Greens ready to pull the plug?

johnboy 12 June 2010 25

In the Canberra Times the Greens’ Shane Rattenbury is having a major dummy spit over, well over everything:

Mr Rattenbury said frustrations included a lack of cooperation between government agencies, time-wasting bureaucracy, ”deliberate obfuscation” by Government officials and difficulties obtaining basic information from Government media staff.

The deal breaker is plans to bulldoze 32 hectares in the Molonglo Valley to build a shopping centre.

Apparently this is “nationally endangered woodland” even though 99% of us have never heard of it before and couldn’t find it on a map in a month of Sundays.

Anyway someone should wake Zed up and get him to give Shane a call.

"nationally endangered woodland" at Molonglo

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25 Responses to Greens ready to pull the plug?
Beau Locks Beau Locks 1:55 pm 19 Jun 10

Yellowsnow @ #22 – thanks for that. After looking thru those URLs and a couple of others and speaking to some people that know what’s going on and what the likely outcomes will be, it seems things will be pretty bleak. Will there be a dedicated bus lane? No. Will there be ‘Copenhagen’ lanes for bikes? No. Will the first new road be 80km/h with heaps of side streets coming off it to slow things down and make it less safe? Yes. Etc etc. Nobody seems very impressed.

Is this the fault of the engineers, architects, and landscape architects that have been commissioned to design things? No. They’re just working to a brief. Who could have ensured a good outcome? The government. Did they? No. They are as weak as piss, and I’m feeling more and more concerned about the Greens’ ability to function effectively as a third (and sane) voice.

As an addendum, I don’t think the material on the government websites (or the design of the sites themselves) could in any way be designed as ‘fine’.

Potato Potato 8:42 pm 18 Jun 10

Thumper said :

so, the greens have just realised that stanhope has been using them for the past few years and that they really are completely and totally irrelevant in his (the CM’s) eyes.

as hb said, it is identified under the EPBC Act so any attempt to develop it would trigger the Act which will bring in the big guns from federal environment. Stanhope must know this.

The feds are doing a strategic assessment of the Molongolo Valley under the EPBC Act:

housebound housebound 10:38 pm 15 Jun 10

In the paper version of the Canberra Times today: Greens caved already. Meredith Hunter makes it clear the ALP-Greens friendship is as solid as a rock.

yellowsnow yellowsnow 11:12 am 15 Jun 10

Beau Locks @ #20 – you clearly haven’t looked very hard if you couldn’t find a masterplan for Molonglo (mind you, ACT govt websites and associated search enginges are CRAP, it’s hard to find anything, so you’re forgiven. I suspect the ACT govt wants to keep its population in the dark so they can’t dissent on decisions that will make them worse off, while also allowing them to tick the consultation box — as in, “What do you mean we haven’t consulted on this? We out out a vague, densely written document on a difficult to locate webpage, which was up for a good few days before we made the decision! If you haven’t read it or seen it, that’s your fault”).

Anyway, you can follow these links to see what’s being planned:

As for the pond — it’s definitely on the board. It had better be, because they’ve already committed $17m in the budget to building it, and work has already started on it. In fact there’s already an almightly hole in the ground near the RSPCA where, once all the asbestos contaminated soil is removed (!!!) the scenic water is going to go (i kid you not, the whole area was an illegal asbestos dumping ground prior to the bushfires, i wonder if the prospective Molongloites are going to be told before they buy?).

Actually, I’m surprised it took the Greens so long to start questioning Molonglo. These plans have been around for a while — why wait so long before they kick up a fuss? Though I’m glad they finally did. Serves the govt right for waiving the usual EIS process because well … it’s the govt, it can, and it doesn’t want pesky environmentalist or endangered ecosystemts to stand in the way of reaping maximum profit from landsales (if this ain’t a conflict of interest I don’t know is — a classic case of the regulator regulating itself, which is never a good idea).

Fisho Fisho 6:08 am 15 Jun 10

What about the frogs and reptiles down there? This development will surely kill them all off.

All the other areas have pollution control ponds to help deal with runoff, I haven’t seen anything like that for the new monopoly board layout.

Beau Locks Beau Locks 11:11 am 14 Jun 10

Grail, I’ll be the first to apologise if I’ve got it wrong, and it sounds like I may have on a number of fronts. I was basing my rant on info from speaking to a bunch of different people with something to say, win, or lose over the development over the last year. After a ferret around of the fine material on the LDA website I can’t find anything resembling a masterplan of the area or comprehensive details of the measures you outlined in your post. A URL or two would be useful. Don’t forget how some of our other appalling suburbs were spruiked with similar language.

I can’t see anything on the LDA website about new access roads (just something about how there won’t be too much extra impact on existing roads…bah), that ACTION will deliver transport when it feels like it (hmmm….), nothing about a new road or bus lane to Belco (which would be very helpful). Think how poorly people in Gunghalin were served for public transport for a decade. Still are.

And wot of the proposed lake that I’d previously heard about? Is this definitely off the plans? I see no mention, which means it may or may not be on the masterplan, which I can’t find. Blocks less than 500m2 don’t mean a lot. Just putting bad houses on smaller blocks of land. Strip malls are good, so why bulldoze heaps of land for a big one? Blocks at 200-300m2 would have more currency, especially if people were allowed to build right to the side, and go up with an second story attic (terrace style housing).

Yup, I may well be wrong. If so, I’ll be very happy. I’d feel better if I could find some detailed masterplans. It’d be great if someone could direct me towards such info.

Grail Grail 8:18 pm 13 Jun 10

@Beau Locks: had you taken the time to peruse the fine material available from the Land Development Agency, you’d have saved yourself several hundred words.

Half the blocks are over 500m2, the roads have been aligned to encourage solar passive design, building envelopes leave at least 30% of the block undeveloped,, the major road is being put in first, there will be strip malls on the main street along with medium density housing, and there are plans for community gardens along with a pond to provide recycled water for maintaining parks and gardens.

Go to the LDA site and check there before ranting about lack of planning here, please?

harley harley 2:44 pm 13 Jun 10

I’ll give the greens the time of day AFTER they step up to the plate and take some responsibility.

If they come into a government (of either bent) as a coalition partner, then they can make whatever statements they want about their portfolio departments. Till then, they are no more (or less) valuable than an opposition, and deserve to get treated by the departments the same way.

Ryoma Ryoma 11:46 am 13 Jun 10

I have heard about the woodland at Molonglo. Johnboy, your quiz and the topic are great for generating debate and discussion, so thankyou for that.

Box woodlands are pretty rare generally (mainly because across south-eastern Australia they have grown on either gold bearing geology or in places good for growing wheat, and therefore I’m not surprised if the Greens are kicking up a fuss.

You would think that having comprehensively buggered up Gungahlin, that either party would think far more carefully about building a whole new suburb with a lot more care. no, not this bunch. Both of our local major parties are on the nose as much as their Federal counterparts.

As the issue does concern me, I have looked up the following document in order to see what the current state of play is. It’s called (quite a mouthful):

Review of Environmental Studies
Undertaken to Inform the Preparation of:
National Capital Plan Draft Amendment 63,
Territory Plan Draft Variation 281,
Preliminary Assessment
Molonglo and North Weston

You can see it at:

I refer Riot Act readers to the Executive Summary, and to pages 4 and 37 (especially the YBRGGW section), among the other concerns raised in submissions.

A big issue here is how the ACT Government (and other Governments) fail dismally at communicating issues like this to the public. Of course, if they want to push things through without publc scrutiny, then they are well aware that the public has little time to plough through reports like this one, let alone understand how or when to make submissions, etc.

Could it be that too many of us only act like Pavlov’s dogs – we act when the media tell us it’s important, and otherwise we presume if the media hasn’t picked up on it, it must just be a handful of zealots? Have we lost the ability to think for ourselves, regardless of the issue at stake?

Thoroughly Smashed Thoroughly Smashed 11:43 am 13 Jun 10

Classic example of an argument from ignorance, good show.

Voice of Reason Voice of Reason 11:42 am 13 Jun 10

Beau Locks said :

We vote governments in to lead, and spend our taxes based on evidence, best practice, and common sense.

What a remarkable theory.

Pandy Pandy 8:08 am 13 Jun 10


Beau Locks Beau Locks 12:15 am 13 Jun 10

Not very good options for the poll Johnboy! If there was an option along the lines of “I’m not familiar with the woodland in question, but not knowing about something doesn’t mean it’s not real, and may even be important and worth some biffo to save” maybe a few punters would have clicked on that.

[Pre-emptive apology for the dissertation…]

Forgetting the woodland for just a minute, I have grave reservations about the whole enterprise at Monlonglo. Not putting houses there, mind: that’s a top idea. Rather, the way that it’ll be done is wot gives me the heebie jeebies. A few years back UC final year landscape architecture students all had to do their major project on the Molonglo valley redevelopment. This involved masses of research and thinking, interviewing key stakeholders and sundry and assorted experts, and then each doing up a series of very detailed panels that showed everything from a masterplan for the valley to specific design elements for a new set of suburbs. To the best of my knowledge, neither the chiefly one or any of the local councillors with the exception of Deb Foskey) showed any interest in this work. A tragedy, really.

From memory, most of the students came up with a pretty similar set of principles (even tho their designs differed markedly). These were based on common sense, best practice, advice on freshwater ecology etc etc. For example, none of them included a lake, for a variety of reasons. Instead, all of them included off-line wetlands. All of them included transport corridors built in from the start. All of them had strip shopping and mixed-use zones along key activity corridors.

We will not get anything that sensible. What we will get will be another utter Gunghalin-esque disaster. (As an aside, are people aware that Palmerston and other early Gunghalin suburbs are actually used as WORST case examples of what NOT to do vis-a-vis urban planning at design and planning courses around Australia?) We will have stoopid McMansions on stoopid blocks of land, no integrated transport up-front, streets that aren’t aligned for solar access or surveillance or to encourage activity, no water sensitive urban design, no decent guidelines for how to build, and no planning for food production or anything else that’s both common practice and common sense in other more enlightened greenfield sites where the government has total control over the land. It will be a disaster.

One of the best parcels of land, and one of the best opportunities to start from scratch and get something right will be wholly farked up by the band of fools in the council and various guvment outfits involved in implementing stuff, driven in large part by what the powerful vested interests in the development industry think will be easiest for their members, i.e. continuing to build the same dross the same way they they know how and that makes them the most money. Of course, they’ll say that what they build responds to demand. If that’s so, explain why Swinger Hill is so popular, and (relatively) overpriced compared to surrounding areas? It’s because people want to live somewhere with that aesthetic and urban form. The design of the joint wasn’t pushed by developers, but by government. We vote governments in to lead, and spend our taxes based on evidence, best practice, and common sense. Once again we will be let down.

Waiting For Godot Waiting For Godot 11:38 pm 12 Jun 10

Interesting to hear on 2CC that the Motorists Party was actually responsible for three of the Greens being elected. If the Motorists had not run a full ticket there would have only been one Green in the Assembly and we wouldn’t have these moronic, airheaded nonentities (The Greens) throwing their weight around and holding the community to ransom.

junkett junkett 10:13 pm 12 Jun 10

What about the option for “the drones voted Nohope, the combined train-wreck was inevitable”?

Thumper Thumper 7:48 pm 12 Jun 10

so, the greens have just realised that stanhope has been using them for the past few years and that they really are completely and totally irrelevant in his (the CM’s) eyes.

as hb said, it is identified under the EPBC Act so any attempt to develop it would trigger the Act which will bring in the big guns from federal environment. Stanhope must know this.

housebound housebound 4:16 pm 12 Jun 10

This, only days before the next ALP-Greens accord meeting? Pffft … another scripted tiff to show they really are different, no, really.

As for that yellow-box – red gum woodland, it has been declared under the EPBC Act, and so it is a big deal. I think there is something like 5% of the original cover left, and a large slab of that is here in the ACT.

I would have more hope for that woodland if the Greens hadn’t caved in or severely compromised to Labor on everything else.

LSD LSD 3:27 pm 12 Jun 10

If it doesn’t go ahead, hope someone, somewhere in the ACT Legislative Nomenklatura has a Plan B for making inroads into the Canberra housing shortage crisis. Would be a help…

eh_steve eh_steve 2:06 pm 12 Jun 10

Shouldn’t Meredith Hunter be the one talking about a big decision like that? Possibly this is just Shane Rattenbury shooting his mouth off, speaking for himself and not the Greens team?

Cletus 3 Cletus 3 2:03 pm 12 Jun 10

You must be confusing facts with democracy. One is decided based on the vote of a bunch of morons, the other is not.

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