“The Canberra Liberals need to demonstrate they could offer something different to the out-of-touch regime now in power as the ACT government,” writes Canberra Matters columnist PAUL COSTIGAN.
LET’S talk about one aspect of the aftermath of the May 18 Federal election.
This piece follows up my April 24 column about how locally elected Federal politicians avoid dealing with the priority issue for local residents – the city’s planning and development mess.
During the election campaign it was difficult to engage with local Labor candidates on Canberra’s planning woes. The clear message was that planning and development matters were for their colleagues in the ACT government – not the Federal politicians.
This contrasted with politicians elsewhere who were fighting for their seats and were keen to demonstrate what they were doing for their local communities. Miraculously these Federal politicians discovered the importance of being “local”.
In contrast, local Labor candidates were fairly comfortable about winning and didn’t spend energy on proving how “local” they were. They were content to move around majestically while being focused on the important Federal matters.
Yet once elected, Alicia Payne stated how she was there to be an advocate for the people of Canberra. Worryingly, it seems that this means that she will be a local advocate when she thinks it is relevant. She is already using spin to avoid real issues.
Take her response when canvassed about saving West Basin from becoming yet another apartment suburb. She was asked about heritage values, the scam to fill in part of the lake to create more land sales and about the loss of biodiversity. Her response? She got the chief minister’s staff to repeat the usual spin about how this fantastic development was good for the city and the development will be under the watchful eye of the City Renewal Authority. Great! We all know what that means.
Significantly Payne’s statement (being the Chief Minister’s words) avoided mentioning the heritage values, the vast parkland areas, the trees and the lakeside biodiversity that will be lost. The accompanying photo should assist Alicia and other Federal members to understand the realities of what people are talking about. Notice the amount of open spaces?
We know the Chief Minister and his barbarous developer-friendly agencies ignore trees, parklands and biodiversity and see open spaces and the foreshore as land banks to be sold off.
Hopefully, our Federal politicians could look at the evidence (the real stuff not the fabricated junk prepared by the ACT government). As locally elected Federal politicians they need to take a stand on behalf of this city as the national capital, its heritage values, biodiversity and green spaces – and to take a stand for common sense.
And now to turn attention to the Canberra Liberals. They had smiles on their faces once the Federal election results came in. They have convinced themselves that they could repeat this success and that they have their own links into the Federal government. Fair enough!
Here’s a challenge for the Canberra Liberals if they think they want to be seen as relevant on local planning issues. The Canberra Liberals need to demonstrate they could offer something different to the out-of-touch regime now in power as the ACT government.
Why not join with the residents and oppose the outlandish proposals for West Basin? As ACT Liberals, they should have easy access to their Federal colleagues and in particular those with the final say on what the National Capital Authority can sign away for development.
Get on those phones and call up your colleagues and get this sorted and then take that success to the coming 2020 ACT elections.
When it comes to West Basin, hordes of experts have spoken and Canberrans have packed out meetings. The science is in. Stop being pro-development at all costs. The evidence stacks up to keep West Basin free of apartments. Sensible parkland development is required.
Who will deliver on this? Will it be our so-called local advocates, the five Labor politicians, or could it be the Canberra Liberals? We are watching.
Who can be trusted?
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Ian Meikle, editor