Last March I wrote a comment on the proposal to build a suburb, Thompson, next to the Murrumbidgee River.
In that comment I congratulated the Government for consulting the community in the contemplative stage of a decision.
This was a rare thing to happen and it emergence should be noted and celebrated.
But a dozy proposal is always a dozy proposal.
This one was no exception.
Building a suburb so close to and encroaching on a nature reserve, in this case the Murrumbidgee River Corridor, in environmental vandalism rampant. And it was called thus by conservation groups and the community at large.
Incidentally, it received approval from the Housing Industry Association and tacit and qualified support from the then Tuggeranong Community Council. I wasn’t surprised to see the HIA support. Self-interest always wins out!
But any support from a council purporting to represent the community of Tuggeranong should never happened. The proposal created a backlash not seen in Tuggeranong since the suggestion that we have a motor sports facility opposite the Rose Cottage Inn!
Even though this was not a Government proposal, the Government was still blamed for the emergence of the proposal and a citizen-led uprising ensued. The same happened when there was a thought bubble in about 1999 or 2000 to build townhouses right to the edge of Lake Tuggeranong at west Greenway.
You’d a thought lessons were there to be learnt wouldn’t you.
The new suburb proposal was fought vehemently by concerned Tuggeranongites, and saw a social media campaign and an on-line petition brought to bear. What part about an uprising don’t the planners get?
So the Government, through the planners and the Minister fronted a public meeting and were bashed up badly.About this time, I would have realized that maybe, just maybe, it was a bad idea. But faces needed saving!
It was about then I would have recommended someone taking the shovel from the proponents because the hole just got bigger.
The day before the election it was put in the media that it looks like the proposal is dead! This is about seven months too late to ameliorate the damage to the Government’s chances of re-election.
I celebrate the death of the proposal; it should never have been put on the table.
I asked whether it was a thought canvassed in the contemplative stage and if ok with the community it would proceed or was it a brain snap?
Or maybe the Government said to the bureaucracy, “Hey, we need a big announcement for Tuggeranong cos they are feeling left out” and this was the result.
Either way, it was a dumb move.
Or perhaps there are some bureaucrats who wanted to stick it up the Government and embarrass their minister and this was a good way to do it. Wouldn’t be the first time this has happened.
I don’t know who Thompson was who has done so much for Canberra that we can celebrate that service by almost naming a suburb after him/her but I don’t reckon the family of said luminary would be much impressed about now.
My advice following the death of this debacle is for all concerned with its birth is to have a really good look at how it could have been prevented by talking to a few community leaders before the proposal was put to the community at large.
This quite clearly did not happen.
The most significant community leader who would have given sage advice is Blind Freddy.
Pictured are dogs swimming in the Murrumbidgee River.