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Canberra is doomed

22Years 29 July 2014 46

Have the changes brought about by a Federal Liberal Government and an increasingly broke and desperate Labor/Green Alliance, started to sink home to Canberrans yet?

I can remember so many years ago when the same sort of looney left Labor and Green Alliance took over in Tasmania, promising a change of culture (to the left) and increased economic security in the future from a ‘new way’ and renewavble energy and tourism.

And what did Tasmania become after 12 years of that rubbish? The economic basketcase of Australia that was almost destroyed in the GFC and an economy that will take another 10 years to recover – if they ever do.

The certainty of employment that the APS (and ACT PS) has provided to Canberra, will probably remain in the future, but it will be significantly reduced in its ability to shield Canberra anymore, like in did with the GFC.  The future of this town is very much at a nexus – it could go either way over the next 5-10 years.  To believe things will remain the same and that just like after Howard in 1996, this town will recover, is at best otpimistic and more realistically is delusional.

What Canberra needs is exactly what Tasmania failed to do, and that is to foster economic development through business ventures, and not to be totally biased against the benefits of a business sector, and to believe that Government money is a never ending magic pudding.


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Canberra is doomed
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HiddenDragon 6:59 pm 04 Aug 14

dtc said :

So what ‘red tape’ does Canberra have that other places dont have? Other than the ‘tripling rates’ thing that people hold up as causing all of these issues.

Secondly, if you are running a business, the no 1 or maybe no 2 (depending on the business) key factor for you is staff. Do you have sufficiently skilled staff. Wonder why IT companies arent set up in Byron Bay or high tech component manufacturers on cheap land in country towns?

Canberra has plenty of skilled people but finds it hard to attract people to move here outside of the government, we are cheaper than the other major cities. Our location at times is an issue (transport, esp overseas) and we do have limited land availability for certain industries. But there is no particular reason why Canberra cant have more non govt private sector work; its just that its never been a focus/need to date and its not perceived as a valid choice (over, say, Sydney).

Whether that mindset will ever change who knows; at some stage the downsides of living in sydney will get to enough people, but they may well move to Newcastle instead of here.

I agree with davo in a way – imagine how different Canberra would be had it been placed at Jervis Bay or anywhere on the coast really. It would be much bigger and with much more private sector; people would come to the town voluntarily instead of reluctantly.

We probably gain some benefits from having local and state governments combined here, but too often, we seem to get the worst of both worlds – the petty-mindedness of local government (at times, zealously enforced with the resources of a larger bureaucracy), and the imperious and out-of-touch attitudes of a state government, cossetted in the CBD and remote from much of suburbia and the regions. In the latter case, that is no mean feat, considering that we have a blink-and-you’ll miss it CBD and that the entire Territory is postage-stamp sized by Australian standards.

I think a lot of the problems go back to a bureaucratic mentality which is understandably part of the “Canberra DNA”, and the closely associated assumption that the true economic role of government is to raise revenue, rather than to facilitate the creation of income and wealth from which a reasonable level of government revenue can be derived. The effort and creativity (such as it is) goes largely to the former, with the latter an after-thought, and an add-on for presentational purposes.

All of that said, I agree with your final point – had Canberra been set in a location with more obvious appeal to a wider range of people as a place to live and work, it would very likely have a larger, more diverse and sounder economic base.

dtc 11:35 am 04 Aug 14

But most of those South Coast issues are small town issues, not coast issues. Same problem if you headed off to a small inland town.

I dont work in the APS and this is how our staff recruitment goes

1. hire someone who lives in Canberra or who recently graduated from a Canberra Uni
2. they move to Sydney
3. we try to hire more people in Canberra, but they dont exist
4. we try to hire people from interstate.
5. if they have family reasons to move here, then sometimes they do
6. no one moves here for any other reason.

dungfungus 5:41 pm 03 Aug 14

Maya123 said :

dtc said :

I agree with davo in a way – imagine how different Canberra would be had it been placed at Jervis Bay or anywhere on the coast really. It would be much bigger and with much more private sector; people would come to the town voluntarily instead of reluctantly.

I have never understood this fixation with living on the coast. I grew up in mainly inland towns and rarely saw the ocean. I enjoyed it when I did, but have always considered it a fun place to visit occasionally, but have never wanted to live near it. I am willing to accept that I might be in the minority, but still I wonder if being near the ocean is overrated.

Well, you are not in the minority in the house I live in because we endorse exactly what you say.
I know a few people in Canberra who have retired and they can’t wait till they move down to the south coast. Then in about 6 months they are gravitating back to Canberra.
Some reasons for the disappointments that retirement on the coast have given them is you have to wait up to 2 years to get a private GP (you take your place on the waiting list for someone to die) and if you have medical problems and you need a specialist you will be referred to a Sydney hospital/specialist.
Regarding entertainment, there are few live cultural performances and few movie theatres. Pet dogs get ticks, cars rust etc. Most of your friends are back in Canberra and retirement is the wrong time in life to start new friendships.
In Canberra, you can travel to all points on the compass; on the coast you almost lose half those choices.

Maya123 11:31 am 03 Aug 14

dtc said :

I agree with davo in a way – imagine how different Canberra would be had it been placed at Jervis Bay or anywhere on the coast really. It would be much bigger and with much more private sector; people would come to the town voluntarily instead of reluctantly.

I have never understood this fixation with living on the coast. I grew up in mainly inland towns and rarely saw the ocean. I enjoyed it when I did, but have always considered it a fun place to visit occasionally, but have never wanted to live near it. I am willing to accept that I might be in the minority, but still I wonder if being near the ocean is overrated.

dtc 11:20 pm 02 Aug 14

So what ‘red tape’ does Canberra have that other places dont have? Other than the ‘tripling rates’ thing that people hold up as causing all of these issues.

Secondly, if you are running a business, the no 1 or maybe no 2 (depending on the business) key factor for you is staff. Do you have sufficiently skilled staff. Wonder why IT companies arent set up in Byron Bay or high tech component manufacturers on cheap land in country towns?

Canberra has plenty of skilled people but finds it hard to attract people to move here outside of the government, we are cheaper than the other major cities. Our location at times is an issue (transport, esp overseas) and we do have limited land availability for certain industries. But there is no particular reason why Canberra cant have more non govt private sector work; its just that its never been a focus/need to date and its not perceived as a valid choice (over, say, Sydney).

Whether that mindset will ever change who knows; at some stage the downsides of living in sydney will get to enough people, but they may well move to Newcastle instead of here.

I agree with davo in a way – imagine how different Canberra would be had it been placed at Jervis Bay or anywhere on the coast really. It would be much bigger and with much more private sector; people would come to the town voluntarily instead of reluctantly.

rommeldog56 10:12 am 02 Aug 14

milkman said :

It’s very simple. A business has costs of delivery, costs of risk, contingency and profit, and all need to be accounted for. When you have lots of government red tape, high cost of living and a (generally) well paid local population, prices are high.

Well said. It is simple. So, why does the ACT Gov’t continually not get it re their own contributors to the high cost of living/conducting business and employing staff in the ACT ? The potential tripling of Annual Rates (including Commercial Rates) and repaying the massive principle and interest for the supposedly necessary infrastructure stimulus package, Gov’t charges/red tape and “investments” in projects like the Light Rail (which, as far as I can tell, wont help grow the economic base here) really are self destructing for the ACT economy.

If the potential tripling of Annual Rates here really is “revenue neutral” as the ACT Govt claim (but wont release the figures to prove that !), then all they have done is to increase the cost of setting up a business in the ACT and employing Canberrians ’cause it artificially inflates the cost of living here (= need for higher wages).

A few commentators on here claim that the potential tripling of Annual Rates is the best decision this ACT Govt has ever made because it guarantees future revenues.

In years to come, you will find that it is in fact one of the worst decisions ever made in this place (and that’s saying something !) as business growth is driven across the border and Canberra based labor force becomes too expensive to employ.

milkman 10:10 pm 01 Aug 14

It’s very simple. A business has costs of delivery, costs of risk, contingency and profit, and all need to be accounted for. When you have lots of government red tape, high cost of living and a (generally) well paid local population, prices are high.

HiddenDragon 5:50 pm 01 Aug 14

dianak said :

I agree with the author, Canberra is just too hard to operate a small or startup business mainly because of the huge amount of legislation controlling every aspects of our lives here, but more simply because of the cost of living, rates, water, electricity, food and petrol. Anything other than basic services is just not viable without paternal government grants to keep you afloat. It’s just amazing how ignorant many Canberrans are of our relatively high living costs due to government over spending and over taxing. They only start to realise this when their public service jobs are on the line, but too late to make a difference by then.

The software business is controlled by multinats and most of their staff are brought in from overseas on working visas to reduce costs, obvious to anyone who’s been in the public service in recent years.

The nanny state government programs, sponsorships and advertisements make it feel like you’re living in some eastern block communist state with big brother showing you how to tie your shoelaces.

I’ll be moving my business interstate in the next few months simply because the costs analysis has showed Canberra is not all it’s cracked up to be by this socialist government. As iron Maggie once said “The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money”. I wonder how many of our MLA’s have ever run a successful business?

The relatively high living costs in Canberra can also be attributed – in part, at least – to the tendency of some businesses to set their prices on the assumption that they have a captive, well-heeled market. Such businesses would, in turn, probably point to the high government-imposed costs of doing business in Canberra. One way or another, it doesn’t add up to a conducive environment for those businesses which actually have to compete with peers based in more business-friendly locations.

dianak 1:58 pm 01 Aug 14

I agree with the author, Canberra is just too hard to operate a small or startup business mainly because of the huge amount of legislation controlling every aspects of our lives here, but more simply because of the cost of living, rates, water, electricity, food and petrol. Anything other than basic services is just not viable without paternal government grants to keep you afloat. It’s just amazing how ignorant many Canberrans are of our relatively high living costs due to government over spending and over taxing. They only start to realise this when their public service jobs are on the line, but too late to make a difference by then.

The software business is controlled by multinats and most of their staff are brought in from overseas on working visas to reduce costs, obvious to anyone who’s been in the public service in recent years.

The nanny state government programs, sponsorships and advertisements make it feel like you’re living in some eastern block communist state with big brother showing you how to tie your shoelaces.

I’ll be moving my business interstate in the next few months simply because the costs analysis has showed Canberra is not all it’s cracked up to be by this socialist government. As iron Maggie once said “The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money”. I wonder how many of our MLA’s have ever run a successful business?

dungfungus 12:49 pm 01 Aug 14

HenryBG said :

Funny how your political slant on this fails to take into account the gas-fired power station and Data Hub we never got, blocked by the ACT Liberals and the NIMBYs of Macarthur……

http://the-riotact.com/dirty-energy-power-plant-in-canberra/7358

Here was a project that would have created employment and infrastructure and attracted further business to the territory – but no, some sort of looney-right alliance had to stop it from happening.

So we lost this proposed development to whom and where?
One of the JV partners in this folly was Galileo Connect who have a DA approved in a business park in Sydney for 3 similar sized data centres (no gas fired power stations) but that is as far as it apperas to have developed.
The Canberra Technology City concept (data storage and natural gas fired power station) was another speculative ActewAGL proposal hot on the heels of their foray into TransACT which ended up costing ACT ratepayers over $50 million.
They were also going to build another facility at Belconnen (what happened to that I have no idea) and a gas fired power station at Williamsdale (fate of that one also unknown).
I think you will find that the real reason none of these projects proceeded was that ActewAGL finances were already stretched and the Cotter dam upsize was more urgent.
The Cotter project has since been completed at a massive cost overrun and along the way ActewAGL managed to blow several more milllions on “A Better Place” ( what a misnomer that one turned out to be).
A separate data centre and solar power thermal power station development was proposed a year later by a consortium of Sanctury Energy, Wizard Power and Springfield Land Corporation on land nearby.
It has failed to materialise. Data centes are not big employers by the way.
Of course there was a lot of local opposition to the CTC proposal. It was to be located between the exiting Mugga Lane garbage tip and the compost factory and both of these facilities already send their odours to residents of Fadden, Gilmore and Macarthur. The threat of massive volumes of greenhouse emissions travelling on the same air currents was a real health risk.
In the end these data centres they were only “thought bubbles” of a few people who who had more power than business experience and access to other people’s money (that is code for you and I).
We should consider ourselves lucky.

justin heywood 11:40 am 01 Aug 14

HenryBG said :

Funny how your political slant on this fails to take into account the gas-fired power station and Data Hub we never got, blocked by the ACT Liberals and the NIMBYs of Macarthur……

http://the-riotact.com/dirty-energy-power-plant-in-canberra/7358

Here was a project that would have created employment and infrastructure and attracted further business to the territory – but no, some sort of looney-right alliance had to stop it from happening.

Funny how YOUR political slant manages to blame the other team even when it’s your own side that makes the decisions. And I notice on your link that even that well known right-wing loony Gunghalin Al didn’t think much of the idea, and he’s a Green from Gunghalin.

Ask yourself honestly Henry, if the Liberals were in power and proposing a high-emission, old-tech power station in the ACT, would you have supported it?

HenryBG 11:07 am 01 Aug 14

Funny how your political slant on this fails to take into account the gas-fired power station and Data Hub we never got, blocked by the ACT Liberals and the NIMBYs of Macarthur……

http://the-riotact.com/dirty-energy-power-plant-in-canberra/7358

Here was a project that would have created employment and infrastructure and attracted further business to the territory – but no, some sort of looney-right alliance had to stop it from happening.

watto23 10:27 pm 31 Jul 14

Yeah I’m always getting called up by recruitment companies to see if I want another job in IT. The thing is IT is a job that the gov outsources to make it look like they are cutting costs! Also IT is not the cash cow it once was, with private company wages and conditions much lower than the equivalent public service position. Although the govt IMO pays a way more for outsourcing than if it just hired and paid for their own IT staff! The savings really are only there to be made by having a single govt service desk, which some of the outsourcers do by combining the service desks for their clients.

As for canberra I think the sooner we move into hi tech industries the better. Australia as a whole is never going to compete again in large scale manufacturing. Education sector is worth money to the ACT also. That said I’m far more concerned by the federal govt trying to dumb down the country with its bad social and education policies. Over spending can be repaired in a years, under educated generation takes a generation or more to fix.

bigfeet 6:42 pm 31 Jul 14

Listers_Cat said :

Legalise cannabis in Canberra. Problem solved.

Well the internet has killed the ‘porn tourism’ market and the nanny-state has killed the ‘fireworks tourism’ market.

This could be a viable replacement!

And think how much the fast food industry would benefit.

Hell, even the tram would be impressive to stoners!

Listers_Cat 4:52 pm 31 Jul 14

Legalise cannabis in Canberra. Problem solved.

dungfungus 9:49 am 31 Jul 14

justsomeaussie said :

dungfungus said :

Dondon said :

davo101 said :

The software developer we just recruited told me the Canberra market for IT is so dead at the moment he was just about to move to Sydney to chase the jobs.

That’s amazing, since I am knocking back contracts at the moment. However I am not a Dev but a BA.

For the benefit of luddites like me, what is a Dev and a BA?

A Business Analyst (BA) works with an organisation in determining the requirements of a system and acts as a liason. A Developer (Dev) takes those requirements and builds a system.

I thought right about what a Dev was but I had a fixation that a BA was a “Bulls**t Artist”.
Then again a Business Analyst would be similar I think.
Thanks for clarifying that.

davo101 9:32 am 31 Jul 14

dungfungus said :

For the benefit of luddites like me, what is a Dev and a BA?

With my tongue firmly in my cheek:

Dev: Software developer aka code monkey. Often found in the dev shed trying to prove the theory that with enough monkeys banging on keyboards every interesting program can be created. Powered almost exclusively by a combination of chubba chups and caffeine.

BA: Business Analyst aka the poor bunny. Has many roles: interpreter between dev speak and english, negotiator (eg: “no it can’t be finished by Wednesday” and “documentation in High Church Klingon is not acceptable”), peace-keeper. Looked down on by devs because they talk to non-devs and don’t spend all day working on the infinite monkey theorem. On the other hand get on well with others due to listening skills.

(Views entirely based on my own observations and prejudices your mileage may vary)

justsomeaussie 9:21 am 31 Jul 14

dungfungus said :

Dondon said :

davo101 said :

The software developer we just recruited told me the Canberra market for IT is so dead at the moment he was just about to move to Sydney to chase the jobs.

That’s amazing, since I am knocking back contracts at the moment. However I am not a Dev but a BA.

For the benefit of luddites like me, what is a Dev and a BA?

A Business Analyst (BA) works with an organisation in determining the requirements of a system and acts as a liason. A Developer (Dev) takes those requirements and builds a system.

VYBerlinaV8_is_back 8:26 am 31 Jul 14

pink little birdie said :

VYBerlinaV8_is_back said :

Doomed, yeah right. There are lots of jobs at the moment in the IT business in Canberra, it’s rarely this busy, in fact. There are some very big government projects coming up over the next couple of years (hundreds of millions each) that private companies are already recruiting for as well.

Love to know a few of these companies partner needs a fulltime job in IT.

Lockheed Martin are out recruiting, and I know a number of smaller consultancy firms are looking for specialists. DEEWR just put on 70 dev contractors, and there are a couple of big IT projects that will start next year, both run out of Canberra that I’m aware of (hundreds of millions of $$ each). I’ve had calls from HP, and some of the 2nd tier integrators have been looking too. Specialists skills are where its at during a government downturn.

dungfungus 8:12 am 31 Jul 14

Dondon said :

davo101 said :

The software developer we just recruited told me the Canberra market for IT is so dead at the moment he was just about to move to Sydney to chase the jobs.

That’s amazing, since I am knocking back contracts at the moment. However I am not a Dev but a BA.

For the benefit of luddites like me, what is a Dev and a BA?

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