4 April 2024

Pocock says federal and ACT Labor governments have achieved little for Canberra voters

| Genevieve Jacobs
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David Pocock

Senator David Pocock says the federal and ACT Labor governments haven’t produced results for the ACT. Photo: Supplied.

Independent senator David Pocock has used a tourism forum appearance to take a major swipe at federal and local Labor governments, suggesting that, if anything, federal investment in the Territory had gone backwards under the Albanese government.

With a federal election in the offing – ACT senators are elected on the same cycle as House of Representatives members – Senator Pocock took aim at a lack of meaningful federal investment in Canberra and the local government’s failure to plan ‘shovel-ready’ projects for joint funding.

“The ACT doesn’t have projects that are good to go except for light rail,” he told the ACT Tourism Leaders’ Forum.

“We still don’t know, after two decades, where [the new] convention centre will be rebuilt. We’re on our seventh feasibility study for the stadium and there is serious work to do at the local level.

“But it’s been a real frustration in Senate estimates when you see the kind of money flowing to other jurisdictions and then ask them, did the ACT Government ask for money? And the response is, not in this round,” he said.

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Senator Pocock said the agreements and funding corpus received by the ACT stood in stark contrast to other jurisdictions. Under individual city deals, $9 billion went to states and territories while the ACT received “not a cent”.

While Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government Catherine King has said exceptions could be considered, the only ACT project to receive support thus far was light rail, for which the funding deal was a 50/50 Commonwealth split.

Senator Pocock said that given the “severely limited” revenue base available to the ACT Government, the Commonwealth must invest more in a city that is both the national capital and a major regional hub.

“We’re seeing things like Canberra United, one of our great women’s teams, in crisis,” he said.

“My understanding is this is a funding shortfall of a few hundred thousand [dollars].

“Part of the issue is the men’s A League team is being held up by not having a plan for the stadium. As an independent trying to work out how we can sort this out, it’s frustrating … when we shell out millions for GWS to come and play a few games here.”

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A voter survey from Senator Pocock’s office found 83 per cent of respondents believed it was important or very important for the ACT to receive a greater share of federal funding to address major issues, including hospitals, mental health care, and social and affordable housing.

“There is a real frustration at the lack of investment in us as a city,” he said.

Senator Pocock said housing is a key issue for constituents, but the number of local applications for the Housing Australia Future Fund investment, pushed through by independents and cross-benchers, was “abysmal” because the ACT Government did not yet have a plan for sufficient land releases or concessional deals with land prices and rates.

“People spend years on the social housing waiting list,” he said, noting that Canberra continues to be the second most expensive city to buy a home in Australia.

Asked whether independents were the answer to political problems, Senator Pocock said independents in federal parliament raised issues that were “politically inconvenient” for major parties.

“The number of times we get someone on the phone asking for advice, saying they’ve rung 12 MLAs who are not answering, you’d hope we get people who are there for the right reasons, not career politicians,” he said.

“I’m accountable to Canberrans – if I don’t deliver, they’ll go back to the major parties and find someone else”.

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Nothing new…safe seats are always last cab off the rank.

There was a tremendous outpouring of hate and bile against Zed Seselja by Canberrans. If one was to actually check on what was achieved for Canberra when as a Senator with the Liberal Party one will be surprised. Dare to have a look. Conversely what has Senator Pocock actually achieved for Canberra.

Capital Retro2:34 pm 05 Apr 24

Agree. Zed was a very hard working an dedicated Canberran and became an “enemy of the state” (like Tony Abbott) because he was becoming a threat to the politburo.

@Ray Zak
I think the vote at the last federal election speaks volumes for Seselja’s achievements as seen by the vast majority of Canberrans. Feel free to sing Seselja’s praises – but you and Capital Retro are clearly in the minority.

If nothing else, Pocock was party to delivering ACT voters the right to have their democratically elected MLAs debate and, if appropriate, legislate on VAD. A right that Seselja consistently denied because of his desire to force his beliefs on Canberrans rather than, as Senator for the ACT, represent their will. That alone puts Pocock streets ahead of Seselja for me.

Yes – exactly!

Poppycock is an absolute clown trying to be more woke than the Greens. Can’t wait for the day he is booted out of parliament for some other celebrity.

@Sam Oak
Yes, Sam, his is very woke – as per the real meaning “alert to racial prejudice and discrimination”.

Boberry Fudgeham1:45 pm 05 Apr 24

100% right, but a Liberal Government won’t solve the problem. ACT Government just needs to be more ambitious in its planning and funding requests.

Adults are back in charge on Capital Hill1:25 pm 05 Apr 24

What has Pocock actually achieved since he was elected at the last federal election?

He talks alot it seems.

Pocock probably needs to work out what type of politician he wants to be.

On one hand, he’s just won an “award” for not being the typical politician with the balance of power. Not leveraging that power to squeeze extra funds out of taxpayers in other jurisdictions to be used on their own constituents.

Yet here he is, wondering why we don’t get more funding for projects that typically wouldn’t receive Federal funding because they are either state/territory responsibilities or aren’t viable in the first place.

Does he want robust and objective project assessments or more pork barrelling and inefficent funding? He can’t have both.

Crazed_Loner12:14 pm 05 Apr 24

Just how many 4-year terms does the ACT Government need to work up “robust and objective project assessments” for the stadium, convention centre et al? The answer, of course, is always “one more”.

Crazed Loner,
They can’t because the projects themselves aren’t viable in the first place.

What is needed is subsidy from other state’s taxpayers if we want to get them funded.

So what Pocock is claiming to want is more equatable to pork barrelling, which is how numerous instances of these types of facilities have been built elsewhere.

You mean like the subsidies we give everyone else because the ACT Government never asks for any federal funding? The things Pocock is talking about can’t get federal funding without submissions from the ACT Government because of the way the three tiers of government works in this country. So in order to get our fair share of funding (not pork barrelling as he isn’t suggesting we get more than an equitable share) the ACT Government actually needs to do something more than feasibility studies.

“You mean like the subsidies we give everyone else because the ACT Government never asks for any federal funding?”

Yes, that’s exactly what I said in my comment. Other states have gotten funding for those types of facilities but it typically hasn’t been through usual funding or infrastructure assessment schemes because they aren’t viable in the first place. It’s difficult to put together proper business cases when what you are proposing doesn’t stack up at all in the first place.

An “equitable” or “fair” share is also a bit meaningless because that could be defined in any number of ways. How is “fair” defined? Needs based? overall economic benefit? per capita? etc.

It is equivalent to pork barrelling if it’s simply in comparison to what other states are getting and saying we want the same. Should the entire system be improved so money is actually spent more efficiently or should we just join everyone else with our snouts in the trough?

Which is exactly why I said Pocock can’t have it both ways, particularly with the types of project examples he’s using as areas for increased funding.

Although I will agree that the ACT Government has been lax in investigating and preparing funding bids for projects that would stack up for Federal input. Unfortunately, most of those areas are not high priorities for the ACT Government, so they don’t focus on them.

David Pocock is right. Labor is simply not up to the task on housing. When it comes to land development and release, selling off public housing, failing to maintain and efficiently utilise public housing, failing to build adequate public housing it’s fail fail fail fail.

Shan Weereratne6:58 pm 04 Apr 24

A city dragged backwards by politicians famous for ineptitude.

Its not even 50% of light rail.

One has to remember that Katy G said that Canberra would get better served as she would be treasurer. However when elected got sent home due to not being eligible and then said she couldn’t fund Canberra because she couldn’t single out Canberra.

Pocock should give up on the senate and give Barr a challenge.

Says the bloke who votes with Labor and the Greens for legislation that is anti business and pro union boss. He might as well have a blindfold on and a YES button on his wrist

I see you’ve applied your usual level of objectivity to provide an unbiased non-partisan analysis of Pocock’s voting patterns, Fp.

As have you with your typical response @justsaying

@Michael M
Really? How so, Michael M?

Typically negative standard objectivity. @justsaying.

@Michael M
If you don’t like partisan biased comments being challenged I suggest you find somewhere else

I have no drama with challenging comments but clearly you do

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