ACT QT: Traffic congestion

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Question Time today kicked off with a return to small business – this time over the news that ACT Government payments to small businesses for services were late 20 per cent of the time.

Treasurer Katy Gallagher and the Liberal boys blustered along for a while and then Chief Minister Jon Stanhope got stuck into infrastructure after Greens MLA Caroline Le Couteur asked what the Government was doing to ease traffic congestion in Hackett and Ainslie.

Stanhope pointed to the increased housing in Gungahlin, saying traffic from the north is travelling through these suburbs as alternative routes into Civic. Then the Minister brought up the road upgrades for Northbourne Avenue and London Circuit set to begin today. What exactly road upgrades in Civic have to do with easing congestion in North Canberra is beyond me, but that did lead Le Couteur to suggest a park-and-ride in Mitchell. Stanhope agreed that would be very sensible and verbally referenced the Sustainable Transport Action Plan 2010-13 that is still being developed twice.

With that the Gallagher/Liberal bloke battle resumed with dialogue about the ACT economy – private business in a town built on public service. The employment knife was placed on the table, while the Liberals demanded to know what the Government was doing to support private enterprise. Gallagher said support was being given as requested to maintain employment while the Territory rides the mythical beast of the GFC.

After 10 minutes, the talk deteriorated into a shouting match with Gallagher saying: “Get off your little attack- Katy and ask other ministers questions”.

Whip John Hargreaves then asked what has to be the most hilarious question so far this year, I wish I had the exact lines, I was laughing so hard I couldn’t write it down fast enough, but it went something like this:

“What employment support for newsagencies will the Government offer post 2012, for former paperboy of the year, Mr Brendan Smyth, who might be in need of a job post-election?”

The best part was Speaker Shane Rattenbury let him have the question – leaving the entire Assembly in hysterics. Gallagher said they hadn’t recieved any requests for specific measures to support newsagencies, but she would be happy to take submissions from any party.

Then yesterday’s announcement that the former Quamby Youth Detention Centre site would be the location for the ACT’s new Secure Adult Mental Health Inpatient Unit was questioned, with the Greens and the Opposition asking for costs, site selection rationale and the timeframe for consultation before Gallagher completely lost it and announced that today is her 40th birthday.

The crowd went wild.

“I woke up this morning determined not to allow you to get to me today,” she said.

Which, of course, clearly demonstrates that she is letting them get to her. The rest of Question Time was a barrage of Dixers on housing, multi-cultural affairs, Hanson vs Gallagher on the “secret” Canberra Hospital review, a revist of the old Calvary Hospital sale nugget and individual disability support packages.

I will end with a promise from Minister for Industrial Relations, Andrew Barr, who said on the subject of the electrocuted insulation inspector, when questioned about the length of time it took for him to be informed by staff: “It is appropriate for these agencies to take the time to provide accurate information. There will be no children overboard in the ACT”

The former Quamby Youth Detention Centre site has been selected as the location for the ACT’s new 15 bedSecure Adult Mental Health Inpatient Unit

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