With almost exactly a month to go before the official polling day for the ACT election, Canberrans have seen remarkably little evidence this should be the most important local poll of the century.
The decisions they make over the next 31 days about how they will vote should have a massive influence on the way this city develops, and how it will see itself, for many years, if not decades, to come.
Even before COVID-19, its associated economic turbulence, and the urgent need for all governments - whether territory, state, or federal - to reassess almost everything, Canberra was on the cusp of major change. After having added the equivalent of a Dubbo to its population in less than a decade, it was already feeling the pressure of that growth.
This supersized inland city, the seat of the national government and home to more than 400,000 people, is almost unrecognisable to many of those who moved here to work for the APS in the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, when this was a big country town.
Much has changed since local government was rolled out, against the wishes of the then local population, as a Bicentennial gift from the Hawke government. A succession of territory governments had to assume responsibility for core services including health, law enforcement, education, infrastructure development, a prison and youth detention facilities, and all of the responsibilities of overseeing workplace safety, building regulations, environmental standards and sustainability, and the like.
It hasn't been easy, as you would expect given the size of the original rate base and the reluctance of a succession of federal governments, which saw self-government as a cost saving exercise, to cough up an exceptional level of funds. But, despite some well publicised failures, and inevitable criticism and political point scoring, the various governments to have held office since 1989 have generally done well. Canberra is a socially progressive, and ethnically diverse, community with generally high quality government services.
In the 31 years since the 1989 election, Labor has held office (more recently in coalition with the Greens) for 23 years. The Liberals have been in power for just eight.
All of that said, it should be of concern to ACT voters that a remarkable sense of "business as usual" has dominated campaigning to date given the magnitude of the issues in play. Where are the clear choices? The Liberals are promising to freeze rates for the whole of the next four-year term; a move that would inhibit their ability to respond to changing circumstances or shortfalls in other funding. Labor has countered with promises of "rate relief". The Liberals then pledged to cut car registration fees as well.
Four years on from the 2016 election and light rail is still taking up a lot of oxygen. Canberrans have been promised, effectively for the second time, the SPIRE hospital expansion from Labor's 2016 campaign. Nurse-led walk in centres, and promises of more nurse practitioners, are also back on the ALP agenda.
Over in the Liberal corner and it is about more car parks, planting a veritable forest of new trees, and a network of cycling tracks. Public transport timetabling remains a hot-button issue with the Greens curiously calling for an express tram service on what is, at this stage at least, still only a single track.
While these matters are eminently worthy, and in some cases have been tossed back and forth for a generation, it's hard to ignore the fact that if you closed your eyes this could be Election 2016, or even 2012, Redux.
The world has changed, Australia has changed, and the ACT has certainly changed. Where is the vision for the next 31 years of self-government?