Chief Minister Talkback Summary - 27 May 2016

Call received on air

Directorate: EPD – Planning/TAMS

Issue: The caller asked about Urban Renewal. The caller wanted to know about planned tree plantings in Giralang, which have a work order number, however the caller has been told by a public officer that this work will no longer be happening because money has not been allocated for it. The caller asked the Chief Minister to explain why that hasn’t happened and why there is no money for it? The caller was also concerned he had sent many emails to the Chief Minister about urban renewal in Giralang without response.

Response: The Chief Minister said he would need to check on the details and provide that information to the caller. The Government will respond to the emails the caller has sent.

OUTCOME: An officer from TAMS contacted the caller and discussed the caller’s concerns about lack of maintenance, tree planting and general ‘urban renewal’ in Giralang. The officer explained the ‘work order’ referred to a small parkland area where bollards had recently been placed to stop vehicles accessing grassed areas on the verge. The tree plantings were to occur as part of the work, however had not been undertaken as the program had been delayed.

Directorate: Economic Development

Issue: The caller asked about the development of West Basin. Part of the lake will be reclaimed and the caller wanted to know how much this would cost and what material would be used to fill it in? The caller claimed this was not quite in line with the Griffins’ original plans for the lake and did not see the point of spending money on this. The caller said the sketches that they have seen look lovely with the board walk, the coffee shop and the walk around, but right behind that, behind the foreshore area bordering Commonwealth Avenue and Park Way on the Southside, the sketches don’t show that there are going to be 6-storey high rise private residencies.

Response: The Chief Minister said no funding was allocated for the plan to reclaim part of the lake yet. The first stage would be a wider, improved pathway joining up from the Menzies walk under Commonwealth Avenue bridge, with a boardwalk out over the water and the first car park near the bridge would be converted into a public park. Work would start later this year and be completed by early 2017. The Chief Minster said later stages would reflect the Griffins’ vision and reclaiming land would create extra space for public amenity. The Chief Minister said the West Basin plan, released some years ago, would allow for private residences in that area, not necessarily 6-storeys high.

Directorate: TAMS

Issue: Melrose Drive is a major arterial road into the city, but numerous road works have reduced it from 2-3 lanes down to 1-2 lanes in places and traffic can get backed up while people reverse park. The caller also asked about the new intersection where lights were installed and the lights now block one lane of free flowing traffic. The caller noted that a lot of money has gone into maintaining other arterial roads to keep the flow of traffic, but all the changes to Melrose Drive have effectively reduced the smooth flow of traffic.

Response: The Chief Minister said that the construction may be causing temporary incursions into the road but it was not a permanent problem. There may be a traffic engineering issue with traffic flow and the Chief Minister would get Roads ACT to look into it and get back to the caller.

OUTCOME: An officer from TAMS contacted the caller and explained that the changes being implemented along Melrose Drive were in accordance with the Woden Town Centre Master Plan’s aim to establish Melrose Drive as a reduced-speed environment that reinforces its role as a primary cycle corridor. Melrose Drive will serve all road user groups and include improved pedestrian and cycle crossings, large street trees and, where appropriate, removal of slip lanes. On-street parking will be provided to encourage development to face onto Melrose Drive.

Directorate: Access Canberra

Issue: The caller advised they live next to a hoarder with a large number of goods and items in the front and back yards. What are the rules around hoarding and what recourse do residents have for getting hoarded items removed from neighbouring properties?

Response: The Chief Minister said there is a legislative framework allowing neighbours to lodge formal complaints, that the Government could then investigate and take follow up action if appropriate. The Chief Minister said it was a complicated area that the Government was trying to simplify, but the best thing would be to get the details of the particular problem block off air and follow up with the caller.

OUTCOME: Access Canberra contacted the caller and was given further details of the particular situation. Access Canberra is already aware of the subject lease and is actioning a controlled activity complaint. A number of different measures are being taken to resolve the issue, which involves discussions with multiple directorates.

Directorate: NCA

Issue: Why are the reflective ponds in front of Old parliament House empty, and have been empty for such a long time?

Response: The Chief Minister explained these ponds were under the jurisdiction of the National Capital Authority, but he could seek some information from them on why they are empty.

OUTCOME: An officer from TAMS contacted the NCA and was advised the Federation Fountains and Reflection Pool were decommissioned due to the failure of the pond liner. As a result of this failure, the quantity of water loss and cost of water usage was very high. This is the second time the liner has failed and the NCA is currently exploring other material options for the fountains for these problematic issues. This information was provided to the caller.

Directorate: Economic Development

Issue: The caller heard the Chief Minister explaining his vision for Canberra a few weeks ago to include fairly dense high rise in the inner city and the caller was concerned about physical, social and mental problems that can be associated with dense high rise living. The caller wanted to know if the plans would include adequate green space to allow for a connection with nature and space for children to play.

Response: The Chief Minister said this was a conversation about striking the balance to meet the needs of different types of residents. Currently about 85% of housing in the ACT is detached and there are areas where more intense urban development would be appropriate. The Chief Minister said there would be plenty of green space and the Government is creating new parks, such as those in West Basin, and pleasant urban environments. The Chief Minister mentioned the example of the New Acton development, which created international award-winning design and lots of interesting urban space environments, designed for people. The Chief Minister also said there were wonderful assets such as Commonwealth Park but that a 6-lane freeway currently cuts off access, so the Government was looking at options to improve that. In the CBD, all buildings are limited to a height of 617m above sea level by the National Capital Authority. By international standards, there is no true high rise in Canberra.

Directorate: CMA

Issue: The caller congratulated the Chief Minister on light rail, but asked whether there was capacity for the carriages to be built locally in Canberra, say in Mitchell or Fyshwick, creating local jobs, as was the case in Melbourne?

Response: The Chief Minister said the scale was not sufficient to justify establishing a factory in Canberra. The number of carriages required is too small to make it economically viable and no private company would take up that option. The Chief Minister said that the ACT is not in a position to establish new manufacturing industry and our skills are in the knowledge-based economy, in areas such as renewable technology, design, the university sector, and value-adding to heavier industry through research and development. The whole Australian economy is moving in this direction and the ACT is leading the way.

Directorate: TAMS

Issue: The caller was concerned Isaacs Ridge is closed every night from 5pm to 7am for the next two and a half months, with signs up saying firearms will be used in the area. The caller was concerned that the hours of closure were too long and prevented workers from taking their usual exercise, and it was a long-term impact on residents. The caller was also concerned about the use of firearms near their houses and that residents received no notices in their letterboxes or other information about it. The caller felt there were not too many kangaroos in the reserve and it was lovely to walk amongst the little families that are there.

Response: The Chief Minister explained this was due to the kangaroo cull and was a necessary measure to protect public safety, as people could not be wandering about the area during that time. The Chief Minister advised that he would check to make sure that notification had been given, noting sometimes a letter box drop can be missed or notices can be mixed up in other materials.

OUTCOME: Public notification was via ACT Government Media Release on 13 May 2016. On the same day Parks and Conservation Services coordinated a letterbox drop to residents whose houses back directly on to all closed reserves. The ACT Government relies on media, in the form of radio and the local newspaper and the signage placed on reserves to inform the general public. Signage was installed on reserve boundaries on 13 May 2016 with reserve closures commencing from 16 May. A TAMS officer phoned the caller and sent a follow up email on 20 May providing her with a copy of the media release, Q&A and further information on the effects of grazing and biodiversity.

Directorate: Access Canberra

Issue: The caller was named executor of his parents’ estate and is struggling to establish the identity of his mother who turned 95 this year with the Land Titles office. The land titles identification checklist includes a citizenship certificate (his mother’s is from 1960 and used a formal version of her name), a birth certificate (a 95-year old scrap of paper that no one will accept as good enough), a current passport (last valid one is from 1967), driver licence (15 years since last drove), and a Medicare and pension card (which she does have). The last time a tax return was filed was in 2009. An additional problem is that different documents use either a formal or anglicised version of the mother’s name, so not all are consistent. The mother has lived in her current house for 54 years, and has been in Australia for 68 years. The caller felt he has reached an impasse.

Response: The Chief Minister said he would get the caller’s details off air and arrange a senior official in the ACT Government to contact him to resolve the issue, as the best way forward in what sounds like a frustrating process.

OUTCOME: Access Canberra contacted the caller and identified the issue at hand. The caller was provided the required assistance in addition to a contact officer within Land Registry to assist with any documentation and information needed.

Directorate: TAMS

Issue: The caller was a long-term resident of Canberra who had recently returned from a few years in Queensland where green waste bins were introduced. Now as a home owner and mother of a family, and from discussions with friends she saw value in introducing green waste bins in the ACT. They were also introduced in Queanbeyan and Googong in NSW. The caller had a trailer she could use to take green waste to the tip, so it was not a personal issue, but would be useful to others who didn’t have that option. In Queensland the green bin is collected on alternate weeks to the recycling. People paid an establishment fee and then a quarterly fee for collection, which worked well. The caller felt this would fit in well with the ACT’s environmentally friendly approach to waste management.

Response: The Chief Minister said this was something the ACT Government was looking at as part of the waste strategy. The Chief Minister explained there were a number of services available at the moment through private companies to suit different households’ needs, such as providing a skip for autumn and spring cleanups, o monthly collection services. The Chief Minister said the ACT already had an impressive level of green waste recycling, but acknowledged more could be done.

OUTCOME: The ACT Government has announced plans to roll out green bins across the ACT, with residents in Weston Creek and Kambah the first to get access to a green bin as part of a pilot program. This is an important new service that people have asked for, and it will save families time and money. It will also help divert garden waste going to landfill each year. Residents in Weston Creek and Kambah will be able to opt-in to the service for a one-off, cost-recovery fee of around $50, with bins collected every fortnight. Concession card holders will receive their bin for free. To express your interest in this scheme fill out the form or call 13 22 81. For more information, visit:

Directorate: TAMS

Issue: The caller noted street lights in Holt had been out for two weeks. The caller rang again to report it last night and was told it was a cable fault and would not be fixed until July.

Response: The Chief Minister said he was advised it was a cable fault and it would be fixed by 1 July. The Chief Minister said the government could raise it with ActewAGL to see if it could be fixed sooner.

OUTCOME: An officer from TAMS contacted the caller and advised the lights in Holt were repaired on the evening of 1 June 2016. The officer supplied the contact details of a Roads ACT staff member so they could report any further issues.

Directorate: Economic Development

Issue: The caller raised the lack of a disability access ramp at YMCA gym in Chifley. It was demolished during building work 6 months ago and now clients have to walk an extra 200m to the other side of the building to go up a very steep internal ramp. The caller’s wife now needs to be accompanied as she can’t manage the new ramp on her own. The caller said there are a lot of disabled people who go there in the same situation and the YMCA doesn’t know when it is going to be fixed or replaced. The caller had a letter before Christmas from the ACT Property group but nothing since.

Response: The Chief Minister said he had been advised that construction is underway. The Chief Minister said Property Group, as the managers of the building, want the ramp installed by the end of May or by early June. The Chief Minister advised a contractor has been engaged and construction on the site has commenced and the replacement ramp needs to be completed, certified and then it will be available for use.

OUTCOME: An officer from ACT Property Group contacted the caller and explained that the ramp replacement project was dependent on completion of a fuel tank removal project, which took longer than anticipated. Replacement of the ramp is close to completion and it is expected the ramp will be available for use by end June 2016.

Directorate: 1) TAMS 2) Health

Issue: 1) The caller rang about the taxi rank on Bunda street, an issue raised on Chief Minister’s talkback previously, but the caller felt not answered properly. The caller noted lots of private cars parked there making drop off and pick up impossible. 2) The caller also raised issues with inability to get treatment for mental health issues for a family member and the cost of MRI imaging at a private hospital being $600.

Response: 1) The Chief Minister said the taxi rank had temporarily been relocated to another location on Bunda Street and when construction work at the Canberra Centre was complete, it would be moved back. 2) The Chief Minister said the Government could address the other questions off air.

OUTCOME: 2) It is important for the family member to discuss treatment options with their General Practitioner. The Australian Government has recognised the importance of patients being able to access appropriate mental health services and have developed the Better Access to Mental Health Care initiative. This provides patients with access to a medicare rebate for treatments provided by psychologists and psychiatrists and provides considerable assistance to people living with mental health problems. If the patient does not currently have a general practitioner, then they can contact the Triage line on 1800 629 354, this service will provide the caller with the necessary advice and assistance in relation to treatment availability and options.


Directorate: TAMS

Issue: What is the development going on at the ‘gateway’ to Canberra on the federal highway (just north from Majura Rd)? There is a lot of work and be great to know what is happening?

Response: The Chief Minister it may be the new welcome to Canberra signs, but that he would need to check as there may be some other road works going on.

OUTCOME: An officer from TAMS contacted the caller and advised that the works were associated with construction of truck lay bys.

Issue: Re road works north of Majura Rd. Friends say that it is a new access rd to Majura rd from federal hwy. There is work going north just near Canberra sign that I wonder about?

OUTCOME: On 2 June 2016 an officer of TAMS contacted the caller and advised that the works were associated with construction of truck lay bys.

Directorate: Health

Issue: The prevalence rate for severe mental illness for young people is 2.2%. Why are there no inpatient facilities for adolescents in the ACT? The current arrangements do not allow treatment.

Response: The Chief Minister said that we endeavour to ensure that our Health system can provide every possible service, but there are times where the size of our population and the relative need means that we can’t provide every single specialist service. The Chief Minister advised that the issues would be raised with the Health Minister and see what could be done to respond.

OUTCOME: ACT Health has been in contact with the caller. The Minister for Health has also written to the caller to address the concerns raised and outlining services available in this area. Inpatient mental health services for all children and young people under the age of 17 continue to be provided in the Centenary Hospital for Women and Children’s paediatric adolescent ward. The adolescent ward has a full-time Child and Adolescent Mental Health Psychiatric registrar to the pediatrics ward for any mental health concerns identified with inpatients on the ward. A consultant psychiatrist is available 5 days per week and the CAMHS Clinical Director provides clinical oversight and input. There is also a full time Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service assessment liaison nurse, who provides emergency assessment and ongoing consultation with pediatric staff about the care on young people with mental health issues. Out of hours, clinical oversight is provided by the mental health consultation liaison service.

The preference for adolescents is community based care. Experiencing mental illness is a distressing and frightening experience for many young people. Young people are more likely to engage with treatment and support if it is delivered in the environment in which they feel most comfortable – surrounded by family and friends.

The 2016-17 ACT Government Budget initiative Mental Health Follow up for Young People and Intensive Clinical Rehabilitation Service will provide an assertive outreach program. This service will significantly enhance access to continued comprehensive mental health treatment for young people who are at increased risk of not receiving timely or consistent mental health care and are having difficulties attending office based treatment.

Issue: There is a house in Sinclair St in Kambah that I’m pretty sure is a government house that was vacated and fixed up at least six months ago. This house is still empty and the garden is very overgrown. Now I'm wondering, why is this place still (text cut off)

Response: The Chief Minister said that he would confirm whether it is a publicly owned property and, if it is, then seek to tenant it.

OUTCOME: The property at Sinclair Street Kambah has been vacant for some time. Significant work associated with termite damage has been carried out. Additional maintenance work has commenced prior to re-allocation to another family. It is anticipated the property will be tenanted by the end of June 2016. Housing ACT arranged for the lawns to be mowed and the external condition of the property to be addressed on 27 May 2016.

Directorate: CMTEDD - WCaG

Issue: Canberra has over 15 independent government appointed commissioners. Can we please have an independent corruption commissioner?

OUTCOME: The ACT Government has a number of robust anti-corruption mechanisms in place including legislation such as the Public Sector Management Act 1994 and Standards, the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2012, the Financial Management Act 1996, the Ombudsman Act 1989, the Crimes Act 1900, the Freedom of Information Act 1989 and the Annual Reports (Government Agencies) Act 2004.

In addition to the legislative mechanisms, the Legislative Assembly has adopted a Code of Conduct for Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) and a further Code of Conduct has been established for staff of MLAs. The government’s commitment to open and transparent government is further demonstrated by the introduction of an Ethics and Integrity Advisor to MLAs during the course of the current Assembly.

The ACT Public Service has adopted four core values of Respect, Integrity, Collaboration and Innovation in the delivery of services to the ACT community. These values are supported by the appointment of Senior Executives Responsible for Business and Integrity Risk (SERBIRs) in each Directorate. SERBIRs are charged with ensuring appropriate training is regularly delivered to employees in regard to ethics and fraud control. Each Directorate must also appoint at least two Disclosure Officers who are tasked with receiving any disclosures in relation to alleged corruption. Both the SERBIR and Disclosure Officer networks are oversighted by the Commissioner for Public Administration.

Significant decisions taken by public officials are subject to stringent tabling requirements in the Legislative Assembly and are therefore subject to public scrutiny.

The above mechanisms provide an appropriate level of oversight and review of the actions and decisions of MLAs and all public officials, and therefore there is no imperative at this time for the introduction of a body similar to the New South Wales and Queensland corruption Commissions.

Directorate: Economic Development

Issue: Any update on this query from 4 March? Can CBR Free WiFi please remember that a device has agreed to the terms and conditions between sessions? Any app other than a web browser(e.g. twitter) seems to lock up completely due to CBR WiFi wanting a web box tick (text cut off)

OUTCOME: An officer from Innovate Canberra contacted the caller and discussed the issue. The caller stated that he would like the CBRfree login process to provide at least six months recognition without requiring re-login, and for the recognition to be tied to the phone rather than a specific application or browser. Innovate Canberra has raised the issue with CBRfree provider iiNet and its network engineers are working to determine if the issue can be addressed.

Directorate: EPD - Planning

Issue: The Tuggeranong Seniors centre has very limited parking. Many of the activities attract 30+ attendees. The only other close parking is reserved for college students or paid parking further away. Most activities go for at least 2 hours. Would it be possible (text cut off)

OUTCOME: The caller asked whether the Government could provide the Club with special parking permits for their members. A representative from the ACT Government explained that permits are generally not issued as they do not provide equitable access to public car parks for other members of the public. The caller emphasised the issue about access to the public car park opposite the seniors club. The officer explained the work TAMS have undertaken on upgrading the pedestrian access between the car park and the club. They also discussed the Government is currently completing a feasibility study of the broader Tuggeranong Town Centre to improve active travel connections. The Government will take on board the caller’s feedback in planning for the Tuggeranong Town Centre.

Directorate: JACS

Issue: I have concerns re Kuringa Drive from Fraser leading out to the Barton Highway. If a cyclist is using any part of that road there is simply no way of giving the legal distance now required without crossing into oncoming traffic (there is rarely (text cut off)

OUTCOME: The Manager of the Road Safety Policy Team (LPP) contacted the caller and advised that to enable drivers to provide the minimum overtaking distances on narrow roads or roads with narrow lanes, motorists are allowed to cross centre lines, straddle lanes and drive on painted islands, provided the motorist has a clear view of any approaching traffic and that it is safe to do so. Where there is no clear view ahead or it is not safe to provide the distance, motorists need to slow down behind the cyclist and wait until it is safe to pass.

Directorate: TAMS

Issue: New Parkes Way exit into Allara St has been completed but blocked for some months now; will it ever open to relieve morning traffic flows? Also why no radio signal repeaters in Canberra car tunnels?

OUTCOME: An officer from TAMS contacted the caller and advised the Parkes Way and Allara Street connection is limited in order to complete the landscapes works (on the median etc). The connection will be open in late July when the full construction on Constitution Avenue is open to traffic. In relation to the second issue of radio signal repeaters, the caller has an issue with his AM radio signal when passing through the Acton tunnel and near the excavation/bridgeworks on State Circle. The officer explained that radio repeaters are in place in Sydney tunnels due to the length of those tunnels. There is no requirement in the ACT given the short length of our tunnels.

Directorate: Access Canberra

Issue: What is the plan for the long time empty cute ex restaurant building between constitution Ave and Parkes Way beside the empty multi storey block Anzac west (or east)?

OUTCOME: Access Canberra contacted the caller to advise the property being enquired about is owned by the Commonwealth of Australia and is managed by the Commonwealth Department of Finance – Property Section. Relevant contact details were provided to the caller.

Directorate: TAMS

Issue: Given the resurgence of the Aranda shops with the new cafe and bar, who is responsible for the maintenance of the car park? I understand that the parking may be a designated park and ride so if this is the case when will someone come and look at and fix (text cut off)

OUTCOME: An officer of TAMS left a message for the caller advising the car park for Aranda Shops, Block 20 Section 1, is located within a private lease and is not managed by the ACT Government. Roads ACT would be happy to assist and will pass on concerns to the lease holder.

Directorate: EPD – Planning/TAMS

Issue: Can you tell me if the Dickson Shops will get upgraded?

Response: The Chief Minister said apart from the supermarket plan, there were a range of projects underway to make upgrades according to the Dickson Group Centre Master Plan. They were creating a new park, realigning some streets, and improving pedestrian and cycle infrastructure. The intersection at Cowper Street and Dickson Place was currently receiving an upgrade, and there is a lot of private sector development as well. For example, there had been a lot of discussion with traders and local residents about Woolley Street and how to make that area an even better district.

Directorate: Health

Issue: What are the health regulations re dogs in cafes/restaurants? They seem to be creeping in. Not just under outdoor tables but inside, on chairs, staff petting them, on owner’s laps at table top level. Worried this is getting out of hand. Difficult for cafe (text cut off)

OUTCOME: The ACT Health Protection Service contacted the caller and provided information about the food safety regulations and dogs in cafes and restaurants. The Australia New Zealand Food Standards code permits assistance animals within all areas used by customers. A dog, other than an assistance animal, is only permitted in an outdoor dining area.

Directorate: Economic Development

Issue: Odd to hear the ABC and Chief Minister breach a supreme court suppression order to discuss the Brumbies former site.

Response: The Chief Minister confirmed that they had only discussed things that were already on the public record, such as documents tabled in the Legislative Assembly and no breach had occurred.