Greetings from the Finkel Theatre at the Australian National Unviersity in Canberra, where Sue Holliday will present the 2011 Walter Burley Griffin Memorial Lecture. Before she began we were reminded there is CAPITheticAL, a competition on planning Canberra (some wags are planning to resubmit Griffin's original plan, arguing it was never implemented properly).
Professor Holliday began by asking what the symbolic role of a capital city was, as distinct from government administration and politics. She argues that the public has to feel pride in their capital city. Modernity has a role in making a capital, Professor Holliday argued.
There are no series plans to move the Capital back to Melbourne. With the public service cutbacks announced this week, there may be some scaling back, but not to the less than 30,000 people the Griffins planned for.
Professor Holliday asked the audience if they would want to live anywhere else, given the good amenity. But the younger generation would see little to hold them in Canberra, until they wanted to raise a family. This seemed a little unfair, as while Canberra could not compete with Sydney for nightlife, it would be livelier than the average Australian city of 360,000 people.
Professor Holliday pointed out that recent ACT Government planning makes no mention of Canberra's role as the national capital. She speculated this might be because there is a separate set of federal planners for the city. Having two groups of planners planning the one city has caused difficulties since self government.