ACT News


Critics try to rain on our birthday parade

ALMOST a year after Guy Pearce made Canberra bashing an international sport on The Late, Late Show, the BBC has reignited interest abroad in an article posted online on Saturday titled, Canberra: Deathly dull at 100?

The article by reporter Madeleine Morris explores the capital's struggle to convince outsiders that there's more to the city than politics.

''If Sydney is brash and bold, and Melbourne is cool and classy, then Canberra, at least in the Australian public imagination, is dull and devoid of soul,'' Morris writes.

Former public servant Andrew Ure is one of the detractors quoted, having described the city as a ''beacon of mediocrity''.

''It's a pantheon of being ordinary,'' he said. ''Every Friday at 5pm there is a traffic jam of cars full of people going to Sydney for the weekend.''

Published within days of the news that ''Canberra bashing'' would be added to the Australian National Dictionary, the article comes in the wake of the social media uproar sparked by The Age columnist Martin McKenzie-Murray. The Melbourne-based writer's comments about the sterile and chilling city resulting from Walter Burley Griffin's ''diabolically impaired vision'' generated a backlash he described as of ''bat-shit crazy'' proportions.


Morris' statement that Australians find the capital dull and ''devoid of soul'' was dismissed by Centenary of Canberra executive director Jeremy Lasek.

He said most of the negative comments came from people who had not lived in the capital for decades.''To some extent, 10 or 20 years ago it may have been a bit dull,'' he said. ''[But] the city has changed dramatically, and dramatically for the better.''

Mr Lasek said it was unfortunate that the city's detractors decided to go public as Canberra settled into ''party mode''.

''It'd be like anyone putting the boot into someone on their birthday,'' he said.

''It's not the done thing.''