Home' The Chronicle : Canberra Chronicle 01-12-15 Contents Tuesday, December 1, 2015 - 6
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ADVOCACY IN ACTION
Event to lead to 'People's Charter'
Debate and discussion at The Progressive Canberra Summit on
It was community-level democracy
that took centre stage at the
Progressive Canberra Summit on
The event brought together groups
from social service organisations,
think tanks, local conservationists,
disability advocates, women's rights,
unions, youth groups, refugee
advocates, and international
development groups to raise key issues
The busy program included sessions
on inequality, global development,
climate change, equality in schools,
housing and homelessness,
exploitative work, refugee rights and
Unions ACT secretary Alex White
said the Progressive Canberra summit
emphasised the importance of
participation in a healthy democracy.
"This is recognition that we are all
fully-fledged members of a society,
not just bit players in an economy," he
"We are citizens, not just customers.
We live in a community, not just an
The initiative aims to channel
collective energy into forward
thinking and problem solving when
considering the city's major issues.
Fair Go for Canberra, the
community advocacy group that co-
hosted the summit, launched a survey
following the event to canvass broader
The results of the survey, conducted
until mid-February 2016, would be
distilled into a People's Charter to be
endorsed by those involved in March.
It would then be presented to the
government and the opposition, with
further community engagement such
as forums and citizens' assemblies
leading up to October.
Mr White said there was great value
in the rigorous process as it meant the
People's Charter produced would be
representative and garner genuine
"The objective of the People's
Charter is to present a unified
community vision for Canberra,
developed by the grassroots," Mr
White said. "Ideally, this would be
supported and accepted by all sides of
politics and form the basis of bi-
partisan election commitments."
at risk with MP
Tom Mcilroy and Kirsten Lawson
Planning Minister Mick Gentleman has
approved the demolition of a swath of
Northbourne Avenue's public housing, paving
the way for the biggest transformation of
Canberra's gateway road in 50 years.
Mr Gentleman's decision to exercise his
call-in'' powers effectively rules out appeals
against the long-planned demolitions, quashing
the prospect of work being held up in court
disputes and allowing the government to clear
and sell the valuable land.
Sales along Northbourne will raise money
for the city-to-Gungahlin tram line and help the
government increase higher-density living
along the corridor, potentially boosting
The demolition approval covers sites in both
Lyneham and Dickson including the Karuah
Garden Flats on Dooring Street; the Owen Flats;
the Dickson Towers on the corner of Northbourne
and Morphett Street; the Karuah Maisonettes and
the Lyneham and De Burgh Flats.
The run-down Northbourne Flats at Turner
and Braddon, adjacent to Haig Park, are not
included in the heritage precinct and are also to
Call-in powers can be used by the
government to respond to a major policy issue,
on developments that will have a substantial
effect on the Territory Plan or those providing
a substantial public benefit''.
The Northbourne housing precinct, built in
the 1960s by renowned architect Sydney
Ancher for the former National Capital
Development Commission, has been caught up
in a dispute over heritage protection. The units
are considered important examples of post-war
international modernist architecture.
After initially planning to bulldoze all but
one building, the government struck a deal with
the Heritage Council to preserve 17 as heritage
assets. A new house museum will be built in
one of the Northbourne Towers and other
buildings incorporated into new developments.
The Heritage Council only recently finalised
its protection of the 17 buildings, with the
decision notified last week. The heritage issue
is not fully settled, as the National Trust insists
the entire precinct should be preserved and is
considering plans to appeal after it has
reviewed the heritage approval.
It is unclear whether Mr Gentleman's use of
call-in powers will impact that appeal but the
move does effectively rule out ACT
Administrative and Civil Appeals Tribunal
challenges against the demolition. Work could
start as soon as works approvals are granted.
When Mr Gentleman called-in the
application, the government's planning
directorate had started its draft notice of
decision, after submissions closed on October
28. There were seven submissions.
If Mr Gentleman had not taken the
application out of the hands of officials, a
decision would have been able to be appealed
to the ACAT and further to the Supreme Court.
Now, the call-in can only be appealed to the
Supreme Court and even then only on questions
of process, not on the merits of the decision.
The Assembly cannot halt the demolitions,
with Mr Gentleman required to table his
decision in the Assembly when it sits in
February but not required to seek its approval.
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