For the cause that lacks assistance
'Gainst the wrongs that need resistance
For the future in the distance,
And the good that we can do.
The Canberra Times
MONDAY, MARCH 12, 1951
FOR the first time, the celebration of the anniversary of the
founding of Canberra will to-day be given official recogni- tion. According to the calendar, 38 years have passed since
the actual naming of the city took place. The Commonwealth had previously entered into possession of the Territory for the Seat of Government and the preliminary work of establishing the site of the city had already been done, when the Federal Capital was given its name. Thenceforth, the work of building the city was undertaken, not always in earnest, for pigmies are known to dwell where the trees are highest and the project of a national capital in Australia attracted the opposition of many whose stature was disproportionate to the greatness of
their surroundings. Nevertheless, despite wars and economic adversity, the painful process unfolded of making a city where none had previously stood, and of harmonising the initial artificialities with the purposes which a national capital had to serve. None will deny that more could have been done, to achieve the ideal in the years that have passed, but any regrets that the past has bequeathed should not obscure the undeniable achievements. Canberra to-day stands as a tribute to the army of men in the public and private life of Australia
who have laboured, sometimes without rewards for themselves, that the ideal of a national capital might be transformed into
It is fitting that Canberra should occupy a prominent place in the thoughts not only of its citizens but, of all Aus- tralians in this year in which the first fifty years of the Australian Commonwealth are being marked by nation-wide celebrations. These thoughts may well ponder on what has been done in the Canberra valley. They cannot alter the past, but they can ordain what shall be the pattern wrought in the future. By what yardstick are we to measure the future progress of this city? To-day, we have no yardstick, except that there are statistics of the number of residents and the number of buildings upon which a more solid future may be
built. This depends to a large extent on the future administra- tion of the city, but it should be remembered that since 1930, Canberra has not been equipped with an adequate or appro- priate staff for federal capital administration. When the Federal Capital Commission was abolished in the depth of the depression, Canberra administration was pruned down to the barest essentials, and at no time since, has the administration been equipped to perform properly the functions of building and administering a growing city. Even the records by which the growth of the city may be measured and the annual reports which serve to provide a necessary stocktaking have fallen into the discard. As a result of those inadequacies, strains and stress have produced disequilibrium in many aspects of Can- berra life. The tendency for Canberra to be a city of privilege has been given undue play. Consequently, unequal pressures operate to deny proper services to its residents, and these in turn hamper all activities. In physical form, its administration is labyrinthic, and much is lost in sectional divisions which should give way to a unified body of officers who would thus
be enabled to work as a team knowing where they were headed
and how they could achieve what they seek to achieve.
These are not matters alone for those charged under Com- monwealth authority for administration of the various require- ments of a city and territory. They concern intimately the citizens, and no satisfactory provision can be made for the future unless it presents a workable synthesis of the citizen and the Government in the affairs of the capital. Ultimately, Canberra belongs to the Australian people, and this fact cannot be overlooked in the organisation of Canberra affairs, but the experience of every Federal Capital in whatever country, points to the participation of its citizens in the government of their city being one of the greatest problems that has to be solved. The void that has to be filled lies not at the lowly local govern- ment level nor at the national level, but in the discharge of the quasi state functions. In all the federal capitals, the happiest conditions for the citizen exist in Ottawa where the state or provincial rights of the citizen have been least
In the future, the celebration of Canberra Day may provide in the yearly round a stimulating point at which the extent to which the solid progress that has been made can be measured, and the deficiencies repaired. To-day, Canberra prob- lems offer scope for constructive review of what has happened in the past, so that the future may be fuller in achievement by administration and people working in harmony to count their progress not in buildings or in numbers, but in balance
and harmony of city growth.