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Le Couteur’s planning independence benefits community

By Greg Cornwell - 7 February 2017 7

Caroline Le Couteur and Shane Rattenbury. Photo: Charlotte Harper

Like other small political parties over the years, the Australian Greens appear to be facing internal problems from a NSW splinter group, Left Renewal. Fortunately the issue has not spread to the ACT Greens, however differences exist concerning planning between our local representatives.

Caroline Le Couteur, the newish Greens MLA, has shown a refreshingly critical public attitude toward building developments in this city. Late January at a Curtin community rally about a six-storey development at the local shops and more recently the Braddon ABC flats redevelopment were targets of her ire.

Ms Le Couteur seems to be concerned at changes taking place either after plans have been submitted to authorities or submitted plans have not been detailed enough, leaving loopholes after approval.

These matters are familiar to anyone who has battled developers in Canberra but it is heartening when an elected representative is prepared to take issue with them, particularly when she chairs the Assembly’s five member planning committee. Significantly with the committee made up also of two government and two opposition members Ms Le Couteur holds the balance of power.

To date, as previously shown, this MLA has demonstrated a preparedness to speak out against developments, when other Assembly members appear in thrall of the financial clout their backers display.

Inevitably this honest sensible public questioning could raise problems for the ACT Government and its cosy relationship with the developers and the unions. It also could raise problems with her Green colleague and cabinet member, Minister Shane Rattenbury.

It is unlikely Ms Le Couteur would be silenced in the interests of Labor-Green government relations because this could outrage rank and file Party members and represent a humiliating back down from the public stance adopted to date. The Assembly Opposition should benefit from this awkward situation because with such an evenly balanced parliament Ms Le Couteur’s vote against government legislation would deadlock the decision, thus resolving the question in the negative.

The threat of this result alone could curb some of the ACT Government’s more extreme plans and even could be turned to the government’s advantage as an excuse for not being able to enact something.

Whatever political advantages Ms Le Couteur’s stance offers it is the ACT community who can benefit most with a champion inside the tent, so to speak, capable and prepared to speak out in their interests rather than political self-interest.

Unlike other legislatures overseas, Australian parliaments enforce strict discipline upon Party members except in tightly defined ‘conscience’ issues, often very limited in themselves. Occasionally an independent or small party member holds the balance of power and, even more rarely except in our Senate, a group.

Usually trade-offs can be arranged to ensure support for government initiatives but pork-barrelling usually is on no small scale and directly effects the politician concerned. Given Ms Le Couteur’s principled stand on planning issues outside her electorate, deals are unlikely and one hopes her honest independent approach will continue in the long-term interests of Canberra.

What’s Your opinion?


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7 Responses to
Le Couteur’s planning independence benefits community
1
Acton 11:28 am
07 Feb 17
#

I’m still trying to get my head around Ms Le Couteur because she is just not acting in the way I’ve come to expect from an ACT Greens politician.

1. She is championing a local issue of concern to a marginalised, ignored and often ridiculed segment of the community.
2. She is standing up to property developers.
3. She is questioning the environmental impact of apartmentalising, uglifying and reducing the communal green spaces of our city.
4. She is taking a principled stance.
5. She is resisting manipulation by the pressure groups that control the strings of the Barr/Rattenbury puppets.

Could this be a truly independent, free-thinking, anti-establishment, pro-community, non-Labor, Greens politician? That will be a first. Go for it Caroline.

2
Maya123 1:10 pm
07 Feb 17
#

I have always thought she was the best Green we’ve had to represent us, and one of the best politicians generally we’ve had. I was sorry she was a term out of office, and very disappointed in the voters for not seeing her worth. This recent move of hers can’t but help her be more visible.

3
dungfungus 2:31 pm
07 Feb 17
#

Maya123 said :

I have always thought she was the best Green we’ve had to represent us, and one of the best politicians generally we’ve had. I was sorry she was a term out of office, and very disappointed in the voters for not seeing her worth. This recent move of hers can’t but help her be more visible.

While I never had the opportunity of voting for her I would agree entirely with your comments.

She is the hardest working and most pragmatic, committed Green I have ever had dealings with.

4
Maryann Mussared 8:19 pm
07 Feb 17
#

I have to agree with everyone on Caroline. I think the powers that be may regret the power they have given her. She could well be a force to be reckoned with. There is hope – some hope – on the horizon, if it isn’t too late.

5
chewy14 8:56 pm
07 Feb 17
#

Acton said :

I’m still trying to get my head around Ms Le Couteur because she is just not acting in the way I’ve come to expect from an ACT Greens politician.

1. She is championing a local issue of concern to a marginalised, ignored and often ridiculed segment of the community.
2. She is standing up to property developers.
3. She is questioning the environmental impact of apartmentalising, uglifying and reducing the communal green spaces of our city.
4. She is taking a principled stance.
5. She is resisting manipulation by the pressure groups that control the strings of the Barr/Rattenbury puppets.

Could this be a truly independent, free-thinking, anti-establishment, pro-community, non-Labor, Greens politician? That will be a first. Go for it Caroline.

She’s still a committed Green, so it’s not like most people would be supportive of her general ideology if they aren’t already left wing/Green voting inclined.

It’s funny however that some people might think her more principled because on one part of one issue she aligns with the anti-development views of existing residents but I doubt they’ll be as happy with her actual goals for city and economic development and who’ll bear the costs for it if it was to go ahead.

6
Masquara 9:09 pm
07 Feb 17
#

Thank goodness – an MLA not in the developers’ pockets.

7
Chris Mordd Richards 11:16 pm
07 Feb 17
#

Knowing Caroline as I do, not surprised at all on the stances she is taking.

“It also could raise problems with her Green colleague and cabinet member, Minister Shane Rattenbury.”

Ever consider maybe Shane likes her being able to say these things while he has to take a more moderate approach on stuff being in the cabinet with Labor.

Disclosure: I am an ACT Greens member, and was the #2 campaign coordinator for the Greens in the Murrumbidgee electorate last election.

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