Skip to content Skip to main navigation

Opinion

Expert strata, facilities & building management services

Are Canberrans active in community issues or do we live in ‘Apathy Central’?

By Greg Cornwell - 16 May 2017 7

Community consultation

Are Canberrans active and engaged in important community issues or is Canberra really a centre of apathy?

Our city/state appears to be full of concerned citizens who are community oriented and fiercely defensive of their neighbourhoods. Our small land size is perfect for such social interaction encouraged by egalitarian housing and, despite rising population, still manageable to unite even regions.

We have active community councils covering most districts and made up of local suburbs combining for a greater voice. Governments make much of this participation under the guise of ‘community consultation’ and ‘deliberative democracy’ even if they do not always listen.

But are we really active in defence of our communities?

There is a lot of controversy at present. The ongoing tram saga now at Stage Two to Woden, the Manuka Oval makeover, the relocation of Northbourne Avenue residents to Weston Creek suburbs under a ‘social housing’ definition… Federally we have the proposed education funding cuts, especially to Catholic and independent schools. Surely all matters of moment to the local constituency.

Yet 50 people attended a recent meeting of the Woden Community Council, about 90 at last week’s Inner South Canberra Community Council (suburbs from Narrabundah to Yarralumla represented), 30 participated in the Chapman to Civic walk against a public housing proposal and petitions of 2200 and 900 signatures were received on the same subject.

Granted a public meeting in Weston Creek about public housing was postponed when too many people turned up and 550 Catholic parents were at St Clare’s College to hear about education funding cuts. So, while some issues draw attention, the hip pocket appears of more importance and a federal matter of more concern than territorial.

Nevertheless, all figures quoted above show a disappointing commitment to any major involvement in Canberra’s future by its population considering the possible interest as identified by voters in the 2016 Legislative Assembly election.

Accepting the issues identified earlier are predominantly south side matters affecting South Canberra, Woden and Weston Creek those most concerned are residents of the section of the Kurrajong electorate south of Lake Burley Griffin and those living in the Murrumbidgee electorate of Woden, Weston Creek and Molonglo.

Taking half of Kurrajong’s total number of voters (24,950) and all of Murrumbidgee’s (51,296) we reach 76,246 people who should have an interest in where they have chosen to live, work and raise a family.

Naturally, some people are satisfied with what is going on and proposed by our governments, others have different pressing matters before them, some don’t like going out at night or find public meetings boring, but apart from the piddling attendance numbers I quoted earlier do 76,246 adults all fit into these categories?

Some write letters to the editor, although in my experience many of these scribes also are community activists. Most are old. A sad commentary one often reads being they fear for the future of their children and grandchildren, oblivious to the point the adult children aren’t doing anything to protect their own and their children’s wellbeing.

We should be thankful our governments even bother to consult, don’t you think?

What’s Your opinion?


Post a comment
Please login to post your comments, or connect with
7 Responses to
Are Canberrans active in community issues or do we live in ‘Apathy Central’?
1
Acton 12:27 pm
16 May 17
#

It is a well-known fact (from Yes Minister) that buses run better if they do not have to stop for passengers and hospitals are more efficient if there are no patients. Likewise, this government believes that programs can be more effectively implemented if consultation with troublesome communities is dispensed with, or at best given token tick-box attention. It is just an inconvenience and a nuisance to consult with residents because they complain, raise objections and don’t appreciate all the work that has already gone into getting a project to the final stage.

Contempt for residents and diversion of public money to big business shows up in the form of:
– overpayment for Glebe Park land;
– appropriation of public spaces (Yarralumla, Dickson etc) for apartment densification and uglification;
– an out-of-town football club invited to come in and destroy the heritage aspects of Manuka;
– extortionate >9%pa increases in rates, levies and fees…

Back in the 1960s/70s the building unions implemented green bans to protect communities from corrupt government and the rapacious greed of property developers. Now, in the absence of genuine consultation how can people persuade local government to realise it is there to serve and implement the will of the community?

One way is for all of Canberra’s resident councils and associations to coordinate a city-wide campaign to get every resident to withhold payment on their next rates notice.

A coordinated rates strike.

What do you think? Would that raise community engagement and persuade the Barr government to pay attention to residents, (including those over the age of 40, being the main rate-payers?)

2
Rollersk8r 2:41 pm
16 May 17
#

I think Giralang shops is a case in point. Absolutely no shortage of people willing to join action groups, sign petitions, attend meetings, fill out surveys, submit comment to government – and all candidates promising to do something about it during election campaigns. Yet here we are – 11 long years and still no shops… The cohort of affected residents would be very different now to when the shop site was first closed down!

3
rommeldog56 5:47 pm
16 May 17
#

Acton said :

One way is for all of Canberra’s resident councils and associations to coordinate a city-wide campaign to get every resident to withhold payment on their next rates notice.

A coordinated rates strike.

What do you think? Would that raise community engagement and persuade the Barr government to pay attention to residents, (including those over the age of 40, being the main rate-payers?)

Whilst I admire & support your enthusiasm for a Rates strike, I’m afraid u have no hope in this apparently apathetic place. After all, the ACT Labor/Greens were voted back in after a history of demonstrably poor planning, apparent conflicts of interest, “smells” around both the Mugga Lane tip and land dealings, the tram stage 1 then stage 2 being an uncosted election promise, etc, etc.

And u think that there would be support from those voters for a Rates strike ? Sadly, u have no hope. We have got what we voted for.

4
dungfungus 9:18 pm
16 May 17
#

rommeldog56 said :

Acton said :

One way is for all of Canberra’s resident councils and associations to coordinate a city-wide campaign to get every resident to withhold payment on their next rates notice.

A coordinated rates strike.

What do you think? Would that raise community engagement and persuade the Barr government to pay attention to residents, (including those over the age of 40, being the main rate-payers?)

Whilst I admire & support your enthusiasm for a Rates strike, I’m afraid u have no hope in this apparently apathetic place. After all, the ACT Labor/Greens were voted back in after a history of demonstrably poor planning, apparent conflicts of interest, “smells” around both the Mugga Lane tip and land dealings, the tram stage 1 then stage 2 being an uncosted election promise, etc, etc.

And u think that there would be support from those voters for a Rates strike ?

Sadly, u have no hope. We have got what we voted for.

Watch this space.

5
Mike of Canberra 10:49 am
17 May 17
#

Greg, there can be little doubt we live in the most apathetic community imaginable. Almost a week ago, a letter appeared in the Canberra Times setting out the case that the ACT Government had seriously failed in its duty of care to the young boy whose family had taken the Government to court over a vicious attack by dangerous dogs at an ACT Government public housing property. This boy suffered appalling and potentially life threatening injuries in the attack, and his family demonstrated in court that, not only was the tenant involved not able to pay restitution but that the Government had repeatedly failed in its obligations to the boy and the broader community in this matter. Appallingly, the outcome of this case was not only a finding against the boy’s family but also the awarding of costs against them. The letter made all of these points but yet, apart from Greg himself, not one member of our supposedly highly educated and “progressive” electorate has bothered to respond, either in support or opposition to the views expressed. When it’s the side rather than the principle that counts, as appears to be the case with our “smart” electorate, then it’s no wonder a thoroughly bad government keeps getting elected.

6
dungfungus 11:13 am
17 May 17
#

Mike of Canberra said :

Greg, there can be little doubt we live in the most apathetic community imaginable. Almost a week ago, a letter appeared in the Canberra Times setting out the case that the ACT Government had seriously failed in its duty of care to the young boy whose family had taken the Government to court over a vicious attack by dangerous dogs at an ACT Government public housing property. This boy suffered appalling and potentially life threatening injuries in the attack, and his family demonstrated in court that, not only was the tenant involved not able to pay restitution but that the Government had repeatedly failed in its obligations to the boy and the broader community in this matter. Appallingly, the outcome of this case was not only a finding against the boy’s family but also the awarding of costs against them. The letter made all of these points but yet, apart from Greg himself, not one member of our supposedly highly educated and “progressive” electorate has bothered to respond, either in support or opposition to the views expressed. When it’s the side rather than the principle that counts, as appears to be the case with our “smart” electorate, then it’s no wonder a thoroughly bad government keeps getting elected.

We will have to wait until the same thing happens to an MLA or one of their peers for things to change.

I recall the incident where a son of a member of the judiciary was monstered at a night club – this led to a review of the crowd control industry.

7
Acton 12:18 pm
17 May 17
#

Mike of Canberra said :

Greg, there can be little doubt we live in the most apathetic community imaginable. Almost a week ago, a letter appeared in the Canberra Times setting out the case that the ACT Government had seriously failed in its duty of care to the young boy whose family had taken the Government to court over a vicious attack by dangerous dogs at an ACT Government public housing property. This boy suffered appalling and potentially life threatening injuries in the attack, and his family demonstrated in court that, not only was the tenant involved not able to pay restitution but that the Government had repeatedly failed in its obligations to the boy and the broader community in this matter. Appallingly, the outcome of this case was not only a finding against the boy’s family but also the awarding of costs against them. The letter made all of these points but yet, apart from Greg himself, not one member of our supposedly highly educated and “progressive” electorate has bothered to respond, either in support or opposition to the views expressed. When it’s the side rather than the principle that counts, as appears to be the case with our “smart” electorate, then it’s no wonder a thoroughly bad government keeps getting elected.

It was a well written letter than raised valid points. The letter is copied below in full with a link to the CT report:

“No one takes responsibility for boy’s safety and family carries can

Re: “Jack loses case over dog mauling”, May 6, p10.

Dangerous dogs housed in an ACT government public housing property savagely maul a young boy, who suffers horrific and potentially life-threatening injuries.

He and his family sue the ACT government for failing in its duty of care towards the boy, because it would not be possible to obtain restitution from the tenant (who owned the dogs).

The Supreme Court finds against the boy and his family and awards costs to the ACT government.

So we have ACT Dog Control, which apparently did nothing to rectify the situation despite repeated complaints.

We have Housing ACT, which reportedly had included a provision in the relevant tenancy agreement prohibiting the keeping of dangerous dogs on the property, but apparently did nothing to enforce this agreement.

We have a tenant escaping any penalty for a disaster of her own making. Then we have the Supreme Court finding for the government in a judgment that, while apparently legally sound, seems morally questionable.

In the middle of all of this sit the real victims.

They are the boy and his family who now face a, presumably substantial, bill for the ACT government’s costs in this case.

This is on top of heavy medical costs because of the attack in a situation in which no one, government or tenant, took responsibility for the safety of this boy and others present on the day.

The rest of us are left wondering how the ACT government sees its duty of care towards any of us. Why is it so?”

http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/jack-hartigan-loses-dog-mauling-lawsuit-against-act-government-20170504-gvyygo.html

Justice Pennifold said “so long as it remains within the law for a public housing tenant to keep a dangerous dog within the premises concerned, there is little that [the government] can do to ensure visitors … are not at risk of encountering such a dog.”

This case finds the ACT government cannot control the risk posed by dangerous dogs kept by public housing tenants on the properties it leases, owes no duty of care to the community if the tenant’s dog causes injury and neither the tenant or government are liable. The entire community is put at risk from dangerous dogs public housing tenants are allowed to keep.

Justice Pennifold’s judgement provides rational and convincing reasons for opposing the migration of public housing into one’s own suburb.

Related Articles

CBR Tweets

Sign up to our newsletter

Top
Copyright © 2017 Riot ACT Holdings Pty Ltd. All rights reserved.

Search across the site