The ACT Labor/Greens government should be put up for an award as a model government that has remained in power while constantly making stuff ups and consistently ignoring and misrepresenting residents. It has been quite an achievement!
The government has a well-known bag of tricks, games and deceptive practices that it employs constantly to deliver questionable announcements about planning and development.
Canberra’s heritage archives need to document how this government and its bureaucracy deals with residents:
Such as how it…
- hosts online surveys that always ask loaded questions to get the right answers;
- runs workshops but ignores the results as they do not suit preset government agendas;
- bombards community groups with surveys and proposals knowing they have little time to respond;
- sent out a media release on a decision in the last days of an election and insisted that it was an election commitment (even though no-one noticed it);
- fronts pesky resident groups with jargon and spin and allows little time for questions; publishes media releases on how it has listened to what people have said (when residents said the opposite);
- that community land and open spaces that has been allowed to become degraded, is to be used for social housing and possibly sold for apartments (we need more!);
- allows suburban planning to no longer require master plans or neighbourhood plans, as that is taken care of through “fine grain” being built into the territory plan (but never explain what fine grain means);
- ignores reports or research that the community does at its own expense given that they accurately portray what the residents are looking for (think Woden and Watson).
Maybe this all sounds like the ABC TV program “Utopia”. Unfortunately, the current series of “Utopia” is not that funny as it is more like a reality TV program – given it portrays a planning and development bureaucracy as experienced by Canberra residents.
But wait there is about to be more of this stuffing around of residents. Minister Yvette Berry is continuing her tour to upset different communities (Woden last week and let’s not forget Molonglo).
This time it is to be inner-north residents. This week or very soon she is to announce her latest unfathomable position on the future of Dickson Section 72 (The Dickson Parklands). All the signs are that she has a prepared media release ready to use most of the tricks outlined above.
Locals are really looking forward to see what new alternative facts she has been able to put together in her ongoing quest to justify the unjustifiable.
Residents have made it clear time and again (and have been ignored) that they do not oppose another Common Ground (special social housing) somewhere in the inner north – just not on what is a much-needed community cultural site for the surrounding suburbs as they rapidly increase in population.
Residents have requested that the ACT government launch a rigorous master planning process to identify and investigate not only what options could be considered for the parklands site – but also whether there are other opportunities in surrounding areas nearby that should also be considered for provision of a range of community, cultural and arts opportunities as well as more social housing.
It is predicted that Minister Berry will step forward, possibly with spade in hand, and speak as if she is trying out for a role in “Utopia”. The coming weeks will most likely produce more laughable media releases.
Minister Berry is expected to deliver something in her latest attempt to address her failures on social housing.
There will not be many laughs from residents given their interest in neighbourhood character, health, well-being, arts, biodiversity, good architecture and having well-designed spaces for residents to enjoy.
One wonders which section of the Canberra community Minister Berry is to visit next.
With one year to the 2020 ACT elections, are there any Liberals or aspiring independents ready to propose something better for Dickson, for Woden, for Molonglo, for Watson, for Tuggeranong, for Manuka, for Campbell, for Gungahlin, about West Basin? The list goes on and on.
Who can be trusted?
In a world of spin and confusion, there’s never been a more important time to support independent journalism in Canberra.
If you trust our work online and want to enforce the power of independent voices, I invite you to make a small contribution.
Every dollar of support is invested back into our journalism to help keep citynews.com.au strong and free.
Ian Meikle, editor