News location:

Canberra Today 8°/13° | Friday, May 24, 2024 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

Government spinners must think we’re all stupid

There’s lots of opinions on Canberra’s planning. Photo: Paul Costigan

“The message is that in the decades Before Barr the city planning chiefs were not capable of delivering a city with affordable housing, social housing and one that was diverse and interesting and functioned efficiently,” says PAUL COSTIGAN.

 THE Illusory Truth Effect is a tactic often used by spin doctors to assist politicians get away with being dishonest. ACT politicians are well practised at using this tactic. 

Paul Costigan.

Their well-paid spin doctors constantly write talking points to exploit the tendency that a lot of people take false information as being correct if untruths are repeatedly promoted as the truth. 

Their use of this strategy is assisted by the media, who repeat the politicians’ dubious statements regularly so that it is taken as the truth. Many in the local media are very good at repeating Greenslabor-supplied propaganda as fact.

The above came to mind when reading a statement attributed to the ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr. 

He said: “Reform of the planning system will deliver outcomes and shape Canberra’s liveability and affordability for decades to come. The bill will contribute to the government’s objective of a more affordable, sustainable, liveable, diverse, interesting, productive and economically efficient Canberra.” 

The other false narrative being touted about the new planning changes is that the reforms will be outcomes based. This has been said with a straight face as if people will accept that any planning of the city previous to Barr and his planning directorate was not focused on outcomes. 

For those in the established areas and those who spend time around the central areas of Canberra may be a little surprised to learn that the former designers and planners of this city did not do their job and failed to deliver a liveable city in a landscape.

All that good urban design and the planning of community facilities, transport, parks and liveable suburbs did not happen – apparently.

The message is that in the decades Before Barr the city planning chiefs were not capable of delivering a city with affordable housing, social housing and one that was diverse and interesting and functioned efficiently. 

The truth is that all those things were happening before Barr and his barbaric bureaucrats messed up the planning of the bush capital. 

This city was doing fine until the development industry was encouraged to do their own thing with many development applications being approved despite not meeting the ACT government’s own planning requirements. On top of that there has been at least a decade of variations on top of variations, resulting in what is now a hard-to-fathom planning mess.

Barr and his spin doctors actually think the people of Canberra believe their stupid efforts at propaganda. 

At the end of last month, the combined voices of the city’s seven community councils published a second media statement that seriously questioned the reforms being proposed by the Greenslabor government. 

The combined community councils’ statement was well written and is very clear in its assessment of the chief minister’s planning reforms as being a failure.

The benchmarks used to assess this failure include statements about governance, community consultation, liveability, affordability, environmental protection and climate change mitigation/adaptation. 

The community councils have read the mess of documents produced by the planning directorate and have found them to be not capable of delivering against the government’s own targets it set for the planning reforms to address. They also know that the documentation is still incomplete.

The community sector is well informed and knows better than to fall for the constant flow of rubbish statements. They also know that this city had decades of the benefits of pretty good planning and design. The community sectors know that the so-called planning reforms are not about planning but about wholesale deregulation to favour the development industry. The well-paid spin doctors have failed.

However, the bad news is that despite the efforts of the community to speak out about their aspirations for the city and to have written a mountain of submissions expressing the community’s desire for real planning and for good design, Barr, his ACT Labor cohort and the ACT Greens are intent on having the deregulation reforms actioned well before the October 2024 elections. Wonder why?

Previous decades of good planning, design and research delivered this very desirable city. 

Barr and his chief planner need to do some reading to understand that good stuff happened and that the former planning systems could deliver again for the future – with updating to deal with the complexities of climate change. 

The Combined Community Councils’ statement is available on its website:

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 strong and free.

Become a supporter

Thank you,

Ian Meikle, editor

Paul Costigan

Paul Costigan

Share this

One Response to Government spinners must think we’re all stupid

G Hollands says: 14 June 2023 at 10:04 am

Well Paul, I am not sure if “Barr’s barbaric bureaucrats” can even read, let alone countenance a point of view different from their own!


Leave a Reply

Related Posts


Free people you love from their foolish chains

"Every person who missed out on a job interview thinks they’ve failed – they may have been utterly brilliant! Sometimes doing everything well – perfectly, even – doesn’t get the prize, and that’s okay," writes columnist ANTONIO DI DIO.

Follow us on Instagram @canberracitynews