Reason 5 to #LikeCanberra

by The Editor

Reason 5

Over the last 95 days we have been developing a list of things we like about our little town. The philosophy is simple – it’s those moments of clarity when, doing something routine, you suddenly gain an awareness and an appreciation of your surrounds. We’ve attempted to refrain from commercial enterprises and individuals; rather, the list was intended as a loose examination of the elements that give our city its character.

For the top five we would like to explore some broader themes. So, where to begin?

Garema Place

Reason 5 to #likeCanberra: Enterprise

Canberra: a good sheep paddock spoiled.

This uncredited quip has long been used as the basis for derision of the nation’s capital. A city without a soul, it would seem. A city full of overpaid drug-addled public servants with not a single clue as to what is going on across the rest of the country. Perhaps even, a vision turned sterile.

Certainly we have it good here. Particularly good in fact. With a high standard of living combined with a high level of education, the Canberra demographic sits on the top of the table for any given number of metrics.

It’s also true when consuming national media that pundits and punters alike refer to the goings-on at Parliament House and broader Federal politics simply as ‘Canberra’. Is this a fair indictment on our city? Upon those who, for multiple generations have invested in businesses and ventures that improve and enhance the broader community outside of the leafy inner suburbs?

Certainly, at The Canberran we provide visibility to the bar owners, restaurateurs, artists and designers scattered among our population, but there is a need for recognition of those who have striven to build a city rather than simply a stopover for bureaucrats.

For us Dr Sam Prince could be the poster boy for such endeavors. A practicing doctor, Mr Prince has taken his humble take-away restaurant, Zambrero’s to dizzying heights. By latching on to an emerging trend for healthy takeaway food and a resurgence of Mexican cuisine, Prince has built an empire of some 20 stores with direct links to his three charities. It’s impressive stuff.

Then of course we have the big development companies. The Molonglo Group, Doma, the Liangis and Notaras families, and their ilk. Since the 60s many of these builders-cum-developers have invested large sums to improve local shops and transform or even create entire suburbs. Sometimes they get it right, sometimes they get it wrong, but the point of this entry is to celebrate the sense of ambition and adventurousness that exists outside of the public sector.


However, as mentioned earlier, it is not only these shining lights that require our gratitude. There are countless small business owners who toil every day to develop a business, employ staff and inject money into the local community. They take risks, make decisions on the fly and lie awake at night wondering if their choices were the right ones. They own panel-beating shops, accounting firms, retail outlets and salons. They are your neighbours, your friends, your family and perhaps even you.

And this is the key point. The fact ‘Canberra’ is the Federal Government may remain the prevalent view for years to come, those on the ground know differently. Certainly, as Canberra has grown, industry has grown with it. No longer are we a one-trick pony, a collection of units for FIFO parliamentary staffers. The balance of public vs private sector employment continues to tilt towards the latter. As a result, as the years pass by we become increasingly self-sustaining, and a much richer city…

…in more ways than one.