Chief Minister Talkback Summary - 10 July 2015

Calls received on air

Directorate: EPD

Issue: Road safety issue in car parks. There should be designated parking areas for larger vehicles (SUVs, 4WD, vans and light trucks) in all car parks. This would avoid dangerous situation of smaller cars not being able to see when trying to reverse out of parking spaces when parked next to these larger vehicles. This situation operates in some Sydney car parks.

Response: The Chief Minister said the caller’s cautious approach when reversing was a sensible strategy. The Chief Minister noted some car parks had designated spaces for smaller cars, based on available space, but was unsure about proposed spaces for larger vehicles. The Chief Minister noted the difficulty of enforcing such a plan and that it would rely on drivers of larger vehicles choosing these spots, but that it was an interesting idea and the Chief Minister thanked the caller for raising it.

OUTCOME: Parking within our activity centres is a community resource which is in limited supply and it is therefore already difficult to meet the needs of all users, so prioritising some vehicles over others is undesirable.   The effective management of parking requires the balanced allocation of space, and priorities already include parking for people with disabilities, loading zones, taxi zones and motorcycle parking.

The ACT Government, through initiatives such as its Lower Emission Vehicles policy, is trying to encourage more motorists to make the switch to smaller and more fuel efficient vehicles. The provision of spaces specifically for larger vehicles such as SUVs and 4WDs would be contrary to such a policy.

Analysis of parking stations in central Sydney suggests that some stations may be reserved for SUVs or 4WDs because not all parking stations in Sydney can physically accommodate them. Height clearances of less than 2.1m in some parking stations make them unusable for some types of SUVs, 4WDs and vans. Parking stations in Canberra generally do not have such height limitations.

Directorate: Economic Development

Issue: Caller felt the term ‘land swap’ for Telopea Park School was misleading as it implied no one would lose out, when the school would lose its tennis courts and playing fields. The caller also asked why the government was rushing the school to develop a master plan when it was looking for other sites?

Response: The Chief Minister noted that the school would not lose the playing fields and they had never been part of the issue – it was only the tennis courts. The Chief Minister confirmed they had looked at 8 sites put forward by the P&C and none were suitable, but that the government had found a 9th site that was now the subject of discussion. The Chief Minister reinforced that the school still needs a master plan because it needs to be ready to build any facilities over the school summer holidays so they would be ready for term 1 2016. The Chief Minister noted that the government was trying to find a social venue for veterans and increase the supply of childcare for the inner south and that some people would be happy and some unhappy no matter what solution was proposed.

Directorate: CMTEDD – Communications and Protocol

Issue: Why is the Canberra flag not shown in more places? Some community centres don’t have one and you only see it flown at the top of civic hill.

Response: The Chief Minister noted that he had attended the NAIDOC week flag raising ceremony this week at which the Canberra flag had also been raised. The Chief Minister said this was the first time this issue had been raised with him, but that it could be looked into to see if there were any more opportunities to fly the flag elsewhere.

OUTCOME: The ACT Flag Guidelines do state that the ACT flag should be shown, where feasible, outside all ACT Government buildings. As a general rule the ACT Government adheres to the Commonwealth policies and protocols in relation to flags, including precedence.  Along with City Hill, the ACT flag is flown in a number of locations, including outside:

  • the Legislative Assembly, in Civic Square, London Circuit
  • The ACT Law Courts – both the Supreme Court and the Magistrate Court buildings
  • All ACT Policing stations, including the ACT Police (Winchester) Headquarters (except for the

Gungahlin Joint Emergency Services Centres which only has one flagpole)

  • The Headley Bear Centre for Teaching and Learning
  • The Canberra Hospital
  • Calvary Hospital
  • ACTION bus depot (Tuggeranong)
  • The National Convention Centre
  • Bimberi Youth Justice Centre
  • Alexander Maconochie Centre

Other locations in the ACT, such as ACT Public Schools only have one flagpole and the protocol is to the fly the Australian Government flag.  The buildings under the jurisdiction of the National Capital Authority and the Australian Government follow the Australian Government buildings protocol and there is no jurisdiction to fly the ACT flag.

Directorate: TAMS

Issue: Optic fibre had been laid along Tharwa Drive, across a shared bike path/walkway near Casey Crescent, and the workers had left a horrendous mess and it was now a quagmire. Despite numerous approaches to the TAMS website the only change had been to install some sandbags. Could we please have the land stabilised and the path fixed now the works are completed?

Response: The Chief Minister said a team could look into it. The Chief Minister commented that the TAMS fix my street website was widely used and he often received positive feedback about it.

OUTCOME: An officer of TAMS contacted the caller and explained that Roads ACT has contacted the contractor and restoration work will be undertaken. 

Directorate: TAMS

Issue: The caller was concerned about how the government could ensure that the hazardous waste dump in Belconnen used for asbestos would not be built on in future, or that people might forget the land was contaminated and not fit for other purposes?

Response: The Chief Minister noted that the government was very aware of the risks and being careful (much more than people were when the city was being built 50 years ago), and that there was ample documentation, including filming, and that the area would be extensively capped and sealed and no excavation would ever be allowed on the sites even if there were eventually reused.

OUTCOME: Currently ACT NOWaste manages the site in accordance with Environment Protection Authority requirements under a specific Environmental Authorisation.  There are also zoning controls such as a 500m exclusion zone. 

Directorate: TAMS

Issue: Keep left unless overtaking signs need to be installed in the ACT as there is a lot of dual carriage-way road and poor driver etiquette leads to road rage.

Response: The Chief Minister said this was an interesting suggestion, but that not all road signage suggestions could be followed through or there would be too much signage. The Chief Minister noted there may already be some of these signs in the ACT but he would check with Roads ACT and consider it.

OUTCOME: Keeping left unless overtaking on multilane roads is a requirement on all roads that have a posted speed limit in excess of 80 kilometres per hour under the Australian Road Rules.  Roads ACT will review the placement of existing signs and the use of electronic variable message signs to promote the rule.

Directorate: TAMS

Issue: Why was meat from kangaroo cull not used? Why was it not left up to the private sector to decide whether to use the meat? There was a rumour about some meat being provided to the dog pound where it was gratefully received, but the caller understood it was illegal to remove carcases from the site for other uses.

Response: The Chief Minister noted this was not his area of expertise, so he would check with others, but he understood it was not deemed commercially viable due to the small numbers of the cull.

OUTCOME: The caller was advised that no kangaroo meat from the Territory’s conservation cull on nature reserves was provided to the Domestic Animal Services shelter. The shooting of Kangaroos in the ACT is only authorised when a licensee holds a licence, issued under the Nature Conservation Act 2014 (the Act), to do so by the Conservator of Flora and Fauna.

The current licence conditions applying to the fate of carcasses require shooters not to leave carcasses:

1) Within public view.

2) In piles.

3) Lying within 50m of a watercourse.

4) Lying within 100m of any boundary fence.

It is also an offence under s132 of the Act to remove carcases from the area where shooting has occurred unless a licence authorising the activity has been issued under the Act.

It is important to note that the conservation cull of kangaroos on nature reserves does not have a commercial purpose.  Culling is undertaken to relieve grazing pressure on the environment, not for the selling of meat for profit.  The Government used 8% of carcasses to turn into baits for pest animal control and in the past has made meat available to the zoo to feed captive animals.  As the conservation cull yields a small amount of animals, it is unlikely that it would be commercially or practically viable for it to be incorporated into the harvesting for human consumption industry.

Directorate: Economic Development

Issue: Could you please assist the University of the Third Age to secure a permanent headquarters? It currently has use of a site at a school in Cook but it needs something more permanent now it has expanded. It provides social contact for older people and assists with keeping older people’s mental faculties stimulated, keeping them active in the community.

Response: The Chief Minister thanked the caller for raising this issue and said he would give the matter consideration.

OUTCOME:An officer from ACT Property Group contacted the caller.  The University of the Third Age (U3A) were allocated space in the ACT Government owned Cook Community Hub in 2010 under the Regional Community Facilities project.  There are no plans to terminate this arrangement at this time.  U3A also use space at the ACT Government owned Hughes Community Centre, managed by Council of the Ageing (COTA).  U3A have applied to ACT Property Group, ACT Government, to be considered for additional space.  Space in two properties has been offered in the last 12 months but not accepted by the organisation.  The organisation remains on the list of applicants for ACT Government property and will continue to be considered as space becomes available.

Directorate: JACS

Issue: Law abiding fire-arm owners in the ACT need a permit to acquire a new firearm which costs $30 each time. What do we get for that money?

Response: The Chief Minister noted that for that money the government ensures a robust regulatory framework to ensure community safety. The Chief Minister noted this was a national law that all States and Territories had committed to following the horrific 1996 incident in Tasmania and that $30 was not a great deal of money to pay to ensure a robust framework around the acquisition of firearms.

Directorate: TAMS

Issue: The Charnwood shops were promised a $400k upgrade but it was spent on one shop, while there are problems with the footpaths and bins being relocated.

Response: The Chief Minister noted that TAMS had done some re-levelling at the larger shops to fix the pavement from tree root damage. The Chief Minister noted that there was a program of urban renewal for the improvement of local shops and that there were a lot of local shops around Canberra, with a mix of private and publicly owned assets so that TAMS needs to work in partnership with local shop owners as well.

OUTCOME:An officer of Roads ACT has contacted the caller regarding the footpath issue and joint inspection has been arranged.

Directorate: TAMS

Issue: Red Hill nature park – dog owners put dog poo in small blue plastic bags but then leave them at the entrance to the park instead of taking them with them. Could we have bins at the entrance to the park to deal with this problem?

Response: The Chief Minister said he was unsure if this specific issue had already been considered but that it sounded like a reasonable proposition that could be investigated.

OUTCOME: The installation of bins for the collection of dog poo is not supported by TAMS and bins in many parks have been removed as they have been found to attract rubbish and illegal dumping.  TAMS supports and encourages responsible pet owner ownership and applauds pet owners cleaning up after their dogs.  Part of responsible pet ownership is to dispose of their dogs waste thoughtfully.

Directorate: JACS

Issue: Is it correct that there is no limit on political donations in the ACT? Couldn’t this lead to undue influence on politicians, beholden to their donors?

Response: The Chief Minister said there is no limit on donations but there are very strict disclosure laws and expenditure caps, which is the best solution to prevent undue influence. Under the old system, people could simply make multiple small donations, but under the new system there is no point donating more than can be spent.


Directorate: Economic Development

Issue: If the services club can’t rebuild why is this everyone else’s problem?

Response: The Chief Minister noted that in this year especially, the Centenary of ANZAC, there should be no argument that government could have a role in providing a social space for veterans. The Chief Minister asked that, in a community, surely everyone could give a little to support others?

Directorate: Economic Development

Issue: The ACT Government has no problem arbitrarily changing zoning and dual occupancy rules to deal with Mr Fluffy. Why so rigid on this issue?

Response: The Chief Minister noted that if the Service Club site was opened up for residential development there would be outrage too. The Chief Minister agreed that this area was lacking in available vacant space and it was very highly valued space and that it had already taken 4 years to find a solution.

Directorate: CMTEDD – Policy and Cabinet

Issue: The ACT Government has ‘zero policy vision’.

OUTCOME: The ACT Government priorities for 2015-16 were articulated clearly in the Budget Speech

Directorate: Economic Development

Issue: MOCCA is quite happy to share with DHA

OUTCOME: The option to share a space with Defence Housing Australia (DHA) and the Services Club has been considered. This arrangement would require MOCCA to close for the period of time that it takes for the Services Club and DHA to build their facilities.  It is considered that this is a serious deterrent to co-locating the uses and will put undue pressure on MOCCA.

Directorate: Economic Development

Issue: Why can’t RSL clubs all over Australia donate money to rebuild services club on original site.

OUTCOME: The ACT Government is undertaking the relocation to ensure the Services Club is located in a space, both physically and financially, to continue operating sustainably.  The arrangement with DHA, as well as charity raising with other clubs is a matter for the Services Club and not the ACT Government.

Directorate: Economic Development

Issue: Minister, why is everyone else paying for the fact that the services club was apparently not or not adequately insured?

OUTCOME: The insurance arrangements for the Services Club are not a matter for consideration in the ACT Government role. The ACT Government is looking to provide a secure and long term space for the Club, which will enable ongoing operation of the club.

Directorate: Economic Development

Issue: Selfishness? Come and speak face to face with the concerned parties...Come and talk to us please.

OUTCOME: Consultation has been undertaken with the Telopea Park School on the following occasions:

  • 17 February 2015 – Representatives from the Land Development Agency and Education and Training Directorate attended a Telopea Park School Board meeting; and
  • 13 May 2015 – Representatives from Economic Development attended the Telopea Park School P&C meeting.

The government will continue to consult with the community.

Directorate: Economic Development

Issue: The Italian club nearby also has problems. Maybe a combination between Services club or even no club at the sites could be considered.

Response: The Chief Minister said it was not necessarily a solution to merge with another club, as neither club has poker machines, so no revenue streams.

Directorate: Economic Development

Issue: With the high vacancy rate in office space in ACT could not some of these empty building floors be converted and utilised for child care? Then office courtyards could be filled with playgrounds. Workers could have easy access to their children and prevent the need of using new land spaces for childcare.

Response: The Chief Minister noted that this vacant office space was not necessarily in the inner south where the child care demand existed, as Commonwealth departments were very keen to be located in that area.

Directorate: Economic Development

Issue: What is wrong with the current position of MOCCA?

OUTCOME: Blocks 2 and 5, Section 41, Griffith (the current MOCCA site and the adjacent site) have been identified for development noting that the retention of MOCCA on site was an early consideration.  Operational differences as well as construction timeframes would mean that MOCCA would need to close, or be temporarily relocated for the entire construction of the Club and DHA facility. This was considered to apply too much pressure on MOCCA and too disruptive to their operations. A single move relocation of the child care facility to a location that supports their needs and a new facility is the government’s intended approach.

Directorate: Economic Development

Issue: If club can’t build on their land shouldn’t they hand the land back to government that gave it to them in first place?

OUTCOME: Following the tragic fire that burned down the Services Club in 2011, the government has been discussing with the Club a new site for their redevelopment.  The Service’s Club is an important part of our community and that the redevelopment will see an important part of the fabric of our returned veterans’ community return to Canberra.  The ACT Government will become the custodian of the existing Services Club site.

Directorate: CSD

Issue: On behalf of Canberra Muslim Community I wish to thank Chief Minister Andrew Barr for hosting the breaking of fast or Aftar dinner yesterday at Theo Notaras Multicultural Centre. The presence of 170 guests including Canberra Diplomatic Community, large number of religious and community based organisations' representatives and ACT MLAs from both side of politics was a testimony to the unique virtue of Canberra In accepting 'all' including Muslims. The ACT Multicultural Department is also to be thanked for their efforts in organising the event. Chief Minster, I have received a great feedback and that signifies the importance of the respect that the ACT government has been giving to Multi-ethnicity, multi-religiosity and Multiculturalism of Canberra. I hope the tradition of Attar dinner will continue in future as well. Thank you very much indeed. Kind regards.

Response: The Chief Minister agreed with the caller that it had been a fantastic event and spoke volumes about the harmonious inclusivity of the Canberra community.

Directorate: Economic Development

Issue: Re. Telopea Park School's tennis courts, the government's solution of robbing Peter to pay Paul is very short sighted. Any development at that comer, added to what will eventually be built on the site of the Services Club, will cause a huge traffic chaos and a nightmare for parents and children alike.

OUTCOME: The ACT Government, through the Land Development Agency, is undertaking traffic and parking studies to analyse the current and future traffic arrangements. Should the tennis courts at Montgomery Oval be considered the most suitable site, a traffic impact assessment will be undertaken to ensure appropriate controls are in place to meet any increasing demands on the road networks.

Directorate: Economic Development

Issue: Re: Services Club. Why can’t you just build on the same footprint as the old building.

OUTCOME: Following the tragic fire that burned down the Services Club in 2011, the government has been discussing with the Club a new site for their redevelopment.  The Services Club is an important part of our community and the redevelopment will see an important part of the fabric of our returned veterans’ community return to Canberra.  The Services Club has entered into an agreement with Defence Housing Australia to build a facility that will assist them in operating a financially sustainable club as well as provide housing for our servicemen and veterans.  This is not an appropriate option for the existing site. Rather than rebuild on the existing site, it will be returned to the ACT Government for consideration in the Manuka Oval Master Plan.

The government has a vision for Manuka Oval as a unique, high-quality international sporting venue. To achieve this, a master plan for the Oval precinct was produced in 2013 and community consultation undertaken on the plan. The master plan identifies the current Services Club site as a site for a future hotel development.

Directorate: EPD/CMTEDD - ART

Issue: Could the CM please provide update on Mr Fluffy variation to territory plan particularly dual occupancy on tiny 700 sq metre blocks. I have had no response to numerous letters to govt. I understand a compromise has been offered in the inner North. Why not for other suburbs?

Response: The Chief Minister said there was no special deal for any area, the same rules were applied across the board. The Chief Minister noted there were strict controls on development and the proposed change was very modest, some say too modest, with no blocks of units and no multistorey development.

OUTCOME: Draft Variation 343 applies to all blocks surrendered under the loose fill asbestos insulation eradication scheme and different provisions do not apply to different parts of Canberra.

  • The proposed changes are modest and impact surrendered Mr Fluffy blocks in RZ1 zones only.
  • Blocks in heritage areas are not affected
  • Key changes proposed are:

- reducing the minimum block size for dual occupancy to 700m2 (from 800m2);

- allow unit titling (which means two houses on the same block can be sold separately);

- revision of plot ratio to those consistent with RZ2 suburban core zone; and

- building heights for dual occupancy limited to single storey for which a 35 per cent plot ratio will apply.

  • A design criterion will be in place to maintain and support amenity of existing areas.

DV343 has been referred to the Legislative Assembly’s Standing Committee on Planning, Environment and Territory and Municipal Services for them to conduct an inquiry.

Directorate: EPD

Issue: Could you please explain why houses in the inner South are starting to erect front fences. The open landscape free of the visual chaos of fencing sets Canberra apart. Many thanks for your consideration.

Response: The Chief Minister said he understood there was no change to the law and that people could have hedges but he could check.

OUTCOME: In the ACT, front fencing to residential properties is generally prohibited with a few exceptions.

As residential subdivisions have been released, some have included fencing plans or special requirements in the Territory Plan which permit or mandate a certain type of fencing forward of the line of the dwelling. The Territory Plan also allows certain corner blocks or blocks facing a reserve to have a fence which is forward of the dwelling, although these fences are generally transparent in some way. Finally the Territory Plan also allows for residential dwellings to have a ‘courtyard wall’ forward of the line of the dwelling. A ‘courtyard wall’ is generally only permitted for part of a frontage of a block and is generally used for privacy to windows or outdoor areas forward of the dwelling.

The types of front fences mentioned above have been part of Canberra planning policy for about 15 years. The most recent changes to the front fencing policy were contained in Variation 306 (V306) which commenced in July 2013. V306, among other things, made adjustments to the provisions relating to courtyard wall rules. While most of these were minor adjustments, the main change was to the courtyard wall rule for multi unit housing. This change reduced the distance of the wall to the front boundary if the wall was enclosing the principal private open space of a ground floor dwelling that is located to the west, north-west, north, north-east or east of the dwelling. Prior to V306 this type of courtyard was often considered to meet the relevant criterion for courtyard walls and was therefore approved.

As with all policies, the Environment and Planning Directorate continue to monitor the built form results of the courtyard wall policy and may review or amend the policy as relevant if it is achieving the desired outcome.  

Directorate: Economic Development

Issue: Morning, I live in Uriarra Village any chance the government can look into the poor mobile and internet services here. i.e. we barely get 2G service or fast broad band.

Response: The Chief Minister said this was not something the ACT Government could control but he was happy to raise this with the correct level of government.

OUTCOME:The ACT Government supported the inclusion of Uriarra Village in the Federal Government’s Mobile Black Spots database set up under the Mobile Black Spot Programme, along with five other ACT locations.  Uriarra Village did not receive funding in Round 1 of the program, nor did any of the six ACT locations.  Round 1 of the Programme established a database of locations around Australia nominated as needing improved mobile coverage.  This database was the starting point for the competitive selection process under which the mobile network operators were asked to nominate where they would build new or upgraded base stations.

The database of reported mobile black spot locations under Round 1 of the Programme is available on the National Map at Those black spot locations which have not received coverage under Round 1 will continue to form part of the database, and this database will again be used in the process of determining locations to receive funding under Round 2 of the Federal Government’s Mobile Black Spot Programme.

Mobile Black Spot Programme:

As applications for funding under the Black Spot program are made by telecommunications providers, the ACT Government would be pleased to assist in providing contacts with these providers with whom representatives of the Uriarra Village Community might have discussions.

Directorate: Economic Development

Issue: It's outstanding Mr Barr that you are not able to consult with the so many groups in the community that are affected by your plan for the Manuka oval precinct... We are open to discussion.

OUTCOME:The government has a vision for Manuka Oval as a unique, high-quality international sporting venue. To achieve this, a master plan for the Oval precinct was produced in 2013 and community consultation undertaken on the plan. The master plan identifies the current Services Club site as a site for a future hotel development.  The ACT Government is currently investigating an alternative site and has commenced consultation for this site.  There is a requirement for public consultation on Territory Plan Variations that will be needed for the redevelopment of the current MOCCA site, and potentially, the new MOCCA site.

Directorate: Economic Development

Issue: There's a site at the lake end of Telopea Park next to Barton tennis club marked "future development". Could the child care centre go there?

Response: The Chief Minister said he was not sure if this site had been considered but would find out.

OUTCOME:Block 7 Section 19 Barton is unleased Territory Land and is zoned Urban Open Space with a Main Avenues and Approach Routes overlay in the National Capital Plan. It has been considered not suitable due to the distance from the Manuka Centre and other commercial areas, as the site will have constrained access and limited availability for parking within its boundaries.  A full Territory Plan variation will be required to permit a child care centre.

Directorate: Health

Issue: Volume of pigeon poo around the noodle shop & video shop strip must be a health hazard. It’s disgusting!

OUTCOME:A Public Health Officer from the Health Protection Service contacted the owner of the shops and options to reduce the number of pigeons roosting in the area were discussed.  Options are currently being explored to ensure a long term solution to the issue.

Directorate: TAMS

Issue: We've noticed permanent 40 signs on Bowman St, Jamison - maybe it would have been in order to inform residents instead of us finding out by receiving a speeding fine.

OUTCOME:TAMS advised caller that 40 km/h speed precincts were implemented in all 18 Group Centres in the ACT in April/May 2015. Community consultation was undertaken in November 2014, and a media release was issued prior to the implementation.