the two canberras essays on public policy by Peter H

A Labor-Greens win, whilst bad for Canberra, will make our position stronger in 2016. If I may, allow me to cite the case of one Chris Bourke, member for Ginninderra, Minister for Education, Aboriginal Affairs and Corrective Services. Put at its kindest, Mr. Bourke is a poor communicator. During the 2008 election he was kept well clear of the media and, funnily enough for a would-be politician, the public. His election slogan was 'Known to Ministers, and Chief Ministers' in other words, vote for me, I'm with Labor. He was not subsequently elected, but won his seat on the resignation of Jon Stanhope. His performance as a minister, in any of his portfolios has been abysmal. (One howler was telling an estimates committee that Jim Best's Billabong Corporation wasn't a 'real' Aboriginal organization, a statement he later retracted.) His election campaign in 2012 has been marked by silence. Speeches? Radio interviews? Shopping centre meet and greets? Chris doesn't need to do all that guff. He's known to ministers… and chief ministers. Make no mistake. Based on nothing more than membership of a particular party, Chris Bourke and others like him WILL be returned to office on Saturday and in the coming four years are going to make an absolute dogs breakfast of our Territory.

Jenny Stewart, The two Canberras: essays on public policy, Adelaide: Ginninderra Press, 2011

I read with interest Caroline Ambrus' article in the CAP News "Are we eagles, foxes or rabbits?" July 2009. It is a question I have asked, silently to myself of course, of the good citizens of Canberra since I arrived back here in 2006 after an absence of 18 years. Canberra does not appear, despite its overwhelming intelligent demographic of public servants and politically connected population, to be a hot bed of conspiratorial mutterings in dark smoke filled taverns and meetings on fog wrapped bridges at midnight. Yet dissent exists and revolutionaries are everywhere - it is just expressed in a different, very Canberran way. It's talked about. It's just not acted on. After all, I was told from early on, its just so damned hard to be heard when no one is listening and in Canberra – let's face it – if someone does actually hear you banging your drum too loud, they are more than likely to be the friend of the person you have just publicly berated.


Her most recent book The two Canberras: essays on public policy is …

From The Two Canberras: Essays on public policy by Jenny Stewart, published by Ginninderra Press

Accountability is one of the mainstays of democracy. The parliament is held accountable through elections, the public sector (the executive) is held accountable by oversight agencies and the Commissioner of Public Administration. The judiciary is held accountable through open hearings and publication of decisions and reasons. However, the publication of reasons is often heavily edited to support the judges' decision. The primary material is the open hearing of a court case, but this has to be attended in person to gather information as to the substance of the case. Transcripts are not available to parties who are not involved due to copyright restrictions. Copyright is owned and controlled by the judiciary which limits or denies access to this information. This results in a legal process which is not transparent and as such cannot be held accountable.

ACAT complaints process

In the ACT there are two possible avenues of complaint against ACAT member's maladministration of their cases. Neither of these has been made accessible to complainants, the main reason being that the status of ACAT is ambiguous and there has been no clarification of this by the legislature or the executive. Politicians and public servants will not accept complaints under the present legislation as they believe that like the judiciary, ACAT members are untouchable. However, according to CAP research and anecdotal evidence, they are not. The legislation, i.e. the Public Sector Management Act and the Ombudsman Act have provided avenues of complaint.


Books by Jenny Stewart (Author of Animation in Sugar)

We did not have acceptable candidates declare early enough. It is no use throwing a candidate into the community two months out from the election and expecting the community to warm to them. The majors get away with this, but they have sufficient funds (and in the case of Labor, the Canberra Times) to convince the public how hard candidate X has been working behind the scenes. Our candidates have to knock on doors, pound the pavements and that needs to take place at least two years out from the poll; otherwise, people will rightly ask, "Where was the CAP bloke/woman last year when XYZ happened in our area?" "Why are we just hearing from you now… you're all the same you politicians."

Essay urban environmental problems - …

Finally, the time simply wasn't right for Minor/Independent candidates. That statement may shock some. However, hear me out. In 2008 we faced an antagonistic media. The ABC broke its own rules to exclude CAP from the free media address given to other parties. The Times misquoted our candidates. One WIN journalist was given his marching orders after his electoral comment was not to the taste of the then chief minister. CAP still managed to get some good media opportunities by being clever.

In 2012 however, things are different. There are a number of parties in this contest. Besides the old three, there is 'Bullet train for Canberra', 'Marion Le', 'Motorists', 'Liberal Democrats' as well as nine Independents. Pages 6 and 7 of Sunday's Canberra Times carries what is labelled 'What the Parties are Offering'. This is a lie. On my count there are seven parties running candidates in this election. (Not including the Australian Democrats and Pirate Party who are running individuals.) The Canberra Times is reporting on only three. Liberal, Labor, and, yes well done that boy at the back… the Greens. The only real mention of independents has been negative: Phillip Pokock's homophobia (Canberra Times 24 September)and the Canberra Pirate Party's alleged connection with the Pirate Party in Germany where an ex member had written an article on decriminalising the possession of child pornography (Canberra Times 12 September). This has been their apparent policy throughout this election. Anyone relying on that paper's reporting for its election coverage would be forgiven for believing that there are only three parties in this town.