Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 3 Hansard (12 March) . . Page.. 972 ..
MS TUCKER (continuing):
people of Canberra and very often very little interest in them. There were periods of committed and tenacious development under Commonwealth governments that got behind the Canberra vision, most particularly under Robert Menzies and then later Whitlam.
Canberra's economy and employment base have traditionally been very dependent on the stance of the federal government. A more expansionary Labor government might provide consistent growth in the Canberra economy, while a conservative government with a commitment to Canberra bashing could readily send the Canberra economy into recession, such as occurred in the Fraser years and in 1996 with the election of the Howard government.
But it was never as simple as a Labor-Liberal dichotomy. There have been conservative governments that have taken a positive approach to Canberra's development and there have been Labor governments, such as the Hawke-Keating government, that have either neglected Canberra's development or even presided over a very significant downsizing of its employment base.
While some Canberra residents accepted the Commonwealth's paternal dictatorship with equanimity and some still yearn for the good old days prior to self-government, others felt sorely their lack of representation and therefore the complete lack of influence over the decisions that were being made that affected their lives and community. In the long trek to self-government the Commonwealth was ambivalent-on the one hand, wanting to be shot of managing Canberra and, on the other, still wanting to maintain overriding control.
If we reflect on the current disposition of the Commonwealth towards Canberra, we will see that we have a prime minister who turns his nose up at living in the residence provided for the occupant of his position and we have a cowboy minister for territories who rides roughshod over the will of Canberrans following their election of a Labor government on a promise to build the Gungahlin Drive extension on the community-proposed western route.
This ambivalence towards Canberra does not exist only in the hearts and minds of Commonwealth ministers. In many ways, it reflects the ambivalence of the Australian people towards Canberra. This can be seen in the comments of visitors to Canberra as well as in the national media when matters relating to Canberra are discussed.
On the one hand, people feel considerable pride in and appreciation of their national capital. On the other, there is resentment from some towards its amenity and population of public servants, as it is often perceived, and often this gets wrapped up with the prevailing cynicism about our political system in conjunction with the perception of Canberra as the place of the politicians, even drawing on the old tradition of Australian anti-authoritarianism. These conflicting views do not necessarily reside in different people. The same person can hold a web of conflicting views and emotions regarding not only Canberra but also other things, making us the complex creatures that we are.
The recent bushfires provided an opportunity for the broader Australian community again to turn its mind to Canberra and to see it as a place where real people like them live. As tragic as the fires were, Canberra's community spirit was well portrayed in the