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Canberra-bashers have tainted the biggest birthday party of the year

By tjoyner 2 July 2013 30

‘[Canberrans] are held responsible for the deeds and misdeeds of the politicians whom you elect!’

Crikey’s invocation of a 1992 article from the Age hits squarely the mark after what’s been so far a big year for Canberra-bashers everywhere. In the year of Canberra’s centenary, can’t we all just put on our party hat and enjoy a bit of cake together?

It’s a celebration perhaps more sentimental than most, and Canberra’s unique ability in uniting Australians is more pertinent than ever – sadly a unity not born of pride, but of a universal repugnance for its leafy streets and brooding monuments. A special place for this is reserved in the Australian collective psyche, one linked only with caricature and contempt.

Earlier this year, Madeleine Morris of the BBC joined the diatribe against the bush capital, describing it as ‘dull and devoid of soul’ – a common complaint – although this time it had with it a whiff of monarchical condescension. ‘Poor old Canberra’, she lamented scornfully, ‘few cities do well when they begin as a compromise’. But it was Melbourne Fairfax columnist Martin McKenzie-Murray’s criticism of the capital as ‘sterile’ that drew the biggest public backlash.

Like many federal capitals, Canberra is often lambasted as an unfortunate synecdoche of Australia’s diddling political life, and turned into a common enemy and punchbag for the nation’s parliamentary woes. In the public imagination, its inhabitants are accordingly insufferable, well-to-do, faceless bureaucrats and minions of Australia’s governing machine, like moles perennially stuck underground beneath the flag atop parliament house. Our flag. The recent induction of ‘Canberra-bashing’ into the Australian National Dictionary included two similar meanings, although some would argue that one has become tantamount to the other.

Canberra bashing (noun): 1. The act of criticising the Australian federal government and its bureaucracy. 2. The act of criticising the city of Canberra or its inhabitants.

Instead of defending the capital’s image in public discourse to tourists and skeptics, many Australians tend to abandon all association with it at the first sign of smoke. Actor Guy Pearce, appearing on the Late Late Show in April last year, clinked his proverbial glass with host Craig Ferguson (whose shtick, it is worth reminding ourselves, invariably revolves around his sniggering interactions with a puppet robot named Geoff) over their equally unqualified criticism of a city in which neither live nor have ever spent any great deal of time (in Ferguson’s case likely none at all).

ANU student Uma Patel earlier this year made infamous comments about her university and the capital in the Australian. ‘There is certainly no sense of history’, she concluded, ‘and no graffiti covered laneways to “discover”’. Most Canberrans though, and indeed most historians, would politely insist that Canberra is steeped in national history – one hundred years of it to be precise. As for ‘graffiti covered laneways to “discover”’, it’s surely a defunct sense of civic appreciation that chooses to highlight above all a city’s publically defaced back alleys.

It may not have a beach or a whole lot of trendy bars, and Canberra like other cities has it’s annoyances (namely its high property prices and rental shortages), but it still maintains the highest median income and level of education of any state or territory in the country, an array of well-funded public institutions, low crime rates, and a beautiful lake as its centrepiece and homage to the man and wife who designed it. On the point of design, it’s a strange variety of barometer used when Canberra’s appeal is somehow made inversely proportional to its roundabout quota. This, alongside other undoubtedly irrelevant remarks about a lack of nightlife and an inexplicable overall dullness, stacks up to a well-worn belligerence towards the national icon that is better forgotten.

Canberra-bashing is consistently the cheap blood-sport of those ironically most unfamiliar with the city in the first place. If it’s important to be proud of your country, then why shouldn’t we be equally proud of our capital city?

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by Tom Joyner

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Canberra-bashers have tainted the biggest birthday party of the year
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Bobby Britton 4:34 am 04 Jul 13

MERC600 said :

When I arrived here in 79, I met up with some people who had been here for about 6 months. Will never forget being told by them the hardest thing to find in the joint was a Pub or a Petrol Station. Now of course much much harder.

Canberra is in some ways, a town more than a city. It dies early of a night, and the atmosphere is almost as grey as the morbid seas of public servants around its main centre.. Don’t venture out after 8pm unless you want a prostitute or a servo pie..
There is a definate air of elitism compared to many other cities in Australia for no rhyme or reason.
It has me beat how courtship takes place, as the women are so entranced in throes of conceit, and will not consider an advance unless it involves motions of wealth and prosperity. People always remark on how unfriendly the masses are, and upon the off chance of striking up a conversation, realise that it is only due to the other party not being of Canberran heritage.
The place definately needs a breath of life and some open arms if it ever comes to surviving without the commonwealth purse..

DrKoresh 1:52 pm 03 Jul 13

thebrownstreak69 said :

p1 said :

What we need is a term for the rest of the country, and encaptulates the same sense of casual distain. Like when Tasweigians refer to ‘mainlanders’. Suggestions?

Muggles.

And Queanbeyanites can be referred to as ‘dark wizards’.

We could embrace our bureaucratic, elitist image and start referring to the rest of the country as ‘the proles’.

Rollersk8r 1:47 pm 03 Jul 13

8/10 for effort, 3/10 for making a point.

what_the 1:40 pm 03 Jul 13

peitab said :

pierce said :

It isn’t the Canberra-bashers that make me think less of Canberra, it’s the over-sensitive reactions to Canberra bashing.

A confident city doesn’t give a rat’s what other people say or think, it just goes about its business, enjoys the jokes (when they are funny enough) and gives as good as it gets.

Really? So Melbourne doesn’t have a complex about being just as good as Sydney, and Sydney doesn’t have a complex about being just as good as any other world-class city? Because these cities are often held up as examples for Canberra to emulate by the Canberra-bashers. Seems to me that if some Canberrans have an over-sensitive reaction, they’re emulating those so-called confident cities.

Given its often voted one of the most live able cities in the world, 1st in 2011 & 2012 I don’t think melbournians have much to worry about…

http://m.travel.cnn.com/explorations/life/worlds-most-livable-city-525619

peitab 11:43 am 03 Jul 13

pierce said :

It isn’t the Canberra-bashers that make me think less of Canberra, it’s the over-sensitive reactions to Canberra bashing.

A confident city doesn’t give a rat’s what other people say or think, it just goes about its business, enjoys the jokes (when they are funny enough) and gives as good as it gets.

Really? So Melbourne doesn’t have a complex about being just as good as Sydney, and Sydney doesn’t have a complex about being just as good as any other world-class city? Because these cities are often held up as examples for Canberra to emulate by the Canberra-bashers. Seems to me that if some Canberrans have an over-sensitive reaction, they’re emulating those so-called confident cities.

thebrownstreak69 11:02 am 03 Jul 13

p1 said :

What we need is a term for the rest of the country, and encaptulates the same sense of casual distain. Like when Tasweigians refer to ‘mainlanders’. Suggestions?

Muggles.

And Queanbeyanites can be referred to as ‘dark wizards’.

Postalgeek 10:59 am 03 Jul 13

gospeedygo said :

Minz said :

Personally, I’m all for the Canberra-bashing, if it keeps people away. Canberra for Canberrans 😉

Personal favourite Canberra misconception: It’s an ugly city. Only makes sense if the way you define beauty in a place is by its beaches, which is a bit limited IMO. What a laugh!

I wouldn’t say ‘ugly’……

…..devoid of stimulation and inspiration however

I’m curious as to what urban construct you require to stimulate and inspire yourself that you can’t find in a city of 360,000 ?

Stevian 10:44 am 03 Jul 13

switch said :

p1 said :

What we need is a term for the rest of the country, and encaptulates the same sense of casual distain. Like when Tasweigians refer to ‘mainlanders’. Suggestions?

Ausländer

Heard it a lot in Austria, a whole country with an inferiority complex for some reason. Can’t imagine why.

Auslander is German for Foreigner, literally Outlander
hence the popular Fascist chant “Auslander Aus”– ” Foreigners Out ” appied against migrant workers. Sounds like the situation in another country not a million miles from here.

MERC600 10:32 am 03 Jul 13

farnarkler said :

If the gov’t wasn’t here and the ACT was part of NSW, Canberra would be another Wagga or Albury-Wodonga. It really isn’t that interesting, however, that’s not to say Canberra is a bad place to live. Oh and

apart from a decade in the UK, I’ve been here since 1976.

When I arrived here in 79, I met up with some people who had been here for about 6 months. Will never forget being told by them the hardest thing to find in the joint was a Pub or a Petrol Station. Now of course much much harder.

switch 10:31 am 03 Jul 13

p1 said :

What we need is a term for the rest of the country, and encaptulates the same sense of casual distain. Like when Tasweigians refer to ‘mainlanders’. Suggestions?

Ausländer

Heard it a lot in Austria, a whole country with an inferiority complex for some reason. Can’t imagine why.

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