Allan Takes Aim Blog

Archive for March 2012

Canberra’s Centenary-Australia’s biggest ever birthday party

Let me present to readers a brief history of Canberra, home for the Allan family for more than forty years.

Most readers probably know is Canberra is not only the seat of Australian Government but also Australia’s National Capital. What they might not know is that land for the Capital was excised from the State of New South Wales.
Some might not know either that the design of the city came from two Chicago architects, the husband and wife team of Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony, who won the 1912 International architectural competition to design the capital.

When the first sod of the new Capital was turned in March 1913 the area’s population was very small. It has grown slowly but now numbers around 350,000. Most of the population were public servants. They still are.
Many of the first buildings erected were for Government Departments and houses for residents to live in.

Being in the mood to flatter Canberra let me say the face of the baby city was beautiful but as is generally the case with all babies it has developed into a strikingly beautiful modern city. You might want to take that comment with a pinch of salt as some of its critics have said to me that I must have forgotten the old adage that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

However, despite it being Australia’s national capital arguments about the city’s planning started even before the first brick was laid. Needless to say, ever since, arguments about the plan have continued. Ninety nine years later they are still going on. Indeed I doubt they will ever stop. And perhaps it could be said with some degree of truth, that without planning arguments, Canberra might have become the deserted capital.

Nevertheless, despite the arguments, next year Canberra will celebrate its hundredth birthday with an almost non-stop party that not only will leave visitors and residents exhausted but also will change for ever Canberra’s reputation as a stodgy, sterile, and unexciting city where nothing ever happens

In fact the year 2013 will be so exhausting that for a short time afterwards Canberra might well become the deserted Capital as residents go elsewhere to recover.

It’s early days yet I know but, after August, let me suggest that as well as reading my website,, read the Canberra Centenary website http://www.canberra and the Chronicle’s www:// to see what Canberra has in store.

And next year when you come for a holiday let The Chronicle know. In the meantime keep an eye on the Centenary and Chronice websites for the non-stop party updates.


The Chronicle Canberra. A great Comumnity newspaper published online every Wednesday.

One would think citizens of the Australian Capital Territory, Australia’s national and political capital with its allegedly ‘independent’ parliament, the ACT Legislative Assembly, would be knowledgeable about politics. I say allegedly because the Assembly is really only independent when allowed by the Federal Government.

Like every Australian, ACT citizens are told voting is compulsory so that, independent or not, if a citizen does not exercise their right to vote but later claim the services for which the Assembly is responsible do not meet the standards they expect, it seems not unreasonable to suggest that, in part, this can be attributed to them not voting. The encouragement to vote: avoidance of a fine.

Australia is also a country which, in common with other Western and Christian based cultures, claims to be a democracy. However, in a democracy that considers free speech one of the greatest human rights, the possibility of a fine for not voting seems less than democratic although it is compulsory to attend a voting booth so that you can get your name temporarily crossed off the electoral roll.

If you think that seems strange consider this: a country that coerces its citizens into voting by telling them a lie and imposing a fine if they fail to vote, still claims to be a great democracy. And doesn’t it seem more than passing strange that, midst all the rhetoric published in the press and broadcast by the electronic media about the values of free speech and democracy, that these aspects of the voting process get little media exposure.

Despite my comments not only am I not anti-voting but of the view that the right to vote goes hand in hand with the right to free speech. No, my comments are made to try and encourage people to use both of their great rights by questioning whether or not compulsory voting is anti-democratic

Free speech and the right to vote (the latter also implies that people have the right not to vote) are the two greatest jewels in the jewel box of human rights besides which, the confected rights that some politicians keep trying to shove down peoples’ throats, will be seen for being the meretricious baubles they are which eventually will be dumped in the dustbin reserved for bad political history as so that more time can be given to curing serious social issues.

One of those meretricious baubles is the claim currently being made by some, but not all Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay and Transgender people, that unless they can marry they are being deprived of their right of equality. Unfortunately this claim has gained undeserved prominence in both federal and ACT politics. More unfortunately, the media gives it more attention than it deserves.

The fact is, equality is mother- nature’s gift of an inalienable right to individuals that cannot be taken away nor legislated for. On the other hand marriage is not a right but a custom that has existed for centuries in the form of a union between a man and a woman that has been regularised and legislated for by society in recognition of its many benefits. On the other hand while society has accepted same gender unions it has never recognised them as marriages.

Unfortunately, there are many people who, on the basis of religious belief and for reasons unintelligible to me, describe people of the same sex who wish to marry as being depraved. Just as unfortunate, but equally wrong, is when one of Australia’s most eminent and deservedly respected jurists, Michael Donald Kirby AC. CMG, recently retired from Australia’s highest court, who also enjoys a same sex union, said recently during an interview on ABC Radio National that the former needed educating. Let me say that demeaning their intelligence is unlikely to convert them to his view.

It seems to me also, that because he and many others in same sex unions have climbed and reached the pinnacle of eminence in all walks of life, gives lie to claims of inequality and discrimination, particularly as many people within and without marriage make the same claim. Perhaps the reason is, that in some way both groups are simply inadequate?

This article also at:

Let me say that I welcome all readers of my blog. At the same time however, let me say that I ma disappointed that too many comment show little originality and are merely SPAM repetitions.

Some people might think these spam messages make a contribution but they don’t. From my point of view and as someone of limited time and capacity they do nothing to enlighten other readers as to their views about the subject material of the blog which is written in hope that it might stir people into thinking of good philosophical solutions to many of the problems the world faces today or new ideas about technology they feel will help drive progress in the world and lead it to a better future.

Even at my most imaginative I cannot conceive that because some correspondents think that what I have written seems very much like the thoughts of their many cousins, rather than feeling complimented I feel worried that so many people seem incapable of putting their own words together in reply.


I’am emphasising them because I will delete spam mails immediately on receipt.
If you’ve really got something to say, send it and let the ideas people pick it up and pass it on, or send it directly to my e-mail and I will send it on through the website or my we-mail connections.

First Posted The Chronicle, Canberra,Tuesday 19 March, 2012
A long catalogue already exists of days that commemorate local people and important local and national events: a prime example of the latter: ‘Sorry Day.’
That said, I do not want to see that list extended to include days just for the purpose of satisfying the egos of people who wield influence and/or power, or both, and think people or events they have recommended should be commemorated for no reason other than it is their recommendation. Indeed I can think of no better reason for not adding them to the list.

Unfortunately Canberra’s demographic make- up is such that it harbours many such people. It must be said also, that special days of commemoration should not be promulgated by politicians only, even if some commemorative days are born of politics.

In true community based organisations, however, many of the people involved think their cause more important than politics. And while politicians might say otherwise, even more Canberrans might well think them right. At the same time, politicians of every ideology also think them important. Never knowing when they might need a political snack to sustain them as they ply their trade commemorative days are often the snack they always carry in their political tool kit.

But let me put politics aside to say my reason for writing about this subject came as the result of a remark I overheard during a conversation between two ladies in a city café, when one said she was fed up getting telephone calls from all kinds of organisations seeking support for their pet projects. She blamed this on the government but, to be fair, activists are more to blame than the government even though the governments might endorse a project it if they thought it would pull votes.

That apart, in the foreseeable future, and only having 366 days to play with, the idea of commemorative days might soon become unsustainable, which raises the question: has the time come for for organisations that share similar objectives to look at the possibility of sharing days? Indeed, by combining resources they could maximise publicity and they gained on their sharing day, to ensure their message will get through to the public without impinging on their organisation’s ability to do their own thing on other days in the year.

Unfortunately, the proliferation of days commemorating individuals thought of as saints – though many people think them sinners – and days dedicated to helping overcome either a special problem or social conditions that need attention, money, or both, have now assumed epidemic proportions. In some cases also, efforts to promote them might also have become an exercise in futility as they battle other organisations while trying to capture the public’s collective mind and dollars.

In the social sense it has to be said that many of the events that people want observed and commemorated on a particular day are so worthy that communities far from Australia and Canberra also want to commemorate the same days. Not that this is a case of great minds thinking alike; it is more the case that people in every country across the world face the same problems and as do some Canberrans, they band together in an effort to have it remembered..

Of more interest to me however, is that people across the world in organisations big and small want to commemorate the same kind of people and events as do Canberrans. In a sense this is a paradox that raises the question: why are people enemies when they share so many values?

Indeed as I think of the world today, the act of sharing the same days of commemoration fosters strong bonds of friendship, not enmity. And in that spirit of friendship when each person thinks of distant friends pursuing the same goals, they do not think of them as friends with a particular religious belief, or as wealthy friends or as friends of a particular colour. They think of them as people with the greatest quality of all: humanity.

Let me end by suggesting days of commemoration would no longer be needed if the world’s powerbrokers in every sphere of life, cultivated that same sense of humanity.

Is that too much to hope for?

The Chronicle for Canberra’s best community news. Published every Tuesday and online on Wdnesday at:

First published as hard copy in The Chronicle, Tuesday 12 March, 2012

This weekend I had four topics in mind from which to choose this weeks’ column: weather, religion, sport and politics. But as I couldn’t say anything other than it had been raining for weeks I gave weather the flick and moved on to religion for a moment or two before moving on again to sport and the question of what could be done do to ensure that sooner, rather than later, Canberra gets a team in Australian soccer’s (football) A League. However, as that’s more a 7000 word that a 700 word argument, it also got the flick, which left me with politics.

Politics, of course, is not only one of four staple items on the menu of Australian broadsheets such as the Canberra Times, Sydney Morning Herald and The Australian, it is also on the menus of English, Irish, Scottish and Welsh broadsheets. And from perusal of the web, politics is also on the menu of broadsheets in every country of the world even those under the yoke of dictators or terrorists.

In a sense it is also a staple on the menu of great community newspapers like The Chronicle, although the focus of The Chronicle is more community news. Nevertheless comment in broadsheets on politics, economics, the arts, education, science, and myriad other issues that also affect community life, are often reflected in community nrewspapers.

However, the most important reports in community newspapers are about local news and events because they help keep the community informed about policies that could affect them, for example: a proposal to develop new infrastructure, be it a new school or any other community facility or even a change to existing services.

In The Chronicle’s case, apart from the news reports by the Chronicle’s journalists and contributions by columnists, The Chronicle also gives Canberra’s Community Councils space to report on issues they think important enough for the community to be made aware of and whether the Council supports or rejects them. In a sense The Chronicle is the community’s communications hub albeit at a level below, although no less important, than that of The Times.

After reading The Chronicle’s and Community Councils’ reports and columnists opinions, the community at large is in a better position to give informed comment about whether or not they like what a Government is proposing. If they don’t like it, they can use the time honoured method of making their approval or disapproval known by laying out their reasons in a letter to the editor.

Indeed these letters make the politicians aware of what a community thinks about their proposals without having to wait until the next election to make it obvious. In fact, weekly community newspapers can play a strong role in articulating a community’s wish, or wishes to politicians. Whether or not the politician’s pay heed, of course, is debatable.

Equally important Community newspapers like The Chronicle do not take political sides through letters to the editor often do. Indeed it has been known for a letter to the editor to cause a change in Government policy something not something as rare as people think. At the same time letters to the editor often become the source of comment on talk back radio so exposing a particular issue to possibly even a wider range of the community.

In The Chronicle’s case giving space to local Senators and Members of Federal Parliament helps them keep the community informed about their activities. (My congratulations to Senator Lundy for her promotion to Ministerial rank). With The Chronicle now online this will also assist people from across the country and the world to keep in touch with what is happening in Canberra and commenting on it.

So pay a visit to The Chronicle website ( Perhaps you’ll get a surprise when photographs stir happy memories of childhood friends or of places long forgotten. At the same time you will also find mention of those special members of the community who bring recognition of the National Capital to the wider world.

So keep in touch by signing up and every Wednesday take time to read The Chronicle. If you haven’t already signed up, do it now. Enjoy it. It’s FREE).

For Canberra’s best community news read The Chronicle online every Wednesday or a hard copy on Tuesday

Let me advise that this is a slightly longer version of the article that appeared in this week’s Chronicle Indeed you can now find The Chronicle online at:

Whereto for politics

So the dust of Labor’s political battle has settled? Or has it? And while some Labor Party members think Julia will now lead them to victory at the next election others are of a mind that Julia will lead them to an inglorious defeat by Tony Abbott. Will she? Only time will tell.

While thinking about recent leadership battles within the Federal, State and Territory Labor parties it seems to me that some members deserve membership in the fraternity of executioners, a profession now extinct in most countries. Could it be however, that some might be called on again in the not too distant future to exercise their skills?

Like suicide bombers, many Labor politicians seem to have lost the plot, expecting their actions might make Labor the party of political sunshine. It won’t. Later indeed, some working in the political sun, already know that working in the real world can often be less than sunny, while many of those wondering about the future might also wonder if they should they become political sun lovers.

I make these statements not because of anti-Labor bias, but because many Labor politicians still do not understand why voters might decide to forego their political talents and ditch them.. Indeed they think their ditching would be the action of people without political nous. To use a hackneyed phrase, this would be laughable if it wasn’t so serious. The ditching situation would not be without irony inasmuch they do not think the voters reason for ditching them is because they see them as parvenus (sadly the voters are often right), is a good one.

But despite Labor’s many faults people should not forget that more than one party is involved in Australian politics. The Liberal Party must also take a fair share of the blame for the way in which some of their Members of Parliament have abused the voting public. They have been as guilty as Labor of turning Australia’s various Houses of Parliament into what many voters see, not without cause it must be said, not as bastions of democracy but as houses of ill repute.

For a number of years I have hoped that the leaders in our political world would have been so educated by the various melodramas that have taken place in our parliaments (one could never bestow on them the accolade of drama), that they would be doing their utmost to ensure the same mistakes were not repeated. However, as they seem intent on continuing in the same vein simply adds to the poor regard in which many politicians are held.

As a title, the Liberal Party is as much a misnomer as the Labor Party: both seem to have forgotten what they stand for. And both put the same strictures on members even as they say they are broad churches. Both have rules and are led by people who expect their congregations to believe without question. Come election-day however, as voters trundle unwillingly to the polling booths, one hears them grumble continuously about politicians even as candidates make obeisance to them hoping it will result in the voter giving them their vote.

If Labor, Liberal and the many other aspiring parties don’t yet know their end is now in sight, they will during the course of the next few years as their membership drops day by day and month by month. In effect they will become sects constantly preaching out-dated and unwanted dogma in an increasingly global world of new political philosophies that are still in the process of formation.

For a short period of time, the small political Green Church will have some influence but eventually it, too, will become another dwindling political sect in an increasingly global world. Indeed, even as I write, I know of members of all parties who think the days of current parties are numbered and that not too many years from now, new parties with philosophies that better reflect what undoubtedly will be changed cultural, economic and social conditions will be set up mainly by young people around the world who currently are studying at various schools, colleges and universities. They will be exciting parties. I only wish I could be around to see them formed.


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