“Before we get carried away, there remains many issues to be resolved such as the NCA’s wondrously stupid backing of the ACT government’s off-the-planet proposal for suburb developments along West Basin,” writes PAUL COSTIGAN
AS another ACT election bears down remorselessly on a largely unsuspecting population it’s worth thinking about what’s at stake here.
Canberrans are not overly troubled by democracy. Every four years we get to elect some candidates who in turn take that vote as an endorsement of their entire agenda.
In Federal elections, there’s nothing to get excited about. Canberra will, come hell or high water, return two Labor members in the Reps and a Liberal and a Labor candidate in the Senate.
We generally have things pretty good in Canberra, so there’s not much a member of Parliament can offer us, particularly when the parties can take us for granted anyway.
But local politics? I realise most of you have slept through the issues for the last four years, but this stuff matters.
For a start your vote is going to be crucial to both the careers of something like a dozen aspirational politicians in each electorate.
These poor buggers have spent the past four years going to a huge number of very boring meetings so you don’t have to.
Those community council meetings you were invited to but couldn’t be bothered (don’t feel bad, I couldn’t be stuffed either)? Our aspirants were there. They’d read all the submissions and proposals, too.
Party sub-branch meetings? Dozens of them.
They’ve knocked on doors, stood in the rain outside shopping centres with their sad balloons and all for what?
Come election day the likes of you and I will judge them and, in most cases, find them undeserving of a numbered box.
What is at stake for you though is enormous.
Will we spend a huge amount of money on a light rail line? Will we spend a somewhat less huge amount to not build it?
Will we build a vast gambling den at the edge of Glebe Park if it can fund our football teams on the backs of problem gamblers?
Do you want rising rates to price you out of your homes to pay for our elected leaders to go to fabulous parties?
Are you happy to see the neighbourhood you grew up in torn down and rebuilt as high-rise developments enriching fast-talking men in shiny suits and housing people you’ll never meet?
Do you want an anti-corruption body turning over the rocks of Canberra’s political economy or do you think everything is fine under those rocks?
Do you want better public transport or better parking? How much are you willing or able to pay for that parking?
None of this is simple, and neither is figuring out who to vote for even if you really know what you want.
At least as important as knowing what you want is truly knowing what you’re willing to pay to get it. There are more than a few devils’ bargains in the electoral offerings this year.
As for independents. Some are well-meaning amateurs. Some are stooges for major parties. Some of them are being bank-rolled by corporate interests, which won’t become clear until after the election, if at all.
On the plus side even if you decide the cut of a party’s jib you can still choose which candidates to preference.
Choose wisely. The future very literally depends on it.