Allan Takes Aim Blog

The future Canberra: dream city or nightmare?

Posted on: 14 July 2013

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The future Canberra: dream city or nightmare?

In recent blogs I focused on Federal Politics and Federal Politicians; ACT Politics and ACT Politicians were overlooked.  If nothing else, these words show just how easy it is to be distracted from really important issues by flashy and meretricious arguments from self-appointed and selfish federal politicians engaged in vote catching exercises.

Allowing ourselves to be distracted is wrong because in many ways, the ACT Legislative Assembly and its MLAs play a greater role in my life and that of Canberrans in general, than what politicians say in Federal parliament. Not that all federal politicians’ arguments are meretricious, but even serious ones tend to be overwhelmed by the flood of rhetoric from self-appointed important politicians, who treat voters as chooks waiting to be fed. Have they forgotten the fate of the last Queensland politician who did that regularly?

To bring me up to date on what has been happening in Canberra, I turned to the letters page of the Canberra Times only to find the same names gracing the letters page with the same opinions about the same issues and opinions of other regular letter writers and reports by the newspaper’s’ journalists.

The newspaper cannot be blamed for publishing them: it lies squarely with Canberra’s citizens. Curiously in an allegedly literate and articulate city where politics is a major business, the wider community seems apathetic about events in their city. The result the letters’ page has become a propaganda medium for narrowly based political views probably totally unrepresentative of the wider community.

To some extent the newspaper encourages this apathy by focusing on some issues it seems to hold dear but are little discussed in the wider community. Two examples: gay marriage and climate change. However, I have to say that as local branch of the National broadcaster also seems to focus on these issues it too, grants them an importance they do not deserve.

These issues aside, the caption above contributors’ letters page, Saturday 13th July, said:” Rudd fiddling with Facebook while the rest of us burn.”  However, not being a Facebook user I learned little about what was happening in Canberra other than a letter of complaint from Victoria no less, about the culling of Kangaroos which the writer said was shameful; another letter about what is an important issue “Abuse of law; a letter about the price of electricity and a letter about American Edward Snowden and his self-imposed imprisonment in Moscow’s airport and of the US being a terrorism nation and the writer’s view that Daniel Ellsberg was the last true (US) patriot.

Much as I found the letters’ page uninteresting, the article ‘Vision of our second century’ on page 3 of Forum, stirred my interest because author David Ellery wrote, that in 2113 Canberra would be a very different place.

He wrote petrol stations will have gone and electricity will come from renewable resources without saying what the renewable resources. Nuclear energy did not rate a mention. Effectively what he described as second century Canberra’s was first century Canberra re-incarnated, with a few alterations.

Aon the question of renewable resources I am surprised that Ellery made no mention of the fact that by 2113 on the basis of ITER (‘the way” in Latin) project at Cadarache, France, in which 34 nations representing over half of the world’s population are co-operating, ‘nuclear fusion’ reactors will likely be producing limitless supplies of cheap, clean and safe energy.

However, he may well be right that the population will live in smaller houses and still live in comfort because of advanced technology. Indeed the artefacts we use today will be obsolete as will many building materials. We will also live closer together because we will want more space for our new recreational needs. Indeed I am doubtful if Rugby, Rugby League or Cricket will still be in vogue because our physiognomy will have changed.

However, I do not agree with Professor Shirley Gregor, Director of the National Centre for Information Research who is quoted in the article as saying that Parliament House will continue to exist as place for politicians to congregate.

In fact I suggest that by 2113 Parliament House might no longer be necessary. Indeed my view is as technology advances that if a Parliament House is still needed it will be necessary to move it to a more central spot and use technology to service it. The current Parliament House could become a tourist attraction, accommodation and hospitality centre.

But when talking about a vision for a future Canberra let’s go out on limb and show some vision rather than continue to imitate the past. If we continue on our current course I feel sure the future will not just catch us up but will overtake us and leave us behind so that in the future Canberra will join the ranks of once great cities because the politicians that governed it had restricted vision.

Having said that it perhaps Members of the current Assembly will really start to look at the future so that instead of Canberra‘s history being the story of a failed experiment in social engineering, it will be a continuous story of grasping every opportunity.

Comment welcome.

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2 Responses to "The future Canberra: dream city or nightmare?"

Yet how many of us really know those politicians we are devoted to? If you voted in your local scout group then they would probably do a reasonable job. I don’t mean to sound cynical but I can’t help myself. When you vote in a party, you vote the right of all the ministers to make a huge wage for sitting in parliament and arguing with each other then getting huge pensions when they leave. I am sure that some of them love us but I don’t know which ones. Please help me. Thanks.

If you’re from Canberra it’s too early yet to mention the names of politicians I think worth voting for in the Australian election due shortly and it’s years too early for the next ACT Assembly. But keep reading and you’ll get my opinion.

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