A little over a decade from now, in the year 2001, Australia will celebrate the centenary of Federation - 100 years of existence as, in the words of the Preamble of the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act 1900, the 'one indissoluble Federal Commonwealth...under the Constitution hereby established,' whose home is the National Capital.
Canberra symbolises above all else this conscious act of Federation which took Australia from a group of imperial colonies to a nation, and by which colonists became Australians. The creation and subsequent development of the National Capital in its own Territory, independent of the former colonial settlements, expressed the nation's desire to start from fresh fields and to make its own mark.
Canberra is a planned city, and a conscious creation of an emerging nation. It is still only partly developed and it is still maturing. By international standards it is still small.
In many ways, the city remains the Bush Capital, set into an environment as Australian as bush flies. It reflects both the imposition of European settlers’ ideals on to the harsh setting of the new continent, and, perhaps fortuitously, the gradual education of Australians in the ways of adapting to and respecting the environment which the earliest settlers, the Aborigines, had themselves learned over thousands of years.
During the next decade, in the lead up to the centenary of Federation, the National Capital needs to reflect and symbolise the changing and maturing character of the nation as a whole.
To date, the city has developed primarily under the influence of that segment of Australian society whose cultural values, origins and intellectual biases were essentially British in origin.
But Australian society today comprises a number of major cultural groups with widely varied origins and backgrounds. All these groups make important contributions to Australian society.
In the coming decades of Canberra's development, it is important to establish ways in which the influence of these major cultural streams on Australian society can be reflected in the form and character of the National Capital.
In the lead up to the centenary of Federation, a celebration of nationhood, it is fundamental that the change in the nature of Australian society in the 100 years since the nation was established and the National Capital was first conceived, is firmly identifiable.
Precisely how this is to be achieved is an open issue. At one end of the spectrum of possibilities there is always scope, in a city of Canberra's character and role, for monuments and memorials, commemorating the contributions to Australian society of key groups and individuals. Indeed, as the nation matures, an Australian equivalent of the Lincoln Memorial might be seen as a powerful symbol of the nation – although who might occupy its central place of pride is a matter which would not easily be resolved.
At the other end of the spectrum lies the continuing need to ensure that there are opportunities now and into the future for activities and organisations of a national and international character to locate in and form part of Canberra, shaping its character and its functions.
Increasingly, Canberra's public buildings, monuments, activities and landscape need to represent and symbolise the achievements of the past, the Australia of today, and the emerging Australia of the future. This need for symbolism must combine and harmonise with the day-to-day Canberra of public activity, commerce, industry, agriculture, education, culture and community life.
With these ideals before it, the National Capital Planning Authority has prepared this first National Capital Plan to guide the development of Canberra and the Territory towards the close of the first 100 years of Federation and the beginning of the second.
|Last Updated on Tuesday, 05 January 2010 13:58|