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Griffin impugned for the West Basin’s awful future

Griffin’s plan for Canberra… he wanted the city to be by the lake – between Commonwealth and Kings Avenue – not along West Basin.

“Griffin had a vision, but bureaucrats from the early 20th century through to the present have used his name to justify their inappropriate and ill-informed planning decisions,” writes Canberra Matters columnist PAUL COSTIGAN.

WITH the ACT election 12 months away, alternative facts are already appearing in articles whenever media can be manipulated to put a positive spin on the awful development and planning stuff perpetrated by the ACT Labor/Greens government. 

Paul Costigan.

Actually, I had better correct that. The ACT government no longer does planning. It is a developer pretending to be a government.

Here’s the catalyst for this opinion piece. A story appeared in “The Canberra Times” last month based on an article from the online site “Inside Story”. The article set out to deal with the misconception that Walter Burley Griffin was responsible for the mess made with Canberra’s development. 

Yes, Griffin had a vision, but bureaucrats from the early 20th century through to the present have used his name to justify their inappropriate and ill-informed planning decisions. The author, Tom Greenwell, made some well-argued points.

This is the first half of the article. Then Greenwell changes tone and commits the same crime. He uses Walter Burley Griffin’s name and a few people he talks to, to justify the barbarous acts planned for West Basin by the ACT government and its City Renewal Authority. Numerous myths and alternative facts used by this developer-friendly government and its bureaucrats are taken by the author as factual justifications for the developer-driven agenda for the urbanisation of the ecosystems and parklands along Lake Burley Griffin’s foreshore.

The twists of facts are many. Here are just a few. 

Walter Burley Griffin… had a vision.

First is the use of the NCA’s 2004 “Griffin Legacy” document to justify building on West Basin – as if this was somehow linked to Walter Burley Griffin. The “Griffin Legacy” was a large glossy that was essentially a developer blueprint sanctioned by the NCA. It set out the concept of joining Civic to the lake – whereas the reality is that the government now wants to sell land to build a new suburb on the foreshore. Civic will not be linked to the lake through this rubbish development.

Somehow the author puts forward the myth that by plonking apartments on West Basin, Commonwealth Park will benefit from the extra activities. The reality is that when the sun shines, people use the quiet spaces of Commonwealth Park – because it is a park. How a new suburb of apartments on the other side of Commonwealth Avenue will do much for Commonwealth Park is simply spin.

Then there’s that now overused suggestion that West Basin is largely a car park and we all know that car parks are bad (except if you’re a pollie or a senior bureaucrat and have them provided for you in Civic). 

As for the misguided notion, again unchallenged, that no one will miss this natural foreshore as there is so much more. So much for understanding the biodiversity that was built into the lake through having soft edges. Climate change, anyone?

The author finishes by repeating the disingenuous spin from the government and the City Renewal Authority that destroying the future opportunities for a better parkland along West Basin is “in the spirit” of Griffin.

Griffin wanted the city to be by the lake – between Commonwealth and Kings Avenue – not along West Basin.

Keeping up with the Labor/Greens Government’s relentless propaganda is very unsettling. The alternative facts regurgitated within Greenwell’s article do not justify the trashing of West Basin. It is unfortunate to have to criticise this writer, but the article has to be called out as his words are now part of the government’s propaganda.


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Paul Costigan

Paul Costigan

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2 Responses to Griffin impugned for the West Basin’s awful future

Arjay says: 28 August 2019 at 7:38 am

Paul, you might want to read the comments in today’s Canberra Times from CRA Chief Executive Malcolm Snow. It seems you are the one who is relying on outdated “alternative facts” about the Acton Waterfront development.

Steve says: 29 August 2019 at 11:51 am

I don’t understand your point, Paul. The very map you use to convey your argument shows West Basin to be very built up with development all the way around. Can you please explain how this fits into your argument?


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