15 things that got you talking in 2020

Kim Treasure 24 December 2020

If there’s one thing Canberrans love, it’s a good conversation. Here at Region Media, we love starting the conversations that matter. Whether it be discussing politics or panic, homelessness or privilege, we pride ourselves on bringing you well thought out opinion pieces from a wide range of people to promote civilised debate.

Here we take a look at the top 15 topics that got you talking in 2020.

15. How can public funding of rich private schools continue to be justified?

Grounds of Canberra Grammar School.

The grounds of Canberra Grammar School. Photo: File.

Another big donation for an already wealthy school only highlighted the funding divide in Australian education, according to Ian Bushnell.

His opinion piece followed news that Radford College will soon have a world-class cricket centre as part of a new sports precinct, thanks to a $4 million private donation.

14. Are Millennial ‘snowflakes’ so aggravating because they’re pretentious, or because they’re right?

A climate protest in 2019.

Snowflakes or agents for change? Photo: Region Media.

Are Millennial ‘snowflakes’ so aggravating because they’re pretentious, or because they’re right?

Zoya Patel asked the question after revealing she’s sometimes been labelled a whiny millennial snowflake who’s too sensitive and pretentious.

“Lately I’ve been contemplating why it is the character traits that typify being a ‘snowflake’ are considered so aggravating, when they’re actually a product of social and political progress?”

13. More than a lecture needed to stop the fear and panic in the shopping aisles

Empty shelves at butchery in Weston.

Cleaned out: A butchery at Cooleman Court in Weston had no meat left on a Saturday morning in March. Photo: Ian Bushnell.

“Well, the PM’s lecture on hoarding and panic buying went down well,” wrote Ian Bushnell in March.

“Queues at supermarkets and even Fyshwick Markets, the buying extending to perishables and regional supermarkets banning outsiders from the aisles – that was the response in the Canberra region, and everywhere else.”

He argued not factoring in the fear COVID-19 has created in the community was a gap in the overall response.

12. Psst, Canberra, can I tell you something?

Shadow of man standing in underpass.

Homelessness in the ACT is coming out of the shadows. Photo: File.

Canberra, there’s something Kim Treasure needs to tell you. It’s awkward but it needs doing – a bit like telling someone they have body odour or bad breath. The unpleasant truth is that when it comes to how we treat our most vulnerable people, we could be doing a whole lot better.

11. Stay the course Australia, till we’re in the clear

Doctor wearing mask and gown at hospital.

Back in April, the community was urged to remain vigilant about COVID-19. Photo: Canberra Health Services.

Forget the fact that we can’t drive too far these days, but Australians seem to be like the kids in the back crying ”are we there yet?”

Back in April 2020, the nation’s COVID-19 containment measures appeared to be working and we were (and still are) the envy of countries where the death toll is appalling. Back then, the question was asked: should we put hundreds of children and their teachers together for five days a week on the one site and not expect something to go wrong?

10. A note from the coast as you prepare for the summer

Dolphins surfing a wave.

Surf’s up and the dolphins are loving it. Photo: Alex Rea.

Dreaming of warm, salty air and a trip down the coast? Canberra’s beloved holiday destination is open again, but, as Karyn Starmer explained, this year is different for residents and visitors.

As the days get warmer, memories of last summer are already flooding back. As each memorable date arrives, we will be thinking ‘this time last year’.

9. COVID-19 has exposed the excesses of sport

Raiders playing NRL at Canberra Stadium.

Behind every NRL, AFL, Super Rugby and A-League team there’s an army of support staff. Photo: Tim Gavel.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the true nature of spending in professional sport in Australia, and it might just be the wakeup call that some sports need, according to Tim Gavel.

In the early days of the Raiders you could count staff members on two hands, and the club was operating out of the Queanbeyan Leagues Club. The players had jobs and trained at night at Seiffert Oval.

But not anymore.

8. Magpies are evil, rotten, malevolent, dead-eyed bastards. Fact check: true

Swooping magpie in suburban street.

“So you’re minding your own business, far away from my nest? Not on my watch, buddy!” Photo: File.

David Murtagh got feathers flying when he described magpies as the vegan bacon of the animal world – they serve no purpose and no-one likes them. Swooped once too often, he unloaded his venom, but that only brought magpie-lovers flocking to their defence!

7. We’re all in this together? What a load of garbage

Garbage bins in a Canberra street.

Garbage bins put out for collection in a Canberra street. Photo: Region Media.

“We’re all in this together.”

That’s been the mantra for 2020 – the year that’s brought almost every catastrophe to our door, bar locusts, although if you were in Africa in August you can cross that catastrophe off your list.

We’re all in this together… except when there’s a garbage strike wrote David Murtagh.

6. Stop the exodus to NSW – just move the border

Aerial view of Googong.

Googong, the township that should be in Canberra. Photo: Geoff Comfort.

Sick of that cross-border drain on the ACT’s coffers? Is it time for the ACT to annex Queanbeyan and Googong?

Former Canberra Liberals leader Alistair Coe said the ACT is short about $400 million because of a line on a map nobody takes any notice of, and Ian Bushnell jumped in with his two cents’ worth.

5. Is it time to rethink Canberra’s roads?

Traffic on Commonwealth Bridge.

With a relatively small population over a large space, travelling in the ACT is usually a doddle. Photo: File.

One of the things we love most about our ‘bush capital’ is the fact that our 457,000 residents are spread out over a wide area so getting anywhere within half an hour is a doddle. For those of us who like to drive without turning into a flustered mess, this is perfect.

But in this city of largely free-flowing traffic, why are our streets increasingly narrow? James Coleman asks if it’s time to rethink how we design our roads.

4. Is there a distinct cultural difference between Canberra’s north and south?

People seated in The Phoenix.

Venues such as The Phoenix in Civic were epicentres for university life. Photo: Adam Thomas.

Can a city as small as Canberra have genuinely distinct cultures in its different regions? Zoya Patel crossed the great divide to investigate and stirred up some controversy.

3. Ordinary Australians will continue to suffer because of our venal, shallow leadership

Cobargo's main street burning during bushfire.

Cobargo’s main street burning on 31 December, 2019. Photo: Josh Mead.

Ordinary Australians will bear the weight of the Black Summer bushfire catastrophe for years to come as the mental health toll and burden of rebuilding shattered communities plays out. As the government sought to minimise the severity of the crisis, Genevieve Jacobs asked if this is what 10 years of shallow, opportunistic politics on all sides has come to?

2. Weston’s $800,000 white elephant a fluoro fail

Trennery Square in Weston.

The upgraded Trenerry Square in Weston is not what the community asked for. Photo: Ian Bushnell

It cost more than $800,000, it’s not what the community wanted and nobody uses it. Welcome to Weston’s Trenerry Square, featuring fluoro orange and yellow metal seats, concrete borders, some industrial shade structures and, thankfully, a patch of turf.

The idea was a good one – to upgrade Trenerry Square on Brierly Street, opposite Cooleman Court, but Ian Bushnell reckons the execution has left locals nonplussed.

1. It’s time for the Capital region to act like a community and leave the loathing behind

Person sitting on wharf looking out to Clyde River and bushland at Nelligen.

Clyde River at Nelligen on the NSW South Coast. Photo: Eurobodalla Tourism.

As COVID-19 anxiety gripped many communities, the reaction in some quarters was little short of feral. Genevieve Jacobs appealed to the capital region to put aside the fear and loathing and work together as the strong regional community we are.


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