Chief Minister Talkback Summary - 7 April 2017

Calls on Air

Directorate: TCCS/Asbestos Taskforce/EPSDD

Issue: Tree removal on a purchased Mr Fluffy Block. The caller expressed her annoyance of having to wait on information on if they could remove the tree, only to be advised that a decision would be made when a DA was submitted. Their plan relies on the tree being removed and would prefer to know if the tree can be removed prior to submitting their plans. The caller suggested that Mr Fluffy block buyers are provided with clearer information on the website.

Response: The Minister listened to the callers concerns, explained the role of the Tree Protection Unit and said someone will call her to provide clarity on the process.

Outcome: The caller explained that the subject tree is on the verge and is not a protected tree located within the block.  As the subject tree is located on public land, it is the decision of Urban Treescapes, TCCS (Transport Canberra and City Services) regarding its removal. TCCS is part of the development approval process. When the tree removal is part of a DA, TCCS can consider all aspects of the proposal before making a decision. As the caller acknowledged it is a healthy tree, TCCS may not support its removal without considering a proposal for the block. A DA also provides an opportunity to TCCS to ask for a replacement tree to compensate for the removal of the existing verge tree. The officer recommended the caller could organise to meet with the relevant officer of TCCS to get an idea whether there was any scope of the tree removal being approved, and whether the planting of replacement tree/s could help to mitigate the loss of the tree and help to secure an approval.

Directorate: Health

Issue: The caller was unable to access WiFi in parts of Calvary Hospital.

Response:  The Minister said he would get Health to speak to Calvary Hospital.

Outcome: Calvary spoke to the caller and explained that the WiFi services are provided by an external supplier and that ICU/CCU does not have coverage at this time. ACT Health is talking with the Calvary ICT supplier about a campus wide WiFi service.

Directorate: Access Canberra/EPSDD

Issue: The caller is concerned with his neighbours retaining wall which he believes is an illegal structure and breaches his privacy. He believes that the ACT Government Officials are not enforcing the rules.

Response: The Minister said that he would get on official to contact him.

Outcome: The callers neighbour has built a stone retaining wall to replace an old sleeper wall along the fence line. The caller’s key concern is privacy – if a person stands on the retaining wall they may be able to see into a bedroom. The Access Canberra representative explained that, if the callers neighbour was to apply for Development Approval, the retaining wall would be assessed as being exempt under Planning and Development Regulation 2008 (or approved following assessment) as the wall height is within construction tolerances.

Directorate: TCCS or JACS

Issue: Can bicycle riders please wear high visibility vests.

Response: The Minister thought it was a good idea and said he would look into it.

Outcome: The action officer advised that research shows that the risk to cyclists from inattentive drivers remains irrespective of what the cyclists are wearing.  In relation to improving visibility of cyclists, there is a current Australian Road Rule that requires a bicycle to display lights and reflectors when riding at night or in hazardous weather conditions. It is important that we all respect vulnerable road users and ensure that drivers provide sufficient space to cyclists when sharing our roads.

Directorate: EPSDD

Issue: Second Hand Electric Cars - The caller would like to know what the Government’s policy is in relation to second hand electric cars and if any concessions are provided.

Response: The Minister said he would look into it.

Outcome: EPSDD staff confirmed that while duty concessions currently only apply to new electric cars, there is a 20% discount on the registration component of vehicle registration fees for all electric cars.

Directorate: JACS

Issue: Does the one metre rule between bicycles and cars work both ways?

Response: The Minister said he would seek further information.

Outcome:  The action officer clarified that the one metre passing distance only applies to motorists overtaking cyclists as the rule is there to protect cyclists from being hit by a vehicle where the risk and consequence of serious injury or death is significant.  A bicycle colliding with a slow moving or stationary vehicle does not provide the same level of risk or consequence. Drivers are also encouraged to be mindful of cyclists when opening doors as the impact of ‘dooring’ accidents can be significant.

Directorate: CMTEDD - EDD

Issue: NBN – Nodes. The caller recognised that although this as not an ACT Government issue – he was unable to get through to the Commonwealth. The caller was annoyed at the inconsistency in providing the NBN in his street and the placement of the Nodes.

Response: The Minister recognised that they was an issue and said that he would get the ACT Government to follow it up with the Commonwealth and someone would speak to him.

Outcome: Innovate Canberra contacted the caller to discuss the issue, which relates to the nbn Fibre To The Node nature strip installation being subsequently distributed to his townhouse complex via an old Telstra copper distribution node.

The caller expressed concern with the reliability of this older technology as the conduit for nbn connectivity as historically this node has been subject to malfunction due to weather.

The inconsistency the caller refers to is that he understands residents elsewhere in the street are receiving Fibre To The Premises installations, presumably because nbn consider the Telstra copper in that area is too degraded to perform reliably.

Directorate: TCCS

Issue: Problems with traffic management at Launceston Street Phillip with new developments.

Outcome: The traffic arrangements on Launceston Street will be inspected when normal traffic volumes return after school holidays.

Directorate: JACS

Issues: The caller would like to know why there is a ban on .388 magnums Lapua Rifle?

Outcome: An officer within JACS contacted the caller and explained that the decision to ban the use of the .388 magnums Lapua Rifle on shooting ranges was a decision issued by the Deputy Firearms Registrar. It is not a ministerial direction or a decision that the Minister can interfere with.


Directorate: TCCS

Issue: Can the timing of the traffic lights on Canberra Avenue and Capitan Cook Crescent please be checked.

Outcome: The caller informed TCCS that they use the lights early in the morning and have noticed that sometimes when she is the only vehicle waiting the lights change to green but then change to yellow before she is fully clear the intersection.  TCCS explained that the lights must display a green signal for a minimum time of 8 seconds, although if there are no other cars the lights can change to the next phase.  TCCS explained that the intersection is very wide and if she travels slowly through the intersection that 8sec can have timed off before she is clear, but that safety is built into the system to ensure an appropriate delay before green is displayed to the next traffic movement.  

Directorate: TCCS

Issue: Can something please be done about the exit from the Tuggeranong Parkway onto Lady Denman/Forest Drive. The nothbound exit to turn left onto Land Denman is ridiculous in the morning.

Outcome: The problem relates to queuing on the southbound exit from Tuggeranong Parkway at Lakeside Interchange during the morning peak.  Roads ACT is aware of the problem and is looking at options that might improve the situation such as metering with part time traffic lights on the northbound exit ramp, as it is this traffic that is fundamentally causing the problem.  The situation might be reduced, once the duplication of Cotter Road is complete as this will give drivers heading to Deakin another option.

Directorate: EDD – Public Housing Renewal

Issue: Is the ACT Government prepared to compensate those residents in Wright adjacent to the planned public housing who no can’t sell their properties as a direct result of the announcement?

Outcome: The caller expressed concerns that prospective purchasers of his residential property (adjacent to the proposed public housing site in Wright) had withdrawn their interest after learning that the Community Facility-zoned site would be developed as public housing. The caller was advised that misinformation was a likely contributor given the sales history and values of other properties near public housing in other areas of the ACT. The Government will not be considering compensation in these circumstances.

Directorate: EPSDD

Issue: During the Walking Festival a number of signs were removed from the Mt Majura section. We were told that the Rangers removed the signs.

Outcome: While participating in the Walking Festival the caller noticed several directional signs, erected for the festival, were missing near Hackett. The caller had spoken to a volunteer at a nearby checkpoint who claimed ‘the rangers take the signs down’. The caller was advised that ACT Parks and Conservation Service supports events such as the Walking Festival and officers do not remove event signs.

Directorate: TCCS

Issue: Tree Liability – if a tree, with a rejected application for removal, causes damage to a neighbouring property or mine, where does the liability lie?

Outcome: A TCCS officer explained that the owner of the tree is responsible and they must take action to ensure that the tree is maintained to a safe condition. This could include programming regular inspections and arranging for pruning as required to remove unsound wood or dead branches. The caller was advised that the ACT Government employs qualified arborists who inspect trees following receipt of a Tree Damaging Application and each subject tree is carefully examined by the assessing officer.  The Tree Protection Act 2005 provides for a reconsideration process for applicants to lodge a fresh application at any time if a change in the tree’s health is noticed or if additional information such as an arborists report is available.