Chief Minister Talkback Summary - 19 August 2016

Calls received on air

Directorate: TCCS/EPD

Issue: The caller raised an incident that occurred at Narrabundah Hill at the back of Duffy a few weeks ago. It’s a cross-purpose area that allows walkers, dogs (on a leash), and cows to graze. One cow had young calves with it and launched a savage attack on the caller’s small, fluffy dog. When the caller tried to intervene he was knocked over multiple times by the cow. The caller sustained bruising and felt he was lucky not to have been injured more severely. The caller wished to warn other listeners of this potential danger.

Response:  The Chief Minister thanked the caller for the warning and for letting people know.

Directorate: Economic Development

Issue: The caller asked when the statue of the lady from Hughes is going to be replaced. The caller said the figure had been a much loved part of the community and they are keen to see her restored. The caller understood the original mould was broken so she could not be replicated exactly.

Response: The Chief Minister said it was quite a shock when it happened and thanked the caller for raising it. He would get some information about that and someone would be in touch with the caller.

OUTCOME: An insurance claim is being finalised to fund the replacement of the stolen artwork, Stepping Out, at Hughes Shops. Consultation with the community about the new artwork will commence later this year. The artist is available to start work on the new sculpture in early 2017.

Directorate: TCCS

Issue: The caller raised concerns from last Talkback about streetlights in Aranda. She praised the response she received last time and the timeliness of the lights being turned back on, however they are now on 24 hours a day.

Response:  The Chief Minister said this was often a problem when there was a cable fault, which was not straightforward to fix. It may require trenching work which was disruptive to local residents. The lights will currently only stay on or off all the time, so better to have them on so that they can provide lighting at night time when it is needed. The Government will keep working on it to resolve the problem.

OUTCOME: The street light coordinator spoke to the caller and explained that there was a control box fault (asbestos panel) that needs to be removed from the substation. The caller was also advised that a new controller was required to remove the street light panel out of the substation. The caller was further advised about the need to leave the lights permanently on for this period as it was better to have the lights on permanently than not at all. Roads ACT will advise the caller when the new controller is programmed to be installed.

Directorate: Health

Issue: The caller rang last talkback about an inquiry into the cleaning contracts at the Canberra Hospital. The caller asked if the inquiry is now in place and if it is independent. The caller felt the previous cleaning contract was not adequate and was frustrated at the poor standard of cleaning, the lack of training, unfair delegation of workload, and poor English of the workers.

Response: The Chief Minister explained the Government was not reviewing the past contract, but was instead undertaking a formal tender process to put in place a new cleaning contract. The Chief Minister did not have the parameters of the tender in front of him. But said he would get some advice back to the caller about what level of detail it specified (for example whether it required disposable mops as per the caller’s request).

OUTCOME: ACT Health contacted the caller on 31 August 2016 to further discuss their concerns about the quality of the cleaning services provided at Canberra Hospital. The caller was informed that ACT Health has adopted the Cleaning Standards for Victorian Health Facilities 2011, which the contractor must adhere to, and that regular cleaning audits are being undertaken across the hospital. The community and patients are welcome to contact the Help Desk at main reception to log cleaning jobs.

Directorate: EPD – Planning and TCCS

Issue: The caller is concerned about the loss of public space in Eddison Park (30,000m2 or up to 1/3 of the park), due to expansion of the Woden Cemetery. The caller wanted to know what creative and innovative ways the ACT Government is looking at to reinstate some high quality public space in the Woden Town Centre.

Response:  The Chief Minister explained that the footprint offered limited options, but there was some opportunity in Lyons, across Melrose Drive, to have recreation facilities. The Chief Minister said it was an issue of quality vs. quantity. Some new fitness equipment has just been installed in the park, and there may be more options available, but land is limited. The Chief Minister explained that the cemetery expansion was also an important community need.

Directorate: JACS

Issue: The caller asked for legislation requiring cyclists to wear reflective clothing. The caller nearly knocked a cyclist over the other night, as they were impossible to see in black clothing, with no lights in the rain.

Response:  The Chief Minister said he could have a look at that and that it was an interesting proposition.

OUTCOME: An officer contacted the caller and advised that Australian Road Rule 259 requires a bicycle being ridden at night or in hazardous weather conditions where visibility is reduced to display a flashing or steady white light that is clearly visible from at least 200 metres from the front of the bicycle and a red flashing or steady light that is clearly visible from at least 200 metres from the rear of the bicycle and a red reflector on the rear of the bicycle.

Directorate: JACS

Issue: The caller has questions around assisted dying legislation and Euthanasia issues. The caller recently attended an event at the Press Club where Andrew Denton spoke on this issue. The caller understands the difficulty with legislation for ACT and NT being overruled by the Commonwealth. The caller asked how the Chief Minister and future Assemblies will deal with this legislation and move forward on these issues.

Response:  The Chief Minister explained the ACT is quite constrained with this due to Federal legislation, and so lobbying efforts would be better directed at the Commonwealth Government, or even at a State Government. The Chief Minister suggested that the case for change would be enhanced by movement from one of the State Governments. The Chief Minister called on the Federal Government to pursue a conscience vote on this issue. The Chief Minister said if the ACT could legislate we would, but there is nothing that the ACT Government can do at the moment. The Chief Minister agreed with people lobbying on this issue, but could not offer false hope of the ACT being able to make any changes on this.


Directorate: Access Canberra

Issue: What can the ACT Gov do about the Wilson open air parking machines in areas like Deakin and Barton? In particular, the machines (a) take ages to operate and (b) record licence plates. So, they are horrible for productivity, creating huge queues wherever they operate. Can the ACT Government please require a fast coin-only procedure on all machines across ACT? Does the ACT Gov not even have a role in making sure machines are accessible? The screens are unreadable, the buttons often don't respond, etc. Also, what prevents the MLAs from passing new legislation to have basic feature regulated. Is the CM really suggesting that Wilson has a competitor to which the public can go and get a parking service?!? The whole point is that there is NO market reason for Wilson to do anything other than put in the fewest, cheapest machines they can find. Whe [text cut off]

Response: The Chief Minister said that with private car parks, the Government only has a role in registering providers as approved parking authorities and ensuring their signage is correct. The Government cannot determine how private operators operate their parking. The Chief Minister said they could make it easier for customers and probably should, but it was their own business decision. The Chief Minister agreed to write a letter to Wilson Parking on behalf of all the complaints today.

OUTCOME: Access Canberra advised the caller that the Chief Minister sent a letter to the Manager of Wilson Parking asking that they simplify the operation of their parking machines. Access Canberra Parking Operations discussed with the caller areas around Kings swim school, Deakin, where there are free timed parking spaces. The caller was also advised that Wilson Parking were unable to access personal registration details from the ACT Government. Further discussion were had with the caller about the policy for installing private parking areas, types of machinery being installed, privacy laws and the policy for accessibility of parking machines within private car parks.

Directorate: Economic Development

Issue: What is happening with the Old Canberra Brickworks at Yarralumla? Community consultation appears to have finished. What is happening now with the development?

Response: The Chief Minister said the Canberra Brickworks Community Panel finalised their review of the five requests for proposal submissions. The shortlisted proposals are scheduled to be announced soon and a letter will be sent to surrounding residents, businesses and the Yarralumla Residents Group from next week. An update will be provided on the LDA website next week.

Directorate: Access Canberra

Issue: Wilson parking. So, so annoying. Makes me late for appointments because I usually end up helping elderly or non-English speaking people how to use them. That sort of thing is very scary for them and causes the stress. They have access to registration details? Is that appropriate?

OUTCOME: Access Canberra advised the caller that the Chief Minister sent a letter to the manager of Wilson Parking asking to have the paid parking instructions for the operation of their parking machines made more user-friendly. The caller asked why Wilson Parking has access to their personal details attached to the vehicle registration. The caller was advised that Wilson Parking do not have access to personal registration details. Wilson Parking request the registration details from drivers to know which vehicles paid for their parking.

Directorate: Access Canberra

Issue: Come on chief minister, so governments don’t or can’t set out processes for a private entity’s operations in Canberra? Pull the other one! You could quite easily require standards of entities such as Wilson Parking.

Response:  The Chief Minister said it would be incredibly excessive regulatory interference to mandate how parking machines will operate and then update the regulations weekly as technology changes. The Chief Minister appreciated the issues, but said it is for Wilson Parking to address. The Chief Minister agreed to raise the issue with Wilson Parking and agreed to write a letter to Wilson Parking on behalf of all the complaints today.

OUTCOME: Access Canberra left a message with the caller’s answering service advising that the Chief Minister sent a letter to the Manger of Wilson Parking, requesting better and simpler pay parking instructions for users. Access Canberra Parking Operations’ contact number was left in case the caller would like to phone back for further information.

Directorate: Economic Development

Issue: I'm looking forward to international flights. But signs need to be better for arrivals and from car parks to roads out. Also will there be buses to meet peak arrivals?

Response: The Chief Minister said he would raise the first issue with the airport, as it’s their land and airport, so it will be in their best interest to have proper signage to make it easy for people. The Chief Minister said on the second issue, there is an airport bus. The Chief Minister said he has raised the issue with the airport and their advice, along with Singapore Airlines, is that the current transport systems will meet the demands of the flight traffic with one flight arriving four days a week. If there are more flights in future, the current bus service may need to be augmented to suit demand. The Chief Minister also explained that with flights being very late at night or early in the morning, the majority of passengers would most likely have arranged other transport and not be looking for bus services.  

Directorate: CMTEDD – Workforce Capability and Governance

Issue: Hi Chief Minister, Any assurances of longer term contracts if Labour gets in for ACT's lowest paid public servants? My partner currently on consecutive 2 month contract? Not good enough! Un-Australian and hurtful, to working families and creating a toxic work environment where alcohol abuse, gambling and bullying and harassment are rife. Help. The short term contracts are ongoing workers who've sometimes been employed over 5 years, Minister.

Response: The Chief Minister said it would depend on the nature of the employment task and the areas of government where the work is required. The Chief Minister explained the ACT Government has a very diverse workforce and has been continually growing in many areas. There are, however, areas where work is seasonal in nature or they are short-term projects. So the ACT Government is not employing people full time for short-term project work. For example, the mowing program requires surge capacity for unexpected excess rainfall and this work by definition cannot be offered on a long-term basis. Broadly, in longer-term trends the ACT Government is increasing full time employment and looking to having longer term contract arrangements, where contracts are in place. The ACT Government is the second largest employer in the city.

Directorate: TCCS

Issue: Good morning CM. Can I please bring to your attention the lack of a foot path on the Eastern side of Kings Avenue leading from Russell to Kings Avenue Bridge. There is a foot path on the bridge and at the Barton end. There is obviously a lot of pedestrian traffic.

Response: The Chief Minister said he would check whether it was ACT or National Capital Authority (NCA) land and get someone to contact the caller. The Chief Minister suspected it was probably Commonwealth land.

OUTCOME: TCCS contacted the caller and confirmed that the area in question is designated land managed by the NCA. The caller was informed that due to this it is difficult for the ACT Government to undertake any improvement works within this area as it must be approved in its entirety by the NCA. The resident was also informed that the NCA is currently undertaking planning work within the area which is looking to include access improvements along Kings Avenue Bridge.

Directorate: Economic Development

Issue: Many are in the dark about your/the govts plans to hand over public lakeshore parkland to residential developers in West Basin. The odd cafe good, but to alienate the whole park for development sad. Do you still plan to proceed?

Response: The Chief Minister said the Government is proceeding with upgrading the park and installing a boardwalk and small cafe developments, but it is not the case that large areas of land are being alienated. The Griffith legacy planning is being realised. All that is planned and funded for now is the new park. Although the Chief Minister supports some residential development in the area, any further development is 10-15 years away. The City to the Lake proposal is a 15 year proposition.  

Directorate: Economic Development

Issue: Given the history of secret arrangements and closed deals on the Manuka oval deal since at least 2014, can the chief minister now give the community an undertaking of full transparency on any future process.

Response: The Chief Minister said there has been full transparency on all processes; otherwise there would be no public discussion. The Government determined not to proceed with the unsolicited proposal. All proposals have to go through a process and go through a development application process, if it is within the current planning framework. If it isn’t, then that requires a Territory Plan Variation, and any variation is informed by a community panel and a Master Plan process. A number of sites in and around Manuka Oval already allow for a range of development to occur and are not subject to a Territory Plan Variation. For example, the old Services Club site would already be open to a hotel or club development. It is up to the land holders to make a decision as to what goes there. All previous projects around Manuka Oval since 2009, such as extra seating and the lights, have had consultations, presentations and applications. Over the next 10-15 years more change will be required to improve amenity at Manuka Oval, but it will all go through proper process and be a gradual transition.

Directorate: TCCS

Issue:  Hi Genevieve and Chief Minister. Fantastic job on the bike path crossings through O'Connor. Brilliant! Could we please have a few more rubbish bins in public places? I'm a responsible dog owner and it is amazing how far I have to carry my full doggy bag.

Response: The Chief Minister noted the caller’s concerns and said it could be looked into.

OUTCOME: An officer from TCCS left a message for the caller offering information and providing a direct contact if she wanted to discuss further. It is the ACT Government’s policy that people using public open space areas are responsible for taking their rubbish with them and disposing of it in an appropriate manner, including animal waste. Litter bins are provided at shopping centres, district parks and other locations where there are a high numbers of visitors. However, bins are not provided at suburban parks and bus stops as in the past they have attracted the dumping of household garbage and numerous acts of vandalism.

Directorate: TCCS

Issue:  Can Roads ACT please do a better job of managing Canberra’s traffic light system which prioritises bus routes over cars. We sit on buses waiting at traffic lights whilst cars get the green lights. It is about time users of public transport are given priority.

Response:  The Chief Minister said he will take that on board.

OUTCOME: An officer from TCCS contacted the caller and advised that bus priority was considered as part of the NXTBUS real time passenger information project. It was determined that while it was possible to have NXTBUS send data to the traffic light system it was difficult to provide a balanced bus and traffic network if lights were adjusted to provide buses priority and any change to the current systems would require considerable investment. The caller was keen to see if any adjustments could be made to the traffic lights at the following intersections to provide more time for buses: Cohen St and Nettlefold St, Nettlefold St and Coulter Dr, and Barry Dr and Rimmer St. The caller was advised that these locations would be provided to Roads ACT for assessment.

Directorate: TCCS

Issue: Chief Minister, there are a real lack of playgrounds in old Macgregor. Could we please get a couple more playgrounds in the area between Kippax and Macgregor public school for the kids to go and meet and play together on. The school has been fenced off.

OUTCOME: The caller was contacted and provided with detailed information on the nature of Canberra’s playground distribution. The caller was advised that a review of the 506 public playgrounds across Canberra is currently underway to analyse factors such as the number of sites per capita and the types and ages of equipment. The caller was advised that the number of playgrounds available to old Macgregor residents will be included in this review. Canberra endeavours to provide play space within 400m of every house for 95% of residents. New Macgregor has smaller block sizes and limited backyard space for parents to have their own play equipment. Five public playgrounds are currently provided in old Macgregor.

Directorate: Health

Issue: Good Morning, I am all for progress and a new hospital at UC will be great. But why do we have to do it without thought to our fauna. Walking to car park at UC this week observing a family of kangaroos who are being built out of their habitat. Kangaroos h [text cut off]

Response:  The Chief Minister said any human activity will unfortunately impact on wildlife, but yes thought was given to minimise the impact of that and the UC Master Plan includes space for wildlife.