Page 1583 - Week 05 - Wednesday, 10 May 2017
This gives us some insight into the logic behind the policy formulation of the coalition government and why they are only too happy to repeat the mistakes of the past. The leader of the Nationals believes that if you think what precedes your decision was a mistake, you have free rein to make another even bigger one against all sound advice.
We all sit here aghast at the way conservatives dream up policy and the way in which the federal counterparts of those opposite have bowed to the will of the Nationals. Indeed, the former leader of the Canberra Liberals, Zed Seselja, sat idly in support of the APVMA bill as it was passed in the Senate, But this is unsurprising given the Canberra Liberals themselves only managed to organise to oppose the policy just last week.
While we sit here in stark disbelief, there is a very important point that this entire debate has missed, a point that everyone from Miranda Devine with her inspired dalliance with a Kingston Foreshore socialite to the Hon Mr Joyce with his sound policy logic have all missed. The debate over the Turnbull government’s decentralisation policy has failed to highlight that the original idea of Canberra is one of decentralisation. Whether it be Canberra, Washington DC, Brasilia, Abuja or Islamabad, a purpose-built, planned national capital is intended to move the national parliament away from the major city centres to a centralised point.
Brazil moved its capital to a more neutral location to better balance the interests of its rural inland and industrial coastal regions. Nigeria moved its capital from the major economic centre of Lagos to deal with congestion and to establish a capital with a greater mix of ethnicities. Pakistan opted to change the location of its capital to make it more accessible to the nation as a whole. And here in Australia we decentralised our capital in order to achieve federation and to bring our nation into being.
While it is easy to dismiss the notion of Canberra as simply a solution to political gridlock, the benefits of a purpose-built capital far exceed the initial impetus. A purpose-built capital offers the opportunity to move the decision-making process of national government away from the major centres. This distance is intended to allow the machine of government to carry out the task of initiating, developing and implementing policy separately from the day-to-day functioning of the economy. This distance, too, allows for economies of agglomeration to take shape around the government, as it clearly has here in the ACT.
Canberra functions as the national capital, the seat of government and a city-state that is home to 400,000 Australians. It also acts as a regional hub to the surrounding parts of New South Wales, offering employment, education, health care and social services to many residents. Within these structures the ACT has developed into a regional centre that specialises in governance and public administration, as any purpose-built capital is intended to. Our educational institutions enable us to produce high quality graduates, ready to take on public policy and administration challenges that face everyday Australians.
The ACT accommodates four universities, unmatched by any other city of relative size in Australia. Within these universities are schools and research centres such as