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Hargreaves exits stage right

By Gungahlin Al - 10 October 2009 56

[First filed: Oct 9, 2009 @ 8:21]

John Hargreaves Some would say that it was inevitable following a long list of difficult episodes caused to the ALP government, but there was never any certainty given the man is as stoic as they come.

But it has finally come to pass that John Hargreaves is stepping down from the ministry, as reported by the ABC this morning.

There is no news on the ministry replacement as yet. What do people think? Joy Burch or Mary Porter?

Certainly Mary must have sensed the winds of change and has been bumping up her media releases and profile lately…

Meanwhile the Liberals have been pressuring for Hargreaves to serve out his term. Who *was* next on the list? They a bit concerned about that option or something?

And how would John handle the next few years on the “backbench” for all that means in the ACT (apart from a lot lower pay packet)?

What’s Your opinion?


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Hargreaves exits stage right
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Mr Evil 9:44 pm 12 Oct 09

There was a photo of Hargreaves in yesterday’s Canberra Times stroking his pussy!

cranky 4:57 pm 12 Oct 09

#53 +1

I was particularly unimpressed by a meeting I attended a couple of years ago, when the merits or otherwise of a dragway on the horse paddocks near Rose Cottage were being debated.

An abysmal night weather-wise, a very ccrowded room, and noisy, robust discussion, chaired by Lissimore.

About 3/4 of an hour in, Hargreaves got to his feet and stated that there was absolutely no way the proposal could get up, as it was totally outside the land use that applied to the site. On questioning, he admitted he had this information the previous day, but had unfortunately found himself unable to fax these details to the meeting organisers during the following 24 hours.

Everybody at the meeting was on a fool’s errand, courtesy of Hargreaves. A totally wasted evening, for a large number of people. Such is the arrogance we are hopefully seeing the back of.

Jim Jones 4:37 pm 12 Oct 09

It’s spelt ‘bogans’, and I might add that it’s particularly poor form to base an argument on the statement that ‘everyone who disagrees with me is just a dumb bogan’.

I know a whole buncha bogans who are a damn-side smarter than to try to pull something like that.

ricci 4:24 pm 12 Oct 09

It is interesting to see the Hargreaves’ supporters comments. It confirms my view that it is the bogons of Tuggeranong who keep voting this character back in. They seem to have the memory of a goldfish and can only remember the last Hargreave indiscretion.

There is a long list of them which includes the Grassby statue, the Griffith library, Tharwa bridge/school and community, the downsized prison (so it would come in on budget), the official opening of a non-working prison, driving-over-the limit, the fireworks decision without any details of the results of community consultation, and so on.

Sure, it might be more boring without the guy and I have nothing against him as a ordinary person. But we need more than “ordinary” people in government. We badly need people with intellect who can promote good policy. I would rather be bored without Hargreaves than have to be continuing to put up with wasteful, expensive and stupid policy decisions which have cost the ACT taxpayers multi-million dollar debacles that have to be paid for. Examples are Firelink, Rhodium, the Busways Project, the GDE, the Olympic Torch relay, the Grassby statue, the Griffith Library, various school closures, etc, etc, all of which Hargreaves would have been involved in to a larger or smaller extent.

I just hope that we can start getting some smarter people into the Assembly rather than having having “good guys” voted in repeatedly by bogons. Better still, self-government should be abolished if we can’t get better people into the Assembly than what we have in at present. We must be running neck and neck with the NSW Government in the laughing stock stakes.

poptop 12:46 pm 12 Oct 09

I imagine it would be deeply inappropriate to suggest Hargreaves’ attitude to public transport could be due to his factional antipathy towards the TWU; so I won’t suggest it.

Grail 12:35 pm 12 Oct 09

Extra lanes on Drakeford Drive? I missed that one… are you talking about the duplication which was planned before the road was originally sealed? For as long as I remember, Drakeford Drive has been three lanes each direction all the way from Sulwood Drive down to the bottom end of Kambah where it eventually turned into a single-carriageway two-lane road going past Oxley. Then there was the duplication (which was planned by the NCDC back in the days when Canberra had competent urban planners) – folks who were around at the time will remember that the route for the second carriageway was cleared and levelled at the same time as the first carriageay, and there were even pylons in place for the second span of the bridge. The successful duplication of Drakeford Drive was not a success of any local government.

Or is my memory failing me, and there are actually extra lanes on the road I use every day that I just haven’t noticed?

Gungahlin Al 10:34 am 12 Oct 09

I lean towards JC’s position on responsibility. It isn’t possible for a minister to be across every thing the government agency does, and it is unreasonable to expect them to take a personal hit for everything that happens. But some things clearly should come home to roost. E.g. if I send a major document to the MO for vetting/approval, the advisers go through it, we amend it accordingly and the MO then signs it off, then the Minister owns that document and anything that spills out of it. But if I go make a change of some substance after the MO sign-off without sending it back up, and that change goes pear-shaped, then you can’t hold them responsible for that.

But John is bowing out because the weight of things that he did himself, said himself (or didn’t say), etc that led to criticism outweighing the good work he did. And ultimately his efforts to style himself as an old-fashioned bloke backfired with an electorate that see it more as an inability to move with changed community attitudes.

My personal concerns with John relate primarily to his out-of-touch attitudes to his former transport portfolio: being wedded to an inappropriate (and wrong) “Canberra was designed for cars and always will be” mentality, and inability to realise that a serious public transport solution is the only sustainable way forward for this town, and that just continuing to build more and bigger roads will ultimately fail, and break the budget as it does so.

JC 7:04 pm 11 Oct 09

housebound said :

Isn’t Ministerial responsibility for the operation of their portfolios part of the Westminster system of government? Otherwise, we are back to the days of pre-self-government – when departments could do what they want with very little accountability (until someone complained).

Of course, it depends a bit on the scale of the offense, but ministers are increasingly throwing up their hands and claiming they can’t be responsible for every little departmental error.

In real life it isn’t as simple as that. Ministers have bugger all power over their departments. They can merely control what goes in through budget and what comes out through implementation of their policies.

There is just no way on earth they can have any direct control and hence responsibility for what happens deep in the department.

housebound 10:12 am 11 Oct 09

Isn’t Ministerial responsibility for the operation of their portfolios part of the Westminster system of government? Otherwise, we are back to the days of pre-self-government – when departments could do what they want with very little accountability (until someone complained).

Of course, it depends a bit on the scale of the offense, but ministers are increasingly throwing up their hands and claiming they can’t be responsible for every little departmental error.

JC 6:46 pm 10 Oct 09

RayP said :

JC you seem to misunderstand the responsibilities of a Minister. It is more than intervening in individual cases when he wants to. As the Minister responsible for Housing ACT he is responsible for ensuring that Housing ACT is a competently run agency with competent staff.

By your statement that “he took care of an issue that my old mum had with the incompetents that work for the housing department” you accept that he failed fufil his general responsibility to ensure competent management of Housing ACT.

No I understand fully. I work in government and see first hand what a minister can and cannot do and how many departments are laws unto their own. In no way shape or form can a Minister be personally responsible for the staff that work for his department, save the department head. It isn’t like they employed them and it isn’t like they can sack them either, so what control do you think a Minister has?

Also we live in a world of trial by media and negativity. Unfortunately the media (and the general public) has no idea how government really works, coupled with the fact that most opposition parties (Labor or Liberal) make use of the media for cheap point scoring exercises to show the government of the day to be worse that what they really are.

Don’t beleive me? Ask yourself how many times you have heard an opposition party ask for someone to resign over an issue, then ask yourself if an opposition party ever has anything positive to say even about their own policies. Politics these days is all about attacking the party in power. I think in Canberra as we have so many government workers this tactic doesn’t work as well, so it is no wonder the ACT Libs have been kept out of power so long.

In the case I mentioned, yes he took control of the situation in my mums specific case. As I said this is local government we are talking about, so it is good to see that he was available to speak personally about the issue to mum and take control of it. Behind the scenes I just hope the staff learned from the situation and don’t make the same mistake again.

vg 6:22 pm 10 Oct 09

“He didn’t do anything anyone else wouldn’t do and just because someone is a politician doesn’t make them any different to anyone else.”

Because everyone is drink driving nowadays, and yes, it does make them different to everyone else because of the power and responsibility they have

RayP 12:05 pm 10 Oct 09

JC you seem to misunderstand the responsibilities of a Minister. It is more than intervening in individual cases when he wants to. As the Minister responsible for Housing ACT he is responsible for ensuring that Housing ACT is a competently run agency with competent staff.

By your statement that “he took care of an issue that my old mum had with the incompetents that work for the housing department” you accept that he failed fufil his general responsibility to ensure competent management of Housing ACT.

vg 12:02 pm 10 Oct 09

Goodbye to the big-mouth who couldn’t hold his p*ss

JC 3:49 am 10 Oct 09

I will stand up for him as well. As housing minister he took care of an issue that my old mum had with the incompetents that work for the housing department.

Mum rang his office, left a message and 10 minutes later he personally called back. Then the next day he called back again in a conference call with someone senior in housing and organised to have the old girl’s issue got sorted. Then a week later rang to make sure that housing had done what they promised to do.

To me that is what being a (local government) minister is all about. All the carry on in the media over his behavior is just bullshit. He didn’t do anything anyone else wouldn’t do and just because someone is a politician doesn’t make them any different to anyone else. Sometimes I wonder if the pressure we and the media put on politicians to conform puts off a lot of people that would make a good politician.

cleo 1:14 am 10 Oct 09

He did change a few rules regarding housing, for example, you cannot swap with someone else interstate, I can’t understand why they would change this, as in certain circumstances you need to move away for personal reasons

Primal 11:47 pm 09 Oct 09

How on earth can a group as small as ACT Labor have internal factions?

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