YOU’D be forgiven for thinking elections in the ACT and Queanbeyan were just weeks away, such is the politicking that’s going on.
Take the last couple of weeks in the Territory, where Chief Minister Andrew Barr has seemed to be offloading contentious issues that have put his Government at odds with the community.
Barr’s backflips include the land-swap deal at Telopea Park, poker machine reforms, development at Yarralumla and the improbable cave-in to the Heritage Council over restoring and saving at least 25 per cent of the Northbourne Avenue flats.
Atop this, he’s also had to deal with Minister Joy Burch being constantly on Fairfax Media’s dartboard, the local hearings of the Royal Commission into Trade Unions and his party’s perennial factional in-fighting. Do we honestly believe Simon Corbell is leaving of his own accord? Not on your nellie, say the local Libs, who are adamant the Capital Metro Minister is being pushed out.
Opposition leader Jeremy Hanson and his cohorts continue to sense blood, whether it’s leaks over union polls into the light rail or another bungle in the many portfolios under Minister Burch and the angst of many affected Mr Fluffy home owners. This is all happening despite the fact we’re not heading to the polls for another 13 months!
However, the jockeying for preselection and announcement of new candidates for the changed electoral boundaries is imminent.
I’m hopeful the new faces will include Andrew Blythe, the former CEO of the defunct local Chamber of Commerce. Brianna Heseltine has been very quiet of late, no doubt awaiting the final stages of the Mr Fluffy demolition scheme before announcing she will stand.
And then there’s the very likeable “Ms Belconnen” Tara Cheyne. I’d be disappointed if she doesn’t contest next year’s election. And then there’s the non-factional Kim Fischer, who will also be nominating for Ginninderra for the ALP.
STEPPING over the border, there’s political posturing is taking place in Queanbeyan ahead of next September’s council election – and it’s getting nasty.
Certainly, Mayor Tim Overall is feeling it after the Council’s last “heated” meeting, which saw a majority of councillors vote to halt further spending on the CBD upgrades and divert the money to a long-awaited cinema project.
I have been front and centre of this dysfunction. Mayor Overall, Deputy Mayor Peter Bray, Cr Jamie Cregan and Cr Kenrick Winchester have all spoken to “Canberra Live” on 2CC in the past week.
There have been passionate arguments on both sides – with a devastated Tim Overall “dumbfounded” at the so-called voting block moving against him.
“The upgrade project has already gone to the community for consultation with almost 90 per cent support… councillors then voted unanimously to proceed with the project,” he bemoaned.
“This is not a matter of either/or but this is the project committed to by Council and to renege on the basis of erroneous suggestions of revisiting finances and other dubious assertions is a slap in the face to the community.”
This strikes me as party politics at play, with less than 12 months to NSW local government elections, though the main agitator Cr Cregan’s call for “pausing and considering Council finances” may have some merit given the possibility of the Queanbeyan and Palerang councils being merged.
Marcus Paul is the drive announcer on 2CC.