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Canberra Today 7°/10° | Sunday, August 14, 2022 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

Why Housing ACT deserves all that’s hurled at it 

“I would like to have my carpet replaced. It went down in 2002. Twenty years ago! The area manager checked  – no future date has been set. What is it about it – the state of maintenance? It must be the light rail,” writes a Housing ACT tenant.

I REFER to an article by Nick Overall, “Another trashed hellhole ignored by Housing ACT” (CN March 24). 

Write to editor@citynews.com.au

I have first-hand experience of complaining to Housing ACT, as a tenant about litter such as unopened letters at the letterboxes, rubbish “sorted” incorrectly, illegal dumping, syringes lying around and, in general, dilapidated buildings and a lack of maintenance, in order to keep the complex as an attractive place to live and visit. I don’t really like going outside my unit because I maintain the interior of my unit in a clean and tidy condition. 

We still have no way of disposing of our green waste. Tenants are supposed to maintain gardens, but bad luck if you can’t transport green waste to the dump. 

As far as I am concerned, the reputation that is hurled at Housing ACT is deserved because the ACT government does nothing except construct the light rail to Woden. That’s where taxpayers’ and homeowners’ money is going – not into public housing! 

Here are outstanding maintenance requests I have placed recently:  

  • December 1, I notified them of the grass growing in the gutters. No sign of anyone with a ladder! 
  • February 25, I requested they replace a post so that the garbage truck doesn’t back into my brick wall; 
  • March 8, I reported external lights in the stairwell being on all day and a detached gutter of a carport. Nothing has been started! 

All these external jobs have a priority period of 20 days. 

The pink (!) paint is peeling off the gates of the hoppers and I requested maintenance for their repair well before covid struck. 

I would like to have my carpet replaced. It went down in 2002. Twenty years ago! The area manager checked with the superiors – no future date has been set. It probably has not even been listed let alone discussed. What is it about it – the state of maintenance? It must be the light rail.

Of course, the ACT government could be doing things much better in so many ways, in so many areas, and yet it is not. Yes, we have renewable energy but so what? 

I picked up a flyer about the ACT Ombudsman (who doubles as the Commonwealth Ombudsman – different contact numbers) and did you know that the first suggested thing that you can discuss with this entity is Housing ACT! 

The ACT Ombudsman can be contacted on 6276 3773; indigenous line 1800 060789; ombudsman.act.gov.au.

Name withheld at author’s request

What’s happening to the city I love?

I WAS in Sydney last week. On the way back, I was browsing the March edition of the “Sydney Star Observer”. I came across an article titled “Woollahra Council opposes City of Sydney’s Oxford Street revitalisation plan” and it set me to dreaming.

I dreamt of a place – I’ll call it Canberra – where there is genuine, public consultation on redevelopment proposals; where “revitalisation” isn’t a magic password that authorises everything, no matter how blunt and brutal; where developer interests can be challenged and set against the interests of those who will have to live with the consequences of being “revitalised”; where the concept of “community” is still respected; where the history and character of a neighbourhood are valid considerations; and where alternative proposals to those handed down by “the authorities” are aired publicly and stand a chance of influencing outcomes.

Then my train arrived in the Canberra of today, and I awoke to what is happening to the city I love.

John Griffin, via email

Four per cent use public transport

FIRSTLY, the problem with Canberra is it is a car focused city. Four per cent of the population use public transport, of which I am a dedicated advocate for improvement. 

I asked Transport Minister Chris Steel at a public transport seminar recently what he would do differently to change those figures. I got no answer.

In 2012, I chaired a Combined Community Council Transport Working Group, which recommended a number of ideas to fix the problem. None have been implemented.

I asked City Services about a linear rapid park and ride-terminus at Greenway; I got the answer: “We have no plans to do that” and had no intentions of doing so, despite saving 10-15 minutes’ journey time. 

I asked why buses should utilise Woden and Athllon Drive instead of the Parkway or Yamba Drive and was told there was no spare capacity (?). The footprint of one bus vs 68 cars? Nonsensical! 

One last comment. Having cycled southside, the condition of the on and off-road paths leaves a lot to be desired. Not only are they not fully connected, but some just stop in the middle of greenspace, are very circuitous (a bit like bus routes) and are invariably shared with every other person including walkers, prams etcetera. There must be a better way.

Perhaps, given our limited budget, we should scrap light rail, buy the tram bus (Brisbane Metro) or trackless trams (Perth) and put these transport funds into a redevelopment plan for active travel cycle commuting routes. 

Russ Morison, Theodore

Then there’s the capital gains…

OF course, none of those opposed to the tram are opposed to the capital gains made to their properties since it was built.

Danny Corvini, Deakin 

Improve water, increase through flows 

CANBERRA’S growth has contributed to water quality problems in our lakes, which some believe can be fixed by the (desirable) prevention of pollution from stormwater drains, and even collecting more fallen leaves (huh?). 

Installing floating reed beds in the lakes has also been tried.

Looking at Lakes Burley Griffin and Tuggeranong, surely the best way to sustainably improve their water quality is to massively increase their through flows. 

The large, expensive, but virtually permanently switched off (after the new Cotter Dam went in) solar-powered pumps on the Murrumbidgee at Angle Crossing in the ACT (upstream from Tharwa) are designed to top up the Googong Dam. It’s on the Queanbeyan River, a tributary of the Molonglo, on which Lake Burley Griffin lies. So seriously use the pumps to cleanse the lake. 

Likewise, a valve on the Angle Crossing pipeline at Williamsdale could, from time to time, send copious amounts of Murrumbidgee water down to Tuggeranong Creek on which Lake Tuggeranong lies, using the descending railway line reserve as the pipeline route. The north end of Lake Tuggeranong needs a branch-line pipe from the creek. 

The Molonglo River and Tuggeranong Creek both flow into the Murrumbidgee, so there’d be minimum loss of water in this arrangement, except between Angle Crossing and the Molonglo mouth, which could be compensated for by occasional releases from the Tantangara Dam on the upper Murrumbidgee (already agreed to under the Angle Crossing draw-out arrangement with NSW).

There’s a mini hydro electricity unit where the descending Angle Crossing pipeline joins the Queanbeyan River system. A similar one could be installed where the new pipeline joins Tuggeranong Creek.

Jack Kershaw, Kambah 

Traders may be shortsighted

IN the wake of COVID-19, I can understand Braddon traders’ opposition to yet more change to trading conditions (“Braddon traders say loss of parking would ‘cripple’ business”, citynews.com.au, March 28). But I fear their opposition to removing on-street parking along Mort and Lonsdale Streets is shortsighted.

Studies of cities around the world have shown that economic activity increases when streets are redesigned to put humans, rather than cars, first. 

This is not to mention numerous other benefits of people-centred design: lower levels of harmful air pollution, more active and public transport options, and more attractive city centres. 

As a local inner-north resident, I often lament how unsafe our increasingly busy local streets are to navigate as a pedestrian or cyclist. Given there are still numerous opportunities to improve off-street parking in Braddon, it would be a shame for local businesses to miss this excellent opportunity to attract more visitors to our lively neighbourhood.

Matt Bowes, O’Connor

Barr’s quick to burden Canberrans

INTERESTING comments from Chief Minister Andrew Barr regarding being snubbed by the federal government’s Budget 2022. 

He is not happy with what the feds give him, but he’s quick to burden Canberrans with rate rises and levies to suit his agendas. The current light rail and the proposed Woden extension is sucking up so much of the ACT’s finances just to appease developers, the Greens and to retain power. 

Perhaps if the ACT finances were handled better, Mr Barr, then you will not have to complain of having insufficient federal funding. 

Ray Zak, via email

Good seldom comes from murder 

I’m surprised that Dr Douglas Mackenzie has speculated on the odds of Putin being assassinated. While I agree with most of his writings, I wonder about such speculation, even if it was intended merely as an idle thought. 

Aren’t we in danger of further undermining our democratic values by even musing about such actions, values that are already dangerously under threat from those who think that we must do “whatever it takes”? In any case, history tells us that good seldom ever comes from murdering a “troublesome” person, even if you think that’s what your leader wants – exemplified as far back as Thomas a Beckett.

Eric Hunter, Cook 

Late promises won’t cut it, Zed

A FEW late promises and a scatter of handouts so close to an election will not cut it for the Coalition (“Will Zed survive? Maybe, maybe not“, citynews.com.au, March 26), especially when Canberrans can see where the scraps fall. 

Just before what looks like the government’s “last-gasp” Budget, Senator Seselja took credit for the expected promise of some lollipops for a few Canberra suburban community and recreational settings, under a federal community and infrastructure program that claims to take into account ACT government requests for funding. 

To what extent were the ACT Liberal Party headquarters and 2019 ballot box analyses also part of the selection process?

Many Canberra voters have backgrounds that generate a particular interest in integrity matters and an abhorrence of wastage, rorting and the lack of transparency about public expenditure in general. 

There must also be allocations in pipelines for new projects under a plethora of other programs that would still add up to hundreds of millions of dollars across the country. We have no idea to what extent the government has addressed the major shortcomings concerning decision-making for grants and other funding programs that have been exposed by the auditor-general on numerous occasions.

Yet Coalition members under threat want us to assume that the Budget hand-outs for their electorates are all high-level, well-thought through and “squeaky clean”. The loss of trust and transparency over recent years leaves more questions asked – and unanswered.

Sue Dyer, Downer

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Ian Meikle, editor

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