'The State of the nation starts with you', by Hugh Mackay.

Published in The Conversation.

Author: Hugh Mackay, Honorary Professor of Social Science, University of Wollongong; Adjunct Professor, Faculty of Arts, Charles Sturt University

Disclosure statement: Hugh Mackay does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond the academic appointment above.

Partners: Charles Sturt University - Charles Sturt University provides funding as a member of The Conversation AU.

A ‘loss of community’ is one of the most common concerns among contemporary Australians. AAP/Tracey Nearmy.

This is an edited version of the Gandhi Oration, delivered by Hugh Mackay at the University of New South Wales on January 30, 2017.

I wonder what Gandhi would have made of Australia in 2017 – a place that many people who live here regard as the best country in the world.

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Visit our Shopfront Information Centre

A lot of hard work has gone into setting up our new Information Centre at Shop 26/16, Charlton Court, Woolner, opposite Middys Lighting. This is down the hill from Le Cornu's.

There is environmental and planning information in books, magazines, and maps, on our databases, photographs and displays.

We open on Thursdays from noon to 6pm, and can usually be available at other times, given some notice. If you feel you need to call us, or come in at different times, phone 8927 1999, and we will see what we can do, either at the shop, or on your site. This is office is now where our committee meetings are held.

We are all volunteers, as there are no paid staff. If you want to be a volunteer on Thursdays, in the shop, please let us know. We can soon bring you up to speed.

The shop is pleasant, air conditioned, has access to toilets, and has plenty of tea, coffee and biscuits.

Find out what is happening around the community

Be prepared!  Residents need to be aware of how planning changes can affect their own way of life, quite suddenly.

Be alerted to what development or planning applications are being made in your immediate area by this handy website – just type in your address and you will receive an email alerting you to any application made within a 2 km radius of your address.

The NT Government's new current policy of densification for Darwin and Greater Darwin,  increases the chance of such unwelcome changes. People need to be ready to respond, having the right knowledge to react positively. They need  a better understanding of the planning system.

Too often, pink and yellow notices seen on site are ignored. Then it is too late to be involved.  If you see these notices, there is little time to act. We can usually help.

PLan aims to provide people with a better understanding of the NT Planning Scheme, and the planning system. Major sources of NT planning information are found at http://www.nt.gov.au/lands, and on from there.

Residents should not be shy about phoning the  Department  of Planning, through the NT Government switch (89995511), or contacting their local electorate office (see our website for the list), writing to the NT News, or contacting other media. These actions are part of our democratic right in the NT.

Residents Meetings - Take action when it is needed

Yesterday, I attended a residents' meeting at Leanyer. There people are working with the two local members- Paul Henderson and Peter Styles to save a fine section of eucalypt vegetation environment between their homes and the new suburb of Muirhead. People are passionate in these situations, and should not be afraid to act.

Suburban Darwin residents are seriously in danger of losing green open spaces to 'infill' development, or having new  four storey buildings overlooking them. In Greater Darwin, residents' rural lifestyles are under threat, by denser settlement.

There will be large cumulative effects. Heritage will once more be threatened. There is strength in group action.

Our environment and Darwin Harbour

Industrial development is threatening  the environment in which we live. Without a 'best practice' transparent executive EPA, and minus  a strong and independent Darwin Harbour Management Committee, the  land and sea environment of Darwin will continue to be destroyed. We need to tell  governments, or all persuasions, that this approach is not sustainable.
Development needs to be independently managed, and a safe balance kept in our living environment.

PLan Membership Renewal

It is November now, with our AGM coming up again in early December.

Please review your membership now to carry through 2012. Our subscription fee is modest, but donations are always welcome.

A membership form is attached for printing off, completing and sending it with the money, to:

The Treasurer,
PLan: the Planning Action Network,
PO Box 2513,
Darwin, NT 0801


Convener's Message

Welcome, Members, Supporters and Visitors to our New Website

Worldwide planning for community is now essentially recognised.  It is makes for feelings of well-being, community spirit, and cohesion,        instead of alienation and despair. Time and again our health and policing costs are affected by poor community planning.

Planning is much more than approving single buildings, although this is important too. It requires provision and maintenance of parks, public facilities, effective transport, and strong effective infrastructure, as well as residential, commercial and industrial development; and  having a sustainable environment.

The recognition and appreciation of home and place,  and  the maintenance of local character,  are important to the human psyche.

Freedom to enjoy our own lifestyle in the Northern Territory is so dear to us, that it is an almost perpetual topic of conversation. However, the essence of our lifestyle cannot be bought and sold by marketers and spin doctors. Residents rights deserve real respect.

Each us has a strong link with the natural environment which surrounding us here.  We must honour its features and systems in the way we plan. We must not allow our environment, including the magnificent Darwin Harbour,  to be trashed by impulsive and excessive over exploitation. Our people must not be adversely affected by the crowding and pollution many came here to avoid.

World populations and agencies have a new focus on the earth's sustainability. Climate, renewable energy,  air quality, water resources, rising sea levels, world food and species conservation are topics of the day. They must all be considered in planning the human environment.

Consultation with the community is the key to successful planning.  Governments have got out of the way of timely, appropriate, consultation which allows the people to address the issues,  be heard, and responded. It takes more than a 'One Stop Shop ' geared to developers for good planning.

This new website will help us let you know quickly and independently what is going on in planning. We will be less dependent on  media opportunities to get news out. We are working hard to make the website interactive, but our first task is to provide basic information and contacts.

At present Shop 23 is open Tuesdays and Thursdays, 1-5pm.   It is a good idea to double check on 0466997023,  if you intend to visit.

We have no paid staff. Volunteers are urgently needed to extend the opening hours, and give key volunteers a break.  There are three rooms.  There are many current publications available for reference too. (Tea, coffee and biscuits always available to friends.)

If anyone could donate some pre-loved  ( or even new) suspension files it would help our work.

If you are thinking of joining, it is just $20 per year (Copy a Membership Form, and post it in.) Donations always welcome.

Best Wishes,

Convener -PLan: the Planning Action Network, Inc.


This brilliant piece – a defence of community groups rights to object – was written by an objector after she was attacked in the paper for being a NIMBY.

This is her response...

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Down Disconsolate Streets

Our northern capital survived being bombed and blown away only to have its heart torn out by rapacious development. By Nicholas Rothwell

READER, come, and drive with me down the mean, degraded streets of the city I most love. Our journey will be brief, but full of memories, and pain, and sharp surprise. Let’s start at the very end of the road: the grassy, unemphatic little roundabout where the ribbon of the Stuart Highway, which has stretched northwards from the Port Augusta salt flats, through Alice Springs, Tennant Creek, and through tropical Katherine, finally, after 3000 straight kilometres, runs out.

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Our Location

Our valued volunteers man the office Thursday afternoon between 1pm and 5.30pm. We are located at 26B/16 Charlton Crt, Woolner.


Post: GPO Box 2513, Darwin, NT, 0801
Phone: 08 8927 1999
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.