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Canberra – what’s happening to this place???

By 23 June 2014 16

Canberra used to be a great place.  Now, look around you.  Use some of Mr Barr’s “vision” if u need.  This is what I see happening to my city :

  1. Debt.   M$300+ and growing.  Given what the Fed’s have planned for Canberra, I’m astounded that the Chief Minister can say that the Territory can not let that stop us going forward !   If there isn’t the $ now Ms Gallagher, then cut your cloth to meet the budget – it’s called responsible fiscal/economic management.   More debt isn’t what’s needed because that will constrain growth into the future.
  2. The ACT Gov’t “Economic Stimulus Package”.   It’s not like the ACT is experiencing something akin to the Global Financial Crisis that hit the world a few years ago.   True, things aren’t great in CBR (as elsewhere in Oz), but do we really need a infrastructure “stimulus” package at this point in time ?   Really ?  Or is it just the vehicle for some grandstanding by the ACT Gov’t – at ACT residents and Ratepayers expense.   This is just part of the economic cycle – aided and abetted by the Fed’s – the good times will return Katy, Andrew and Shane.  History tells us so.    Your job is to position the territory to take full advantage of that when things do improve.
  3. For goodness sake, stop wasting money !  Just 3 examples : (i) The CBR symbol.  Yuck.  It’s so bad that they needed to write “Canberra” under it so people can see what it means.    (ii) Put off increasing the no. of MLAs till things are better – it should only take a few years.  (iii) The sky whale – what got into you Katy ?  Surely good economic decision making can not be that hard ?
  4. Potential tripling of Rates.  I’ve heard the ACT Government spin.   Here are the facts (as they pertain to me) – my Annual Rates will be increasing about 9.5%pa – I give thanks that I’m under the 10% avg. figure.  I’m not good at Math, but my calculator tells me that in 5 years time, my Annual Rates will be about $2,624pa – it’s the compounding that gets us, Katy.  I hate to say it, but the Lib’s figures are broadly right taking a 10% avg.   It also irks me that I gave your Gov’t $23K Stamp Duty only 3 ½ years ago when I purchased a place in Tuggers.   Now, you want me to pay it again !   As a self funded retiree, I won’t be living in CBR in about 3 years – Annual Rates will be  just too expensive, Katy – but that must be music to your ears – it’s just what you want to hear, isn’t it !
       
    Has the ACT Gov’t ever used “vision” to think how the mega expensive to live in city of Canberra will translate into the employment market ?   Workers will need even higher wages to pay your artificially inflated Annual Rates (and other ACT Gov’t charges), Katy and Andrew.  That will probably make employing someone who actually lives in CBR too expensive for employers.  Admittedly, this will be some years away, but it’s my take on it the impact on the ACT employment market in years to come.

    The attitude of your Ministers, Katy, by proudly proclaiming that ACT residents who can not afford their grossly artificially inflated Annual Rates should sell up and/or leave Canberra is reprehensible and – to me – disgusting and insulting.   They should be sacked for saying that.  These simply are not people I want governing the Territory.  This is not a social experiment Katy – you are stuffing around with peoples lives, aspirations – their future !
  5. Light Rail.  It might (arguably) be a good idea, but why not postpone it till after the next ACT election, given points 1-4 above.   Blame the Fed’s – that’s always a good political spin.   By then, ACT voters and Ratepayers will have digested more of the facts and can make a more informed decision at the next ACT election.   This certainly isn’t something that we need right now dressed up as a stimulus package.

Etc…etc…etc…etc.  The list can go on.

I suppose Canberra voters and Ratepayers put them back in – in the knowledge of at least some of this (eg. Light Rail + potential tripling of Annual Rates).

It’s probably just me – but are others also fed up with the spin and treatment the ACT Gov’t and their Green’s “overlord” are inflicting on ACT residents and Ratepayers ?   IMHO, much of which is totally unnecessary !

Maybe Caberrian’s are far too well paid and/or too apathetic and/or too time challenged so allow our city – and its residents/Ratepayers – to be treated this way.  Or do we feel helpless to do anything about it ?  Or do we really all just lack “vision” about where we are being taken ?

The ACT Lib’s don’t exactly fill me with any great sense of optimism as an alternative ACT Gov’t either just quietly.   There, I feel better now !

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16 Responses to Canberra – what’s happening to this place???
#1
dungfungus11:58 am, 23 Jun 14

The ACT Government claims we are going to suffer because the federal public service is going to reduce in size through job losses (it has been in this mode for several years actually) but my information is that the ACT Public Service has actually grown in the same period. Canberra is a close knit place and there certainly aren’t any anecdotes of ACT Governmnent public servants losing their jobs in the circles I move in. I am happy to be corrected on this.
Also, while it is hard to get exact information, there appears to be a very large unfunded superannuation liability on the ACT Government’s books.
Living at Googong suddenly looks attractive.

#2
pezza12:14 pm, 23 Jun 14

Sigh. This is what happens when we don’t have a robust opposition and viable alternative government. There’s no real debate, no need to compromise, no need to inform the voting public of the what and why, no need to take key policy changes to an election, and so on.

Party politics in the ACT are deader than at the Federal level. It’s a glorified town council, and should be full of people representing their local communities, not this shambles.

Do your part in making the change. Don’t vote Lib/Lab/Grn, vote for someone you’ve spoken to face to face that actually understands the issues facing people who live in the Territory, and will actively try to do something about them when they get elected – not what their party tells them to do.

#3
watto2312:43 pm, 23 Jun 14

I understand how annoying the change to rates is for those who may have just paid stamp duty, which is why its being phased in over 20 years. But in real terms rates might be rising by 9.5% per annum, but how much without the stamp duty removal. My guess is still more than 5%. The money has to come from somewhere and the issue is with high wages in Canberra things are going to cost more. Retiring here IMO would be just too expensive that is if I’m ever able to retire!
I understand where you are coming from though, but I think in the long term 50+ yrs removing stamp duties is better for Canberra. The transition was always going to be a problem people will still be paying stamp duty as it decreases and rates increase, but it does fit the users pays mantra from the conservative side of politics, so I find it curious they haven’t offered any other solutions.

I’m not convinced on light rail either. Well the current concept anyway. We need a rapid transport system between towncentres, not another slowish service down Northbourne. The rapid bus link between civic and belco many years ago with the ability to upgrade to light rail was a good suggestion. A similar option down the middle of northbourne with underpasses for buses at the traffic lights would also be a good option. Actually you could easily build a subway down Northbourne by trenching and covering. I think they did this in many cities and it saves money. I bet it wouldn’t cost us much more and would be a faster service.

#4
Mysteryman2:00 pm, 23 Jun 14

pezza said :

Sigh. This is what happens when we don’t have a robust opposition and viable alternative government. There’s no real debate, no need to compromise, no need to inform the voting public of the what and why, no need to take key policy changes to an election, and so on.

It’s what happens when voters allow blind partisanism to guide them. We all end up with a proven failure, instead of a possible one.

#5
Grail2:33 pm, 23 Jun 14

So when is rommeldog56 announcing their candidacy for the ACT Legislative Assembly?

#6
dungfungus3:07 pm, 23 Jun 14

Grail said :

So when is rommeldog56 announcing their candidacy for the ACT Legislative Assembly?

rommeldog56 has my vote.
(that will probably put the mockas on him, sorry mate).

#7
rommeldog563:30 pm, 23 Jun 14

Grail said :

So when is rommeldog56 announcing their candidacy for the ACT Legislative Assembly?

I’ll take that as a “vote” of confidence. Thank you.

But, unless you join a party political machine like Labor, Lib’s or Green’s and so have to tow their corporate line, what hope is there of getting into the Legislative assembly ? Then if you did, unless its a hung parliament, what good could you do ?

If people feel strongly enough about issue(s), people power can and probably will make a difference.

If not, then I suppose we get the Government (no matter what party) and the future we deserve.

#8
rosscoact5:16 pm, 23 Jun 14

Well, I’m pretty optimistic that we are not going into a deep deep recession like the mid to late 1990s when the ACT government bent over and took whatever the Feds told them to take. Doing something is better than that for everyone.

What’s your alternative to doing something?

#9
HiddenDragon5:54 pm, 23 Jun 14

“….As a self funded retiree, I won’t be living in CBR in about 3 years – Annual Rates will be just too expensive….” I doubt if you’re alone in looking at other options, but if one of those is Queanbeyan or thereabouts, last Friday’s Stateline on the asbestos tragedy was a sobering reminder that there might be some nasty, collective financial liabilities lurking there, as well. There’s also, of course, the possibility that NSW and other States will start pushing up recurrent taxes on residents as boom-time revenues from other sources subside.

#10
rommeldog567:49 pm, 23 Jun 14

rosscoact said :

Well, I’m pretty optimistic that we are not going into a deep deep recession like the mid to late 1990s when the ACT government bent over and took whatever the Feds told them to take. Doing something is better than that for everyone.

What’s your alternative to doing something?

I’m actually with you re being more optimistic. The CBR economy has diversified a lot since the 1990s so should be much more resilient to the impact of the Fed’s cutbacks. But never the less, they will hurt the CBR economy and have at an impact on jobs for a while. Thats why I don’t quite understand the need for the ACT Gov’t to roll out an infrastructure stimulus package right now. It might be necessary down the track – but right now ? The ACT economy will get over this and bounce back stronger as history shows.

My alternative would be to redouble efforts to attract industry here and so further diversify the employment base – that will help to sustain economic development in the medium-longer terms. Maybe keeping the cost of electricity comparatively lower (a major cost to industry employers) instead of artificially increasing its price by rolling out solar farms with higher feed in tariffs and so throwing away a competitive advantage of lower electricity prices that the ACT enjoys ?

Certainly NOT projects like Light Rail that, apart from a few jobs for a year or so, will have no substantial economic advantage to the Territory. Rather, it is likely to be an economic millstone around all residents/Ratepayers (including commercial Ratepayers) for decades to come – more so if it (as seems to be the case, inevitably) runs at a loss. + The borrowing of the $ and repayment of principle/interest. Ouch.

Certainly NOT increasing commercial Rates for industry – those are going up a lot too.

In the interim, the Gov’t certainly has to increase some charges and stop wasting $ – but stop pandering to the whinging and unlimited wants/needs of it’s constituents – and cut their cloth to suit their budget. When things come good again, and they will, the ACT will be much better positioned to recover and sustain that into the future.

This Gov’t is overplaying this IMHO.

#11
miz8:36 pm, 23 Jun 14

What’s happening is . . . self-government. But, worse, we have a form of self-government that doesn’t work for anyone except professional politicians. Oh for a nice, normal city council with a sensible, practical mayor, so we can be a Tidy Town and actually get standard, proper services for our rates, like, I don’t know, green bins and a council collection! Then, State matters could be run separately in one efficient directorate; we would need far fewer politicians; save a fair bit of money; and we wouldn’t have these precious, arrogant fool MLAs with aspirations way above their *actual* pay grade, that keep wrecking the place with stupid unrealistic ‘visions’ such as light rail for the privileged few. It frustrates me to tears how sh!t Canberra is compared to when I was growing up here.

#12
justsomeaussie9:30 pm, 23 Jun 14

Another great tick in the box for Queanbyean.

#13
rosscoact5:04 am, 24 Jun 14

rommeldog56 said :

rosscoact said :

Well, I’m pretty optimistic that we are not going into a deep deep recession like the mid to late 1990s when the ACT government bent over and took whatever the Feds told them to take. Doing something is better than that for everyone.

What’s your alternative to doing something?

I’m actually with you re being more optimistic. The CBR economy has diversified a lot since the 1990s so should be much more resilient to the impact of the Fed’s cutbacks. But never the less, they will hurt the CBR economy and have at an impact on jobs for a while. Thats why I don’t quite understand the need for the ACT Gov’t to roll out an infrastructure stimulus package right now.

It might be necessary down the track – but right now ? The ACT economy will get over this and bounce back stronger as history shows.

My alternative would be to redouble efforts to attract industry here and so further diversify the employment base – that will help to sustain economic development in the medium-longer terms. Maybe keeping the cost of electricity comparatively lower (a major cost to industry employers) instead of artificially increasing its price by rolling out solar farms with higher feed in tariffs and so throwing away a competitive advantage of lower electricity prices that the ACT enjoys ?

Certainly NOT projects like Light Rail that, apart from a few jobs for a year or so, will have no substantial economic advantage to the Territory. Rather, it is likely to be an economic millstone around all residents/Ratepayers (including commercial Ratepayers) for decades to come – more so if it (as seems to be the case, inevitably) runs at a loss. + The borrowing of the $ and repayment of principle/interest. Ouch.

Certainly NOT increasing commercial Rates for industry – those are going up a lot too.

In the interim, the Gov’t certainly has to increase some charges and stop wasting $ – but stop pandering to the whinging and unlimited wants/needs of it’s constituents – and cut their cloth to suit their budget. When things come good again, and they will, the ACT will be much better positioned to recover and sustain that into the future.

This Gov’t is overplaying this IMHO.

Great response, I don’t necessarily agree with all your points but a great response.

I believe that the increase in infrastructure spending is only marginal when looking at spending over the past decade. Major infrastructure needs about 2-3 years planning under the current planning regime so unless you commit to a project and spending money in the out years it will never come off.

It could do nothing and the ACT would bounce back, nothing surer. However, I believe history shows that that tack would mean that we would be in a deeper and longer recession and it would be about 2012 before things were looking good again. I’m not sure that the town has diversified that much to make a major difference.

The problem that the ACT has always had with attracting industry is there hasn’t been a strategic view applied. It would seem that the digital economy policy of the current government goes a way to addressing that but and it’s a big but, the competition is fierce. Larger states have more land, revenue and assets to attract big business and frankly, Sydney and Melbourne (and even the venality of the Gold Coast) are more attractive to startups and big business alike. So, we are behind the the eight ball on that front.

The renewable energy bit is a bit of a furphy. The contracts are written in a way that the ACT government makes money out of the solar projects and until peak electricity prices drop massively, will continue to do so. The big losers out of renewable energy are the established fossil fuel energy suppliers who are looking at their business model, particularly their major profit source of peak energy demand, be eroded. This is why they pay the Coal-ition (see what I did there?) to oppose renewable energy. There’s sources for all this but I don’t have the time to go looking at the moment.

I’m of two minds with the current expenditure V revenue thing. On the one hand they must increase and diversify revenue. It’s affecting me personally and I wasn’t that happy when certain measures were announced but it’s got to be done and spread as evenly as possible. Rates isn’t a big cost centre for commercial or residential leases so I’m not seeing that lowering commercial rates (comparative to residential) is going to tip anyone’s hand one way or the other.

On the other hand, for example I will benefit personally from the light rail in that I live in Gungahlin and work in town much of the time and despise bus travel whether I’m inside or outside them. There’s no point in responding to any more mis-information on the other threads because people have made up their minds.

The political perspective from my position is that Labor as a fourth term government has to be seen to be doing something otherwise it would be accused of being a ‘do nothing’ tired Government. Ironically, the Opposition is taking this position. I do appreciate a government that follows through with it’s promises rather than either flip-flopping at the first sign of opposition or just blatantly lying to get into power.

#14
watto234:23 pm, 24 Jun 14

Mysteryman said :

pezza said :

Sigh. This is what happens when we don’t have a robust opposition and viable alternative government. There’s no real debate, no need to compromise, no need to inform the voting public of the what and why, no need to take key policy changes to an election, and so on.

It’s what happens when voters allow blind partisanism to guide them. We all end up with a proven failure, instead of a possible one.

Its the system that is at fault. Plenty who vote on both sides of politics with blind partisanism and it wasn’t like Labor, Greens or Liberals were really offering a huge choice last election. Liberals in Canberra probably need to be less conservative socially to gain more support. It my main gripe with the Liberal party in general is their social policies are generally so far right that it is offensive to many. Financially every state/territory/country government benefits from having both progressive and conservative governments in cycles, because too much to one side is a bad thing.

#15
HiddenDragon5:42 pm, 24 Jun 14

rosscoact said :

rommeldog56 said :

rosscoact said :

Well, I’m pretty optimistic that we are not going into a deep deep recession like the mid to late 1990s when the ACT government bent over and took whatever the Feds told them to take. Doing something is better than that for everyone.

What’s your alternative to doing something?

I’m actually with you re being more optimistic. The CBR economy has diversified a lot since the 1990s so should be much more resilient to the impact of the Fed’s cutbacks. But never the less, they will hurt the CBR economy and have at an impact on jobs for a while. Thats why I don’t quite understand the need for the ACT Gov’t to roll out an infrastructure stimulus package right now.

It might be necessary down the track – but right now ? The ACT economy will get over this and bounce back stronger as history shows.

My alternative would be to redouble efforts to attract industry here and so further diversify the employment base – that will help to sustain economic development in the medium-longer terms. Maybe keeping the cost of electricity comparatively lower (a major cost to industry employers) instead of artificially increasing its price by rolling out solar farms with higher feed in tariffs and so throwing away a competitive advantage of lower electricity prices that the ACT enjoys ?

Certainly NOT projects like Light Rail that, apart from a few jobs for a year or so, will have no substantial economic advantage to the Territory. Rather, it is likely to be an economic millstone around all residents/Ratepayers (including commercial Ratepayers) for decades to come – more so if it (as seems to be the case, inevitably) runs at a loss. + The borrowing of the $ and repayment of principle/interest. Ouch.

Certainly NOT increasing commercial Rates for industry – those are going up a lot too.

In the interim, the Gov’t certainly has to increase some charges and stop wasting $ – but stop pandering to the whinging and unlimited wants/needs of it’s constituents – and cut their cloth to suit their budget. When things come good again, and they will, the ACT will be much better positioned to recover and sustain that into the future.

This Gov’t is overplaying this IMHO.

Great response, I don’t necessarily agree with all your points but a great response.

I believe that the increase in infrastructure spending is only marginal when looking at spending over the past decade. Major infrastructure needs about 2-3 years planning under the current planning regime so unless you commit to a project and spending money in the out years it will never come off.

It could do nothing and the ACT would bounce back, nothing surer. However, I believe history shows that that tack would mean that we would be in a deeper and longer recession and it would be about 2012 before things were looking good again. I’m not sure that the town has diversified that much to make a major difference.

The problem that the ACT has always had with attracting industry is there hasn’t been a strategic view applied. It would seem that the digital economy policy of the current government goes a way to addressing that but and it’s a big but, the competition is fierce. Larger states have more land, revenue and assets to attract big business and frankly, Sydney and Melbourne (and even the venality of the Gold Coast) are more attractive to startups and big business alike.

So, we are behind the the eight ball on that front.

The renewable energy bit is a bit of a furphy. The contracts are written in a way that the ACT government makes money out of the solar projects and until peak electricity prices drop massively, will continue to do so. The big losers out of renewable energy are the established fossil fuel energy suppliers who are looking at their business model, particularly their major profit source of peak energy demand, be eroded. This is why they pay the Coal-ition (see what I did there?) to oppose renewable energy. There’s sources for all this but I don’t have the time to go looking at the moment.

I’m of two minds with the current expenditure V revenue thing. On the one hand they must increase and diversify revenue. It’s affecting me personally and I wasn’t that happy when certain measures were announced but it’s got to be done and spread as evenly as possible. Rates isn’t a big cost centre for commercial or residential leases so I’m not seeing that lowering commercial rates (comparative to residential) is going to tip anyone’s hand one way or the other.

On the other hand, for example I will benefit personally from the light rail in that I live in Gungahlin and work in town much of the time and despise bus travel whether I’m inside or outside them. There’s no point in responding to any more mis-information on the other threads because people have made up their minds.

The political perspective from my position is that Labor as a fourth term government has to be seen to be doing something otherwise it would be accused of being a ‘do nothing’ tired Government. Ironically, the Opposition is taking this position. I do appreciate a government that follows through with it’s promises rather than either flip-flopping at the first sign of opposition or just blatantly lying to get into power.

I haven’t re-watched it, but I think some of the comments in this story are completely in line with what you have said about digital economy businesses:

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-06-13/mind-our-own-businesses/5523412

The impression I was left with is that Canberra is, and will likely only ever be, a niche player and a good incubator, but once scale is achieved, or even approached, other locations in Australia or overseas become increasingly logical from a business perspective. If that’s the cold hard truth of it for digital and other private sector knowledge economy businesses in Canberra, I really do wonder about the wisdom of big ticket ACT government spending which is justified, at least in part, by a vision for a burgeoning private sector ACT economy which is just as likely to be a mirage.

#16
rommeldog5610:58 pm, 24 Jun 14

pezza said :

Sigh. This is what happens when we don’t have a robust opposition and viable alternative government. There’s no real debate, no need to compromise, no need to inform the voting public of the what and why, no need to take key policy changes to an election, and so on.

Party politics in the ACT are deader than at the Federal level. It’s a glorified town council, and should be full of people representing their local communities, not this shambles.

Do your part in making the change. Don’t vote Lib/Lab/Grn, vote for someone you’ve spoken to face to face that actually understands the issues facing people who live in the Territory, and will actively try to do something about them when they get elected – not what their party tells them to do.

I think u are right pezza, about no debate, no need to inform the voting public, etc. That’s probably because that same voting public don’t seem to, or are able to, hold pollies to account. Both sides – at least at the federal level, just seem to break “promises” at will these days.

That, coupled with what is clearly fiscal and economic mismanagement by the ACT Gov’t (IMHO anyway) – which leads to increased revenue raising including the tripling of Annual Rates, causes a severe loss of confidence in politicians generally. The state of politics and economic management in Oz has probably never been worse than it has been over the past 10 years or so – again, just my view.

But, in some sort of defence of the ACT Gov’t, Canberra isn’t really like a town council (apart from acting like one that is !). I think expenses like cost of maintaining nature reserves for example, are met from ACT Govt revenues. At the State level, the State Gov’t would contribute to, or meet that, I believe.

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