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Politicians flying too close to the sun

By Paul Costigan - 25 May 2016 20

flying-P1110692

There is a now a long list of candidates announced for the 2016 ACT election. These people are about to put themselves through a very complicated and drawn out job application. If they pass this six-month interview process, they will be given a four-year contract to be an ACT politician. Then they have the option of applying all over again through the same long process in four years’ time. Fun!

Each successful candidate will be bestowed a range of privileges to assist them in their complicated role. But – and this is the point of this article – sadly, along with those rightfully earned privileges, some politicians assume they have extra, special rights and privileges. They start to take too much for granted and in the process become removed from the electorate.

This perception of politicians being disconnected from the realities of the electorate exists not just here in Canberra, or just in Australia, but has become the norm internationally. It is a very serious issue that remains unaddressed by all of us with a commitment to democracy.

Having had a range of experiences in political advocacy over many decades, I have observed how most people, once elected, then transform into an occupant of that rarefied world occupied by politicians, advisers and chief bureaucrats.

It would be tempting here to mention helicopters and flights to Geelong but that would be straying from my focus on ACT politicians.

Take for example the recent events whereby an ACT minister’s husband was a lobbyist for a developer – and then resigned following some pressure through the press.

The stunner was that the minister and her chief continued to state that there was no potential conflict. There’s an alternative reality there somewhere, a parallel universe.

Even when asked about taking a positive step to open up better consultations with the residents around Manuka, the reply was that that this would not be necessary as there were enough consultations already. What?

Hundreds of residents had just filled a meeting to protest about the Manuka proposal. All but a handful were there to vent their displeasure – or more likely their anger. Surely this would be a sign to any aware politician that something was wrong.

One wonders why local representatives do not just sit in on the occasional community or neighbourhood meeting instead of always waiting to be invited? After all, they are residents and surely it is not that difficult to retain that local day-to-day connection.

I worry that some local politicians see themselves as having been elevated to an almost royal status – and expect the rest to behave accordingly. Lucky us!

crown-sheep

The local community association formally reaches out to the politicians on a regular basis to have them attend meetings. Some politicians know how to approach such meetings. Others just do not seem to get it, namely, that this is a chance to sit and talk with their locals, possibly neighbours, and as such would share some of the same aspirations.

Then there was a now infamous event concerning a local politician.

At the community meeting a question was raised about the future of the Dickson Parklands/Section 70. The politician looked at us and asked where was this place? Someone quietly informed her that she was standing on it. There were some strange looks as we realised that someone was not across this local burning issue and had not done her homework. (Maybe her dog ate it?)

Later she was asked about consultations with community. She stated that the government considered community groups to be dominated by older males. We looked around the room at each other (about 30 people) and realised that the gender balance was about even and the average age might be as high as 50, give or take.

She did not observe how people reacted to such an ageist remark. Instead, she just carried on talking. And this is the government that boasts on number plates that Canberra is an ‘age-friendly city’ (whatever that means).

After decades of contact with politicians, I can count on one hand those who remained locally focused and did not get carried away with privileges, and who remained true to core beliefs.

Sadly I could list many who have lived for the experience of flying higher and higher – not realising they were getting too close to the sun.

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What to do?

It is an election year and electors would like to think that it is a good time to elect a peer, a neighbour, a local person, who will then keep in touch and be able to represent the diversity of views within this community.

There’s one thing for certain. We do not need any more ACT politicians with a ‘higher agenda’ (linked to the usual lobbyists) and who approach their electors as if they are lesser beings.

We have too many of the latter politicians already. They are above us there somewhere floating around the sun.

Instead, it would be nice next time around to elect more of the former, those who stay locally focussed and with whom you could be relaxed to chat over coffee.

Or would that be a bribe?

—————————–

and for a tangental piece of music:

One of Mary Gauthier’s many beautiful  songs – How You Learn To Live Alone

 

What’s Your opinion?


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20 Responses to
Politicians flying too close to the sun
JC 3:02 pm 26 May 16

Mordd said :

The forced development that will follow the tram wherever it goes will make Canberra just like all the other places. This doesn’t need to happen..

That development is happening and needs to happen tram or no tram. The development makes the tram viable, however the development is still required and viable without the tram. Though lots more cars and congestion of course, and competition for car parking.

Mordd said :

Canberra still has a chance to stay unique. Why do we have to compete with all the other mis-developed cities in Australia. If we try and compete with things like a giant convention centre for example, we will come of second best. The tram project will be a disaster because it will compete with an established mode of public transport operated by the same entity (with a different name).

How can it remain unique? There is only a finite amount of land available in the ACT. There is not enough land to give everyone a 1/4 acre block and 10 lane freeways (no chip seal of course) to town with unlimited free parking. That is utopia is it not? Canberra of the 70’s and 80’s? (though there was chip seal in the early 80’s, but I digress).

And to say the population should not increase is plain silly. People want to live here and need to be accommodated.

Mordd said :

At the end of the day I think it is about egos and these are prone to meet the same fate as that famous character named Humpty Dumpty.
Unfortunately the perpetrators will be rewarded with a grand pension for the rest of their lives.

And you think the other side of politics is any different? The developers will get in bed with who ever will give them what they want.

dungfungus 2:10 pm 26 May 16

Mysteryman said :

switch said :

gooterz said :

chewy14 said :

Reading your anti development posts it is clear you persoanlly have an issue……”

Its just so easy to categorise anyone who raises concerns about this accelerated development in Canberra as being “anti-development” isnt it. Thats certainly not the way I see many of Paul Costigan’s comments. In fact, Paul Costigan has repeatedly stated that he and others are not anti development, just often not accepting the type of developments being proposed/approved and the engagement with the community.

As I recall, Paul is even a tram supporter (?). But, you can not support the tram then complain about the bodgy, jerry built, poorly designed infill developments and poor consultation and the ramming through of associated DAs, that will come with it. And Paul has also recognised that rat running by drivers through suburbs adjacent to the tram corridor will be an issue – so affecting those local residents.

As that’s the new “grown up” Canberra Paul and you will not be able to have your cake and eat it too – particularly with this ACT Labor/Greens Government, their developer mates and with their strong links to the Unions.

I like Canberra the way it was about 13 years ago.
Between then and now something has happened to change all that, for the worse.
I just can’t put my finger on what it is but whatever it is, it needs to go.
Anyone else feel that way?

It is easy to work out what you are getting at. Personally I like the Canberra I grew up in in the 80’s. But time moves on and nothing stays the same for ever. Attitudes, needs and what can be delivered changes over time. Sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse.

I came to Canberra over 30 years ago and found it refreshingly different to return to especially as my work necessitated travelling to all state capitals and overseas cities regularly.
Most of our state capitals are ugly and overcrowded and Canberra seems intent on emulating those other places.
The forced development that will follow the tram wherever it goes will make Canberra just like all the other places. This doesn’t need to happen.
Canberra still has a chance to stay unique. Why do we have to compete with all the other mis-developed cities in Australia. If we try and compete with things like a giant convention centre for example, we will come of second best. The tram project will be a disaster because it will compete with an established mode of public transport operated by the same entity (with a different name).
At the end of the day I think it is about egos and these are prone to meet the same fate as that famous character named Humpty Dumpty.
Unfortunately the perpetrators will be rewarded with a grand pension for the rest of their lives.

JC 1:14 pm 26 May 16

HenryBG said :

Nightshade said :

ungruntled said :

rommeldog56 said :

Way too early to be talking about the ACT Election. We all have to face the Federal one first. I imagine that we Canberrans are already fed to the back teeth with pollies.

I disagree, now is the perfect time to be talking about the ACT Election. The federal election and the presidential election in america is a distraction we all can’t wait to be over already, the ACT election on the other hand is looking to be one of the most interesting in many years in the ACT.

The presidential election in the USA is next year.
The ACT election is this year.

Presidential election is November this year.

Cannot see where you have asked me a serious question that I have not answered.

dungfungus 11:48 am 26 May 16

HenryBG said :

Nightshade said :

ungruntled said :

rommeldog56 said :

Way too early to be talking about the ACT Election. We all have to face the Federal one first. I imagine that we Canberrans are already fed to the back teeth with pollies.

I disagree, now is the perfect time to be talking about the ACT Election. The federal election and the presidential election in america is a distraction we all can’t wait to be over already, the ACT election on the other hand is looking to be one of the most interesting in many years in the ACT.

The presidential election in the USA is next year.
The ACT election is this year.

Presidential election is November this year.

I just posted that to see if you were still there because you haven’t responded to other things that I would like you to.
The USA election is still after the ACT one.

JC 11:36 am 26 May 16

Nightshade said :

ungruntled said :

rommeldog56 said :

Way too early to be talking about the ACT Election. We all have to face the Federal one first. I imagine that we Canberrans are already fed to the back teeth with pollies.

I disagree, now is the perfect time to be talking about the ACT Election. The federal election and the presidential election in america is a distraction we all can’t wait to be over already, the ACT election on the other hand is looking to be one of the most interesting in many years in the ACT.

The presidential election in the USA is next year.
The ACT election is this year.

Presidential election is November this year.

JC 11:34 am 26 May 16

gooterz said :

chewy14 said :

Reading your anti development posts it is clear you persoanlly have an issue……”

Its just so easy to categorise anyone who raises concerns about this accelerated development in Canberra as being “anti-development” isnt it. Thats certainly not the way I see many of Paul Costigan’s comments. In fact, Paul Costigan has repeatedly stated that he and others are not anti development, just often not accepting the type of developments being proposed/approved and the engagement with the community.

As I recall, Paul is even a tram supporter (?). But, you can not support the tram then complain about the bodgy, jerry built, poorly designed infill developments and poor consultation and the ramming through of associated DAs, that will come with it. And Paul has also recognised that rat running by drivers through suburbs adjacent to the tram corridor will be an issue – so affecting those local residents.

As that’s the new “grown up” Canberra Paul and you will not be able to have your cake and eat it too – particularly with this ACT Labor/Greens Government, their developer mates and with their strong links to the Unions.

Sorry disagree. I see the name Paul Costigan and almost every article eventually gets to anti development and anti act planning. Yeah he does hide it a little by saying he does support development just not this one or this way but every one is negative. And in this case (Manuka) the early discussion is happening and besides there is no actual plan on the table to consult deeper on. Yet he is causing the government of having a signed sealed and delivered development that has underhanded tactics and no consultation what so ever.

JC 11:30 am 26 May 16

switch said :

gooterz said :

chewy14 said :

Reading your anti development posts it is clear you persoanlly have an issue……”

Its just so easy to categorise anyone who raises concerns about this accelerated development in Canberra as being “anti-development” isnt it. Thats certainly not the way I see many of Paul Costigan’s comments. In fact, Paul Costigan has repeatedly stated that he and others are not anti development, just often not accepting the type of developments being proposed/approved and the engagement with the community.

As I recall, Paul is even a tram supporter (?). But, you can not support the tram then complain about the bodgy, jerry built, poorly designed infill developments and poor consultation and the ramming through of associated DAs, that will come with it. And Paul has also recognised that rat running by drivers through suburbs adjacent to the tram corridor will be an issue – so affecting those local residents.

As that’s the new “grown up” Canberra Paul and you will not be able to have your cake and eat it too – particularly with this ACT Labor/Greens Government, their developer mates and with their strong links to the Unions.

I like Canberra the way it was about 13 years ago.
Between then and now something has happened to change all that, for the worse.
I just can’t put my finger on what it is but whatever it is, it needs to go.
Anyone else feel that way?

It is easy to work out what you are getting at. Personally I like the Canberra I grew up in in the 80’s. But time moves on and nothing stays the same for ever. Attitudes, needs and what can be delivered changes over time. Sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse.

dungfungus 9:06 am 26 May 16

gooterz said :

chewy14 said :

Reading your anti development posts it is clear you persoanlly have an issue……”

Its just so easy to categorise anyone who raises concerns about this accelerated development in Canberra as being “anti-development” isnt it. Thats certainly not the way I see many of Paul Costigan’s comments. In fact, Paul Costigan has repeatedly stated that he and others are not anti development, just often not accepting the type of developments being proposed/approved and the engagement with the community.

As I recall, Paul is even a tram supporter (?). But, you can not support the tram then complain about the bodgy, jerry built, poorly designed infill developments and poor consultation and the ramming through of associated DAs, that will come with it. And Paul has also recognised that rat running by drivers through suburbs adjacent to the tram corridor will be an issue – so affecting those local residents.

As that’s the new “grown up” Canberra Paul and you will not be able to have your cake and eat it too – particularly with this ACT Labor/Greens Government, their developer mates and with their strong links to the Unions.

I like Canberra the way it was about 13 years ago.
Between then and now something has happened to change all that, for the worse.
I just can’t put my finger on what it is but whatever it is, it needs to go.
Anyone else feel that way?

dungfungus 9:03 am 26 May 16

ungruntled said :

rommeldog56 said :

Way too early to be talking about the ACT Election. We all have to face the Federal one first. I imagine that we Canberrans are already fed to the back teeth with pollies.

I disagree, now is the perfect time to be talking about the ACT Election. The federal election and the presidential election in america is a distraction we all can’t wait to be over already, the ACT election on the other hand is looking to be one of the most interesting in many years in the ACT.

The presidential election in the USA is next year.
The ACT election is this year.

rommeldog56 8:02 am 26 May 16

chewy14 said :

Reading your anti development posts it is clear you persoanlly have an issue……”

Its just so easy to categorise anyone who raises concerns about this accelerated development in Canberra as being “anti-development” isnt it. Thats certainly not the way I see many of Paul Costigan’s comments. In fact, Paul Costigan has repeatedly stated that he and others are not anti development, just often not accepting the type of developments being proposed/approved and the engagement with the community.

As I recall, Paul is even a tram supporter (?). But, you can not support the tram then complain about the bodgy, jerry built, poorly designed infill developments and poor consultation and the ramming through of associated DAs, that will come with it. And Paul has also recognised that rat running by drivers through suburbs adjacent to the tram corridor will be an issue – so affecting those local residents.

As that’s the new “grown up” Canberra Paul and you will not be able to have your cake and eat it too – particularly with this ACT Labor/Greens Government, their developer mates and with their strong links to the Unions.

Mordd 11:17 pm 25 May 16

rommeldog56 said :

Way too early to be talking about the ACT Election. We all have to face the Federal one first. I imagine that we Canberrans are already fed to the back teeth with pollies.

I disagree, now is the perfect time to be talking about the ACT Election. The federal election and the presidential election in america is a distraction we all can’t wait to be over already, the ACT election on the other hand is looking to be one of the most interesting in many years in the ACT.

rommeldog56 11:06 pm 25 May 16

From the OP :

” Take for example the recent events whereby an ACT minister’s husband was a lobbyist for a developer – and then resigned following some pressure through the press.

The stunner was that the minister and her chief continued to state that there was no potential conflict. There’s an alternative reality there somewhere, a parallel universe.”
_________________________________________

That would be TAMS Minister, Ms Fitzharris. No potential conflict of interest ? Surely, they have to be joking. That’s a farce. And its the ultimate disgrace that the ACT Gov’t seems to have gotten away with that one – a disgrace borne by apathetic ACT voters and Ratepayers who let them get away with that.

JC 11:00 pm 25 May 16

Umm re Manuka (and presume you mean the oval redevelopment) who said enough consultations had already been done? Source and link please?

Afterall everyone including government and opposition know full well that it is an unsolcited proposal that is a long way from even being a firm proposal. And the discussion is going on now. No doubt when or if a firm proposal has been put forward then time for formal consultation should beging. But having the conversation now is nothing short of healthy.

Reading your anti development posts it is clear you persoanlly have an issue, so need to ask the question if you could do better why are you putting up your hand for election? An associate of mine feels strongly about some issues and is standing, so come on, I challenge you.

Lurker2913 10:33 pm 25 May 16

I also had an encounter with her at another “community council” meeting. I asked what the government was going to do about parking on the side streets of the Flemington Road corridor once the tram was operating. I was fobbed off!

My complex is on Flemington Road and already has an average of thirty three illegally parked cars surrounding it at night. Driving on Henry Kendall Street at night is dangerous. Cars illegally parked everywhere and the worst is a dump truck parked every night between street lights on a dark bend. Henry Kendall Street is used as a race track on occasion (looking at you Summernats) and it will not be long before there is a serious head on collision.

After the aforementioned meeting I approached a lady hired for the Capital Metro project. She was nice and listened. Although I don’t think she heard me because her reply was hopefully people will walk, cycle or catch a bus to the tram stops. Yes in an ideal Sim-City world but we don’t live in one of those. People take the path of least resistance. Once the park-n-ride is full, the side streets on the Flemington Road corridor are going to be clogged with illegally parked cars in the day too.

The government needs to install more parking bays in the available grassed verges and enforce the parking with fines. The government should not have built such narrow streets or maximised the parking bays. Stupid considering it was a cow paddock with no restrictions before they started. Poor planning. This applies to all of Gungahlin.

Community council is in inverted commas because I want to know who funds and arranges these all over Canberra? They are meant to have a grass roots feel but I suspect once side of politics is behind them.

dustytrail 3:19 pm 25 May 16

Way too early to be talking about the ACT Election. We all have to face the Federal one first. I imagine that we Canberrans are already fed to the back teeth with pollies.

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