Comfort in being covid-clear round the S-bend

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Bottles of sewage, dopey drivers, becalmed builders and Andrew Barr versus the rest of the world; where to start? It’s “Seven Days” with IAN MEIKLE. 

IT was a week of facts and figures and more menacing bureaucracy. 

Ian Meikle.

Here’s a reassuring fact: there are no traces of COVID-19 in Canberra’s sewage system. I don’t know why, but I felt some deep-seated comfort knowing that the expertise of more than 30 ANU researchers was brought to bear in giving us the all clear round the S-bend. 

Delightful environmental epidemiologist Dr Aparna Lal told me on 2CC’s “CityNews Sunday Roast” that she received a daily litre of sewage from Icon Water (and would for the foreseeable future), characterising the contents in terms too graphic for a family newspaper. She said the testing of daily samples throughout May found no covid traces in territory sewage outpourings. 

“We tested 25 samples in May from Icon Water’s sewage treatment plant, covering the whole of the ACT population, and found no traces,” she cooed.

HERE’S a worrying figure: The number of drivers caught speeding in the ACT is 30 per cent higher than the monthly average over the past three years.

Top traffic cop Insp Marcus Boorman says it’s a “dramatic increase” and over the next month police will focus on speeding. 

”Nobody can say they weren’t warned. The speed limits are clear and we’re telling you we’re taking a zero-tolerance approach,” he growled. 

“We are still detecting high-range speeding drivers at speeds that go beyond stupidity. I’m talking about 140, 170, even 200 km/ph.

Zinger alert: “We’re about to go on the front foot after drivers who use too much of their right foot.” Boom boom.

MORE figures, but less surprising: the ABS reports the lowest approval figures for apartments and units over May since 2012 with only nine unit and apartment dwellings approved in the ACT. 

Master Builders ACT CEO Michael Hopkins boo-hooed with this astonishing revelation: “Unit and apartment approvals have declined 98.9 per cent since April and represent a 23.5 per cent decline since the same quarter last year.

“These statistics will be sobering reading for the close to 20,000 people working in the ACT construction industry, as many are looking for more support from the ACT government to provide a forward pipeline of work to secure their continued employment.”

CONVERSELY, the Canberra Liberals are berating the Barr government for keeping families from realising their dreams for detached housing. 

The government told the opposition that 90 per cent of its monopolistic land release in 2017-18 was for compact and multi-unit dwellings and 10 per cent for detached single dwellings. Last year, only 28 per cent of land was for single dwellings. 

A previous government-issued survey showed 84 per cent of Canberrans had a preference for detached housing, which has opposition leader Alistair Coe concluding that there’s “no room for growing families in Andrew Barr’s multi-unit utopia”.

“You shouldn’t have to look over the border for a suitable home for your family,” he says.

Andrew Barr. Caricature: Paul Dorin

MEANWHILE, the Chief Minister’s “personal vendetta against local clubs” is being blamed for assisting the “devastating” demise of the Kaleen Sports Club.

The unforgiving shadow gaming minister Mark Parton says the Chief Minister should be making decisions based on the evidence and health advice, “not on his arrogant dislike of community clubs, all of their employees, and all of their members”. Which I figure must be most of us.

The club malady also flushed out former Liberal opposition leader and Belco Party barker Bill Stefaniak who, concerned that Canberrans are flocking across the border to play the pokies, also took umbrage at Andrew saying: “I do think the trouble Mr Barr has with our clubs may well be personal. After all, they did have the temerity to campaign against him in 2016. Is it the case that he is punishing them now? Is he behaving in the process like a spoilt, petulant, little brat who has spat the dummy?” 

THE number of people reporting as victims of oppressive behaviour by Access Canberra is growing. A couple of weeks ago Canberra TV news icon Ken Begg complained about menacing threats in a letter he received wrongly calling him a “high risk to road safety”. 

Then a letter turned up with a similar complaint (published on Page 13). Yet another, this one from Tony Butterfield in defence of his wife Beverley who had received a letter demanding a driver’s licence medical certificate on threat of disqualification. 

She obtained a certificate at a cost of $90 and submitted it.

Strangely, the same thing happened to me. Licence renewal demanded an eye test. Test done, form lodged, licence renewed. Three weeks later comes the letter threatening licence suspension and demanding the eye test! But there’s more stupidity… 

Tony also says: “The Woden Access Canberra will not accept cash. When my wallet was stolen I went in to get a replacement Working with Vulnerable People card as I am a volunteer ESA firefighter. 

“I was told I had to pay $22 and cash would not be accepted. My replacement credit cards would take a week or so. 

“I was curtly told to take my cash to any bank branch, open an account, order a card and come back when I had it. They eventually told me to go to Tuggeranong!” Why, he doesn’t explain. 

Ian Meikle is the “CityNews” editor. He can be heard on the “CityNews Sunday Roast” news and current affairs program, 10am-noon on 2CC.




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Ian Meikle
Ian Meikle is the owner and editor of "CityNews".

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