Chief Minister Talkback Summary - 15 April 2016

Calls received on air

Directorate: TAMS

Issue: The caller phoned regarding a dog she had purchased from the pound in January that had several puppies 10 days later. The pound did not tell the caller the dog was pregnant, although the vet check prior to pick up identified that the dog had swollen mammary glands which was commented on as being an indication of having had a puppy recently or being pregnant. Another vet advised the caller that as the dog had the puppies 10 days later, the heartbeats would have been noticeable at the vet check prior to pick up. The caller also advised that through the ombudsman, TAMS have offered to pay for the costs of the vet fees that the dog had whilst in labour, failing to take any responsibility for the puppies and the associated costs such as micro chipping, vaccination and de-sexing. The caller advised that they were out of a Mr Fluffy house, that their children had to abandon their possessions in the house, and, as such, she could not take up TAMS’ offer to surrender the puppies as it was unfair to her children.

Response: Minister Fitzharris noted that she has been made aware of this situation and that it was less than ideal. The Minister said that she had been advised early cases of pregnancy may have been difficult to detect. Nevertheless, the Minister noted TAMS had been in contact with the caller. The Minister said that she would follow up on the issue with TAMS following the program and ensure that they are working with the caller to resolve this and make sure that both the dog and the puppy are safe and well.

OUTCOME:A TAMS officer contacted the caller and discussed the issues that were raised.

Directorate: TAMS

Issue: The caller phoned regarding red markings on the nature strip adjacent to their home on Bibb Place in Greenway. The caller wanted to know what they were.

Response: The Minister said that she was not sure and the caller’s question would be followed up.

OUTCOME: An officer from TAMS contacted the caller and advised the red markings on the nature strip identify the location of underground electrical services.

Directorate: CMTEDD – Policy and Cabinet

Issue: The caller asked about what the ACT Government can do to resolve the complexities of applying for an Opal Card in NSW, noting that there are different requirements for ACT residents applying for an Opal card, which are quite complex.

Response: The Minister thanked the caller for their question, noting that it was something the Government was actively looking at, especially with the creation of the Transport Canberra agency coming into effect on 1 July 2016. The Minister noted the focus on creating integrated transport within the city and with the NSW system. The Minister noted that the issue is still being considered and that there might not be an answer for some months, but the Government is keen to solve it.

OUTCOME: An ACT Government officer contacted the caller and advised that the Chief Minister has been in discussions with the NSW Premier about transport concession integration. This has resulted in the NSW Government developing a mechanism to facilitate the integration of ACT concession eligibility systems with NSW. ACT Seniors should be able to apply for a non-expiring Gold Opal Card once this integrated mechanism is ready in mid-2016.

Directorate: TAMS

Issue: The caller raised concerns about African Love Grass in Kambah. The caller advised that she backed onto Kambah Pool Road, from Sulwood Drive. Right down to Kambah Pool Road, as far as the entrance to Gleneagles, there is an area of gum trees that is completely infested with love grass which is now about waist high and it has not been touched in 2 years. The caller advised that she has called TAMS a total of 5 times and is unable to speak to anyone. The caller said when people come to cut the grass they don’t touch that area, which used to be cut frequently after the fires.

Response: The Minister noted that we do have some patches across the city that are problematic, for African love grass noting that Minister Gentleman has been taking a strong interest in this. The Minister said that the specific area the caller was referring to would be followed up.

OUTCOME: An officer from TAMS contacted the caller and advised the area was scheduled to be mown in the coming weeks.

Directorate: Education

Issue: The caller phoned about the special needs bus route for people going to black mountain school. The caller advised that she was a National Disability Insurance Scheme coordinator and one of the people she looks after has to get on the bus at 7:10am and it takes him an hour and twenty minutes to go 3 km to O’Connor taking into consideration agitation and toileting. The caller said that the only alternative is that his mother drives him to the school where there are only 2 disabled car parks, requiring her to walk from the bottom of the hill and push her son up the hill in a heavy wheel chair, also noting the mother has 2 other children she has to take to school. The caller advised that the school is unable to give her a STA as it is not within their duties and the caller can’t seem to find any other way to transport him to school. They are unable to get a taxi service under the plan and the caller can’t seem to get onto the special needs transport section. The caller has spoken to ACTION, the School, and the NDIS and is unable to come to a resolution.

Response: The Minister thanked the caller for the call and advised that the issues raised would be looked into. Noting that there are some challenges around transport and NDIS, these issues are being looked at to determine what the Government can do to lessen some of the complication. The Minister advised that an officer would contact the caller to discuss her specific circumstances.

OUTCOME: An officer from the Education Directorate contacted the caller to discuss the issues raised. The officer is following up the caller’s concerns with both the transport provider and the school to ensure the student can be transported safely to school and arrive ready to learn.

Directorate: 1) ESA 2) TAMS

Issue: 1)The caller asked about a blue hose connected to a fire hydrant on Mugga Way, at the Deakin end, running back to a roundabout at Strickland Crescent. The caller asked what this was, raising concerns of who was taking water and who was paying for it? 2) The caller also raised an issue with the busses in Manuka, saying the bus routes had been altered and no longer run through the main street. They have been rerouted onto Captain Cook Crescent, meaning older people and people with disabilities now need to cross two pedestrian crossings to then walk back to the shopping centre. The caller did not understand why this change was made. The caller often sees people sitting there thinking they are waiting for a bus.

Response: 1) The Minister advised that it was not immediately obvious what the blue hose was, but it would be looked into. 2) The Minister also advised that that she would look into further details about rerouting buses in Manuka, noting that when a bus service is no longer active there should be clear signage at the bus stop that there is no longer a bus coming. The Minister also noted that the networks change on an annual basis, as some parts of the city are growing and some shops can be revitalised. The Minister also advised the caller that there is a flexible bus service that is used during the day, particularly between 9:30am and 1:45pm, that older people are able to access through the community transport coordination centre, which takes bookings for that service. The Minister said this can provide a solution for some people, particularly older people.

OUTCOME: The Manager of the Executive Support Team from the Emergency Services Agency (ESA) left a message for the caller advising that the blue hose was a temporary water supply provided by ICON Water to houses that were having works done to their water mains. The caller was provided contact details for both ICON Water and the relevant area in the ESA in case they have any further queries. An officer from TAMS contacted the caller and advised that bus routes through Manuka were consolidated to provide a consistent and higher frequency service from the main stops on Captain Cook Crescent. The officer also advised the traffic issues associated with travelling via Franklin Street were another reason the route was changed.

Directorate: Economic Development

Issue: The caller asked what role the National Capital Authority will have in determining the processes and outcomes for the proposed redevelopment of Manuka Oval and the nearby areas.

Response: The Minister advised that she was of a strong understanding that the National Capital Authority, as the key guardian of the National Capital, particularly in the parliamentary triangle, will play a significant role in this. The Minister noted that this was not a proposal put forward by the ACT Government but was a private consortium looking to redevelop Manuka Oval, who are talking with the community and currently holding many meetings with local residents and local sporting groups about that proposal. The National Capital Authority has been engaged and the private consortium will go through all the usual planning processes, including Development Applications that have their own community consultation, Territory Plan Variations which also have their own consultation. The National Capital Authority takes a strong interest in anything in that area.

Directorate: TAMS

Issue: The caller raised issues with the intersection of Bunda Street and Northbourne Avenue, where the left lane must turn left and the right must turn right. The caller felt it creates congestion in the mornings and afternoons.

Response: The Minister advised that the sequencing of the traffic lights at that intersection would be looked at.

OUTCOME: An officer from TAMS contacted the caller. The caller advised he believed that changes to the line marking on the Bunda St approach to the intersection could make the intersection operate more efficiently and detailed his suggestion. The officer explained that the current arrangement came about with the introduction of the City Cycle Loop but said that his initial reaction was that the suggested changes appeared to have merit and would be investigated. The officer agreed to give further, more detailed consideration to the suggestion, including the impact Light Rail will have on the layout of this intersection, with possible implementation of the changes through the Minor New Works program.

Directorate: Access Canberra

Issue: The caller advised that they lived in Macgregor and queried what the ‘big boom’ was that was heard in the suburb last night (evening of 14 April 2016) and what caused it.

Response: The Minister advised that she was unsure and that she would look into it.

OUTCOME: An Access Canberra Environment Protection Agency (EPA) officer contacted the caller to get further information about the ‘big boom’ that was heard on the evening of 14 April 2016. The caller advised that it was a one-off noise at 18.00 hours which sounded like a gunshot and that it was the first time they had heard the noise. The EPA officer suggested it may have been a car backfiring, but the caller was adamant that the noise was not from a vehicle. The officer advised that several years ago a local farm had used gas powered guns west of Macgregor to scare away birds and feral animals from the crop. The caller noted that this could have been the noise heard. The caller was advised to call Access Canberra on 132281 when they are next affected by noise and an EPA officer will investigate the matter.

Not Answered on Air but Followed Up Directorate: TAMS

Issue: African lovegrass weeds in Gungahlin

OUTCOME: Weeds in the territory are managed in accordance with an Invasive Weeds Operations Plan (IWOP). TAMS is currently undertaking spray / slash programs to contain African Lovegrass in Gungahlin and other northern areas of the Canberra region. The IWOP targets high priority areas such as Nature Reserves and major waterways. The strategy to combat invasive weeds takes different forms, from containment to eradication, depending on the location and priority of the weed species in question. Eradication is mainly used for new incursions with low populations. Eradication of weed species such as African Lovegrass is difficult due to it being so widespread. Therefore containment, population reduction and protection of high value areas are the strategies more widely used across the ACT.

Twitter/Social Media

Directorate: TAMS

Issue: Please ask the Minister why West Belco got no new water fountains at Kippax and Charnwood but Jamison did get them. West Belconnen has three pieces of outdoor gym equipment at Holt, but Yarralumla has 11 pieces, why? Why does the safe ALP seat of West Belconnen always get forgotten by the ALP?

Response: The Minister said that there is some remarkable work going on in West Belconnen, particularly through the local services network trial, working with key community sector partners in west Belconnen. There is a lot of activity and excitement around some of the work there, particularly in the community and employment sector, particularly led by Minister Yvette Berry, the local member for West Belconnen The water fountains and free water refill stations are based on public requests. The Minister advised there is currently consultation underway on the time to talk website about where new water stations can be installed. The Minister said she would take the request on board.


Directorate: TAMS

Issue: I am concerned about the number of street signs that are hidden by tree branches. I live in the Belconnen area and it’s a real problem in many of the suburbs. Can something be done about them please?

Response: The Minister advised that this would be addressed, noting that she does receive a lot of correspondence on this issue. The Minister said that, to a large extent, the community are their eyes and ears, so if someone sees something like this they should log onto ‘fix my street’.

OUTCOME: An Officer from TAMS contacted the caller to discuss concerns and identify specific locations with problem signs. The caller’s main concern was foliage covering street signs in Badenoch Street, Evatt and Copland Drive, Evatt. The caller advised she had also identified further sites and would provide a complete list to Access Canberra in future. Currently crews assigned to this task have been working on the main arterial roads and highways and emergency services areas. The program will move into the suburbs over the coming months to assist with street sign clearance. Any specific areas of concern to members of public can be logged through Access Canberra by calling 13 22 81.

Directorate: CMTEDD – Policy and Cabinet

Issue: OpalSeniors card only valid for 3 months.

OUTCOME: An ACT Government officer contacted the caller and advised that the Chief Minister has been in discussions with the NSW Premier about transport concession integration. This has resulted in the NSW Government developing a mechanism to facilitate the integration of ACT concession eligibility systems with NSW. ACT Seniors should be able to apply for a non-expiring Gold Opal Card once this integrated mechanism is ready in mid-2016.

Directorate: TAMS

Issue: Is there anywhere that we can recycle foam & foam pillows?

Response: The Minister said she was unsure but perhaps the new mattress recycling facility could and that she would follow up and find out.

OUTCOME: A NOWaste Education Officer contacted the caller. The officer explained that the mattress recycling operator, Soft Landing, does not accept pillows. Soft Landing only accepts mattress foam. These items should be large square bed-shaped pieces that would come from a mattress, not small pieces or other types of foam such as packing foam. The caller was advised that she can contact the Waste Feasibility Study to provide input about the need for disposal options for pillows. An email address for the Waste Feasibility Study was provided.

Directorate: Access Canberra – Community, Business and Transport Regulation

Issue: Tiny's turned away a nearly brand new simplex heater a few weeks ago. In my view Tiny's, Salvos etc are far too selective. Things could be given away to those in need.

OUTCOME: Access Canberra is responsible for licensing of second hand dealers. A licensed second hand dealer is not required to accept any particular goods that are donated or discarded by members of the public. The decision to refuse an item is a business decision the dealer is entitled to make. However, second hand dealers are obligated to ensure that the electrical equipment they resell complies with the applicable safety standards and second hand goods includes electrical items, such as heaters.

Directorate: TAMS

Issue: Why are they removing a disabled parking space on Scott's crossing?

OUTCOME: An officer from TAMS contacted the caller and advised that the approved design does not remove any disabled parking from Scotts Crossing; however, the disabled parking space on the southern side of Scotts Crossing will be relocated to the eastern side of the pedestrian crossing. This will result in the three short term (30min) parking spaces being removed. The caller indicated that the short term parking spaces were important to disabled people as well and that they should not be removed. The caller is very passionate about this issue and does not believe that the Territory is doing enough to ensure that disabled people are adequately catered for around the City centre, particularly when short term measures are being implemented during construction and special events.

Directorate: EPD - Planning

Issue: New Massive development planned in Belconnen however the Master Plan is still not finalised. How can this be allowed?

Response: The Minister noted the Geocon proposal is in its very early stages. The Belconnen master plan will also be finalised very soon, following extensive consultation about it, including input about livening up the town centre. The Minister advised we should hear more about that very soon.

OUTCOME: This issue was discussed further with caller. The Environment and Planning Directorate has been working closely with both the Land Development Agency and the developer Geocon on the preferred development outcome for Block 1 Section 200 Belconnen. While a development application has not yet been submitted, the developer is working to ensure the proposal will meet the recommendations of the Belconnen Town Centre Master Plan, which will be released later this year.

Directorate: TAMS

Issue: Yes I keep harping on about charity bins and the tip but I get annoyed when talk turns to controlling/cctv/fining people. about working WITH human nature not against it. Yes, rubbish management costs but Tips should be free and asbestos disposal should be free too. If you want to encourage people to do the right thing you need two basic things and easy. It's not rocket science.

Response: The Minister said the waste feasibility study is an in depth look at how we are managing waste across the Territory, noting the tip is a very costly process to manage, there is a lot of money spent on our land fill and rubbish collection, and it is a really important part of making this city run well. Sometimes we don’t realise how important it is until you go to a city where it isn’t run well and you really do have an appreciation for a well functioning waste collection and waste management system. There are some innovations out there, for example there is a really exciting not for profit Queensland based company called ‘give it’, that was very successful last year, bringing something more innovative and giving some online presence to people who want to maybe give something away and put them in touch with people who might need it. The Minister noted Tiny’s green shed is there to assist people who have reusable items to take in.

Directorate: EPD - Planning

Issue: I am just curious how a temple can pop up in Scullin without prior notice - and it appears to have only a dozen carparks

OUTCOME: An officer from EPD contacted the caller and explained the Temple was the subject of a development approval (DA) in November last year. The DA was notified in the normal statutory manner. Parking on site is considered appropriate for day to day use of the Temple, but for major events/festivals, the organisers need to get approval from TAMS for a temporary traffic management plan. The constituent was primarily concerned about consultation. EPD advised where to find information about current DAs on the EPD website, and there is a Smartphone app available to download to keep aware of current DAs.

Directorate: TAMS

Issue: How long until residents of Jacka have an action bus service. Many residents have disabilities and are unable to do the walk to Amaroo. Or when will flexible bus service be available to Gungahlin residents? Local community service transport books are full and not available when you need it.

OUTCOME: An officer from TAMS contacted the caller and advised that bus services were being planned for Jacka as part of future expansion into Moncrieff. Investigations are underway to locate a set of bus stops on Horse Park Drive to service the suburb.

Directorate: TAMS

Issue: other jurisdictions have hard rubbish days once or twice a year

Response: The Minister noted we do see hard rubbish days in places like Sydney and that locally we do have a similar process in place here for concession card holders and seniors. Tiny’s Green Shed facilitates an actual pick up. The Minister noted that this was another idea that was being looked at in the waste feasibility study.

Directorate: TAMS

Issue: Love It. More rubbish stories on triple 6. How're we going with no waste 2010? Or is it another strategy littered with failure?

Response: The Minister noted that there is still some work to be done, which is exactly why the Government is doing the waste study. It is a comprehensive piece of work, and as the Minister responsible for waste management, she will be looking to take something forward to the Assembly in the next couple of months.

Directorate: TAMS

Issue: Will Athllon Drive by widened between Sulwood Drive and Drakeford Drive

OUTCOME: An officer from TAMS contacted the caller. The caller advised the issue is where Athllon Drive changes from 2 lanes to one lane (for about 1 to 2 km) and then back to 2 lanes. This causes congestion during the morning and afternoon peak periods. The duplication of Athllon Drive (in this location) was not currently on the Capital Works Forward Intentions. TAMS would ask Transport Planning to review this location and compare to other projects on the Forward Intentions list. It will be considered in future years, subject to competing priorities.

Directorate: TAMS

Issue: The problem with smokers outside is they leave their butts everywhere. I walked past a brand-new piece of landscaping in Kingston just yesterday and the garden bed was full of cigarette butts.

OUTCOME: The caller was contacted by a TAMS officer regarding his concerns. During the conversation it was confirmed that the area where large numbers of cigarette butts are present is along the Kingston Foreshore development, which is currently under the Land Development Agency’s management. The caller was advised that TAMS would notify the LDA to arrange for removal of the butts. TAMS will also approach the owner of the bar where customers were disposing of their butts in the garden bed and encourage the owner to provide a butt bin for customers.

Directorate: TAMS

Issue: How long do Canberra citizens have to put up with the appalling roadworks and roadworks management at the Monaro Highway/Morsehead Drive intersection on the way to the airport? At least we no longer have the ridiculous and dangerous low wall that separated the two left lanes on the Monaro Highway portion. However the intersection is still a shemozzle with very poor signage.

Response: The Minister noted it has been a major project related to the Majura Parkway and was pleased to let the caller know that the parkway would be opened next Friday. As such, there is a lot of work going into those final stages of making sure all of the road surfaces are completed and the road works are done. The Minister advised that by next Friday a real difference should be noticed. The Minister thanked everyone for their patience over the period of the construction. The Minister noted the parkway is scheduled to be completed ahead of time and because it was a significant project built from scratch, the project did take some of the roads away from community use. The Minister highlighted that if roads could be completely closed down for road works then they would be completed quicker, however the network would grind to a halt. The Minister advised that the Government is looking at how notice of road works are communicated to people, particularly through new ways such as increased street side signage, allowing people to be informed on what is going on and how long it is taking.

Directorate: Health

Issue: Why is there no specialised Inpatient facility in the ACT for adolescents with severe mental illnesses?

Response: The Minister advised that her understanding was that there are specialist staff that can work with adolescents in the Canberra Hospital in the women and children’s hospital, and some of the rooms have provision for mental health patients as well. The Minister noted that we do have a specialist Child and Mental Health team. The Minister said she would take on board the comments that there is a lack of inpatient treatment in Canberra for people who are critically affected with things such as anorexia and bulimia.

Directorate: TAMS

Issue: The problem with The Green Shed Is that they send so much quality stuff to landfill due to storage issues.

OUTCOME: The ACT NOWaste Contract Manager contacted the caller. The caller was disappointed that The Green Shed did not accept goods that she wanted to donate as she was under the impression that The Green Shed should accept all goods offered at the facility as it is a not-for-profit organisation. The Contract Manager explained that it is not a not-for-profit organisation, however it does donate full households of furniture, clothing etc to new settlers and refugees arriving in Canberra and that a lot of information can be found on The Green Shed website. The Contract Manager also advised the caller about The Green Shed charity days and the charity cars where a percentage of the car sales are donated to Lifeline. The Contract Manager apologised to the caller for the experience she had at the facility and assured her that the owners of The Green Shed would be contacted regarding the receipt of goods. The Contract Manager also suggested that furniture can be donated to various other charities in Canberra and provided some examples.

Directorate: TAMS

Issue: Surely if charity bins are full to overflowing the logical response is to have more bins? And if rubbish is an issue then perhaps a skip bin besides the charity bins might be an efficient (and logical) solution. If the tip didn't charge fees then these skip bins would be less abused.

Response: The Minister advised that the charities operating the bins, when investigating reports of dumping outside the bin, often find that the bin itself is not full. The Minister noted that it is uncommon for Tiny’s green shed to turn people away with quality goods. They have a number of mechanisms available to them to deal with excess goods. For example, they can lower the prices of goods to move the items out the door more quickly. The Minister advised that the Government was doing a waste feasibility study, a comprehensive study across all waste streams including household and commercial use. There have been some real innovations coming out of this. One recently was the mattress recycling facility out at Hume, which is a real breakthrough not only in recycling mattresses and preventing them from going to landfill, but also employment for people who have been out of jobs for a long time. This social enterprise is making a real difference. The Government is looking at more opportunities like that and is keen to encourage that kind of innovation.

Directorate: TAMS

Issue: Charity Bins. Why not place bins near light poles and place cctv cameras on the poles. Cost of cameras could be met from fines. On another topic, shopping trolleys are scattered all over the place, why aren't the big two using trolleys with a $2 deposit? or TAMS collect the trolleys and sell them back to the supermarkets!

Response: The Minister agreed with the caller, stating it was just another plea for people to please do the right thing. The Government is proactive in dealing with shopping trolleys and dumped rubbish. While the city rangers work very hard across our city every day, they can only be in so many places at one time. The Government needs to spend resources effectively, that is what the community calls on us to do, and each individual trolley could take significant resources to locate and collect. It is a call out to everyone. While many people do the right thing, those who don’t create a significant impost on our urban environment, how out city looks and also on our city rangers as well. The Minister noted that there are recycling centres around, for example the Gungahlin local centre, that do have CCTV cameras as well. This has been explored as an option for charity bins, however given that there is a concern with privacy and cost, it has not been pursued further.

Directorate: Economic Development?

Issue: Can I ask that the play grounds, pathways and water areas be finalised at Molonglo Valley. We need the facilities to live here comfortably

Response: The Minister noted that she understood the issues raised, having lived in an area that is also developing, but not as new as the Molonglo Valley. The Minister noted the recently opened school, the two playgrounds that have been built, and a further two that are currently being built which will hopefully be done by the end of May – August, dependent on the rain staying away so that they can be completed. The Minister also said that it is a focus for the Government to get services into the Molonglo Valley because they know how many people are moving there.