What if the Greens had built Canberra?

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I HAD one of those lazy, boozy, backyard barbecues around at Ricko’s while I was on holidays.

Buzzard got on the turps, as he tends to do, and came up with an intriguing hypothetical question.

“What if the Greens had been in power federally for the first half of last century?” he said.

“What would Canberra look like now if the Greens had been in power for this city’s formative years?”

It’s an almost impossible question because there wasn’t a substantial Green political movement in 1901 and there weren’t many environmental crusaders. But we still had a little fun trying to transplant modern-day Greens policy on our fledgling city.

For starters, there wouldn’t be a Commonwealth Avenue Bridge, because I don’t believe there would be a Lake Burley Griffin. The Greens’ website clearly states that they don’t believe in any major dams on Australian rivers.

Belconnen, Gungahlin and Tuggeranong would be without their town lakes and we certainly wouldn’t be in the throes of a Cotter Dam expansion, because the Greens wouldn’t have allowed the dam in the first place.

There’s every chance that Parliament House would still be surrounded by a sheep paddock and I am quite certain that there would be a bricks-and-mortar Aboriginal embassy to replace the tent one.

However, if the Greens had planned the place, we would have a functioning public transport system, which would probably involve rail of some description. Just as well because I daresay the Parkway, Belconnen Way and Northbourne Avenue would be single-lane affairs and that peak hour would be most of the day.

Canberra’s suburban houses would all have rooftop solar panels and single garages. Backyards would be full of veggie gardens, compost bins and rainwater tanks. House prices could well have felt the upward pressure of decades of compulsory six-star energy ratings making today’s prices look modest. There would be as many bike lanes as there are roads, which I’m liking the sound of.

When you consider the Greens’ education policy, it’s unlikely that our fine private schools would have flourished in the way that they have in the last 100 years, if they existed at all.

And it’s also highly likely that Canberra itself wouldn’t have been built at all – think of all of the Golden Sun Moths, yellow-nosed fruit bats, purple-crested water fowl and bandy legged brown frogs that would have been threatened by the establishment of such a city. I think Parliament would have just stayed put in Melbourne.

What do you think?

Mark Parton is the breakfast announcer on 2CC.

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Mark Parton
Canberra Liberal MLA and former breakfast announcer on 2CC.

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