26 September 2022

Motion to cut back 'glossy communist times' fails as Our CBR newsletter presses on

| Lottie Twyford
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our cbr newsletter

The Our CBR newsletter is distributed once a month to every Canberra household. Photo: ACT Government.

A fiery, and hyperbole-ridden debate according to the Chief Minister, has taken place in the ACT Legislative Assembly over what would seem to be an innocuous subject – the Our CBR newsletter.

The newsletter, distributed to Canberra households 11 times a year at the cost of $2.6 million over four years, is laden with “propaganda” according to the Canberra Liberals.

Not so for the ACT Government, which says the newsletter is consistently ranked as one of the preferred ways to communicate with the community.

Canberra Liberal Mark Parton

Canberra Liberal Mark Parton has called on the ACT Government to reduce how often it sends out its monthly newsletter. Photo: Region.

Canberra Liberal MLA for Brindabella Mark Parton kicked off discussion when he moved a motion in the Assembly on Wednesday afternoon (21 September), urging the Government to reduce the monthly newsletter to quarterly.

Mr Parton wanted the Government to walk the walk on climate action and save the waste of paper and resources.

He said the paper used by the Government was not from a recycled source and the 8.4 million newsletters printed every electoral term would stretch the distance from Canberra to Perth.

“If there is a single motto that comes to mind when it comes to this Government it would be `do as I say, not as I do’,” Mr Parton told the Assembly.

“This is the most arrogantly hypocritical Government in the history of this nation.”

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He said the “virtue-signalling orchestra” of an ACT Government was forcing Canberrans to stop using single-use plastics, including straws, but continued to print its ” glossy communist times”.

“I’m not asking you to change the tune you’re playing … all I’m asking you to do is to live up to the song,” he said.

“If the ACT Greens don’t vote yes to this motion, they prove to their voter base what the rest of us have known for years. They are chameleons who preach the word of the climate gods with the conviction of American TV evangelists.

“But just like the disgraced Jim Baker, as soon as the cameras are turned off, they just go about their business living a completely different life to the one they present publicly.”

Mr Parton also questioned information in the newsletter, particularly the Tuggeranong version including an article about light rail on the way.

“These so-called newspapers have descended into the realm of campaign propaganda,” he said.

The Brindabella MLA said with the Government’s climate action record and its use of the newsletter to advertise its own Sustainable Household Scheme, it should be a “given” his motion was supported.

Andrew barrChief Minister Andrew Barr accused the Canberra Liberals of having descended into stunts. Photo: Lottie Twyford.

But Chief Minister Andrew Barr hit back at Mr Parton’s “tax-payer funded stunts” and accused the Opposition of degenerating into “undergraduate behaviour that typifies those opposite … fit for a Young Liberals meeting”.

“The newsletter is one of many ways the Government engages with the community and keeps people up to date,” Mr Barr said.

He said there would be a future in which Canberrans did not want printed material to engage with the Government but “that time is not now”.

The Chief Minister ultimately scored Mr Parton a six out of 10 for his comedy and an 11 out of 10 for his hyperbole.

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The ACT Greens did not support the Opposition’s motion either. Minister for Seniors Emma Davidson said the newsletters were important for older Canberrans.

The debate was interrupted by an attempt to stop Mr Parton from using the newsletter on the floor of the chamber. Labor backbencher Michael Pettersson said he was using it as a prop and “waving it around”.

Props are not allowed on the floor of the Assembly.

But Mr Parton was supported by Deputy Opposition Leader Jeremy Hanson who said his colleague was reading from the newsletter. He was allowed to continue his impassioned speech with newsletter in hand.

The Government will continue to distribute its newsletter 11 times a year.

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I think a newsletter is useful to inform the public how their taxes are being spent. If the Liberals were really concerned about the environmental impact of the newsletter, they should focus on that, and propose some improvements, instead of childishly ranting about “communism.”

There’s not a problem in the advert if its working for others. There’s a problem that tuggeranong is getting screwed. Its insulting that they spend more on the properganda than they care about Tuggeranong.
Tuggeranong is expected to pay up with rates, public housing dangerous trees, first cuts to buses. But never gets any of the public parties, overly expensive light rail or road duplications.
For paying tuggeranong is next to civic. For delivering it’s a few cities away.

A colleague said her young son was excited when she told him the newsletter said they were getting a new playground near their townhouse in Wanniassa.

The much lauded multi million dollar playground upgrade project, ended up being just a fresh coat of paint on top of the timber and metal parts on the very old and basic equipment. I’d stick with the upgrades for Glebe Park in the city instead of taking your kids to the Bussau Close Wanniassa playground.

You’d think that the Tuggeranong Government MLA’s would be comparing the CBR newsletters to see how much they miss out on and what they’re not delivering for their constituents.

Capital Retro8:09 am 27 Sep 22

I still have one printed a while ago with a red tram picture on the front depicting the destination as “TUGGERANONG”.

It must be the slowest of slow trams in history because it still hasn’t appeared on the horizon.

ActewAGL used to send out a similar “how good are we” booklet with their quarterly bills. Maybe they still do – I haven’t been a customer of their’s for a few years now.

How awful!! Thank you Mark for alerting us to the evils of this dreadful abuse of power. Keep up the good work! (Do we pay this man a salary to do this?)

So you think consistently pointing out government waste and incompetence is a bad thing?

HiddenDragon8:08 pm 26 Sep 22

“Minister for Seniors Emma Davidson said the newsletters were important for older Canberrans.”

The “newsletters” might serve as a periodic distraction from free-to-air TV riddled with commercials for funeral insurance, but anyone who relied on them as a guide to reality in this town would need a good supply of cooking sherry and/or a sympathetic GP to provide the relevant prescriptions to cope with the dissonance.

I’m fine about this newsletter, I always read the Woden, Weston one. But it needs to give residents the bad news NOT just the good news, otherwise it’s just political advertising not a newsletter about your region.

The government should also tell residents important things like. We’ve removed your bus stop, we’ve closed the playground, we aren’t delivering that election promise on time, etc.

When I’ve read the Tuggeranong one at my mothers, I have to say it’s particularly poor and repetitious about non existent projects which are now in an under discussion phase or have been promised but undelivered for 20 years.

Vinson1Bernie4:45 pm 26 Sep 22

Its informative but of course subject to abuse eg the Giralang road extension (partially funded by Federal Govt) didnt get a mention till after the Federal election…

Ernst Willheim2:43 pm 26 Sep 22

Describing the newsletter as Communist shows how extremist some members of the Liberal party are
Fortunately Elizabeth Lee is capable but she seems unable to control some of the extremists in her party
Mr Parton is out of touch with seniors who prefer hard copy

The government’s glossy colour newsletter always makes me furious to think that our excessive land taxes are being wasted on this trash. It is full of self-promotion largely of matters already in the public domain.
Why on earth isn’t this sent electronically?
With literacy and numeracy levels sinking, a myriad of health delivery issues and roads pock marked with ankle deep potholes, I can think of much better ways to spend $2.6 million.
Can’t imagine why Shane Rattenbury and his Greens haven’t stamped out this non-sustainable practice years ago.
A black and white electronic newsletter once a quarter would suffice and allow printed copies to be cheaply delivered to anyone without internet,

I get an electronic copy as well as a hard copy. However, I don’t think the ACT Govt has made it possible to opt out of the paper copy.

swaggieswaggie9:21 am 26 Sep 22

Barr’s claim that this is one of many ways the Government engages with the community and keeps people up to date is palpable nonsense. There is rarely if ever an item with detailed info , instead we get the familiar “For details see online”. No URL or link or even a clue to which part of Gvmt might be the best place to obtain further info. The whole thing is just a glossy self congratulatory back slapping exercise.

I must admit every time I receive my newsletter, I can’t help thinking it’s just a rolling political ad disguised as community news.
It’s no different to all of those TV information ads we receive 6 months out from a Federal election. Ads disguised as information. And both parties do it.

If the ACT Government simply made it available for collection outside of your local supermarket or if it could be sent electronically, those who wanted their dose of indoctrination could get it and the those who don’t wouldn’t need to make the trip to the recycling bin.

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