Chief Minister Talkback Summary - 29 April 2016

Calls received on air

Directorate: 1) EPD 2) TAMS

Issue: 1) Congratulations on the 100% renewable energy target. The caller was proud the ACT was leading the rest of Australia on this issue and thought this was a fitting legacy for Minister Corbell as he leaves politics. 2) The caller was concerned about the maintenance of cycle lanes and particularly the issue of conflict between pedestrians and cyclists on shared paths. Near Lyons and Chifley there is a cycle path where the dotted centre line disappears on some sections, so pedestrians think it is a normal footpath, rather than a shared path, and they spill out across the path instead of keeping left. The caller suggested a dotted centre line be put through all sections, or some signage about it being a shared path would mean less disputes and less chance of accidents.

Response: The Chief Minister said that was good advice and thanked the caller for raising the issue. He said these were some practical suggestions that could be done.

OUTCOME: Roads ACT has a comprehensive, prioritised street sweeping program. The program includes scheduled regular sweeps of all suburbs at least twice a year and additional sweeps for “leafy” suburbs during Autumn and Winter. Roads ACT has developed a program for sweeping all main roads and adjoining on-road cycle lances once every three months. In addition, Roads ACT also provides a manual service to clean broken bottles and debris from specific locations in response to requests from members of public. The street sweeping schedule can be viewed on the Territory and Municipal Services (TAMS) Directorate website at: transport/Road_Infrastucture_and_Maintenance/street-sweeping.

The shared use path between Chifley and Lyons will be inspected.  If required, line marking and signage will be provided under the Roads ACT Minor New Works Program.

Directorate: EPD

Issue: The caller explained the Giralang residents group had tried to hold a public meeting last week about Giralang shops but had been threatened with legal action by one of the commercial interests in the site and the meeting had to be postponed. The caller said there was an approved DA, supported by the community, who wanted to see a 1500 square metre supermarket built, but this has been blocked. The caller said the residents have put forward a suggestion and would like to know if the Chief Minister will be talking with them about it and what the Chief Minister will do about the planning system which is not working for them.

Response: The Chief Minister explained that we have a legal system in Australia which provides rights of appeal, and that it is very unusual that this developer dispute has gone all the way to the High Court, but that we have to obey the law and can’t take action that contravenes the constitution. The Chief Minister said there was no problem with the planning system, but in this situation there are competing commercial interests and one side of the debate is asserting its legal rights to appeal. The Chief Minister understood the frustrations in the community that this was preventing anything from being built on the site and said the Government has gone through the correct process and fought for the community to get something built. However, the Chief Minister also explained that the DA provided a maximum allowable size of 1500 square metres but that ultimately the size of the supermarket and who would run it are decisions of a commercial nature and up to the developer to decide. The Government could issue the development rights for a 1500 square metre building, but not force the developer to take them up.

Directorate: TAMS

Issue: The caller complained that parts of the Tuggeranong Parkway looked like a tip with rubbish strewn everywhere, including mattresses, builders’ waste and old furniture. The caller said the section over Oakey Hill was particularly bad. The caller had recently hosted interstate visitors who commented on how bad it looked, and also on Garema Place being full of litter and bird droppings and needing a clean-up.

Response: The Chief Minister said there was a litter-pick of the Tuggeranong Parkway every 4 weeks, but that some sections required a lane closure to reach and clean properly, so they were scheduled twice annually. The Chief Minister confirmed there was a litter-pick scheduled this week.

OUTCOME: An officer from TAMS phoned the caller and explained that TAMS were making extra efforts with cleaning Garema Place with 2.30am starts for steam cleaning each day. The officer also explained that the area is cleaned every morning and they had experienced some difficulties making some members of the public understand that they should not encourage birds into the pedestrian malls by feeding them.

Directorate: Treasury

Issue: Why did the government sell Transact? The caller thought the government owned Actew?

Response: The Chief Minister explained that the government did not own Transact, so it was not a government decision to sell. The Chief Minister explained that, while the Government had a shareholding in ActewAGL, it was a private company.

Directorate: TAMS

Issue: The caller raised the issue of a dangerous roundabout at the intersection of Sternberg Cres and Erindale Drive. When coming down Erindale Drive from the hospital, a car has to take the inside lane to turn right into Erindale Centre, but then has to cross over to the outside lane to exit the roundabout. This is dangerous and can lead to needing to share the lane with vehicles on the left when exiting.

Response: The Chief Minister said he would ask RoadsACT to investigate and see if there is a line marking issue.

OUTCOME: An officer from TAMS contacted the caller to discuss her concerns about the lane markings on the Sternberg Drive / Erindale Drive roundabout. Roads ACT agreed that the road markings and the need for additional signage would be reviewed and considered.

Directorate: TAMS

Issue: The caller raised issues with the non-existant line markings at the intersection turning left off Heydon Drive onto Belconnen Way, near Calvary Hospital, where there are 3 lanes toward the City. The caller advised that they were a driving instructor and every time students went through the intersection they are unsure where to go as there are no line markings to follow. The caller also advised they have noticed when new line markings are done they fade after 6 months.

Response: The Chief Minister said that the lines would be repainted and that any painting will fade over time, but hoped it would last more than 6 months. The Chief Minister said that this probably reflects a busy intersection with lots of cars driving over the paint.

OUTCOME: An officer from TAMS advised the site has been inspected and pavement marking works are programmed and are expected to be completed by early June 2016.

Directorate: TAMS

Issue: The caller asked whether the removal of trees was conducted by Parks Services or if that role had been outsourced? The caller rang Access Canberra call centre on 15 January about a dead tree in Wanniassa. The tree is near Fincham Crescent and Sternberg Crescent near Wanniassa Primary School and had dropped a large branch. The caller was concerned about a limb potentially dropping on a school student. The caller rang Access Canberra call centre again in mid- March as nothing had been done, and was told someone would contact her, but while there is a yellow cross on the tree now, she has not heard about it or seen anything else done.

Response: The Chief Minister said that the Government has responsibility for the tree in question. The Chief Minister said who the government engages to remove trees may vary depending on the nature of the piece of work and when it might occur, noting that the Government retains some capacity in house and outsources the work when more people are required. The Chief Minister said that if there is a yellow cross this means that someone has looked at it, and that further details about that tree would be provided to the caller off air.

OUTCOME: The TAMS Urban Treescapes Manager contacted the caller. The caller provided the exact location of tree which is in Cuthbert Circuit. TAMS subsequently inspected the tree to confirm the yellow dot/cross. It was confirmed that the tree is on the current removal program.

Not answered on air but followed up

Directorate: TAMS

Issue: Lights on Lathlain Street in Belconnen have been out for some time.

OUTCOME: An officer from TAMS contacted the caller and advised the fault has been registered with ActewAGL for repairs and that the light outage is due to a cable fault and further investigation is required to pinpoint the exact location of the fault. The caller was advised that works can sometimes be delayed if the work requires going under “hard surfaces” such as roads.


Directorate: EPD

Issue: Can you please ask the Chief Minister about the possibility of putting money aside in the upcoming budget for investigating the potential of a EPIC/Mitchell high speed rail station.

OUTCOME: The ACT Government has committed to review the location of the high speed rail (HSR) station in Canberra, if and when, the Federal Government makes a commitment to HSR. This review will take into account recent ACT Government initiatives and policies including the City Plan (2014), Transport Canberra Light Rail Network and the City and Gateway Urban Renewal Strategy. The review will also specifically include a station option at Canberra Airport.

Directorate: Access Canberra

Issue: Bought unit off the plan brand new three years ago and now it is basically falling to bits due to famous dodgy Canberra builder. Will you increase funding to the body that investigates these issues so we don’t have to wait ten years for rectification?

Response: The Chief Minister said the Government already has increased funding to the body that investigates these matters.

Directorate: Economic Development

Issue: What is the deal with the mpower dome closing? Can the ACT government do anything to help?

OUTCOME: An officer from Sport and Recreation Services contacted the caller to confirm the government’s understanding that the closure of mpowerdome on 9 April 2016 was based on a decision of the Board to no longer manage facilities. This understanding is based on direct advice from the operator of the facility.

Sport and Recreation Services also confirmed that the facility is a privately owned commercial lease and that any negotiations between the lessee and prospective new operators is a matter between the parties. The caller asked about the zoning of the site and whether the lessee had contacted the ACT Government about it, and whether the lessee was required to do ‘something’ on the land. Sport and Recreation Services confirmed that government had provided the lessee and operator with guidance over recent years about their options under the current lease and zoning. While noting that leaseholders in the ACT are required to use land for its leased purpose, Sport and Recreation Services also noted that it is not uncommon for there to be periods of dormancy in use while a refresh or redevelopment is in train. There are remedies under planning and development regulation where land is found to be used inappropriately or not for the purpose for which it is leased. The caller appreciated the response and advised that their child was now enrolled in a program elsewhere.

Directorate: EPD - Environment

Issue: Striving for 100% renewable is awesome. But it got me thinking – what does the CM see as the three biggest impacts on Canberra from Climate Change? Sure there are many national impacts, but not being that coastal, I struggled to list many impacts on Canberra at all.

Response: The Chief Minister said the impacts for Canberra would include more extreme weather events, such as more severe and damaging storms during summer, which we have already experienced, much greater bushfire risks, and impacts on the tourism and agricultural industries. For example, the wine industry has to harvest earlier each year, which is changing the nature of that industry. The Chief Minister also noted the impact on the Snowy Mountains and the ski industry.

Directorate: EPD - Environment

Issue: A cheeky follow up then... What are the top 3 *opportunities* for CBR due to climate change? (eg new types of agriculture?)

OUTCOME: Action on climate change is creating opportunities for the Territory. For example, the ACT is already reaping benefits from the large-scale renewable energy auctions in terms of economic investment in the ACT and recognition for its innovation across Australia. The Renewable Energy Investment Fund (REIF), created through the renewable energy auction process and financed by successful auction proponents, is funding new opportunities for learning and development at both CIT and Canberra-based universities. REIF was established as a result of the ACT’s first 200MW Wind Auction that concluded in 2015. Further funding was committed to REIF as a result of Wind Auction II which established a number of funding streams. REIF is to be spent on projects that contribute to the investment priorities set out in the ACT Local Investment Framework. This may include funding for research and development and seed funding for renewable energy start-ups that are based in Canberra.

The successful proponents in the ACT’s $600,000 Next Generation Energy Storage Pilot that is financed by REIF, announced in April, will make battery storage more affordable for Canberrans, test the market and provide valuable information on the potential for this to become a new industry for the ACT.

Efforts to reduce emissions in Canberra households and businesses through energy efficiency improvement benefit householders and business owners through reduced energy bills, but also provide business opportunities for small businesses who install energy saving features. While this reduces greenhouse gas emissions, it also creates incentives for households to adapt to the changing climate.

A warming climate presents opportunities for the building sector to design and produce more ‘climate-wise’ buildings that will better accommodate projected climate impacts and provide a greater level of comfort to residents while reducing the energy required in cooling and heating.

Directorate: TAMS/CMTEDD – Policy and Cabinet

Issue: Why can’t ACTION bus put a bus stop at the departure terminal of Canberra airport?

Response: The Chief Minister explained that Canberra Airport had its own bus service to the terminal as the airport is a private operation. While there is a public bus service to parts of the Brindabella Business Park, the issue of terminal service is for the airport to address.

Directorate: TAMS/CSD

Issue: We as rate paying residents in Macquarie are so fed up with the focus on the tram and Manuka Development when we in the suburbs have had no recourse against neighbours who have subjected us to 6 years of relentless early morning dog barking and wailing dogs who are tied up 24 hours a day. Despite numerous complaints and court appearances, nothing has changed because ACT laws are useless. Government housing residents treat their houses in our street as tips, yet despite photos and complaints, nothing has improved. Canberra laws are pathetic and your Government, Chief Minister has left Canberra residents in suburbia furious at the Government’s ineptitude.

Response: The Chief Minister said the ACT has tenancy laws for both public and private tenants and that the ACT works hard to maintain viable public housing tenancies, as making people homeless is not a solution. The Chief Minister said people have human rights on both sides of the equation, and while there are disputes from time to time, it is important to realise that everyone has responsibilities as well as rights when living in a community. The Chief Minister said it was impossible to argue that making people homeless would be a better social outcome and highlighted that the overwhelming majority of public housing tenants were excellent neighbours and community members, and it was unfair to identify all public housing tenants as problematic. The radio presenter identified that the RSPCA may be able to assist with allegations of animal cruelty.

OUTCOME: Community Services Directorate left a message for the caller to contact a Regional Manager. The nuisance animal matter is part of an ongoing legal issue and the ACT Government is unable to comment.

Directorate: TAMS

Issue: There seems to be an ever Increasing number of dog owners that don’t clean up after their dog. What can be done about this (around Scullin oval)?

Response: The Chief Minister said we could talk about it and encourage people to take a plastic bag with them when walking their dogs.

Directorate: TAMS/CMTEDD – Policy and Cabinet

Issue: The airport owners told the North Canberra Community Council they have no problems with ACTION running services to the airport.

Response: The Chief Minister said it depends exactly where they are talking about in the airport precinct and surrounds, but terminal access services were for the airport to provide.

Directorate: Education

Issue: There are at least 2 public high schools in the ACT with enrolments below 200 students. What is the viability of keeping these schools open considering falling numbers in other schools within a short distance?

Response: The Chief Minister guessed the two schools in question were Kaleen and Wanniassa. In Kaleen there is a new suburb being built next door (Lawson), as well as more development in Bruce and at the University of Canberra, which would bring more people to that area and lead to increased enrolment at Kaleen school. In Wanniassa, the Chief Minister expected that the area would go through renewal over time, but that it was true there was the new and very nice Namadgi School nearby in Kambah, which would have affected enrolments at Wanniassa.

Directorate: Economic Development

Issue: How did the talks go with China East airline?

Response: The Chief Minister said that they are expanding their fleet, on an extraordinary scale, noting that the airline is interested in flying to more Australian cities but this is something that will still be 5 years away. The Chief Minister said that involving the broader Canberra region and freight is a key part of the engagement with China and Hong Kong. In particular, the week before last, the focus for the next 5 years will be on the Singapore airlines service and connecting through to China from Singapore, at this stage with a 4 day a week service, once this becomes viable then looking to build it to a daily service before we start with our ambitions beyond that. The Chief Minister said that this is a practical and tangible goal.

Directorate: Economic Development

Issue: It seems a lot of objectors to big projects in Canberra want and seek and expect a seat at the table when a proponent/developer and his/her architect first sit down together with a blank sheet of paper between them.

Response: The Chief Minister said that this proposal, even before a Development Application has been lodged and before a variation to the Territory Plan has been proposed, has elicited such a reaction that it shows it is becoming very difficult to even put forward an idea in Canberra without a backlash.

Directorate: TAMS

Issue: Yes that roundabout at Erindale is a problem coming from south both lanes turn right? Also same on Athlon Drive from Bonython?

OUTCOME: An officer from TAMS advised road markings and signage would be inspected and remediated as required.

Directorate: Access Canberra

Issue: Wilson Parking signage does not clearly flag that their 2 hour parking is not a 2 hr Single Stay limit, but rather a cumulative 2 hour DAILY limit. Signage could read, in prominent type, 2 Hour Daily Limit. I have not been caught out by this, but know of some, that have parked for under 2 hours, left, returned and inadvertently exceeded the daily limit.

Response: The Chief Minister said this was private parking but he would see what could be done about it.

OUTCOME: Following discussions with the caller, Access Canberra officers visited the Wilson Parking site. It was identified that the signage was ambiguous. Contact was subsequently made with Wilson Parking to raise this issue seeking for the signage to be changed to better reflect the applicable conditions for the 2 hour free parking. Wilson Parking has agreed that the signage should be amended. Access Canberra will continue to monitor the change in signage.

Directorate: TAMS

Issue: When will traffic lights be installed at the Hindmarsh Drive/Launceston Street T intersection? I am a motorcycle Postman and was involved in a collision on Wednesday afternoon*, a driver failed to heed the Stop sign. Hindmarsh Drive is a 6 lane 80kmh road and turning in and out of Launceston Street is very dangerous. I can attest to that.

Response: The Chief Minister said he would find out.

OUTCOME: An officer from TAMS contacted the caller and advised the preliminary design of the signalised intersection was nearing completion, and that detailed designs would be ready by July 2016. A bid seeking construction funding has been submitted to the ACT Government for consideration through the current budget process. If successful, it was hoped that construction could begin in late 2016 subject to tendering processes.

Directorate: TAMS/CMTEDD – Policy and Cabinet

Issue: We must be the only capital city in the world with no public transport connection.

Response: The Chief Minister said that there are other privately owned airports that have their own transport connections. For example the Sky Bus that services Melbourne airport is privately run, not Victorian Government run public transport. The Chief Minister said there is a bus service to Canberra airport; it is just run by the airport, noting that it is their prerogative to do so. The Chief Minister also noted that ACTION buses are not necessarily configured to take lots of passenger luggage, which requires a specially configured bus. The Chief Minister also noted the different rail line for Sydney airport, which was not a standard railway fare. The Chief Minister said that ultimately he would like to see light rail go out to the airport and that is a better option in the long term, even connecting to a possible high speed rail terminal.

Directorate: Economic Development

Issue: So, would Manuka pool be replaced like with like if it developed a leak like civic pool keeps busting?

OUTCOME: An officer from Sport and Recreation Services contacted the caller and advised that, if a leak was to occur at Manuka Pool, the Territory would seek to locate and repair the leak, and to the extent possible, complete any remediation works without impacting on public access. Where possible, any significant remediation works would be completed whilst the facility is closed over the winter months.

Directorate: CSD

Issue: In my icon nor [sic] one tenant has turned his front yard into a used car yard numerous complaints over many years with little or no results often phone messages left with ACT Government. Ignored fed up.

OUTCOME: A Community Services Directorate Regional Manager spoke with caller who identified the property in question. A Housing Manager has driven past the property and confirmed it is not at an acceptable standard from the street. A Client Service Visit has been scheduled for the week commencing 16 May 2016.

Directorate: TAMS

Issue: Just talk about it. Woop de do! Exactly how many fines for not cleaning up dog droppings have been issued? What's the point of a policy that's never enforced?

OUTCOME: Rangers cannot issue fines for uncollected dog faeces unless they actually witness the incident – that is, see the dog defecate and the owner fail to collect the faeces as required by legislation. Rangers conduct regular proactive patrols across Canberra. There are a maximum of four rangers patrolling Canberra at any one time. Unfortunately rangers are not always where you want them to be when incidents such as this occur. If you notice a regular pattern of an owner walking a dog at a similar time and failing to collect their dog’s faeces, please advise Domestic Animal Services so that a ranger can attend.

Directorate: JACS/ACT Policing

Issue: Does the "keep left unless overtaking" rule still exist? Love to see it enforced!

OUTCOME: A senior team member from Legislation Policy and Program’s Road Safety team contacted the caller, and they confirmed that road rules stipulate that drivers must keep left in speed zones above 80km/h, with some exclusions including: if the driver is avoiding an obstruction; if a driver is avoiding a “left turn only” lane; and in congested traffic where one lane or both lanes of cars are unable to drive to the posted speed limit. The caller was concerned that he sees drivers all throughout the ACT in high speed zones just sitting in the right lane for no reason. The senior team member advised the caller that ACT Policing enforce road rules as they see them, and based on community feedback.

Directorate: CMTEDD – Policy and Cabinet/TAMS

Issue: It was lazy allowing airport to have a monopoly. Airport bus is ridiculous price.

Response: The Chief Minister noted the caller’s comment but said the bus from the Melbourne airport into the City is more than a routine bus fare in Victoria; it is just the nature of airport transit.

Directorate: TAMS

Issue: Please signalise Tillyard and Ginninderra drive. It’s a death trap.

OUTCOME: An officer of Roads ACT called and confirmed the intersection of Tillyard Street and Ginninderra Drive has been identified for investigation as part of the Roads ACT future capital works program. The timescale for the investigation of this intersection would be dependent upon funding and competing priorities. The caller accepted there are other competing priorities and would appreciate a call back in the new financial year to see whether this intersection will be investigated.

Directorate: Economic Development

Issue: What is happening with the old health centre?

OUTCOME: An officer contacted the caller and advised under the Territory Plan this site is zoned as community use. At this stage, the future use of the site is not yet finalised but it is anticipated that when the building is identified as surplus to requirements it will be sold for redevelopment. Given the current supply of properties in the Belconnen area, the sale of the health centre is not anticipated in the next five years.