12 September 2016

Community meetings: Talk to a politician

| Paul Costigan
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Canberra’s residents are soon to elect a new ACT Government. Excited?

There’s a series of community meetings with candidates very soon – so please take note of the details at bottom of page.

One would hope that the new set of politicians would be better than the present lot. Let’s be optimistic!

Sadly none of the present politicians are seen as having real concerns about the rush to sell off land to make way for all manner of inappropriate developments. Yes everyone knows and sort of accepts that we have to have these sales – but what about some well-designed buildings that address climate change and are aesthetically appealing?

What about preserving Canberra’s precious open spaces? Maybe even more parklands? Too much to ask?

The most serious issue that needs to be dealt with is that the ACT Government is now the planner, the developer and the financial beneficiary of the planning and development decisions. Residents are usually not given much consideration.

Then there are all those stories to be told about who is influencing who.

The most obvious solution is to return to an independent process rather than the sham of ‘arm’s length’ now in practice. If not, then the ACT Planning Minister should be prepared to take all the responsibilities and be prepared to step up and override the decisions and influences of the combined development and planning bureaucracies and the property lobbyists.

Should we have the politicians make planning decisions with the residents in attendance? That could be fun!

Whoever is the next ACT Planning Minister could do something really innovative. She/he could represent the voices of the electorate. Give it a go!


Community groups have called meetings to discuss issues with the candidates for the coming ACT Elections (details below). What could be discussed?

  • Manuka Oval redevelopment – there’s a good article on this issue.
  • Braddon Oval is back following the developer’s change of mind.
  • Braddon Bowls – where once there was a quiet social club, that became an entertainment venue with parties and noisy events, and now threatens to become a small version of the Braddon entertainment district. Residents read the newspapers to find out what is happening.
  • West Basin and the plan to wreck the lake foreshores for future generations. Yes – we need some revamp of these parkland spaces – but not more apartments please!
  • Dickson supermarket – who knows how this mess will be resolved given the recent update – given that all sides have just commissioned high level firms of lawyers to engage in a very expensive and protracted battle. Which agency is taking responsibility for getting this so wrong?
  • Dickson Parklands – here we have the golden opportunity in the inner north for a green space and a set of cultural art facilities.
  • Haig Park – well overdue to be transitioned from ‘wind break’ and spooky place – to a major parkland for the growing number of apartment dwellers.
  • The Dickson Linear Park (the drain) – here’s a creative opportunity for a linear park through most of the inner north – but which politician has the vision to see this happen?
  • And the mess around Giralang Shops? Is any politician ever going to stand up and work with residents to resolve this one? No more expensive lawyers!
  • Will the Tuggeranong shopping and commercial centre ever get real planning attention and the commitment to make it appealing – not just ‘vibrant’?
  • There’s much more… so much more!

Any discussion about any of these development/planning issues soon focuses on:

  • How these decisions are being made
  • How much attention does this government give to the aspirations of the residents?
  • Do we still have a planning authority?
  • How much influence do the developers have on the final decisions?
  • Can there be a more accessible appeal process – given how complex and expensive the ACAT appeals have become?
  • How to reform the whole planning and development processes and to have maximum transparency – and no longer have rules that are viewed as being designed to be complex for residents but still flexible to favour developers over those pesky residents.
  • The list goes on and on and on …

The meetings:

The North Canberra Community Council election forum: Tuesday, September 20, Lyneham Primary Hall Brigalow St, 7pm (soup from 6.15pm).

The National Trust Forum: Thursday, September 22, St Johns Church Hall, Reid, 7pm.

The Inner South Canberra election forum: Tuesday, September 27, Eastlake FC, 7pm.

Pedal Power election forum also Tuesday, September 27, Pilgrim House in Civic, 7pm.

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Leon Arundell3:04 pm 22 Sep 16

Video and audio recordings of the North Canberra Community Council/Lyneham Community Association ‘Quiz your candidates’ forum on 21 September are now available online:

* Video from a camera located near the centre of the hall: https://youtu.be/76KnhNFMANo

* Wide angle video from a camera located at the side of the hall: https://youtu.be/VZ67HoGXxks

* High quality audio: https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B3rQNPoFzlTeUDJ1eTBIX1lDcTA (downloadable, 80 MB)

WESTON CREEK Community Council’s election forum will be on Wednesday 28 September. More information: http://www.wccc.com.au/

WODEN VALLEY’s will be on Wednesday 5 October: http://wvcc.org.au/murrumbidgee-electorate-candidates-forum/

Arthur Davies2:46 pm 15 Sep 16

The major problem is not just to get to talk to them but to get them to listen. Both branches of the Laboral party are totally beholden to their party administrations & so members will not vote on their community’s needs nor their conscience. But they must vote how they are told by the party machines or lose endorsement or be thrown out of the party.

The party machines seem to have policies which favour developers over the needs of Canberrans, I don’t see a way out of this but by breaking the hold of the parties over their members. Minority Govts & secret ballot in the assembly are two options, but there must be others. ways, be interested in any ideas.

MareaFatseas4:03 pm 13 Sep 16

Paul, I’ll be at the North Canberra, National Trust, and Inner South Canberra election forums in my capacity as an Independent candidate for Kurrajong. Top of my list of election priorities is better urban planning with more meaningful community engagement.
I’ve seen at first hand the problems with planning in the ACT over the past six years. As a past President of the Yarralumla Residents Association I led the successful community campaign to reduce the scale of the massive development near the Canberra Brickworks from 1800 dwellings down to a more reasonable 380 dwellings. I then participated in a community panel to identify key objectives for that smaller development. I thought things were looking up, with a more collaborative approach. Then the over-the-top Manuka Oval development proposal burst into the news, demonstrating that the Government hadn’t learnt much from the Brickworks experience. We really have to bring more transparency and genuine community engagement into the planning process. Also, it doesn’t engender trust when you see the Labor and Liberal Parties both benefiting substantially from political donations from developers.

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