NCA Public Forum

spinact 28 November 2009 4

So did anyone from RA go to the NCA’s public forum last night? I imagine there were a lot of lake users and Campbell residents in attendance.

From reading this CT article sounds like there were a few has beens (“in the good ole NCDC days”) and the usual wannabes putting across their ‘valuable’ points of view.

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4 Responses to NCA Public Forum
Gungahlin Al Gungahlin Al 1:37 pm 30 Nov 09

Chop71 said :

Did anyone ask about transport? It may have been an opportinuty to see if there are any ‘secret’ light rail plans? I doubt it, but well worth the question.

I was there until the death to get my pre-submitted question about transport (or more particularly public transport) and Monash Drive in. Although after a rant by Tony Powell on the topic, the MC was going to slide right by my question until I bucked up. (He seemed generally more interested in names or faces he recognised…)

The point of my question was that, with successive ACT transport ministers having been vision vacuums when it comes to public transport solutions for Canberra, how on earth could the NCA even contemplate removal on Monash Drive from the plans, given the only other path open to governments that continue to pander to the god of the car will be to double-decker Northbourne.

Gary Rake also conceded that light rail has been evident in all planning right back to the earliest plans, and it has been allowed for even in current projects such as the Kings Way overpass. He appeared to express some frustration with the ACT Government on the subject of light rail.

On the wider forum:

Good on the NCA for finally realising they need to talk *with* the people of Canberra rather than just *at* us.

But brickbats to them for trying to address everything in the one session. What we ended up with was like something from the Vladimir Putin school of media. Not quite up to Putin’s 7-hour record media conferences perhaps, but a meeting starting before dinner and running in excess of four hours is too much. And some old players got far too much time and too many goes at the mike.

On the ASIO building, the excuse given that it was another department’s proposal not theres did not stack up. As the managers of the capital, it was up to them to realise that it was a proposal that would generate significant community debate, and therefore ensure a wider awareness, rather than letting it slide by as they did. To Gary Rake’s credit, he conceded that were such a proposal come to the NCA today, they’d handle it very differently.

On the whole though, it seems that the NCA under Gary Rake is treading a very different path than it was under Annabelle Pegrum.

spinact spinact 10:05 am 30 Nov 09

Interesting. You make it sound like there was no interest in the project until the word got out that it was the ASIO HQ. Would there have been the same outcry if it was for the Department of Climate Change? Yes, but the outcry would have been about the Department adding to climate change by cutting down all the trees.

Hardly suprising they tried to keep it ‘secret’ but given the size of the project it was pretty naive of them to think it would stay secret for long. ASIO and Finance would have been better off being up front straight from the start.

I don’t think the NCA would have much of a say in regards to pulbic transport, that’s the domain of the ACT Government?

Chop71 Chop71 11:26 pm 29 Nov 09

Did anyone ask about transport? It may have been an opportinuty to see if there are any ‘secret’ light rail plans? I doubt it, but well worth the question.

Skyring Skyring 12:22 pm 28 Nov 09

I was there, looking on it as essential research for my online serial novel, which is focussed on the ASIO HQ site.

The seven NCA executives were earnest and united in their hand-wringing over lack of funds and power. The audience was passionate. Tony Powell’s spray most of all. The NCA consults, but sometimes not as widely as they should, and sometimes not at all. The bottom line is that if the Commonwealth wants to do something badly enough, the wishes of the local residents don’t count at all, as enshrined in legislation.

The guts of the ASIO HQ is that the site was always reserved for large Commonwealth offices and the NCA was advised by an independent consultant that there would be no heritage impact, so they approved it. Concerns expressed by Campbell residents focussed on the total removal of all trees except for the oaks lining Constitution Avenue, the complete lack of consultation, and the impact of traffic and parking. One graphic shows a lone bike rider on Constitution Avenue, the building in the background. “It’s not going to be just one cyclist, now is it?” asked a speaker from the audience.

I think there is a certain amount of disingenuousness on display here. It was only as the trees were falling that the word got out that the building would be the new ASIO headquarters. Up until then, it was “The Commonwealth New Building Project” and the client was the Department of Finance. I think it was kept as quiet as possible precisely because the commonwealth knew that there would be strong local opposition. Even local members such as Bob McMullan were unaware of the project until they read about it in The Canberra Times.

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