Canberra and the ACT, they’re often treated as if the two are synonymous. Certainly on this site we’re guilty of using the words interchangeably.
Having been established under Section 125 of the Constitution to resolve the Melbourne / Sydney impasse we were unceremoniously dumped into a state of Self Government in 1988 when the Hawke Government tired of paying for the administration of a City-State.
But why should we choose to pay for the administration of a City-State?
The Canberra Region already crosses the NSW border with towns and even cities as far afield as Goulburn acting as unplanned dormitory suburbs.
No MoU is ever going to paper over the cross border issues increasingly afflicting the region.
Possibly worse is the vast duplication of effort the ACT goes through to reproduce all levels of bureaucracy. Things that at the senior (most expensive) level could be done by a person in Sydney for almost no extra cost (because they’re already doing it for the many regions of NSW).
Do we get any real benefits from our exceptionalism? Aside from a lack of green waste bins and hard rubbish collection it’s hard to actually think of anything.
But what about the Constitution I hear you cry?
Well let’s have another look at S.125 (filed under Chapter VII. Miscellaneous):
125. The seat of Government of the Commonwealth shall be determined by the Parliament, and shall be within territory which shall have been granted to or acquired by the Commonwealth, and shall be vested in and belong to the Commonwealth, and shall be in the State of New South Wales, and be distant not less than one hundred miles from Sydney.
Such territory shall contain an area of not less than one hundred square miles, and such portion thereof as shall consist of Crown lands shall be granted to the Commonwealth without any payment therefor. The Parliament shall sit at Melbourne until it meet at the seat of Government.
One hundred square miles? That sounds like a lot, but a 10×10 grid has 100 squares. Some creative map work and use of the lake shores (and lake surfaces for that matter) could see the ACT withdrawn to the Parliamentary Triangle, Anzac parade, ANU, Black Mountain and some parkland.
Canberra could become a major city in NSW with a proper mayor and a proper council. The huge duplication with NSW to achieve the same ends could come to an end.
With decent representation in the NSW Parliament we might get the railway running into the centre of town like in a real city too.
The only problem is who would lose out? The entire political class in the ACT and associated drinking buddies in the form of agency heads, Territory charity bosses, leechers, gougers, and spivs growing fat on the expensive waste of self government.
The establishment is pretty self satisfied with the current state of play.
But how about you?