Allan Takes Aim Blog

Change is vital for ACT’s progression

Posted on: 22 August 2012


Published The Chronicle, Canberra, Tuesday August 21. Online publication Wednesday, August 22 at : http://www.chronicleonline.com.au

The Australian society I first experienced early in 1951 does not exist today. I admit I was only here for a week and as I worked during the day and could only see Melbourne at night my impression of Australia, based on Melbourne, was less that accurate.
Unfortunately I was constrained from staying any longer by the fact that, if I didn’t return to the British Progress, the oil tanker on which I was serving as a deck boy, the possibility existed, that if I wasn’t on board when it left Melbourne I might end up in jail which possibly would result in me being deported at a later date.
Had this scenario eventuated this would have cruelled any chance of my coming to live in Australia, an eventuality that, in retrospect some people today might wish had happened. However, as I was to find out many years later, the latter would have been unlikely unless I had been a regular visitor to the courts in Britain.
As it turned out, in 1969 my family came to Australia as migrants on the Achille Lauro, On disembarking at Sydney l fully expected to see a city not much different to my Melbourne of memory. It was an expectation quickly dashed. S
Sydney’s ambience was more American, a country I had visited in the interim, rather than the European feel of Melbourne I remembered, or even New Zealand where I lived for two and a half years in the early fifties. But when my family moved Melbourne I was shocked also. Although in no way could it be likened to Sydney since my visit eighteen years previously it, too, had changed although I have to say the change was less noticeable because the city’s elegant building infrastructure still presented that European look and feel.
My experience on return to Canberra in 1970 was much the same. The Canberra I first came to with my family in 1970 and where we lived for a year is not the same Canberra we returned to late in in 1975 after living in Townsville, Darwin, Brisbane and the three coasts: Gold, Sunshine and NSW South Coast.
With the exception of Darwin I have visited all these places again. Noticeably they had changed. With can do civic leaders committed to progress, they had grown up, developed new industries and attracted many new residents. Canberra must do the same.
Not that Canberra hasn’t changed, it has! Indeed since 1975 it has changed many times, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. Not that I am alone in thinking that but being a realist I know change does not always give you what you want. But that’s life.
In some ways Canberra’s greatest misfortune is that people want a Canberra of pre self-government days when Canberra was tied to the Commonwealth Government’s apron strings, a want that can be seen in many letters to the editor and calls to talk back radio. Illogically, they also want to retain the benefits of changes since self-government. .
Many of the people who write these letters to the editor and engage talk back radio are part of a loose grouping of group think anti- development cohorts who more often than not are pro conservation and rightists of various kinds. In case you think I’m being unfair and picking on these groups there are also group think cohorts of developers and other business people who totally oppose them.
But the trouble with the majority of group think cohorts, whether the former or that latter, is that they cannot abide anyone disagreeing with them. Should someone in a cohort dare disagree with them, their fate is to be sent to Coventry.
I also think the most prominent group think cohorts are political parties, though cohorts of squabblers might be a better description, whose squabbling often seems more about their place in the world rather than how to make Australia and the world a better place. As for Canberra many of them treat it more like a refreshment stop on an ancient caravan route rather than the National Capital.
dca@netspeed.com.au
The Chronicle for Canberra’s bset Community News. Published every Tuesday

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