra perhaps because as home of disagreement it made me feel at home.

These thoughts went through my mind as I sat musing about the ACT and wondering how Canberra ever managed to acquire the title ‘Garden City’ when the inhabitants of the Australian Parliament are better known for cultivating the company of exotic flowers more at home on beds than in gardens, so making the title Garden City seem a misnomer. In fact as home to Australian politics and with politicians known for their disagreeableness I rather think a more apposite tile for Parliament House would have been Club for the Disagreeable.

With the passing of the years, membership of the Disagreeable and Disagreement Clubs has grown. And to show the aptness of Parliament House as the Disagreeable Club, in 1988 the Australian Parliament of the time gave the ACT a parliament of it own – the ACT Legislative Assembly – despite the idea being rejected by a majority of ACT residents.

The effect of the Disagreeable Club’s decision has resulted in Canberra being blighted by a condition known as PSGS – Post Self Government Stress. And if that wasn’t enough the PSGS also gave birth to Current Self Government Stress (CSGS) a new strain of stress. Sadly a number of Canberrans are now affected by both conditions. More unfortunately CSGS has become endemic though many Canberrans hope that one day it will be eradicated.

And I meant what I said earlier that I was paying Members of the Disagreement Club a compliment. Indeed, I can think of no greater compliment because as members of the Disagreement Club I would hate them to think I was confusing them with politicians.

The reason it’s a compliment is, that it is their intelligent disagreement in letters to the editor and calls to talk back radio that prevents ideas put forward to the Disagreeable Club by people of influence in the ACT – politicians, planners, developers, business owners et al, and others who make no secret of their desire for wealth and power – being put into effect before being approved or turned down by the Disagreement Club. Effectively members of the Disagreement Club are the real defenders of democracy and the Canberra community has much to thank them for.  

Nevertheless I am worried because, unfortunate as it is, too many members of the Disagreement Club while articulate in private are shy in public. Indeed any thought of their name being attached to a letter to the editor or being heard on radio disagreeing publicly with many of the ideas and proposals being put forward by people of influence can turn them into nervous wrecks.

This saddens me because the more I hear from them it seems clear they have much to offer. But I don’t give up easily. So in hope of changing their mind I say to them that they shouldn’t wait for an election before making their objections known as by that time it might be too late. And for good measure let me cite the old adage: he who hesitates is lost

I hope The Chronicle’s letters to editor page tells me the message is getting through.

 The Chronicle for Canberra’s best community news. Published every Tuesday


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