What Simon says is only for Rebecca to hear

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Homelessness of humans, homes for earless dragons, safer road signs and stolen cars. It’s another “Seven Days” with IAN MEIKLE

SIMON Rosenberg is the Official Visitor (Homelessness Services). 

An Official Visitor is an independent statutory officer who ensures service users’ rights are upheld and makes reports to the relevant minister about any issues of concern that they hear or observe, giving “valuable and direct insight into what is happening on the ground”.

Ian Meikle.

Rebecca Vassarotti is the Homelessness Minister.

Simon’s first report, for the period October 1-December 31 can’t have been a terribly flattering look at homelessness in the ACT. 

We know this because the minister wrote a blah, blah, public (and patronising) letter to Simon thanking him for the report.

“Thank you for raising the issues around waiting periods for the allocation of public housing properties and information provided to waitlist applicants,” she grimaces.

Then slaps him down with a burst of boastful spin about how wonderful the ACT government’s record is in dealing with homelessness. 

“Thank you for raising concerns regarding residents with Alcohol and Other Drug (AOD) support needs,” she says, followed by more self-serving spin.

So, if you’re on the edge of the seat wanting to read Simon’s report, bad luck, you can’t. She won’t publicly release it. Her reply, yes. The report, no. Doh? 

Simon Rosenberg.

Fear not, we have some dot points from the minutes of a meeting Simon addressed in which he gave a glimpse of what he’s reported to Rebecca. And that will give you a glimpse of why the minister is sitting on what Simon says…

  • Long wait for public housing.
  • Need for increased cross-sector work (disability, mental health, AOD etc).
  • Heard a lot of informal complaints and that service users are getting frustrated. For example, women who cannot get custody of their children because of the long public housing waiting lists. 
Canberra Grassland Earless Dragon. Photo: Blake Reeves

BUT there’s no housing shortage for endangered Grassland Earless Dragons. The ACT government has slung $60,000 at a purpose-built breeding facility and specially designed quarantine capacity that can house up to 80 dragons at Tidbinbilla.

It was launched following the arrival of six dragons from Melbourne Zoo. 

In opening the new resource, Minister Vassarotti, with her Environment hat on, said: “This facility and breeding colony will be critical to the long-term survival of the grassland earless dragon, which is found only in the ACT region.”

STOP the presses; an e-scooter survey of 1907 members of the ACT government’s YourSay panel, whoever they are, has shown 95 per cent found e-scooters “easy to find”. I’d like to know how the remaining five per cent didn’t. They’re almost e-litter; dropped in gardens, lying on footpaths, at the shops, all over the place.

BEFORE: The road sign obscuring oncoming traffic.

IN “Seven Days” on May 13, inspired by a reader’s alert, I photographed and featured a badly placed, large, end-of-roadworks sign in Dickson that was obscuring a safe view for side street traffic turning from Marsden Street into Davenport Street. 

Northsider and fellow columnist Paul Costigan reports the problem, which had been there since October, has now been fixed, sensibly with a smaller, less obtrusive sign. Well done, whoever sorted it out. 

AFTER: A smarter, sensible solution.

GIVEN the state of our hospitals, it comes as no surprise to learn a school infrastructure inquiry by the ACT Legislative Assembly has confirmed overcrowding and poor maintenance in ACT schools.

Thirty-two submissions from ACT public schools, advocacy groups and individuals were made during the inquiry into capacity and maintenance issues, the adequacy of heating and cooling systems, disability access and demand for sporting facilities at local schools.

Shadow education minister Jeremy Hanson was nonplussed. 

“There appears to be a long-term reliance on demountable classrooms which not only puts increased pressure on infrastructure like bathrooms but leads to overcrowding in our schools,” he said. 

But with eerily good timing, a government spinner said there was more than $114 million earmarked to upgrade public schools over the next four years, on top of the regular funding for repairs and maintenance.

READER and recent “CityNews” cover boy Gwyn Rees had a wry response to the news former Lib leader Alistair Coe was moving over the border and into the chocolate business: “Alistair’s putting the Coe into Coe Co.” Boom tish!

ANOTHER recent “CityNews” cover story featured the travails of columnist Robert Macklin and wife Wendy who were robbed while they slept. Apart from snaffling a bedside watch and a handbag, the thieves took off with both the Macklin cars. 

Wendy’s has been recovered, though wrecked. But during its life of crime, it got a speeding notice from the NSW cops.

“Her stolen car was clocked breaking the limits; and to prove it was hers they sent a photo of it – and the crooks are identifiable driving and sitting in the front passenger seat!” writes Rob. 

“We have passed it on to Const Jayden Serow, who was the first responder to the break-in and he’s on the job. Watch this space.”

Ian Meikle is the editor of “CityNews” and can be heard on the “CityNews Sunday Roast” news and interview program, 2CC, 9am-noon.


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

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