19 September 2006

Canberra's Lucky Number - 13!

| Big Al
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The Institute of Public Affairs has come up with it’s definative list of the 13 worst cock-ups Australia has managed in the past 200-odd years. Coming in lucky last is … you guessed it … our fair city.

The listin full – along with the reasoning is available on the IPA website.

It seems that a planned Capital is not quite as bad as federal funding for schools, cane toads, and the the white Australia policy. Letting local Governments have power over town planning was probably a no-brainer. No. 9 has me intrigued – so I’ll be heading off the the attic tonight to dig out my copy of On Liberty…

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When I sought something slightly more erudite to read than school comics, I turned to IPA publications. I am easily amused.

the canberra bashing is about the same as always methinks.

To be honest i’ll be scared the day Australians are awed in their respect for the head of power.

Why is there more Canberra-bashing than ever these days? It’s a real pity this forum, populated by fair-minded people who can see both sides of an argument, doesn’t have a wider audience. But then again, this is a forum by Canberrans, for Canberrans.

Al’s comment about the road/rail route not passing through the capital is true – the rest of the country would know a bit more about what their capital is really like – but then again, why do we want that?

I agree with Spectra – there’s only one kind of IPA in my book.

Al, I didn’t see Rob Brunton’s name amongst the contributors to the list – and I would question whether or not small government, equality of opportunity and freedom of contract are in fact the stock in trade of the extreme right – I’m pretty sure that they’re not members of the Communist party, but it does no service to your position when you try and marginalise moderates with the stigma of extremism (unless you’re the PM of course – he’s made that an art form).

Let’s put this in perspective. The IPA is just a handful of extreme right-wingers the likes of Rob Brunton, who was a big fan of One Nation, and all of whom like nothing better than to get people worked up.
I noted during the interview this morning on 666, that the author said a lot of “I think…” “I, I, I…” I get the idea that this was largely the work of just the one person, but has proven a boon for their primary goal of stirring up a controversy.
For my part, Canberra is great (or I wouldn’t have moved here from Queensland). Only regret is that it wasn’t built on the nation’s #1 road/rail route. If more people were coming through the capital regularly, there would IMHO be a lot less Canberra bashing. Where we are now – off the main routes – makes it largely a destination only, so many Australians never get to experience the place.

I’m not saying that the IPA don’t have the right to promote their viewpoint — just that “Canberra as a cock-up” seems like less of a headline when you put the rest of the article in context and understand their anti-government viewpoint.

Absent Diane1:21 pm 19 Sep 06

I agreed with the private school funding.. everything else seemed to serve some agenda that I don’t care about.

I don’t think that town planning was the target as much as letting government – and in particular local government – over-regulate the supply of urban land. Essentially, the decisions that affect people most directly in their day to day lives are left up to the whims of that level of Government least equipped to deal with the responsibility.

By all means lets lose a layer of government- but lets be sensible about it – the nature of our federal model inherently implies a role for the States (despite the best efforts of JWH and his band of monkey-see-monkey-do big-government shit-bags) – local governments on the other hand are a hangover from feudal times and a refuge for malingering dip-shits across the political spectrum.

I don’t think that the IPA would make any apology about their bias – given that their underlying – and undeniably noble – cause is the promotion of small government, equality of opportunity and freedom of contract.

Yeah i liked the one on how town planning was a bad idea.


and on federal funding, isnt it intetresting that federal funding can go to roads, but not public transport.

like a canberra light rail for arguments sake.

Did anyone actually read to the bottom? The two “worst cock-ups” are the minimum wage and any form of market control(!!)

Essentially this list is just a rant against any form of centralized government — city planning (x2), government subsidies (x3), inefficiences of federalism (x2), and market intervention in the form of tariffs or minimum wages (x3).

The only item I would wholeheartedly agree with is the introduction of the cane toad.

Maybe the federal minister should stop micro managing schools then?

James-T-Kirk10:58 am 19 Sep 06

As long as there are state governments, we may as well be seperate nations. We have duplication of so much.

Take, for example education:

A minister decides on a high level strategy (In consultation with the federal department of education)

The Federal department then runs with it.

The state departments have a look at it, and pick out the bits that they want to use, and develop a strategy paper.

The local school then uses the bits of the state strategy that they want.

The teacher probably then ignores most of it, and runs with last years lesson plans.

Meanwhile, The federal minister is confused as to why the ship is not going the way he wanted????

Bring back the customs booths…..

Or get rid of the extra layer of government.

Mmmm…IPA…so thirsty.


This tripe has nothing that hasn’t been said by Canberra-bashers a million times before. Screw ’em. I love this city – let them live elsewhere – all the more Canberra for me.

I agree for the most part on their list but agree with the RA’s here – I don’t believe that Canberra should be on the list.

Indeed. Compromise was a major factor in bringing competing egos to the table.

Canberra is oen of those compromises.

If Sydney had been made the capital (or Melbourne, or Hobart) we may still be british colonies today, or more likely, several nations on the one continent.

I had similar feelings – to me it seemed that the IPA didn’t really grasp the magnitude of Federation and the underlying competing political and economic tensions between the colonies.

There are many good reasons for having your capital away from one or several competing states.

Can you imagine of any of the 13 US colonies had decided to announce themselves as the capitol ?

Placing all your major admin functions in the one space (to an extent) is sensible.

Making all your politicians travel to a neutral venue is sensible.

Planning a city is sensible.

Building a major city inland is sensible.

If their argument is that Sydney shoudl have been the capital and isnt… then they need more substantive arguments than they put forward.

Tell me, how many of my tax dollars fund this ‘institute’ ?

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