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The ACT needs to stop having stupid arguments

By Steven Bailey - 27 January 2015 21

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To have a tram or not to have a tram? To have well-behaved dogs on public transport or not? $50 or $20 notes for poker machines? Bikes or cars?  These are not questions.

I appreciate that it is important that we as Canberrans discuss these issues, and I respect the principle that that the public has an inalienable right to partake in, and direct, such discussions. Though I am sceptical as to whether it is the public who drive community discussion in Canberra, or whether it is a lazy and small media establishment who reduces public discourse to its lowest common denominator and assumes that they know what we are interested in better than we do.

Canberra is home to many talented and experienced journalists, some of whom have more freedom to determine what they write more so than others. My criticism is not directed towards journalists. I’m directing my sentiments more towards the likes of political media advisors, social commentators, and media executives within the ACT, and I don’t exclude executives of the ABC.

Should we have a tram in Canberra? Yes, but the Labor/Greens government have not yet made a salient case for spending so much money at this point in time.

Should we allow people to take their pets on public transport under certain conditions to accommodate for people who have no other means of transport? Let’s just give it a go. If it works, it works. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t.

$50 or $20 notes for poker machines? This isn’t the issue. The issue is that Labor is as addicted to poker machines as problem gamblers, and the party should heed the advice of Jon Stanhope and be an example, not the exception, of the moral standards for which it so wishes to be known.

Bikes or cars? It’s not really a problem. There are going to be dangerous motorists and cyclists no matter how much the media carries on about it. So long as social engineers from both sides of politics don’t impose compulsory number plates and insurance on bicycles resulting in little Jonny being unable to ride to the corner shop without fear of being pulled-over for not having the pocket money to renew his registration, you’re not going to hear much from me on the issue.

We can spend months and years debating these issues but in doing so we will deny ourselves of more complicated and more important public discussions. Historically, it has always suited those who have power to diminish the public’s ability to challenge the status-quo and established power structures.

For me, some more important questions, just to name a few, would be these:

  • Are our authorities given too many resources with which to harass and pester the public at the expense of protecting and serving the public?
  • How can it be justified that a Year 12 student can graduate without having developed an appreciation of humanities subjects or the ability to fill in a tax return? And how can we expect our teachers to cope when their role in society is increasingly degraded by unnecessary rules and ‘administrative outcomes’?
  • Is it justifiable to have religious doctrine instilled in minors through educational institutions? Why are churches given tax exemptions to promote religion? Why are lawmakers and the judiciary so lenient towards child sex offenders?
  • Are we happy? Are we free? Are we becoming more, or less, democratic?
  • And finally, are our civil liberties being eroded or protected and advanced by the political establishment?

As far as I’m concerned, the ACT is certainly the most unique jurisdiction in Australia; we are a highly intelligent culture, our social conscience extends well beyond the borders of our small territory, yet we are the most politically underrepresented population within the federation of the Commonwealth of Australia. Many people refer to the ACT Legislative Assembly as a ‘tin pot council’ but, for me, to do so is to undermine the most important democratic institution we have.

I hope that in the future the ACT Legislative Assembly not only asks the little questions but is brave and diverse enough to tackle the big questions. I hope that it becomes a place of hope and aspirations for all of us. Regardless of its constitutional restriction, there is no reason that the Legislative Assembly cannot give the ACT a stronger voice on the national stage.

What’s Your opinion?


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21 Responses to
The ACT needs to stop having stupid arguments
Steven Bailey 1:14 pm 28 Jan 15

tooltime said :

Okay,

The MPs coming out of South Australia seem to have their heads on. Over the years, they’ve had Natasha Stott Despoya, Nick Xenephon ( and Kate Ellis maybe) who seem quite capable of lifting the quality of public discourse through their heightened emotional intelligence. But the rest of the political pack are like hyenas on a wildebeest carcasse unfortunately, so until you get the hyenas out of there, we’ll keep seeing more of the same….I don’t like it any more than you mate, but what are you gonna do?

Run in the 2016 Territory election.

tooltime 11:00 am 28 Jan 15

Okay,

The MPs coming out of South Australia seem to have their heads on. Over the years, they’ve had Natasha Stott Despoya, Nick Xenephon ( and Kate Ellis maybe) who seem quite capable of lifting the quality of public discourse through their heightened emotional intelligence. But the rest of the political pack are like hyenas on a wildebeest carcasse unfortunately, so until you get the hyenas out of there, we’ll keep seeing more of the same….I don’t like it any more than you mate, but what are you gonna do?

VYBerlinaV8_is_back 8:30 am 28 Jan 15

Steven Bailey said :

VYBerlinaV8_is_back said :

If people focussed more on getting their own patch in order, many of the answers would be clearer.

Personally I thought there were some strange statements and preconceptions in your post, but hey, it’s a free country and good on you for expressing your opinion.

Thanks mate.

No worries 🙂

I disagree with quite a bit of what you post up, but I like that you take the time to engage, and defend your views.

miz 9:46 pm 27 Jan 15

You have generally sensible views, Stephen. I am particularly glad you raised the issue of teachers burdened by unnecessary rules and ‘administrative outcomes’ . . .
I am frequently amazed at the ridiculous hoops our poor teachers have to jump through in this jurisdiction, solely because some random bright spark in the Department has come up with a daft self-promoting thought bubble (for example, the recent personal development and ‘registration’ are just farcical) – and equally amazed that the AEC is not fighting the Department tooth and nail about them.

JC 8:54 pm 27 Jan 15

Steven re Labor and it’s addiction to poker machine revenue, think you will find that both Labor and Liebral are equally addicted. Though of course here in the ACT the Liebral party has been in opposition for a very long time so maybe hard to tell. But look at NSW, Liebral party in power and adicited to the pokies.

Oh should I remind you that the Liebrals have been out of power for a very long time in the ACT, hmm maybe for good reason, they have no policies and have no talent. The only thing they ever do iswhinging and whining, trying to whip up anger, where in most cases it as you point out simply isn’t needed Ironic given you article is about stopping stupid arguments. Maybe go back to party HQ and tell them if they want power to start offering themselves as an alternative government, not a last resort. (ala Abbott in the Federal arena.)

Masquara 7:49 pm 27 Jan 15

Steven Bailey said :

tooltime said :

Steven,

I tend to agree on a number of points, but is it really better anywhere else in Australia? Just compare the quality of dialogue coming out of the Territory MLAs compared to our PM & Treasurer at the moment. (Joy Birch – I’m thinking of you as I type).

It’s like our individual issues/problems – if you had your worries in a pile with everyone else’s, you’d go back looking for your own mostly, wouldn’t you?

Right, thanks for your comment. My point is that I see no reason why Canberra cannot lead political discussion for the entire nation. If we had greater representation in the federal parliament, then it might be possible to lead on the federal level, but we don’t. I believe that the Legislative Assembly has the capacity to lead political thought for the entire nation. And on some occasions, it has.

I don’t see Canberra reps leading the debate, they don’t rate among the factions. Exhibit 1: Andrew Leigh. Economist and fairly Dry. Sensible writings from Andrew on e.g. petrol revenue over the years, and he was quite outspoken. Now he is totally hobbled by the party line.

Steven Bailey 6:36 pm 27 Jan 15

tooltime said :

Steven,

I tend to agree on a number of points, but is it really better anywhere else in Australia? Just compare the quality of dialogue coming out of the Territory MLAs compared to our PM & Treasurer at the moment. (Joy Birch – I’m thinking of you as I type).

It’s like our individual issues/problems – if you had your worries in a pile with everyone else’s, you’d go back looking for your own mostly, wouldn’t you?

Right, thanks for your comment. My point is that I see no reason why Canberra cannot lead political discussion for the entire nation. If we had greater representation in the federal parliament, then it might be possible to lead on the federal level, but we don’t. I believe that the Legislative Assembly has the capacity to lead political thought for the entire nation. And on some occasions, it has.

Steven Bailey 6:27 pm 27 Jan 15

VYBerlinaV8_is_back said :

If people focussed more on getting their own patch in order, many of the answers would be clearer.

Personally I thought there were some strange statements and preconceptions in your post, but hey, it’s a free country and good on you for expressing your opinion.

Thanks mate.

Steven Bailey 6:24 pm 27 Jan 15

Rollersk8r said :

I’m confused. You start off criticising the media – and finish with local government? Your list of questions is highly philosophical. I think most would argue our local government spends far too much time on whimsical and ethical issues, rather than the core business of infrastructure, garbage collection etc.

Much of our public discourse is determined by political and media establishments – my point being that they are not mutually exclusive. Rather, they are completely intertwined. I think Canberra is intelligent enough to engage in ‘highly philosophical’ discussion. If politicians had a better grasp on philosophy in general, then perhaps they wouldn’t act so unethically. Sure, we need to talk about the little things, but we need to be able to talk about the big things too. I have a fundamental belief that politics can be inspiring, and reflect society’s greatest hopes and aspirations.

Steven Bailey 6:11 pm 27 Jan 15

Evilomlap said :

Hi Steven, nice article. I agree that too often we get bogged down in trivialities rather than discussing anything of real depth or value. Can you just explain to me what you mean by this:

“Are our authorities given too many resources with which to harass and pester the public at the expense of protecting and serving the public?”

I am not trolling you, I’m genuinely interested.

Evilomlap said :

Hi Steven, nice article. I agree that too often we get bogged down in trivialities rather than discussing anything of real depth or value. Can you just explain to me what you mean by this:

“Are our authorities given too many resources with which to harass and pester the public at the expense of protecting and serving the public?”

I am not trolling you, I’m genuinely interested.

Thanks mate – no worries.

I have a lot respect for Canberra’s police. All of the dealings that I have ever had with them have been quite positive ones.
Just a few examples of where I think lawmakers misdirect the priorities of the authorities would be these:

– Based on federal government statistics our governments spend in excess of 3.5 billion dollars per year on combatting illegal drug use. It’s a failed and inhumane policy that causes more problems than it solves.

– Another would be cameras that can see what people are doing in their cars from 1km away so an officer can fine you for being a ‘distracted driver’ for eating a packet of chips.

– I also consider that public funds spent on the resources and technology for testing the public for drug driving quite wasteful. There are a plethora of substances and behaviour that inhibit people’s ability to drive safely. I think it’s pretty unnecessary and unfair that someone who has a joint on the weekend can get copped with a $1,000 fine on a Tuesday or a Wednesday.

I could name more but I don’t want to go overboard. I really do respect the jobs of police officers; that’s why I don’t want to see their efforts misdirected by lawmakers.

VYBerlinaV8_is_back 3:20 pm 27 Jan 15

If people focussed more on getting their own patch in order, many of the answers would be clearer.

Personally I thought there were some strange statements and preconceptions in your post, but hey, it’s a free country and good on you for expressing your opinion.

tooltime 2:56 pm 27 Jan 15

Steven,

I tend to agree on a number of points, but is it really better anywhere else in Australia? Just compare the quality of dialogue coming out of the Territory MLAs compared to our PM & Treasurer at the moment. (Joy Birch – I’m thinking of you as I type).

It’s like our individual issues/problems – if you had your worries in a pile with everyone else’s, you’d go back looking for your own mostly, wouldn’t you?

Rollersk8r 2:39 pm 27 Jan 15

I’m confused. You start off criticising the media – and finish with local government? Your list of questions is highly philosophical. I think most would argue our local government spends far too much time on whimsical and ethical issues, rather than the core business of infrastructure, garbage collection etc.

Evilomlap 1:02 pm 27 Jan 15

Hi Steven, nice article. I agree that too often we get bogged down in trivialities rather than discussing anything of real depth or value. Can you just explain to me what you mean by this:

“Are our authorities given too many resources with which to harass and pester the public at the expense of protecting and serving the public?”

I am not trolling you, I’m genuinely interested.

dungfungus 12:02 pm 27 Jan 15

“Canberra is home to many talented and experienced journalists……………………………”
Please name two.

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