Steering the ship of state

Posted 28 October 2015

Steering the ship of state

Like Maxwell’s silver hammer of Beatles fame, this hammer usually falls on heads.
But today the hammer is going to strike a bell of thanks and recognition. For whom does this bell toll?
Our local government.

In recent times the ACT government has made significant inroads into addressing many of the issues we have been hammering on, sometimes for years.

The ship of state is a large one, and will take time to turn, but we have a good sense that industry and government are working together, leaning on the tiller, and starting the turn. If we can maintain the present course we predict fair sailing ahead.

The first signs came with the solar envelope provisions of the now infamous Variation 306. After years of conflict it seems that all parties have settled and looked again for a sensible path between the ridiculous outcomes and the original intent.
Builders and architects have convinced the planners that they have no desire to build rows of McMansions and truly understand the benefits of good solar design. The planners have also accepted that their original good intentions had delivered unintended outcomes that are unacceptable to the community.

We are now working together in a spirit of trust and cooperation. The first iteration of this approach is the Moncrieff display village where 12 master builders will build to flexible rules and deliver the same, or better, outcomes in terms of solar access. The village will also showcase a range of other design features and innovations including ‘liveable housing’ designs.
Planning Minister Mick Gentleman officiated at the sod-turning for the village to take some well-deserved recognition for his essential leadership in re-focussing the squabble towards practical, sensible community outcomes. We agree that Mick’s leadership, and the contribution of our Chief Minister Andrew Barr, is worthy of praise.

The essence of the shift is in building trust. The growing trust was on display on the laudable approach taken by government on Mr Fluffy demolitions. Government got together with industry to address the first 40 demolitions, learn from the process, understand the costs, address the risks and ensure, above all else, community safety. The pilot program is a model of real cooperation that will deliver major benefits for our community including helping to ensure tax payers’ dollars stay in our city.

Another prime example is an overdue but very welcome focus on injecting consumer confidence into the Territory’s builders’ licensing regime. There are licensed builders in our community who you wouldn’t trust to put up a chook shed. A new cooperative approach will likely see new requirements for quality training, demanding examination, peer review and ongoing education.

The net result will be ACT builder’s licenses in which the community can have real confidence.

Trust, it seems, is contagious. The shift is seeing improved cooperation on a range of other crucial issues from local content to procurement contracts, from quality training to health and safety.

Let’s be sure, the Hammer will continue to fall on heads, but today it’s right that we ring the bell loud to recognise great work when it’s being done. May it continue.

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