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The Forum > Article Comments > More than just a flag > Comments

More than just a flag : Comments

By George Williams, published 11/4/2008

The ACT may have self government but it passes laws that diverge from federal policy at its peril.

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What reason is there for the ACT to exist in the first place? Good question.

Having Queanbeyan and Canberra are governed by different States is ridiculous. Most people living in Jerrabomberra (a suburb of Queanbeyan) work, shop, and play in Canberra. That they consider themselves to be Canberrans is made even more irksome when the ACT government treats them with disdain by building a prison on its border, right next to Jerrabomberra whose residents donít vote in the ACT.

The extra layer of government foisted on Canberrans by self government costs significantly and for little return. The road system is falling apart - repairs are of course subject to the same statistical manipulation as applied by any government - the repairs have covered a larger area, but they are made to a lesser standard.

Land-use planning is also affected by the whims of the ACT Government, water used in the ACT is captured and stored in NSW, the public transport system involving NSW and ACT registered businesses makes it impossible to catch a bus from Jerrabomberra to Canberra and hold a full-time job.

Members of the ACT parliament try to act like Ministers but all they achieve is to emulate the perks of office without having understanding of their portfolios. The Chief Minister in Canberra is also the Treasurer, Minister for Business and Economic Development, Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Minister for the Arts and Minister for the Environment, Water and Climate Change. Ministers donít even have the presence of mind to change jackets when they are interviewed for the local TV News, appearing in one story as the sombre-faced Minister for silly walks, and in the very next story the Minster is interviewed in the same place but now he is the ever cheerful Minister for the Yarts.

If the ACT were to be absorbed into NSW a simple local government could easily and cheaply cover the range of responsibilities needed to keep the ACT running as a rural NSW city. Canberrans could get on with running their lives free of the farce that is the ACT Legislative assembly.
Posted by Nigel from Jerrabomberra, Friday, 11 April 2008 12:01:02 PM
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" Here's 2 *Dastardly* he's twew bloo! "
" He's a p!ss pot, thru & thru! "
...
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...
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"Singing -> Down! Down! Down! Down! ... "

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...Adam...
Posted by AJLeBreton, Friday, 11 April 2008 3:20:45 PM
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George, 22 million Australians need only one law-maker. Local government is ready to play its role in implementing national laws in authorised ways that empower local communities around Australia.

The confusion and cost associated with the Commonwealth making laws that in effect over-ride similar laws made by 6 states, two territories and some island jurisdictions will continue until states can be persuaded by our Prime Minister to refer their powers to the Commonwealth, as Victoria did in relation to Industrial Relations.

Given successive High Court decisions up-holding the supremacy of Commonwealth law, the evolutionary outcome is clear.

The political case currently being put by the business sector for national laws and abolition of state business taxes is compelling. In time, federal politicians, will wake up.

Austalia's international competitiveness is at risk. Ordinary PAYE taxpayers face high tax with little value in return from our poorly performing, poorly forcussed and coordinated state public service areas. Radical surgery, replacing state laws with national laws will yield over $30 Billion annually. Wasting public money on tinkering with our broken federal system just further bloats state civil services which are generally working at cross purposes to each other. Being subject to inconsistent laws does not make any sence, unless you happen to be on the gravy train.

How can it be fixed? Since referendums have such a bad track record under the current rules, the most pragmatic avenue for change is the way that general Commonwealth laws are framed to effectively exclude their jurisdiction. The federal government should resist the pressure from the states to create complex hybrid systems to appease the states.

We need to see some leadership from our political parties in streamlining our policy and laws in industrial relations, education, health, water, electricity, ports, workers compensation, local government, justice, police and any other area where the states have made a mess. The Coalition of Australian Governments has been a dismal failure as an ineffective and unresponsive body tasked to achieve national goals and high performance. With just one Australia law-maker, the blame game ends.
Posted by Quick response, Friday, 11 April 2008 4:29:18 PM
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The residents of Redfern and Rooty Hill would be interested to learn that Canberrans are 'doing it tough' because they don't have the same level of representation in Federal Parliament. Political issues aside, the fact that all Federal parliamentarians and a large proportion of Federal public servants spend nearly all their time in Canberra guarantees that Federal revenue will be available to keep it clean, healthy, quiet, safe and well-provided with services. If the ACT wants representation for its own sake, fine, but crying poor is not going to convince anyone.
Posted by Jon J, Friday, 11 April 2008 4:58:50 PM
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I agree with George. The ACT should have the right to make its own laws without the Feds intervening.

I think the constitutional arrangements are insolvable in the present context.

Our politicians in the ACT are constrained too by the 17 member limit, which means we have five ministers with a range of portfolios.

Keating wanted independence for the ACT to shift blame for cuts to funding and poor services away from the Federal government and onto local politicians. 2/3 people in the ACT opposed self government (again I found myself in the minority)and elected a range of no-self Government politicians, one of whom was a very extreme right winger parading behind his opposition to self government.

Canberra is maligned because of its supposed benefits as national capital. Live here and see the opposite. Schools closing down, bad health services, roads needing repair... The story is similar to other major cities around the country.

It is true that the ACT has a highly educated and well paid population, to service government. This makes its culture fairly homogeneous, fairly middle class.

Nevertheless it is becoming more industrialised and less dependent on Government employment and that at least is helping redress the middle class imbalance.

The ACT is leading the way in solar panel use by paying four times the going rate for solar electricity from rooftop panels. This social experiment is a good thing. We should be allowed to continue to make ongoing progressive changes such as civil unions without the Conservatives from the Federal ALP interfering.
Posted by Passy, Saturday, 12 April 2008 2:38:19 PM
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The people there sound like sheep to be putting up with it.
Posted by Steel, Monday, 14 April 2008 1:41:55 AM
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