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Damning legacy from self-government and six ACT chief ministers

By 26 June 2014 41

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It is 25 years since self-government was imposed on Canberra by the Hawke Labor Government in May 1989, a hybrid concept that blended state and local government. There have been just six chief ministers and Labor has governed for 17 of 25 years (and for the past 13 years).

Almost all governments have been hamstrung by hung parliaments or exposed to the policies of minor parties (such as the Greens) or independents who seek their own personal agendas, for example Michael Moore’s push for – among many other things – decriminalising marijuana.

Through it all, Canberra has experienced some staggeringly costly administrative bungles, ranging from various unwise and badly thought out projects to misplaced or crackpot investments and outright neglect.

Individual chief ministers have frequently faced criticism over some of the more expensive and visible losses. But generally most of these failed ventures are brushed under the carpet.

The longest serving chief minister, John Stanhope (more than nine years), was censured for the government’s handling of the 2003 firestorm crisis. It is difficult to put an actual cost on the losses, but it is in the area of hundreds of millions of dollars, including $60 million for the loss of the pine plantations alone, and $345 million paid out for 3,300 insurance claims (figures from Insurance Council of Australia, 2003).

The coronial inquest into the bushfire in mid-December 2006 found significant bureaucratic failings contributed to the devastation, although it also claimed shortcomings at a political level.

However, the majority of the debacles were devised and backed by executive managers in the ACT administration, and rubber stamped or given the imprimatur of the government and ACT Legislative Assembly.

Liberal chief minister Kate Carnell resigned in October 2000, rather than face a no-confidence motion about cost over-runs for the Bruce Stadium redevelopment project. The project cost to the government ballooned to $82 million and no private sector money was found. It was strongly criticised by the ACT Auditor General for not having a proper assessment, analysis or review process and pointed to breaches of the Financial Management Act.

Under the first ACT Labor chief minister, Rosemary Follett, Labor backed the Australian International Hotel School in association with Cornell University at the historic Kurrajong Hotel. This project was entirely the brainchild of executives of the Canberra Institute of Technology, who took numerous fully paid trips overseas to pursue this project.

A 2002 report by the ACT Auditor General identified accumulated losses of $20.6m, borne “entirely by ACT taxpayers”. It was a failure at almost every level; failed to attract enough students, was completely unprofitable and yet defended at every turn by public servants or chief ministers, including Liberal chief ministers Kate Carnell and Gary Humphries. In September 2005 the school was acquired under peppercorn terms by the Blue Mountains International Hotel Management School, which has a sound reputation for managing boutique hotel schools.

The ACT-owned Totalcare Industries ended up delivering unrecoverable losses of $40 to $50 million, largely blamed on incompetence by various managers and government ministers. It was finally shut down in 2003.

The ACT’s fibre-optic and broadband network provider, Transact Communications, registered losses of $104 million, identified in the ACT Auditor-General’s report in December 2004. This project was backed by Actew Corporation, which itself invested $60 million.

In the early 1990s, the Labor government faced the loss of $7 million to $10 million over the Vitab affair, where the ACT was forced to pay compensation to a group of investors, including former Labor Prime Minister Bob Hawke. See the ACT Auditor General’s report (page 75).

The ACTION bus network has consistently drained more than $50 million a year from public money. No alternative system has been considered. Losses have continued at this rate since the start of self-government 25 years ago.

In 2010 the ACT Auditor General reported that ACT Government subsidies had steadily increased from $60 million in 2005-06 to $77 million in 2010-11. The audit found that the Department of Territory and Municipal Services had not coordinated, managed, and delivered bus services in an effective manner.

It’s a damning legacy from the ACT’s political leadership over the past 25 years.

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41 Responses to Damning legacy from self-government and six ACT chief ministers
#1
Grail11:02 am, 26 Jun 14

Amazing that an infrastructure project such as TransACT would cost money. It’s almost like you have to pay for all that fibre optic cable to be installed and connected and terminated! Writing the investment down as a “loss” is poor accounting, as is ACTEWAGL claiming losses on an infrastructure project. It costs serious money to build a network of this scale, and the profits don’t start showing up until the project is well under way. As it stands, the TransACT network covers significantly less of the territory than it was intended to: my house in Isabella Plains is a stone’s throw from the Monash hub, but Isabella Plains didn’t get connected because the investors blinked and started demanding return on their investment. So rather than a 5% ROI 20 years down the track they were happy to settle for 1% ROI right now. The message from the TransACT project is to be ultra careful about who you bring on board as investors, especially on an infrastructure project.

Now why does the ACTION service need to run at a profit? Can you point me at a public transport system in any city like Canberra that operates at a profit, as an example of how it’s supposed to be done?

A four year old Audit report is of little relevance now: much has changed in four years including ACTION finally getting aboard the Google Transit bus (pun intended), new busses with better facilities for disabled passengers, and better availability of busses and drivers. Why did you not make any comment about how the situation has changed?

It’s one thing to complain based on a few numbers, it’s another to understand what those numbers mean, and it’s another thing entirely to be able to suggest how things can be changed given the restrictions of the environment in which an activity is being pursued.

#2
patrick_keogh11:27 am, 26 Jun 14

So what would you have done differently if you were in charge Peter?

Your OP is a story of a large organisation by Australian standards that has over 25 years a patchy record of business management, project management and governance. I’ve worked as a consultant to many large organisations and I could easily draw parallels in banks, mining companies, retailers, commonwealth agencies and similar where inadequate direction, strategy and management has led to major losses. Compared to the cohort of organisations of similar size I’d probably give the ACT Government a B or a B-.

The simple fact is that execution of these skills (business management, project management and governance) are easier when you are in the bleachers than when you are on the playing field. That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t hope for better, just that it would be unwise to expect better as a matter of course.

So what can we do? Well one thing is to increase the skill level of the players on the field. Encouraging the best and brightest to be political and administrative leaders would be a good thing to do, so that means less negativity by us and the press, decent (compared to the private sector) wages and conditions etc. The simple growth of the Assembly to 25 will certainly help to a small extent.

Another thing is to ensure that our political parties are really representative of the people. Right now in the ACT that is not the case. It will probably require the birth and growth of one or more additional parties to get this to happen as the apparatchiki in both the major parties seem firmly in control.

As a third suggestion, we can all take some of the load: participating in the democracy to the fullest extent we can, participating in community forums and similar, providing feedback on the specifics of issues where we have expertise or whatever.

I have one small nit to pick with your list though: I never imagined that we would want ACTION to make a profit. I’d personally be all for making it free so as drive up utilisation. We don’t demand that the government make money from pedestrian footpaths and crossings, or what the government spends on private motor vehicles and where they are driven and parked. We don’t expect the government to make money from bicycle paths and so on, so why single out public transport? There are many things that the government spends money on as enablers of our society including education, health and transport. Making a profit was never a goal from my perspective.

#3
arescarti4212:11 pm, 26 Jun 14

patrick_keogh said :

I have one small nit to pick with your list though: I never imagined that we would want ACTION to make a profit. I’d personally be all for making it free so as drive up utilisation. We don’t demand that the government make money from pedestrian footpaths and crossings, or what the government spends on private motor vehicles and where they are driven and parked. We don’t expect the government to make money from bicycle paths and so on, so why single out public transport? There are many things that the government spends money on as enablers of our society including education, health and transport. Making a profit was never a goal from my perspective.

Exactly. Cities like Tokyo aside, public transport doesn’t (and is not expected) to generate a profit anywhere. It’s a service provided by the Government to the community, just like health and education.

You wouldn’t expect a publicly funded hospital to turn a profit, would you?

#4
dungfungus12:36 pm, 26 Jun 14

Rhodium Asset Solutions, The Canberra Glassworks, The National Arboretum? GWS sponsorship?
It goes on and on. Most of these ventures were pet projects of a few Walter Mitty-minded people and none were put to the voters.

#5
Peter Clack1:27 pm, 26 Jun 14

patrick_keogh said :

So what would you have done differently if you were in charge Peter?

I have one small nit to pick with your list though: I never imagined that we would want ACTION to make a profit. I’d personally be all for making it free so as drive up utilisation. We don’t demand that the government make money from pedestrian footpaths and crossings, or what the government spends on private motor vehicles and where they are driven and parked. We don’t expect the government to make money from bicycle paths and so on, so why single out public transport? There are many things that the government spends money on as enablers of our society including education, health and transport. Making a profit was never a goal from my perspective.

I think you will see that I did not say the ACTION bus service needed to be profitable. The issue is about ineffective management (see Auditor General) and lack of an alternative approach or even any interest in finding alternatives.

And as arescarti42 says, are all the world’s transport systems run in the black? Are they? Are we not able to explore, for example, alternative public/private investment scenarios and ideas to find a system that might be less damaging to Canberra’s limited economy in the longer term? If so, where have these ideas been over the past 25 years?

#6
VYBerlinaV8_is_back2:34 pm, 26 Jun 14

Peter Clack said :

Are we not able to explore, for example, alternative public/private investment scenarios and ideas to find a system that might be less damaging to Canberra’s limited economy in the longer term? If so, where have these ideas been over the past 25 years?

I think exploring such ideas and concepts is a very good idea indeed, and we should not fear to try something new. The problem, however, is the lack of real analysis and thought that goes into some of these things. Take the light rail for example. We know it will cost a fortune (and likely blow costs further), we know it won’t be profitable, we know we will need significant changes to density and behaviours, and we know a busway would achieve the same goal for a far smaller outlay. But we’re still doing it. It’s a disaster in the making, and will no doubt turn into a political nightmare and financial burden for us all, but onwards and we go, regardless of the consequences.

#7
patrick_keogh3:02 pm, 26 Jun 14

So I return to my original question, how can we improve capability in government for business management, project management and governance? No point in disagreeing with the outputs, that is the projects that do not complete on budget/schedule/scope or policy decisions that I individually may or may not like, we have to focus as Deming would instruct us, on the inputs.

#8
laraeddy5:00 pm, 26 Jun 14

And yet, somehow, we find out today that Canberra has the highest wellbeing rating of any Australian capital (http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/act-wellbeing-highest-in-the-country-says-oecd-20140625-zsloe.html) and http://www.oecdregionalwellbeing.org/region.html#AU8. And for most of the indicators, within the top 10% in the world.

If that’s a damning legacy – give me more of it, please !!

But this is only based on minor little things like education (ACT Govt issue), employment, health (ACT Govt issue), access to services (ACT Govt issue), environment – not massively significant stuff like a one-off failed hospitality training exercise.

I think a little perspective (balance would be too much to hope for) would go a long way !

#9
Masquara5:28 pm, 26 Jun 14

And, of course, the V8 supercars – was it times two? three? before they woke up on those?

#10
Argonaut6:49 pm, 26 Jun 14

My main problem is the conflation of state and local governmentt services, which by necessity has meant prioritising the former at the expense of the latter. It also means that we lack the local government accountability, as there is no-one with a vested interest in serving the needs of the local community.

Where you would be able to write to or visit your local councillor to have your views heard elsewhere, here in Canberra we have bureaucrats who are employed to do their job, and have no accountability to their community (aside from the usual charter of the public service).

Meanwhile, as rate payers we are paying twice what local government areas are paying (I am comparing this with my own experience as a rate-payer in Sydney, and in Perth), and getting much less in return, from a local government services perspective.

While I support public transport, healthcare, and education, I don’t believe we should have to choose between them, and the provision of local government services such as green waste collection, house-hold junk throw-outs, and someone who I voted in on my local council.

#11
HiddenDragon6:56 pm, 26 Jun 14

#2patrick_keogh
11:27 am, 26 Jun 14

“Another thing is to ensure that our political parties are really representative of the people. Right now in the ACT that is not the case. It will probably require the birth and growth of one or more additional parties to get this to happen as the apparatchiki in both the major parties seem firmly in control…..”

Strongly agree with this (although not overly optimistic about the prospects for additional parties). I think it could make a very worthwhile difference if we had more elected representatives who had spent significant parts of their working lives in the private sector, preferably with at least some of that time elsewhere than the ACT, and ideally in the bits of the private sector where there is genuine competition, and where you don’t make a living unless people choose to spend their own money (i.e. not government money) on whatever it is that you’re selling.

Had the perspectives which come from that experience been brought to bear more often on policy-making and administration in the ACT, then I think we would have had fewer expensive stuff-ups and, generally, a less cavalier approach to the use of public funds.

The other point I would make, which probably flows, in part, from the former, is that many of the problems which I see look as if they arise from local officials – of the elected and non-elected variety – who seem to want the ACT public sector to be somewhat more than it truly is, and realistically ever will be. Whether that’s due to delusions of grandeur, frustrated ambitions towards the federal sphere, or restlessness arising from the humdrum of administering bread-and-butter municipal and state functions, I’m note quite sure (probably a mix of all three) – but whatever the case, past, current and future ACT taxpayers are bearing an unduly heavy burden as a result.

#12
Peter Clack6:56 pm, 26 Jun 14

dungfungus said :

Rhodium Asset Solutions, The Canberra Glassworks, The National Arboretum? GWS sponsorship?
It goes on and on. Most of these ventures were pet projects of a few Walter Mitty-minded people and none were put to the voters.

Excellent points

#13
Peter Clack6:57 pm, 26 Jun 14

VYBerlinaV8_is_back said :

Peter Clack said :

Are we not able to explore, for example, alternative public/private investment scenarios and ideas to find a system that might be less damaging to Canberra’s limited economy in the longer term? If so, where have these ideas been over the past 25 years?

I think exploring such ideas and concepts is a very good idea indeed, and we should not fear to try something new. The problem, however, is the lack of real analysis and thought that goes into some of these things. Take the light rail for example. We know it will cost a fortune (and likely blow costs further), we know it won’t be profitable, we know we will need significant changes to density and behaviours, and we know a busway would achieve the same goal for a far smaller outlay. But we’re still doing it. It’s a disaster in the making, and will no doubt turn into a political nightmare and financial burden for us all, but onwards and we go, regardless of the consequences.

You are right, this is why so many other bright ideas came to grief

#14
rommeldog567:00 pm, 26 Jun 14

patrick_keogh said :

So I return to my original question, how can we improve capability in government for business management, project management and governance? No point in disagreeing with the outputs, that is the projects that do not complete on budget/schedule/scope or policy decisions that I individually may or may not like, we have to focus as Deming would instruct us, on the inputs.

Govt has so many resources and $ at their disposal and often still doesn’t get it right. True, some of the problem may be attracting great project managers but if the decision ie the concept/input, is flawed from the beginning…..? This can happen at Ministerial level for a myriad of reasons including political nepotism, idealism,but worst of all, incompetence. Many of these elements are evident in the Light Rail proposal/project but the ACT Gov’t is just sailing right on with it in the full knowledge that any operating loss will be made good by ACT Ratepayers and residents.

So, never confuse rank stupidity for rat cunning.

Apart from voting at the ballot box, people may feel helpless to do anything about it. Unfortunately, there seems no way of holding Ministers personally/financially accountable for the failure of such projects – that might be a better way of enforcing greater Ministerial attention at the concept/input stage ?

#15
Peter Clack7:06 pm, 26 Jun 14

patrick_keogh said :

So I return to my original question, how can we improve capability in government for business management, project management and governance? No point in disagreeing with the outputs, that is the projects that do not complete on budget/schedule/scope or policy decisions that I individually may or may not like, we have to focus as Deming would instruct us, on the inputs.

Hi Patrick, Very good points, So many of the failed ventures were driven by the private agendas of various public service executives, i.e the Australian International Hotel School/ Transact/reducing the ability to defend against a serious wind driven bush fire, and then sold as a package to various political leaders, who I might add were mostly naive and inexperienced in high level management of any kind. Combine these and you get the awful outcomes we seem to have had. The hotel school, for example, was subject to detailed independent examinations, and the first two advised that it could not succeed. The CIT just kept going until they managed to doctor one and fiddle with their analysis. This involved cutting the length of the degree. Yes, I disagree with lousy outcomes when common sense would have prevented failure.

#16
Peter Clack7:06 pm, 26 Jun 14

Masquara said :

And, of course, the V8 supercars – was it times two? three? before they woke up on those?

Exactly.

#17
justin heywood8:31 pm, 26 Jun 14

Excellent post Peter. I have long wondered (or marvelled) at the poor performance of ACT governments.

You say that some of the blame can be laid of the feet of senior ACT public servants, who made poor decisions which were then rubber-stamped by the Assembly. If so, surely the blame chiefly lies with the relevant ministers who, after all, are responsible for the appointment of senior management and the approval and implementation (or not) of their advice.

In my view, the current arrangement combines some of the worst aspects of local government (lacklustre, parochial elected officials) and state governments (large, unwieldy bureaucracy, a focus on short-term political agendas). As a result, we have ministers of modest ability making decisions based more on short-term political considerations than on any interest they may have in the long term success of the ACT.

How do we get an Assembly composed of capable, thoughtful citizens, rather than an assembly made up chiefly of third rate political operators? Perhaps as voters, we need to elect more genuinely non-aligned independents – if such a being exists. I for one, would vote for people who occasionally acknowledge that Labor, the Greens and the Libs occasionally come up with good and bad ideas in about equal measure, and support/oppose based on their merit.

You interested in standing Peter?

#18
bigred9:33 pm, 26 Jun 14

All valid points. It is as though just about everything the local council touches is undercooked. My personal hobby horses are the lack of accountability arising from a lack of proper and independent scrutiny and how we have a policing arrangement which has a master located elsewhere. Anybody noticed that we also have a rare beast, an Attorney-General who is not a lawyer.

#19
rommeldog569:47 pm, 26 Jun 14

Yeah – great topic. Some great observations. But, what astounds me is the lack of common sense, logic and often, the general lack of management/administrative ability of politicians at all levels nowday’s – especially those in the current ACT Government.

#20
Queen_of_the_Bun10:14 pm, 26 Jun 14

Never a good look when 5 out of 16 replies are from the OP – just saying…

#21
Queen_of_the_Bun10:23 pm, 26 Jun 14

Queen_of_the_Bun said :

Never a good look when 5 out of 16 replies are from the OP – just saying…

dungfungus said :

Rhodium Asset Solutions, The Canberra Glassworks, The National Arboretum? GWS sponsorship?
It goes on and on. Most of these ventures were pet projects of a few Walter Mitty-minded people and none were put to the voters.

What’s your issue with the Glassworks? It is a major success story. It makes money and attracts people to an area of Canberra where other small businesses make money of its back.
What is so wrong with so many Riot-acters that they have to be so small-minded and petty?

#22
rosscoact8:44 am, 27 Jun 14

Queen_of_the_Bun said :

Queen_of_the_Bun said :

Never a good look when 5 out of 16 replies are from the OP – just saying…

dungfungus said :

Rhodium Asset Solutions, The Canberra Glassworks, The National Arboretum? GWS sponsorship?
It goes on and on. Most of these ventures were pet projects of a few Walter Mitty-minded people and none were put to the voters.

What’s your issue with the Glassworks? It is a major success story. It makes money and attracts people to an area of Canberra where other small businesses make money of its back.
What is so wrong with so many Riot-acters that they have to be so small-minded and petty?

Spot on.

#23
patrick_keogh8:46 am, 27 Jun 14

Queen_of_the_Bun said :

Queen_of_the_Bun said :

Never a good look when 5 out of 16 replies are from the OP – just saying…

dungfungus said :

Rhodium Asset Solutions, The Canberra Glassworks, The National Arboretum? GWS sponsorship?
It goes on and on. Most of these ventures were pet projects of a few Walter Mitty-minded people and none were put to the voters.

What’s your issue with the Glassworks? It is a major success story. It makes money and attracts people to an area of Canberra where other small businesses make money of its back.
What is so wrong with so many Riot-acters that they have to be so small-minded and petty?

I wasn’t going to say anything but your post has prompted me… I feel the same way about the Arboretum. No it has not made a “profit” (in a financial sense) and maybe never will. It is hard to imagine a public park that has. The social and environmental profit may have a long payback period. That is kinda part of the nature of trees. A world where government could only spend money on things that make a profit and things that are really, really, really essential would be a very poor place. No parks, fountains or public art? No Eiffel tower, no statue of liberty, no war memorials? No London Hyde Park, no Sydney Domain, no Washington National Mall? I for one do not want to live in such a society and I suspect that I am not alone.

I utterly, utterly reject the dry economic posture where minimal government is seen as the best outcome. In fact I am a little amused to see “making a profit” characterised as positive by those who in another sentence would want less government. If it could make a profit shouldn’t they argue it is no place for government? Anyway enough ranting for now.

#24
switch9:17 am, 27 Jun 14

Queen_of_the_Bun said :

What’s your issue with the Glassworks? It is a major success story. It makes money and attracts people to an area of Canberra where other small businesses make money of its back.
What is so wrong with so many Riot-acters that they have to be so small-minded and petty?

Just the hypocrisy. One big source of greenhouse gas that only produces trinkets and dust collectors for the trendy is OK, but other big sources of greenhouse gas, eg Bogan-nats, are universally decried by the same mob.

#25
dungfungus9:22 am, 27 Jun 14

Queen_of_the_Bun said :

Queen_of_the_Bun said :

Never a good look when 5 out of 16 replies are from the OP – just saying…

dungfungus said :

Rhodium Asset Solutions, The Canberra Glassworks, The National Arboretum? GWS sponsorship?
It goes on and on. Most of these ventures were pet projects of a few Walter Mitty-minded people and none were put to the voters.

What’s your issue with the Glassworks? It is a major success story. It makes money and attracts people to an area of Canberra where other small businesses make money of its back.
What is so wrong with so many Riot-acters that they have to be so small-minded and petty?

The Canberra Glassworks is a “major success story” only because of the financial support it receives, mainly from you know who. The following is an extract from theit 2013 Annual Report:

“The success of the Glassworks depends very much on the rich and ongoing support of government, corporate and individual partners, its staff, artists and volunteers. I am constantly impressed with the generous, thoughtful and dedicated support we receive from all these quarters. I would like to thank the ACT Government, in particular the Chief Minister, Katy Gallagher, and the Arts Minister Joy Burch for the continued financial assistance under the Key Arts Organisations funding as a special initiative”

There is no balance sheet or profit and loss statement in the report. It only continues to exist on handouts from the ACT Ratepayers for the benefit of a chosen few.
Success means different things to different people.

#26
pajs9:56 am, 27 Jun 14

All so negative, this piece. No balance. You get the impression that the only things governments in the ACT of all persuasions have done is make mistakes. This kind of unbalanced content does not foster informed discussion. By all means be critical, and there is much to be critical of, but this piece does not do this website or its audience justice.

#27
Maya12310:26 am, 27 Jun 14

pajs said :

All so negative, this piece. No balance. You get the impression that the only things governments in the ACT of all persuasions have done is make mistakes. This kind of unbalanced content does not foster informed discussion. By all means be critical, and there is much to be critical of, but this piece does not do this website or its audience justice.

Agreed, it turned me off reading many of the comments. So negative, but this site tends to be more negative than positive.

#28
justin heywood10:51 am, 27 Jun 14

Queen_of_the_Bun said :


What is so wrong with so many Riot-acters that they have to be so small-minded and petty?

And therein ^ lies the problem. For most, government in Canberra all comes down to the politics. Many of the posters critical of the OP are very happy to be ‘small-minded and petty’ of their political foes, but seem blind to the failings of their own team.

You’re welcome to the view that the ACT is or has been well governed, but in my view that would be a minority opinion.

#29
dungfungus10:57 am, 27 Jun 14

pajs said :

All so negative, this piece. No balance. You get the impression that the only things governments in the ACT of all persuasions have done is make mistakes. This kind of unbalanced content does not foster informed discussion. By all means be critical, and there is much to be critical of, but this piece does not do this website or its audience justice.

I am glad you mentioned “informed discussion” because this is always absent when the ACT Government decides to embark on a another non-recourse grand scheme to be funded by ratepayers.
There used to be a thing called “community consultation” but I haven’t heard that terminology being used lately.
The latest crazy scheme that Corbell has announced to appease The Green is for the Government to replace its (leased) fleet of motor vehicles with all electric and “pollution free” ones.
Do we seriously need this extra indulgence?

#30
Peter Clack11:07 am, 27 Jun 14

justin heywood said :

Excellent post Peter. I have long wondered (or marvelled) at the poor performance of ACT governments.

You say that some of the blame can be laid of the feet of senior ACT public servants, who made poor decisions which were then rubber-stamped by the Assembly. If so, surely the blame chiefly lies with the relevant ministers who, after all, are responsible for the appointment of senior management and the approval and implementation (or not) of their advice.

In my view, the current arrangement combines some of the worst aspects of local government (lacklustre, parochial elected officials) and state governments (large, unwieldy bureaucracy, a focus on short-term political agendas). As a result, we have ministers of modest ability making decisions based more on short-term political considerations than on any interest they may have in the long term success of the ACT.

How do we get an Assembly composed of capable, thoughtful citizens, rather than an assembly made up chiefly of third rate political operators? Perhaps as voters, we need to elect more genuinely non-aligned independents – if such a being exists. I for one, would vote for people who occasionally acknowledge that Labor, the Greens and the Libs occasionally come up with good and bad ideas in about equal measure, and support/oppose based on their merit.

You interested in standing Peter?

Well said, but politics has a way of swallowing up individuals I’m afraid.

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