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Canberra Bashing from a Long Time Canberran

By 28 October 2010 41

Norm Abjorensen has made a life and career in Canberra.  But he doesn’t like it.  I mean, really doesn’t.  vut he’s been here ages.  Was it something we said?  A mate sent me this link to an article in the UK’s Spectator.

Nice of him to bash Canberra in an overseas publication.  Why not in the Crimes?  Why not on RiotACT?

As the comments show, it is a bit recycled….amd apparently he has been getting a bit of a touch up on Facebook too.

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41 Responses to Canberra Bashing from a Long Time Canberran
#1
troll-sniffer10:19 am, 28 Oct 10

Mediocre writing, populist subject, little meaningful research, poorly presented all round. The kind of article I expect to encounter in an inflight magazine, worthy of little more than a desultory flick-through before proceeding to something of more merit.

Yawn factor? Medium high.

#2
Jurls10:24 am, 28 Oct 10

Odd. If you dislike Canberra that much, why on earth spend 20 years working and living here? Myself, I would just move to somewhere I would rather live.

#3
Holditz10:33 am, 28 Oct 10

CV from the ABC’s Drum Unleashed, where he’s written several politics-themed essays. His photo makes him look like a nice Santa Claus kinda fellow.

Holditz said :

Dr Norman Abjorensen is a lecturer in political science at the Australian National University and author of John Howard and the Conservative Tradition (2008) and Leadership and the Liberal Revival (2007).

#4
DeadlySchnauzer10:34 am, 28 Oct 10

On a related note have you ever noticed that Sydneyites tend to bash Canberra far more than Melbournites? I’m not sure what that means, but its just something I’ve noticed.

#5
Holditz10:41 am, 28 Oct 10

Johnboy should invite the good Doctor to Riot-ACT.

#6
Erg010:41 am, 28 Oct 10

DeadlySchnauzer said :

On a related note have you ever noticed that Sydneyites tend to bash Canberra far more than Melbournites? I’m not sure what that means, but its just something I’ve noticed.

I assume it’s a result of the cognitive dissonance arising from the fact that they continue to live in Sydney.

#7
amarooresident310:46 am, 28 Oct 10

I normally enjoy Norm’s writing but this article is just a collection of tired old cliches and unsupported assertions. Disappointing. Certainly not the Canberra I know.
Maybe he needs to get out more. Intersting fact – he used to wrk for Vicki Dunne as a staffer in the Assembly.
I liked this comment by Olaf following the article.

“Menzies had recounted to his family how, one evening, the Hotel Canberra had refused him a meal when he arrived tired and hungry from a delayed train because the dining room had closed. It was just 6.15p.m.! “

A fat prick conservative politician was deprived of his dinner in the 40s. For shame Canberra.

#8
Holden Caulfield10:49 am, 28 Oct 10

It’s not as bad as I was expecting. Unfortunately, there were some pretty solid points made as well.

The references made to Menzies are interesting in that Norm doesn’t explore the reasons why Sir Bob went from deriding Canberra to promoting its cause. Wouldn’t have suited his rant I suppose. Of course, any city created in the manner that Canberra was is going to attract its fair share of critics. Over time, however, as the city does develop a soul and identity of its own, those critics should lessen in numbers.

I think the bit about rushing for a carpark or a fuel bowser is a load of cobblers. If such a phenomenon does exist I can’t see it being any better or worse here compared to any other city in Australia.

In regards to his restaurant critique, that’s probably bang on. Highlighted by the hole the closure of Anise has left in the local fine dining arena.

I’m sure Norm will stumble across this RA thread at some point, so, just to follow his cue, the joke is on him because he lives in Struggletown.

#9
Holden Caulfield10:52 am, 28 Oct 10

DeadlySchnauzer said :

On a related note have you ever noticed that Sydneyites tend to bash Canberra far more than Melbournites? I’m not sure what that means, but its just something I’ve noticed.

Probably that Sydney is full of vajayjays!

#10
Kerryhemsley11:03 am, 28 Oct 10

DeadlySchnauzer said :

On a related note have you ever noticed that Sydneyites tend to bash Canberra far more than Melbournites? I’m not sure what that means, but its just something I’ve noticed.

Actually having spent quite a few years in Sydney and some time in Melbourne. I would say neither talk about Canberra much except when referring to politicians i.e insert Canberra for politics.

I have have noticed that some Canberrans spend a lot of time airing their issues with Sydney and talking up Melbourne even though they haven’t lived in either city.

#11
ebony5711:10 am, 28 Oct 10

Aww, poor Normy. Maybe he just needs a good public cry, and then he can get on with his life.

#12
Thumper11:57 am, 28 Oct 10

Lazy writing at its best, pandering to old stereotypes and cliches with a few lies and half truths seems to pass as journalism these days.

Besides, Norm lives in Queanbeyan. Enough said.

#13
Erg011:57 am, 28 Oct 10

Kerryhemsley said :

Actually having spent quite a few years in Sydney and some time in Melbourne. I would say neither talk about Canberra much except when referring to politicians i.e insert Canberra for politics.

I have have noticed that some Canberrans spend a lot of time airing their issues with Sydney and talking up Melbourne even though they haven’t lived in either city.

There’s probably something in that, similar to the tendency for New Zealanders to think that we obsess over their country to the same degree that they obsess over ours.

Incidentally, I’ve lived in Sydney and have a hard time imagining that Melbourne could be worse.

#14
astrojax12:04 pm, 28 Oct 10

london sucks.

#15
Chop7112:47 pm, 28 Oct 10

astrojax said :

london sucks.

Lords has a 2m slope on it and they have moved it 3 times.
If it is not raining it is cloudy and overcast 10 months of the year.

Maybe teaching reverse pscychology his parents backed the car over his head when he was a child and it’s just his way of saying he misses Canberra

#16
Amanda Hugankis1:05 pm, 28 Oct 10

Lordy Be! What a miserable little piece of snot this man is!!

Maybe he was the 60+ old guy with NSW plates driving all over my backside down Hindmarsh the other night, presumably because I would not move faster than 84kms an hour, who upon reaching a red light at Jerrabomberra Avenue, wound down his window and asked me what the $%^& I was doing, and when I told him to learn to drive, he called me a stupid ^%&*, to which I directed him to $%^& back off to ‘Struggletown’.

Oops. Didn’t know he was an esteemed lecturer in politics at the ANU. In future, I’ll have to be more careful whose lane I’m not speeding in. How does that song go again … ‘Rack off Normie, you and your mates …. ‘. Oh Normie, you coulda had me if you played your cards right.

#17
Woody Mann-Caruso3:08 pm, 28 Oct 10

Canberra isn’t a very nice place to live because somebody said ‘kitchen’s closed’ to Menzies in the 1930s? Amazing how vocabulary can obscure the onset of senility.

#18
justin heywood8:08 pm, 28 Oct 10

“A home-grown cabal, known as the Public Service, collectively assumes a sense of superiority over the rest of their Australian fellows, a sneering contempt for the values of those living in real towns and cities. Yet their air of superiority is seriously misplaced: Canberra is essentially provincial in culture and demeanour, a large country town in which secrets are hard to keep, innovation is distrusted, and everyone watches everyone else. It is hard to escape the feeling that what drives Canberra is the pervasive suspicion that someone somewhere is getting away with something. (And no wonder the Tax Office, Immigration Department, Customs, Federal Police and ASIO are all headquartered there.”,)

Spot on, in my view. While you can’t generalise about the population of an entire city (there are lots of good people here), the ‘culture’ of Canberra is narrow-minded, provincial and mean-spirited. We are a city of petty officials, many of whom have egos which far outstrip the small amount of real power they have.

Many of us have ‘jobs’ which produce no tangible result, but we do not care. The job is simply a means to acquire a little bit more status, to be able to utter a meaningless phrase like ‘I’m an EL2 over at DEWHA’ and to regard that as an achievement in itself.

Canberra IS a good city to live in. We have low unemployment, relatively good infrastructure great public buildings and universities. But let’s not kid ourselves, we didn’t earn them. We live off the largesse of the regions we so despise.

#19
moneypenny26128:35 pm, 28 Oct 10

This is hilarious.

A certain Norm Abjorensen wrote a somewhat more moderate piece about Canberra in last week’s Inside Story.

This one starts with Barnaby Joyce singing Canberra’s praises as a template for regional development (true!)

I know a man has to earn his crust, but I think Norm is a bit of a one trick pony (although knowing your audience is I suppose quite impressive).

BTW – Norm’s obviously been reading a Menzies biography recently…

#20
Skidd Marx9:37 pm, 28 Oct 10

I thought the article was pretty funny and I actually agree with most of it. Having said that, I’d still rather live here than just about anywhere else.

#21
CraigT9:51 pm, 28 Oct 10

Bulldust it’s “provincial”.

Find me anywhere else in Australia where so many people have experience travelling overseas or moving cities to chase a job.

#22
cleo1:25 am, 29 Oct 10

I love it, I thought it was my imagination, but he is right, I remember back 35 years ago, when travelling form Sydney to Melbourne, we stopped at Canberra for some lunch, which was the main old shops then, and only one’s, we went into the milk bar and ordered hamburgers, we were told that they were finished for the day, it was 2.30pm, I was shocked, could not believe it, as in Sydney or Melbourne you could get a hamburger or whatever anytime of the day or night.

#23
Thumper8:21 am, 29 Oct 10

london sucks

Dunno about that. I kind of like it, lots…

#24
TheObserver9:14 am, 29 Oct 10

Justin

Please provide evidence or proof of your assertions:

” the ‘culture’ of Canberra is narrow-minded, provincial and mean-spirited. We are a city of petty officials, many of whom have egos which far outstrip the small amount of real power they have”.

“Many of us have ‘jobs’ which produce no tangible result, but we do not care. The job is simply a means to acquire a little bit more status, to be able to utter a meaningless phrase like ‘I’m an EL2 over at DEWHA’ and to regard that as an achievement in itsel”.

Where is the “we” Kemosabe? Kindly quantify the evidence behind these bullshit assertions….or is it just opinion based on your own unhappiness?

#25
Oscillate Wildly10:02 am, 29 Oct 10

Wow Cleo, that certainly proves that Canberra sucks!!

#26
Jim Jones10:06 am, 29 Oct 10

TheObserver said :

Please provide evidence or proof of your assertions

It’s the constitution. It’s MABO. It’s just … the vibe

#27
Roadrage7710:23 am, 29 Oct 10

I tend to agree that in Canberra there’s more pretension per-capita than anywhere else in Oz.

#28
DeadlySchnauzer10:55 am, 29 Oct 10

The moral of the story is, gross generalisations are for stupid people.

Amongst the X number of people I know and associate with in Canberra, none of them come even close to the supposed petty, pretentious, status obsessed, close minded caricatures in this article and posts like Justins (*shakes fist*).

Maybe that’s because I lucked out and the other 99.9% of the residents in Canberra are like that. Or maybe its because people like that exist in every city, but Canberra is an easy target to group them all together in (the whole public service wankers thing). I wonder if Washington DC has similar issues.

I smell a PhD thesis in there somewhere.

#29
TheObserver11:01 am, 29 Oct 10

Raodrage 77: this statement: “I tend to agree that in Canberra there’s more pretension per-capita than anywhere else in Oz”

Again – on what basis? Have you lived in other cities and regional centres across Australia. By what yardstick is this judged? What sampling data are you comparing pretension against – or are you merely being pretentious in pretending to know stuff that is basically only an uninformed opinion?

For all its advantages in education, assuming you were educated in Canberra, your post does make me wonder what they are teaching in schools.

And BTW – for sheer pretension try the North Shore or Toorak.

#30
Erg011:03 am, 29 Oct 10

Washington DC’s issues have less to do with perceived pretentiousness and more to do with people shooting one another.

Btw, I commend you on using the phrase “lucked out” correctly. ;)

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