Chief Minister Talkback Summary - 5 August 2016

Calls received on air

Directorate: EPD Planning

Issue:  The caller claimed ACTPLA and the Planning Directorate had become quite secretive about proposed developments and approvals, with no advertising in the Canberra Times. There is a development in Kippax near the Magpies Club. There is no signage, as apparently there is no longer a requirement to put up signs once the approval has been granted, and when the caller rang Access Canberra they did not know what it was. What development is going there? What community consultation took place?

Response: The Chief Minister said that all the development applications were notified on the planning directorate’s website and that with declining readership of the Canberra Times, advertising there was not a financially viable option any more. It is now better for most people to provide the information electronically. The development in Kippax will be a childcare centre, which was approved on 14 December 2015. The notification for that development was in July 2015 and there were 9 representations received, and it is currently under construction.

Directorate: TCCS

Issue: The caller explained the streetlights in upper Aranda had been out for 23 nights since the storm on 12 July and it is a public safety issue. The power was turned off to remove fallen trees off the powerlines, however the lights near Nungara Place and the adjoining part of Bandjalong Crescent in North East Aranda did not come back on. This happens every time there is a power out as those lights must be on a different circuit.

Response: The Chief Minister said there appears to be a cable fault that may take several weeks to repair as it can involve digging trenches. The service requirement is for cable faults to be fixed within 35 days, however there is currently a backlog of requests from that weather event. An official will contact the caller about the timeframe for completing that work.

OUTCOME: An officer from TCCS contacted the caller and advised that there were 2 cable faults in the area.  The caller was also advised that a full substation outage was required to fix the fault and that the works have been programmed.

Directorate: TCCS

Issue: The caller had reported streetlights being out on numerous occasions, some reported as long as two years ago. The lights have still not been repaired. There are lights out in Charnwood, and on Southern Cross Drive and the corner of Kingsford Smith Drive reported more than 10 days ago.

Response: The Chief Minister said the service requirement for cable faults is 35 days, but if it’s a blown bulb then the service requirement is for it to be fixed in 10 days. There are nearly 80,000 streetlights across the network with 18,000 service outages reported each year, and when there is a big storm it can create lots of damage leading to a delay. The Chief Minister said he would get the details and make sure those lights are in the system for remediation work.

OUTCOME: An officer from TCCS rang and advised that there was a cable fault in this location and that works were programmed.  The caller also noted a small area of lighting in Charnwood that the street light co-ordinator would look into.
Directorate: Health

Issue: The caller is concerned about the state of mental health care at the Canberra Hospital. A patient escaped from the hospital and it was not reported until the next morning. The caller felt the staff did not handle the situation properly. They were told that the escapee had voluntarily admitted themselves, and because they were not suicidal and not a threat to others, therefore it was not necessary to contact the Police. The caller explained this had happened before and the family had been told to contact the patient’s brother to see where he was as the hospital staff did not know.

Response: The Chief Minister said it sounds like a very complicated issue, and he would get advice and have the Health directorate follow up with the caller off air.

OUTCOME: Due to privacy considerations, it is not possible to comment publicly on individual cases. The ACT Government has invested heavily in mental health services for the Canberra community, and ACT Health takes its role in providing these services very seriously. If individuals have specific concerns about services provided to them, they are able to provide feedback via the Consumer Feedback and Engagement Team within ACT Health. For further information, the team can be contacted by emailing or phoning (02) 620 77627 during business hours. Alternatively if an individual requires urgent assistance, they should contact the Crisis Assessment and Treatment Team (CATT) on telephone 1800 629 354 or 620 51065.

Directorate: TCCS

Issue: The caller also rang about streetlights in Aranda and said before they went out they were on 24 hours a day for 6 weeks. The caller contacted Access Canberra twice but nothing was done to fix them and it was a huge waste of electricity. Now they aren’t working there is a safety issue around visibility.

Response: The Chief Minister said this confirms that there is most likely a cabling problem that needs attention, which is why it takes a bit longer to resolve.

OUTCOME: An officer from TCCS contacted the caller and advised that there were 2 cable faults in the area.  The caller was also advised that a full substation outage was required to fix the fault and that the works have been programmed.

Directorate: TCCS

Issue: The caller rang about new parking that has been put in on either side of Feakes Place on Creswell Street, opposite the new Campbell 5 development. The street is about 2.5 cars wide and when cars park on both sides it blocks the cul-de-sac so residents can’t get access in and out. They have changed the signs recently so that cars can only park on one side on weekdays, but on weekends the caller has to drive up on to the median strip just to get out of the street.

Response: The Chief Minister said he knows the area well, and would get someone to look at it to see if there was a solution.

OUTCOME: An officer from TCCS contacted the caller and advised that consultation will be undertaken with directly affected residents regarding changes to parking restrictions in the street. The parking restrictions will be changed subject to the outcome of the consultation.

Directorate: TCCS

Issue: The caller has been asking for 3 years for Access Canberra and before that Canberra Connect to have a look at the corner of Beasley Street and Athllon Drive at the large number of tree suckers there. Can someone come and remove those please, as there are a number of animals like foxes hiding in there.

Response: The Chief Minister said the government would look into it.

OUTCOME: An officer from TCCS contacted the caller and informed them that the Urban Treescapes unit would be conducting a site inspection on 15 August 2016. The inspection is to determine the nature and scope of the issue. The area spans roughly an acre.

Directorate: CMTEDD and JACS

Issue: The caller thanked the Chief Minister for not introducing early closing and lockout laws. The caller felt that was not the Government’s role and appreciated people having the freedom to choose when to go out. The caller had also heard the Chief Minister referring to making Canberra Australia’s Coolest Little Capital. What is the Government’s role in making that happen?

Response: The Chief Minister said the Government has an important role in enabling that. Governments themselves won’t make places cool, but they can certainly inhibit ‘coolness’. It is really about creating the right environment, and a supportive environment where a diversity of activities can occur. The Government needs to respect the changing nature of Canberra. The median age of this city is 33-34 and the largest demographic in Canberra is the group between 20-29 years old. Half the population is younger than 33, and they are the people who are going to shape the future of this city and they are the people who have a really important role to play. The government really want to work with that demographic in particular to shape the next 10-20years of Canberra’s development. The Government has a couple of important discussions happening now around an events policy and the year-round calendar of events and the city’s live music scene, with the Urban Sounds policy. The Government has launched a new engagement tool, Your Say, it is on the web and there are two papers out for discussion now, the Events Policy and the Urban Sounds Policy. The Government will shortly release its City Action Plan on that website too. There are some great opportunities to engage with the Canberra population and the Chief Minister is conscious that the more traditional means of government communication don’t engage the younger demographic, so the Government is moving to the web and social media to reach that audience.

Directorate: Health

Issue: The caller requested there be an inquiry into the cleaning contract at the Canberra hospital, as she feels it is not cleaned properly.

Response: The Chief Minister said there is an evaluation process currently underway and a decision will be made in due course.

Directorate: 1) TCCS 2) Health

Issue: 1) The caller is frustrated with the wait time at the traffic lights at the intersection between Cotter Road, Lady Denman Drive and McCulloch Street. The caller asked if there could be a better technological solution, especially to long waits at night when there is no other traffic.
2) The caller praised the Emergency ward staff at the Canberra Hospital when he was there last night.

Response: 1) The Chief Minister said there should be an adjustment that can be made; and he would ask Roads ACT to have a look.

OUTCOME: 1) TCCS contacted the caller and advised that Roads ACT is currently investigating the traffic signals arrangements at this location and suspects a fault in the vehicle detector loops.

Directorate: Economic Development

Issue: 1) The caller was the President of the Yarralumla Residents Association and rang to follow up from a previous caller’s question about the use of call in powers around Manuka Oval. The caller said the residents of the area have done a great job to get a community view, and wants to petition to get community input on a Master Plan instead and knock back the unsolicited bid. 2) The caller also asked whether, with hindsight, the Chief Minister believed the use of call in powers on the former Brumbies site in Griffith was a wise decision?

Response: 1) The Chief Minister said that was what the Government has undertaken to do, and that will be the exact process from here on. 2) The Chief Minister said that once the decision had been made by the Assembly to support development on the former Brumbies site, then providing certainty to the developers at the end of a long decision-making process, through the use of the call in powers, was the right decision. If this didn’t happen, the Brumbies would have folded financially and the community would be left with no tenant in the former building and a decrepit site with no future. The site would have needed rezoning anyway. The Chief Minister said the important point is the Brumbies have a world class training facility at the University of Canberra and they are financially more sustainable than they would have otherwise been. There is also a better outcome in the use of land that would have otherwise sat vacant and decaying over an extended period of time. There is no doubt that people wanted to live in that area.

Directorate: TCCS

Issue: What is the mystery infrastructure on Flemington Drive opposite the landfill and the recycling centre? There is about 100 metres of temporary fencing and it contains a series of mud pools surrounded by hay bales.

Response: The Chief Minister said it is a temporary drying bed associated with survey work for light rail.   


Directorate: TCCS

Issue: Is the Chief Minister happy with the Kangaroo proof fence along the Tuggeranong Parkway? It looks a bit flimsy.

Response: The Chief Minister was not concerned by the fence’s quality. He appreciated that aesthetically it may not be to everyone’s taste, but would be effective in keeping kangaroos off the parkway, which is its purpose.

Directorate: Treasury

Issue: Resident of Uriarra Village, is paying Body Corporate fees on top of paying Rates. Wants some clarity as to why that is happening?

Response: The Chief Minister said he was not aware of the specifics and will take it on notice.

OUTCOME: Body corporate fees are levied and collected by a building manager who manages the maintenance of a multi-unit building on behalf of the unit owners. This includes services such as the upkeep of the gardens and other common property. These fees are not collected by the government and do not fund government services. General rates are collected by the ACT government to fund a wide range of services including health, education, roads and municipal services. This expenditure is required to fund the high quality services that Canberrans expect and deserve and helps to ensure Canberra remains one of the world’s most liveable cities.

Directorate: Economic Development

Issue: How many other jurisdictions have international trade commissioners?

Response: The Chief Minister said many states and territories have international trade ambassadors, and some have more than one.

Directorate: Economic Development/Health

Issue: What is your plan for the economic future of Woden, given our reducing amenity, how does higher education and tourism help with our area?

Response: The Chief Minister said health is the future for the Woden precinct. Woden has the biggest hospital in southern NSW and the major hospital for Canberra. With the co-location of nearly 1,000 ACT Government health staff, together with 350 staff from Access Canberra, the Government is stepping up its own employment base within the Woden Town Centre. Higher Education and Tourism are two of the major drivers for the ACT economy, but Health will also be a significant employer and contributor to economic growth activity and, as a regional health hub, Woden has tremendous potential. There will be opportunities for new health infrastructure to be constructed and health-related industries to co-locate around the hospital.

Directorate: TCCS

Issue: A hedge could be planted in front of the kangaroo fence.

Response: The Chief Minister said that could be a longer term solution.

Directorate: Economic Development

Issue: Call in powers are similar to secrecy in Government. Can the Chief Minister commit that this won’t be the case with the Manuka Oval proposal, as it was with the former Brumbies site?

Response: The Chief Minister said any change in Manuka, and any change to the existing planning controls, requires a Territory Plan Variation. So that requires a 12-18 month process involving further Committee hearings, hours of debate in the local media on any planning change and Assembly approval. Call in powers more generally do exist in other jurisdictions. There are tens of thousands of development applications lodged each year, and call in powers are rarely if ever used. They would not be used for even 0.01% of all applications. They really only apply for the major developments, things like a dam, a hospital car park, student accommodation at the ANU – projects that have a broad community benefit.

Directorate: EPD

Issue: How do we find out what any particular building site is?

Response: The Chief Minister said there is a full list on the website, and if there is any doubt call the planning authority to ask.

Directorate: Treasury/JACS

Issue: If the government increases rates, apartments up 20%, adds a fee to cover the Family and Domestic Violence Levy. Simon Corbell says landlords have to wear the loss or cost when someone claims domestic violence and can just walk away, landlords should be able to claim back their levy.  

Response: The Chief Minister said he was not sure that would be administratively efficient. The Chief Minister said it was an important matter, the legislation would be used rarely and the initiative was carried unanimously in the Assembly.

Directorate: Education/TCCS

Issue: The caller thanked the Chief Minister for Fix My Street, saying it was a very useful tool. The caller had contacted TCCS previously about the state of the footpath and bridge over the stormwater drain near Dickson College, but TCCS could not do anything to fix it because it was on Dickson College land. The caller is concerned for the growing cracks and that is getting quite unsafe.

Response: The Chief Minister said he would raise that with the Education Directorate and Dickson College and ask them to see if they could do something.

OUTCOME: The repair works of path within the area of Dickson College are underway. The path within public land has been inspected and two minor cracked sections were identified. Any repair works to make the area safe will be undertaken by the end of August 2016. The bridge within public land has also been inspected and no defects were identified.

Directorate: TCCS/Treasury

Issue: What's the status with upgrading street lighting in older suburbs. The lighting levels are very poor. There was a plan to sell the street lighting, would that include a contract that the new owner must upgrade street lighting to new standards.

OUTCOME: Transport Canberra and City Services – Roads ACT owns around 78,000 street lights and footpath lights in the ACT. ActewAGL currently maintains the asset and supplies electricity to the network on behalf of Roads ACT. Roads ACT has a small capital upgrade program for infill lighting. The infill lighting program is intended to address small high priority requests, such as shopping centre car park lighting upgrades, underpasses, infill lighting on residential streets and short sections of paths. In addition under the street light maintenance program when a light reaches end of life and become unserviceable the light is replaced with highly efficient LED lights with equal or better light output.

Directorate: N/A - National Capital Authority

Issue: What is happening at the front of the South African High Commission?

Response: The Chief Minister said he was not sure but that if it is outside a High Commission, then it comes under the jurisdiction of the National Capital Authority. Another caller suggested it was a fence for the new Russian Embassy.

Directorate: TCCS

Issue: I'm very concerned about the intersection from Constitution Ave leading to the Parkway, then leading to Commonwealth Ave. Impossible to cross at evening peak time, but also dangerous other times. Is there any plans to maybe have traffic lights at peak time [text cut off]

OUTCOME: An officer from TCCS contacted the caller to advise that this section of Parkes Way between Coranderrk Street and Commonwealth Avenue is managed by the National Capital Authority (NCA). Information will be passed onto the NCA for consideration.

Directorate: Economic Development

Issue: Has Grocon Manuka oval bid been rejected or just sidelined until after the election?

OUTCOME: The ACT Government will establish a community panel through an Expression of Interest Process, to consider the opportunities for appropriately scaled development surrounding the Manuka Oval. The consultation process will help to inform if there is any requirement for a Territory Plan Variation. The process will also provide an opportunity for all Canberrans to participate and share their views about the Manuka Oval precinct. The consultation process will commence before the end of 2016 and is likely to continue through much of 2017. Any future development of unleased land area would be through a competitive process.

Directorate: TCCS

Issue: Chief Minister, is there a master plan governing traffic lights? It seems that they are part of every road solution nowadays and may be cheap site by site but they all add to travel times. What does it look like in 20 years if the government keeps going [text cut off]

OUTCOME: All traffic signals in the ACT are controlled by a centralised system. The system takes into consideration peak time traffic volumes and is adaptive in managing traffic at times of increased demand and in some locations coordinates a number of intersections for improved traffic flow.

Directorate: TCCS

Issue: Good morning all! There's 5 or 6 shopping trolleys in lake Tuggeranong between the fast food precinct and the college. Some have been there at least 6 months. Can these be removed please?

OUTCOME: An officer from TCCS contacted the caller and advised trolleys from Lake Tuggeranong were removed last week as well as on Monday 15 August. It was explained that TCCS has a program for regular trolley removal at Lake Tuggeranong. They are also removed when public complaints are received. It is known to TCCS that trolleys are often deposited at this site, so removal is an ongoing maintenance issue.

Directorate: TCCS

Issue: Why did Gungahlin have to be the first stage of light rail? Why not Tuggeranong? Or somewhere else?

OUTCOME: Gungahlin was chosen for a number of reasons:
1. This area is one of the fastest growing regions in the ACT and it therefore makes sense to provide further transport infrastructure options for these residents.
2. The area is ‘greenfield’ in nature, making it easier to install light rail infrastructure and other essential services.
3. The light rail infrastructure is also provided for in the master-planning for the area; making the installation of the light rail easier as it is being routed on a readymade corridor.
The light rail route from Gungahlin, Federal Highway, Dickson and down Northbourne Avenue follows a readymade corridor; one that was provided for in the Burley Griffin plan of the city.

Directorate: JACS

Issue: Chief Minister, why is a public servant superior to a qualified legal practitioner elevated above their peers to judge criminal matters including bail? Why is there no consideration given to impacts to the accused's employment and families? Why have judge [text cut off]

OUTCOME: An officer from JACS contacted the caller and offered information on how the mechanisms for the new bail act work. The amendments will ensure that the rights of the accused are limited in the least restrictive manner possible, but also that a bail decision can be reviewed in circumstances where the risk of harm is considered by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to be very real. The bail review power is expected to be rarely used. However, it is there to prevent a situation where people are released on bail and there is a catastrophic outcome that results (for example) in somebody’s death.

In most other jurisdictions around the country, there is a provision that allows for the DPP to seek a review of the bail decision. Here in the ACT, the DPP did not have the capacity to appeal such a decision, while the accused has three separate opportunities to seek a review of denial of bail. In very limited circumstances and according to some very strict criteria where the DPP believes the Magistrate has manifestly made a wrong decision there will be the capacity for bail matters to be revisited so that public safety and personal safety is not jeopardised. Serious offences and family violence matters can see catastrophic outcomes. We know, for example, that people in other places around the country have been released on bail and have gone on to commit very serious offences involving the loss of life of another person. There is a review built in to be undertaken in two years which will give reassurance to stakeholders and the community that this power will be used only in exceptional circumstances, where there is a genuine safety concern.