The city’s broken retail and hospitality sectors are crying out for sanitised public servants to head back to their offices, but it’s not going to happen. Here’s “Seven Days” with IAN MEIKLE.
AFTER weeks and weeks and weeks of mercifully covid-free days, ACT business leaders mustered the spine to dare suggest that maybe it’s time ACT public servants might like to help the crumbling economy and head back to the office.
As if that was ever going to happen. Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith flattened them in a heartbeat saying it doesn’t align with the current health advice from the chief health officer.
The ACT Property Council’s Adina Cirson says about 60 per cent of offices are unoccupied and the “low rate of workers back in the city is significantly impacting many of the businesses on ground floors of office buildings, in particular those who rely on public servants for trade.” Nothing.
Canberra Business Chamber CEO Graham Catt weighed in: “When public servants and others are in the office, their daily spending provides an important boost to local cafes, shops, restaurants, retail stores, transport providers and many other businesses.” Still nothing.
The Australian Hotels Association CEO, Anthony Brierley, had a go, too: “Returning to offices would provide a powerful economic boost for our city, and comes without any expense to the ACT government.” But the Health Minister was not for turning.
“If lots of people come back to their offices and then they’re mingling in the kitchen, they’re all touching the same surfaces, if one case comes into that workplace, potentially that becomes a significant cluster,” she says.
“Of course, if working from home is not working for people and employers, people are allowed to return and take those sensible precautions of hand hygiene, physical distancing and keeping their workplaces well-disinfected.” But not, it seems, the ACT public service.
A COUPLE of weeks ago “Seven Days” cast shameful dispersions on the diligent recyclers of Tuggeranong, accusing them of being incapable of hurling cardboard boxes into the local recycling centre’s cages.
The photographic evidence suggested people were capriciously driving up and thoughtlessly tossing the unwanted boxes beside the cage.
How hard can it be to recycle a cardboard box? Well, frustratingly hard when one discovers the bureaucracy has welded the sliding gates of the cage mostly closed.
“A small opening is only available to get items through. Large items need to be crushed or cut apart,” bemoaned a regular recycler.
“Emptying the usual recycling box now needs to be ‘posted’ through the opening, thus people cannot get to the cage if large items are left near the openings.
“But why has this new method of welding shut been used?”
He reports the Woden recycling centre still has the sliding gates.
WHILE feet (‘) and inches (“) are so last century, the local plod always includes the imperial measurement in height descriptions. In a recent appeal to find a missing man, they described him as being 6” tall. At six inches (15cm), one imagines going missing would be a regular occurrence.
IN research crossing the “Seven Days” desk this week we discovered:
- MOTORCYCLISTS are 27 per cent happier than the average motorist. The “Highway Happiness” study uncovered therapeutic benefits of motorcycle riding, with eight in 10 (82 per cent) riders agreeing riding makes them happy, compared to only half (55 per cent) of motorists.
- CLEARLY a new study looking into the most common secret behaviours of Australians when they’re home alone didn’t survey Canberrans during winter with the revelation that three in four Australians walk around the house naked. The study further revealed that nine in 10 enjoy a daytime nap and nearly half are guilty of spying on an ex-partner(s) social media profiles.
- ELSEWHERE, the Annual Alcohol Poll 2020 discovered that the home is where the majority (67 per cent) of Australians consume the largest quantity per occasion and drink most frequently, rather than at pubs, clubs or restaurants – and this was conducted in January/February just before the COVID-19 lockdowns.
Ian Meikle is the “CityNews” editor. He can be heard on the “CityNews Sunday Roast” on 2CC, 10am-noon.