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Abolish the NCA to get Light Rail moving

Bec Cody MLA 8 July 2019 82
Labor MLA and member for Murrumbidgee Bec Cody believes the NCA is stifling progress on Light Rail Stage Two. Image of proposed light rail route to Woden: Supplied.

Labor MLA Bec Cody believes the NCA is stifling progress on Light Rail Stage 2. Image of proposed Light Rail route to Woden: Supplied.

Last week, the ACT Government has been forced to break up the project of extending Light Rail to Woden. City to the Lake, and then onto Woden.

There has been wild speculation in the media about how much this will delay the project. To be honest, I do not know.

The good news is that by breaking it up, we can get work started on the first section, and get more Canberrans into work building it.

As far as the second part goes, that is in the hands of the National Capital Authority and their skills at delaying projects and stifling our community. I wanted Light Rail to Woden to be under construction by now, and I’m sorry the Government haven’t achieved it. With Interest Rates at one per cent, there has never been a better time for Government to invest in infrastructure.

When I run up Mt Ainslie and look out over Canberra, I compare it with the Burley Griffin plan. The plan was for a dense city of Government departments clustered around the Parliament, and Adelaide Avenue lined with medium rise buildings. When I look at what’s there, I see a dead heart, an open wasteland of nothingness. What should be the bustling centre of our National Capital is bleak, visionless and holding our city back.

As a Southsider, with an office in Civic, I travel through the NCA designated area most days. Whenever I can, I cycle to work. The connections are awful around the city area. Across the South side of Canberra, there is great cycling infrastructure, but then you hit NCA designated areas and you get lost.

Unless you are very familiar with the area, trying to get from the fantastic on-road cycling areas on Adelaide Avenue to the city centre is difficult. You have to go on bike paths, then on to footpaths, then back on to the road with limited designated cycling area. And this is only one example.

I’ve tried to walk around the NCA designated area, and it was not easy. What at first glance looks like grand national buildings in parkland is mostly inaccessible by foot. Anyone who has seen stranded tourists attempting to access Anzac Avenue from the lake by dashing across Parkes Way knows the reality: the NCA designated area is designed for cars.

Imagine if every second block of Washington, London, or Paris was demolished, asphalted, and used for parking? It’s not the way to run a city or show off our national monuments.

They say the purpose of the National Capital Authority is to protect the character of our national monuments. Protect them from what? From the people of Canberra? We are not savages. In fact, the people of Canberra have more interest in maintaining and improving the character of our national capital than anyone else. These areas are our most important asset, our biggest tourist attraction, and bring many business visitors to our city.

Nobody has more at stake in making these assets attractive than us.

Instead of improving the amenity of our city, the National Capital Authority applies its bureaucratic control to keep the dead heart of our National Capital stuck in 1969. It actively rejects the Burley Griffin vision, whilst loyally defending every planning mistake made since.

With the exception of the NCA area of control, we can see the vitality of inner-city communities from Braddon to Kingston. Whilst I like living in the suburbs with space for a motorbike and a dog or two, I meet a lot of people today who want to live in an apartment, they want to walk to a cafe, bar or restaurant, and enjoy a higher-density lifestyle. That was the Burley Griffin vision, and the lifestyle being embraced by many.

It’s time to abolish the National Capital Authority. It’s a waste of Federal Taxpayer expense and a roadblock to the development of our city. If it were not for the NCA’s commitment to preserving a museum of planning mistakes in the centre of our city, Canberra could keep improving its public transport, raise densities, and be a more pedestrian-friendly place for tourists.

Bec Cody is the Labor member for Murrumbidgee.

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86 Responses to Abolish the NCA to get Light Rail moving
HiddenDragon 7:14 pm 08 Jul 19

By way of comparison with the capital of the nation with which we often liken ourselves, the ever-interesting Wikipedia advises that -

"The Government of the District of Columbia operates under Article One of the United States Constitution and the District of Columbia Home Rule Act, which devolves certain powers of the United States Congress to the Mayor and thirteen-member Council. However, Congress retains the right to review and overturn laws created by the council and intervene in local affairs. "


"The mayor and council set local taxes and a budget, which must be approved by the Congress. "


Interesting to note that DC, with a population at least half as large again as Canberra's, and a budget three to four times the size of the ACT Government, manages with thirteen members.

    Capital Retro 10:26 am 10 Jul 19

    And the United States is the only developed nation that treats paid time off as a perk rather than a right. While countries like Austria, Germany, Italy and Spain each offer their citizens more than 30 days off a year in annual leave and paid holidays, the United States offers… zero.

    Australia guarantees at least 20 paid days leave a year plus that ridiculous holiday loading that no one else gives.

    It's all about productivity - same reason we don't have a car manufacturing industry anymore.

    Gilavon 11:04 pm 11 Jul 19

    The Yanks manage things efficiently. Labor has to placate all the factions, they want their pay-off.

Gilavon 6:53 pm 08 Jul 19

Oh dear! Bec Cody going off on another wobbly tangent. Bec and the ACT "Government" need to remember Rule 1: The ACT is established as the National Capital to serve all Australians and Australia, the NCA has a function to perform under, as I recall it, the Seat of Government ACT of about 1900. The ACT "Government" and the citizens of the ACT are subservient to the Commonwealth legislation so anyone with any idea of abolishing the NCA would be better advised to leave the Territory. Remember that's what it is, at Territory, it has very little in the way of states rights.

So Mr Barr is feeling frustrated his idea of progress isn't progressing and the CFMMEU members must be sitting around twiddling their thumbs huh?

Bolbi 6:51 pm 08 Jul 19

Unbelievable that Bec Cody thinks Canberrans can trust the current ACT government more than the NCA to provide the character they want. A government that describes a clump of trees as underutilised space. I can't imagine what they would do if they got control of Parkes and the lake. Well, actually, I can imagine it, and it horrifies me.

William William William William 6:39 pm 08 Jul 19

in 14 years as we did with the first stage should be here by 2035? IS FREE TO ALL FROM 9.00AM TO 16.00 WITH OPAL CARD USERS/MY WAY FREE ALL DAY WEEKENDS 30 % LOSS SINCE NEW SERVICE STARTED IN MAY

    Julia Bocking Julia Bocking 6:32 pm 11 Jul 19

    why does public transport have to turn a profit? It is infrastructure for the PUBLIC

Tim Cole Tim Cole 6:26 pm 08 Jul 19

Yep, let's give Geocon apartment rights for the southern bank of the lake too

HiddenDragon 6:21 pm 08 Jul 19

Bearing in mind that, given the chance, the majority of Canberrans (i.e. those not on the ACT Government payroll) would very likely vote to abolish self-government, and that the majority of Australians (the 98% or so who do not live in Canberra) would happily abolish Canberra, the idea of abolishing things that are currently inconvenient may not be a smart precedent.

When you cut through the bulldust about the proportion of Canberrans not (directly) employed by government, the fact is that the ACT Government is essentially a glorified strata manager for the Canberra component of the federal civilian and military workforce, and for tertiary institutions which are heavily reliant on federal funding and policies (especially re overseas students) - so it's hardly surprising that a federal government of either persuasion would want to place some constraints on it.

Perhaps the most telling aspect of the original post is that it's emblematic of a government which has become obsessed with property development, almost as an end in itself, and certainly as an illusory substitute for sustainable fiscal and economic policies.

Lucy Baker 6:01 pm 08 Jul 19

So, Bec Cody has laid bare to Canberrans the actual agenda of the Barr Government: trash Canberra's heritage and encourage Geocon to build more and more cheap flats (anyone who has been inside their mean little flats with low ceilings and poor design, but promoted with truth-deficit neuro-marketing, won't want Geocon anywhere near the core of Canberra) . Let me remind you, Bec Cody, that the only reason Mt Ainslie isn't infested with houses all the way up is that it was under the protection of the NCA when the ACT Government (yep - your Legislative Assembly colleagues) proposed carving it up into prestige housing, and the NCA sent the local government packing. As for your whinge about the vista along Anzac Parade and to Parliament House - what exactly is the problem with having a city with protected views, publicly owned landscape and amazing urban vistas?

Carole Ford Carole Ford 5:48 pm 08 Jul 19

They seem to be a 'toothless tiger' at the moment. Mr Barr is now the ringmaster of the 3 ringed circus, the ACT Government.

Peter Major Peter Major 5:48 pm 08 Jul 19

When can we rid ourselves of the self serving, Self Govt.

Martin Leonard Martin Leonard 5:35 pm 08 Jul 19

Ah yes, Bec Cody:

Shayne Borger Shayne Borger 5:15 pm 08 Jul 19

Keep the NCA n keep Barr under control. We need someone with commonsense to protect the heart of Canberra from Barr n the developers

Mitchell Craig Mitchell Craig 5:01 pm 08 Jul 19

Excuse me, every blade of grass in parliamentary triangle is sacred and of national significance. Also it's vital that the largest employer in town doesn't pay any rates

David Brown David Brown 4:49 pm 08 Jul 19

Let’s not have planning. It just gets in the way. 😡

Sonia Bowditch Sonia Bowditch 4:20 pm 08 Jul 19

Cody just wants to abolish the NCA so Labor can do whatever they want - ie light rail and the building up of high density living around it. The suburbs either side of Adelaide Avenue are lovely - curtin, deakin, hughes - and hardly a 'wasteland.' I think Bec Cody mistakenly believes that we all wanted the light rail and are now desperate for stage 2.

    Maria Greene Maria Greene 9:49 pm 08 Jul 19

    Sonia Bowditch and personally I can't wait for Southside bus timetables to be even worse than the despicable ones we have now

BowditchPitch 4:16 pm 08 Jul 19

Cody just wants to abolish the NCA so Labor can do whatever they want - ie light rail and the building up of high density living around it. The suburbs either side of Adelaide Avenue are lovely - curtin, deakin, hughes - and hardly a 'wasteland.' I think Bec Cody mistakenly believes that we all wanted the light rail and are now desperate for stage 2. She may not appreciate our beautiful city but most of us do.

Kerryn Price Kerryn Price 3:25 pm 08 Jul 19

The NCA save us from the ACT government filling in the gaps with more apartments. Barr and co would totally destroy the aesthetic of the parliamentary zone.

bj_ACT 3:23 pm 08 Jul 19

Should Bec Cody be focusing on the Urban areas she can control, rather than the areas that she can’t?

I would think that reinstating the Bus routes that she took away and ensuring the outer suburbs from Tuggeranong to West Belconnen to Gungahlin have adequate facilities and services would be a better use of her time and effort.

Ann Chaplin Ann Chaplin 3:06 pm 08 Jul 19

The NCA, as everyone knows, is a Commonwealth entity, with its main area of involvement being the Commonwealth controlled areas like the triangle. Good luck with closing them down... surely our capital needs some Commonwealth input 😃

Kerry Dent Kerry Dent 3:03 pm 08 Jul 19

Bob Hawke used consensus to problem solve and move forward, not abolish what does not agree with you. Imagine if the Liberals proposed abolition of an institution because it didn’t agree with their policy- what would be the public reaction to that?

Grimm 2:57 pm 08 Jul 19

I would say it was of far more urgency that we boot ACT Labor out of power. Not like you have any real power though, while Comrade Rattenbury has you over a barrel and you are too scared to say no to his crazy schemes because you are scared he will switch sides.


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