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Long live ACT self-government

By Kim Fischer - 19 August 2016 21

ACT Legislative Assembly chamber

The history of Canberra can largely be described in three eras: pre-NCDC (up to 1958), NCDC (1958-1989), and self-government (1989-present).

In the early days of Canberra, the vision of Walter Burley Griffin went largely unimplemented. During these years Australia went through two World Wars, an abundance of departmental arm-wrestling, and there was a lack of enthusiasm for senior people to move to Canberra.

It wasn’t until 1958, when the National Capital Development Commission (NCDC) was established that the Griffin plan substantially came to fruition. With the construction of Lake Burley Griffin and most of our national institutions, Canberra began to resemble the city we see today. The NCDC also created the “Y-plan” which established the principle of decentralised development in Canberra with Woden-Weston Creek, Belconnen, Tuggeranong and Gungahlin.

During this time, the population of Canberra exploded from 50,000 to almost 300,000. For many people living in Canberra, the work of the NCDC defines their formative experiences.

The NCDC was essentially a dictatorship, making decisions without any democratic representation of Canberra citizens beyond “token advisory bodies”. An academic analysis of the effects of the NCDC on Canberra concluded that:

Canberra as a place came to express the expectations and agenda of Australia’s administrative elite in the nation-building era – ordered, rational, expansive and expensive.

ACT citizens got a great deal in these years, largely because no one was keeping tabs on who was spending money. Driver’s licenses cost a quarter of what they did in other states, car registration one-third the cost.

After the full cost of paying for the Territory was worked out in the late 1970s, it turned out that ACT residents received double the per-person spend of someone in Victoria, while paying less for the privilege.

In that sense it is no surprise that ACT residents voted against self-government. We had access to the perfect ‘magic pudding’ of Federal funds and were never being asked to pay up.

However, I have to admit I find it baffling and frustrating that nearly 30 years on, people are still hoping for a return to the days of the NCDC when we had no democratic representation on decision-making. The rivers of gold from the Federal Government were going away anyway. At least under self-government we have the ability to vote for people who can represent our hopes and desires for Canberra.

It’s not like the NCDC was perfect in its planning work either. In the Belconnen town centre alone, they were responsible for a three storey car park with amazing lakefront views and the infamous “bus ditch” that separated Belconnen into two halves except for a narrow red pedestrian bridge.

The increase in the size of the ACT Legislative Assembly to 25 members will improve the quality of our governance. The strangely-shaped electorate of Molonglo always undermined the concept of local representation, and the Assembly has always had significant problems with properly resourcing the parliamentary committees that are so vital to investigating issues of public importance. Having more members that are chosen (mostly) from areas corresponding to each town centre will go a long way to fixing these problems.

The NCDC is gone and isn’t coming back. As voters, the onus now falls on all of us to take responsibility for the system of government we have and make it the best we possibly can.

Kim Fischer is an ACT Labor candidate for the seat of Ginninderra in the 2016 ACT Legislative Assembly election.

Pictured is the ACT Legislative Assembly Chamber before work commences to house additional members after the 2016 election.

What’s Your opinion?


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21 Responses to
Long live ACT self-government
1
rommeldog56 7:55 am
19 Aug 16
#

There is just so much wrong with this article that you would have to be rusted on ACT Labor – or a Labor candidate for the ACT election – to agree with it.

Why can not the disclamer ” Kim Fischer is an ACT Labor candidate for the seat of Ginninderra in the 2016 ACT Legislative Assembly election” be at the top of such partasian political self promotions, so that readers are aware of whats coming in the article and not start to read it if they don’t want to read more spin from an ACT Labor/Greens Govt wannabee ?

2
pajs 9:50 am
19 Aug 16
#

rommeldog56 said :

There is just so much wrong with this article that you would have to be rusted on ACT Labor – or a Labor candidate for the ACT election – to agree with it.

Why can not the disclamer ” Kim Fischer is an ACT Labor candidate for the seat of Ginninderra in the 2016 ACT Legislative Assembly election” be at the top of such partasian political self promotions, so that readers are aware of whats coming in the article and not start to read it if they don’t want to read more spin from an ACT Labor/Greens Govt wannabee ?

What is wrong in the piece? Or is your issue that it came from Ms Fischer and therefore must be partisan and incorrect, regardless of the actual content?

3
dungfungus 9:51 am
19 Aug 16
#

rommeldog56 said :

There is just so much wrong with this article that you would have to be rusted on ACT Labor – or a Labor candidate for the ACT election – to agree with it.

Why can not the disclamer ” Kim Fischer is an ACT Labor candidate for the seat of Ginninderra in the 2016 ACT Legislative Assembly election” be at the top of such partasian political self promotions, so that readers are aware of whats coming in the article and not start to read it if they don’t want to read more spin from an ACT Labor/Greens Govt wannabee ?

I agree with your comment but being life-long conservative I find entertainment in reading what the left has to say.
Sometimes, when I want a real buzz, I watch The Drum or Insiders. I have to be stoned to cope with Q&A.

4
rommeldog56 10:13 am
19 Aug 16
#

pajs said :

What is wrong in the piece? Or is your issue that it came from Ms Fischer and therefore must be partisan and incorrect, regardless of the actual content?

I couldnt care less that its from Ms Fischer or not – any wannabee ACT LA member for Labor/Greens/Liberals is in the same vein.

Whats wrong with it – well what about this for starters – just one :

“The increase in the size of the ACT Legislative Assembly to 25 members will improve the quality of our governance.”

Its laughable. Thats just a ACT Labor wannabee supporting ascension to their next job. Anyone who thinks that the quality of governance here will increase because of the additional MLAs, is mistaken, if not gullible. All I see in this piece (and previous articles from the same author) is more of the same corporate party spin and clap trap that besets ACT LA members – of both persuasions. We need and deserve more – from all 3 major parties.

And which party foisted self Governance on the ACT without proper financial consideration ? The ALPs Bob Hawke, as I recall.

5
Madders 1:50 pm
19 Aug 16
#

Well said,Rommeldog56. Bob Hawke it was who foisted self government upon us – even after being rejected twice by referendum. So much for Labor democracy.

6
Blen_Carmichael 2:50 pm
19 Aug 16
#

“The NCDC was essentially a dictatorship…”

Not quite Godwin’s, but nearly as risible. That’s worth ten minutes in the sin bin.

“The increase in the size of the ACT Legislative Assembly to 25 members will improve the quality of our governance.”

That’s a straight-out send off.

7
Roundhead89 3:50 pm
19 Aug 16
#

Madders said :

Well said,Rommeldog56. Bob Hawke it was who foisted self government upon us – even after being rejected twice by referendum. So much for Labor democracy.

There is a bit of confusion about this. There was a referendum and a plebiscite. The referendum was held on 25th November 1978 and recorded a No vote. The plebiscite was conducted by Radio 2CC in late 1976 and also recorded a No vote.

8
Mordd - IndyMedia 4:15 pm
19 Aug 16
#

That was a good read, and it will come as no surprise to the regular readers that I agree pretty much completely with Kim on this, especially the need for the expanded assembly.

9
HiddenDragon 5:17 pm
19 Aug 16
#

Of course the “essentially a dictatorship” NCDC is not coming back, but things are going so well with the fixed term dictatorship which has replaced it, that we are now going to have demographic quotas for the already blatantly tokenistic public consultation processes undertaken in this town. The North Korean Electoral Commission may be able to assist with the latter.

10
Masquara 11:19 am
20 Aug 16
#

OT but – so good to hear the remarkable Rosemary Follett on 666 the other day. It is outrageous that she is never mentioned as Australia’s first female premier/head of a state/territory.

11
dungfungus 1:41 pm
20 Aug 16
#

Masquara said :

OT but – so good to hear the remarkable Rosemary Follett on 666 the other day. It is outrageous that she is never mentioned as Australia’s first female premier/head of a state/territory.

Not so.
It’s actually the first thing referred to here:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosemary_Follett

12
Ian 1:46 pm
20 Aug 16
#

It remains to be seen if the increase in size of the assembly improves governance. I suspect the extra members aren’t going to be coming from the top of the pile.

13
Masquara 11:23 am
21 Aug 16
#

dungfungus said :

Masquara said :

OT but – so good to hear the remarkable Rosemary Follett on 666 the other day. It is outrageous that she is never mentioned as Australia’s first female premier/head of a state/territory.

Not so.
It’s actually the first thing referred to here:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosemary_Follett

Oh OK if you think of Wikipedia as the locus of Australia’s historical/political discourse, sure.

14
dungfungus 2:18 pm
21 Aug 16
#

Masquara said :

dungfungus said :

Masquara said :

OT but – so good to hear the remarkable Rosemary Follett on 666 the other day. It is outrageous that she is never mentioned as Australia’s first female premier/head of a state/territory.

Not so.
It’s actually the first thing referred to here:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosemary_Follett

Oh OK if you think of Wikipedia as the locus of Australia’s historical/political discourse, sure.

Well I don’t but so many on this blog do so that’s why I chose that link. Seems I can never get it right. I won’t comment on what is heard on ABC 666 though.

15
gazket 3:42 pm
21 Aug 16
#

of course Kim Fischer who was parachuted into a fat paying taxpayer funded job with many benefits the average person doesn’t get, would say “Long live ACT self-government” .

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