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Simon Corbell – a humble visionary

By John Hargreaves 17 August 2015 26

Simon Corbell via Facebook

I had 30 years in the public sector and 15 years in the parliamentary sector and am occasionally given cause to reflect on some of the characters I met in those days.

With Simon Corbell’s retirement from this aspect of his life and career, he becomes the last Labor member to have experienced life in opposition. I remember it well.

It is really important for new members of a parliament to experience the lows of political life, to experience the sense of irrelevance, the sense of futility and the frustration of the destruction of a good idea just because you don’t have the numbers.

I sat with Simon on the so-called opposition front bench between 1998 and 2001. He had had only a year more experience than half the caucus but still carried himself with a self-assurance that belied his youth and his actual on-ground experience. Having that atmosphere when Jon Stanhope, Ted Quinlan and I joined the team of Simon, Wayne Berry and Bill Wood, proved to be significant in our growth towards taking government in 2001.

Even in those days, Simon had a vision, his mind seemed to be comfortable with big picture issues whereas I tended to concentrate on the immediacy of change. One small such issue where our thoughts coincided in a big vision delivered was our commitment to on-road cycle lanes and the promotion of cycling as an alternative to commuter travel.

Simon always had this vision of sustainable transport for buses, low emission cars and cycling to complement the encouragement of pedestrian activity.

Now this is not the sexiest of subjects, but without his drive and vision we would still be stuck in the past with the transport modality of the 1960s.

I look back and remember Simon’s fervour about the environment, about photovoltaic cell power, wind power and his willingness to discuss any alternative energy sourcing to reduce our carbon footprint, way before it was in vogue.

His reputation as an environmental warrior is well established and it is national if not international.

But we often don’t remember Simon’s work in health. He is regarded as one of the most effective health ministers since self-government. I worked for Terry Connolly when he was minister for health and know how well regarded in the sector Terry was. Simon enjoys that high regard. In my 30 years in the public sector, more than half of it was in health and my contacts are still strong so I speak with authority.

I remember after the 2004 election, I had a discussion with the Chief Minister about the distribution of portfolios. I said I was interested in a number of responsibilities but planning was not among them – nor was health. I thought I’d make a pretty good Attorney General since I had been responsible for police and corrections in the previous term.

The ACT can be well pleased that I didn’t get the A-G’s portfolio. Simon was far better placed to have this responsibility than I. For a non-lawyer, Simon had an immediate grasp of the intricacies of this sensitive portfolio and soon attracted the respect of the profession. Not an easy thing to do at all!

It was interesting to sit beside Simon and see how seamless he made the issues of planning and the environment meld into each other, and to show how neither could exist without paying due respect to the other. Someone concentrating on the detail as I tended to do, could not have done this. This is an aspect of Simon’s abilities that won’t get much airplay but should.

The Assembly, in fact any parliament in which politics plays too heavy a part, can be a dangerous place in which to function. Its tensions and personal attacks, its challenges to one’s ideas and principles, the nature of its inherent combative forum all tax the strength of any individual who inhabits those benches. And it extracts its toll!

Simon became a beacon for those who battled the inner battles with the black dog. His public outing of his own battles with the demons became a tent pole around which we could gather if we were experiencing those battles. Again, I speak from experience.

Simon Corbell is a well-rounded and significant parliamentarian whose contributions to this town should be chronicled and applauded. His humility should be copied by baby-members. His only failing as a politician, by his own admission, was that he “could never be a mongrel, Johno,” when we talked about the thrust and parrying of the personal politics. He was just not good at being a political thug. A factional warrior he wasn’t.

But he knew the parliamentary process, he knew standing orders backwards, he knew and embraced the purity and sanctity of parliamentary practice. And he was a very capable tactician indeed.

The Assembly will be the poorer when Simon leaves, but let us remember long afterwards his contribution to the vision of a magnificent city is built upon.

Baby politicians, take note of the career of Simon Corbell, take note of the vision and big picture view from Simon Corbell, take note of the humility and self-effacing way Simon Corbell conducted himself in his public life and emulate it.

Great innings from the bloke who was the second worse pollie cricketer after Gary Humphries!

(Photo credit: Facebook)

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26 Responses to
Simon Corbell – a humble visionary
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MERC600 7:22 pm 21 Aug 15

Nilrem said :

Nilrem said :

John Hargreaves said :

Nilrem said :

rosscoact said :

Nilrem said :

dungfungus said :

Nilrem said :

dungfungus said :

Nilrem said :

dungfungus said :

John Hargreaves said :

dungfungus said :

rosscoact said :

He is a man of principle and while I often didn’t agree with his politics I agree that he had grace and class. The Assembly will be poorer for his absence.

rosscoact said :

He is a man of principle and while I often didn’t agree with his politics I agree that he had grace and class. The Assembly will be poorer for his absence.

“The Assembly will be poorer for his absence.”
The ratepayers will be poorer for his visions.

A post from someone too afraid to actually run for office. Such short-sightedness is typical and nothing more expected.

I have nothing against self-funded visionaries. The Canberra Airport people are an excellent example of that.
Simon Corbell on the other hand is funding his visions and ideals via the ratepayers and while he won’t be around to clean up the mess he will still be happily accepting his pension, again courtesy of ACT ratepayers.
As for me being “too afraid to run for office”, are you trying to flatter me?

Yep, Canberra Airport is a self-funded visionary exploitation of a poorly-drafted lease agreement to make the Snows rich. And the rest of Canberra is going to pay for it through the negative impact it has had, and will continue to have, on city planning, infrastructure, traffic – for decades.

The ACT Government had first choice to buy the airport but they declined.
It’s a bit rich to say the Snows “exploited” a poorly-drafted lease. You should supply details of who drafted the lease.

The Commonwealth Government.

And what was “poorly drafted”?

The lease. The half a dozen office blocks (and a major shopping centre ?) on airport land stand as a testament to this. The lease should have prohibited any developments not directly related to the Airport.

Commonwealth issued lease. The ACT Government has no planning control over the airport and never has

Agreed.

in fact, the airport precinct is governed by the Airports Act, Commonwealth legislation, and is not in the authority of the NCA. it is administered by the Transport dept (or whatever name it has this week) and the planning decisions in this precinct were made by a middle level officer in that dept.

The Territory had no say in the matter, was not offered first bite at the cherry, and Labor had its objections to the creation of another town centre to make the Y plan into an X plan overruled. I know because I was part of that push when I ran for the Assembly in 1998..

So all that building at the Airport was planned by the Federal transport bureaucrats!? Shame on them.

Exact agency is neither here nor there. Federal bureaucrats knowingly shafted Canberra’s planning, or was it a slip up in the lease (incompetence)?

Ah .. it’s not only Canberra airport that was leased out by those dweadfull bureaucrats.

From the Dept of Infrastructure and Regional Development.
Leased Federal Airports are .. Canberra Sydney Brisbane Darwin
Bankstown Gold Coast Alice Springs Camden Townsville Tennant Creek
Archerfield Mt. Isa Melbourne Hobart Adelaide Perth
Essendon Launceston Parafield Jandakot
Moorabbin
“The leased federal airports were granted on long-term leases to private entities between 1997 and 2003. Prior to this, the airports were owned and managed by the Federal Airports Corporation (FAC). The Branch liaises regularly with Airport Lessee Companies (ALCs) on airport regulation and lease management.”

Masquara 6:04 pm 21 Aug 15

You’re calling the arrogant “call-in powers” guy humble … how very wrong …

Nilrem 9:25 am 21 Aug 15

Nilrem said :

John Hargreaves said :

Nilrem said :

rosscoact said :

Nilrem said :

dungfungus said :

Nilrem said :

dungfungus said :

Nilrem said :

dungfungus said :

John Hargreaves said :

dungfungus said :

rosscoact said :

He is a man of principle and while I often didn’t agree with his politics I agree that he had grace and class. The Assembly will be poorer for his absence.

rosscoact said :

He is a man of principle and while I often didn’t agree with his politics I agree that he had grace and class. The Assembly will be poorer for his absence.

“The Assembly will be poorer for his absence.”
The ratepayers will be poorer for his visions.

A post from someone too afraid to actually run for office. Such short-sightedness is typical and nothing more expected.

I have nothing against self-funded visionaries. The Canberra Airport people are an excellent example of that.
Simon Corbell on the other hand is funding his visions and ideals via the ratepayers and while he won’t be around to clean up the mess he will still be happily accepting his pension, again courtesy of ACT ratepayers.
As for me being “too afraid to run for office”, are you trying to flatter me?

Yep, Canberra Airport is a self-funded visionary exploitation of a poorly-drafted lease agreement to make the Snows rich. And the rest of Canberra is going to pay for it through the negative impact it has had, and will continue to have, on city planning, infrastructure, traffic – for decades.

The ACT Government had first choice to buy the airport but they declined.
It’s a bit rich to say the Snows “exploited” a poorly-drafted lease. You should supply details of who drafted the lease.

The Commonwealth Government.

And what was “poorly drafted”?

The lease. The half a dozen office blocks (and a major shopping centre ?) on airport land stand as a testament to this. The lease should have prohibited any developments not directly related to the Airport.

Commonwealth issued lease. The ACT Government has no planning control over the airport and never has

Agreed.

in fact, the airport precinct is governed by the Airports Act, Commonwealth legislation, and is not in the authority of the NCA. it is administered by the Transport dept (or whatever name it has this week) and the planning decisions in this precinct were made by a middle level officer in that dept.

The Territory had no say in the matter, was not offered first bite at the cherry, and Labor had its objections to the creation of another town centre to make the Y plan into an X plan overruled. I know because I was part of that push when I ran for the Assembly in 1998..

So all that building at the Airport was planned by the Federal transport bureaucrats!? Shame on them.

Exact agency is neither here nor there. Federal bureaucrats knowingly shafted Canberra’s planning, or was it a slip up in the lease (incompetence)?

dungfungus 9:17 am 21 Aug 15

dungfungus said :

John Hargreaves said :

Nilrem said :

rosscoact said :

Nilrem said :

dungfungus said :

Nilrem said :

dungfungus said :

Nilrem said :

dungfungus said :

John Hargreaves said :

dungfungus said :

rosscoact said :

He is a man of principle and while I often didn’t agree with his politics I agree that he had grace and class. The Assembly will be poorer for his absence.

rosscoact said :

He is a man of principle and while I often didn’t agree with his politics I agree that he had grace and class. The Assembly will be poorer for his absence.

“The Assembly will be poorer for his absence.”
The ratepayers will be poorer for his visions.

A post from someone too afraid to actually run for office. Such short-sightedness is typical and nothing more expected.

I have nothing against self-funded visionaries. The Canberra Airport people are an excellent example of that.
Simon Corbell on the other hand is funding his visions and ideals via the ratepayers and while he won’t be around to clean up the mess he will still be happily accepting his pension, again courtesy of ACT ratepayers.
As for me being “too afraid to run for office”, are you trying to flatter me?

Yep, Canberra Airport is a self-funded visionary exploitation of a poorly-drafted lease agreement to make the Snows rich. And the rest of Canberra is going to pay for it through the negative impact it has had, and will continue to have, on city planning, infrastructure, traffic – for decades.

The ACT Government had first choice to buy the airport but they declined.
It’s a bit rich to say the Snows “exploited” a poorly-drafted lease. You should supply details of who drafted the lease.

The Commonwealth Government.

And what was “poorly drafted”?

The lease. The half a dozen office blocks (and a major shopping centre ?) on airport land stand as a testament to this. The lease should have prohibited any developments not directly related to the Airport.

Commonwealth issued lease. The ACT Government has no planning control over the airport and never has

Agreed.

in fact, the airport precinct is governed by the Airports Act, Commonwealth legislation, and is not in the authority of the NCA. it is administered by the Transport dept (or whatever name it has this week) and the planning decisions in this precinct were made by a middle level officer in that dept.

The Territory had no say in the matter, was not offered first bite at the cherry, and Labor had its objections to the creation of another town centre to make the Y plan into an X plan overruled. I know because I was part of that push when I ran for the Assembly in 1998..

So you can confirm that although the ACT Government “did not have first bite at the cherry” they still put in a bid for the airport lease?

I don’t think you can confirm that John but let’s suppose they did and the bid was successful?
What would you have developed the airport as if you were in charge in those days?

Nilrem 5:23 am 21 Aug 15

John Hargreaves said :

Nilrem said :

rosscoact said :

Nilrem said :

dungfungus said :

Nilrem said :

dungfungus said :

Nilrem said :

dungfungus said :

John Hargreaves said :

dungfungus said :

rosscoact said :

He is a man of principle and while I often didn’t agree with his politics I agree that he had grace and class. The Assembly will be poorer for his absence.

rosscoact said :

He is a man of principle and while I often didn’t agree with his politics I agree that he had grace and class. The Assembly will be poorer for his absence.

“The Assembly will be poorer for his absence.”
The ratepayers will be poorer for his visions.

A post from someone too afraid to actually run for office. Such short-sightedness is typical and nothing more expected.

I have nothing against self-funded visionaries. The Canberra Airport people are an excellent example of that.
Simon Corbell on the other hand is funding his visions and ideals via the ratepayers and while he won’t be around to clean up the mess he will still be happily accepting his pension, again courtesy of ACT ratepayers.
As for me being “too afraid to run for office”, are you trying to flatter me?

Yep, Canberra Airport is a self-funded visionary exploitation of a poorly-drafted lease agreement to make the Snows rich. And the rest of Canberra is going to pay for it through the negative impact it has had, and will continue to have, on city planning, infrastructure, traffic – for decades.

The ACT Government had first choice to buy the airport but they declined.
It’s a bit rich to say the Snows “exploited” a poorly-drafted lease. You should supply details of who drafted the lease.

The Commonwealth Government.

And what was “poorly drafted”?

The lease. The half a dozen office blocks (and a major shopping centre ?) on airport land stand as a testament to this. The lease should have prohibited any developments not directly related to the Airport.

Commonwealth issued lease. The ACT Government has no planning control over the airport and never has

Agreed.

in fact, the airport precinct is governed by the Airports Act, Commonwealth legislation, and is not in the authority of the NCA. it is administered by the Transport dept (or whatever name it has this week) and the planning decisions in this precinct were made by a middle level officer in that dept.

The Territory had no say in the matter, was not offered first bite at the cherry, and Labor had its objections to the creation of another town centre to make the Y plan into an X plan overruled. I know because I was part of that push when I ran for the Assembly in 1998..

So all that building at the Airport was planned by the Federal transport bureaucrats!? Shame on them.

rubaiyat 2:46 am 21 Aug 15

dungfungus said :

John Hargreaves said :

dungfungus said :

rosscoact said :

He is a man of principle and while I often didn’t agree with his politics I agree that he had grace and class. The Assembly will be poorer for his absence.

rosscoact said :

He is a man of principle and while I often didn’t agree with his politics I agree that he had grace and class. The Assembly will be poorer for his absence.

“The Assembly will be poorer for his absence.”
The ratepayers will be poorer for his visions.

A post from someone too afraid to actually run for office. Such short-sightedness is typical and nothing more expected.

I have nothing against self-funded visionaries. The Canberra Airport people are an excellent example of that.
Simon Corbell on the other hand is funding his visions and ideals via the ratepayers and while he won’t be around to clean up the mess he will still be happily accepting his pension, again courtesy of ACT ratepayers.
As for me being “too afraid to run for office”, are you trying to flatter me?

Be interesting to see how well Snow would be doing if he had to pay rates and local taxes like the rest of us.

He effectively operates in a tax haven with an assist from a Federal Government that can veto the ACT Government that effectively provides him with services that he doesn’t pay for.

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