“In America and also many of the older cities in Portugal, I never came across footpaths as badly damaged and poorly maintained as in Australia’s nation’s capital. This should be a source of shame to us all who love the city,” says letter writer PETER FRENCH.
I WAS at the Red Hill shops when I saw two gentlemen, in hi-viz vests from a worksite, running to help a lady who had tripped and fallen on the footpath.
She had caught her foot on raised pavement blocks, flew through the air and landed directly on her face, sustaining severe facial fractures and losing three front teeth. As well there were numerous cuts and abrasions to her hands, her elbows and her knees. As a retired doctor, I also went to her aid, as did workers in the local Red Hill IGA, who provided excellent support and comfort to this distressed lady.
One of the workmen said this wasn’t the first time he’d witnessed such an incident. He had noticed other people trip and almost fall, not only the elderly but also some of his work colleagues.
Once the woman’s injuries were stabilised, I contacted colleagues at the Emergency Department of Canberra Hospital, where she was taken and admitted for two days. All her injuries have been subsequently dealt with by doctors in Sydney, at her own expense.
On the same day as the incident – June 3 – I photographed the damaged footpath, contacted Access Canberra and explained the situation. I was advised to submit a detailed report to Fix My Street, together with photographs of the damaged footpath and also the injured woman’s contact details, which I did that day.
I also subsequently contacted the office of City Services Minister Chris Steel to suggest that, given the extent of this lady’s injuries, someone from the Canberra government and/or Access Canberra, should make contact with her, to at least inquire about her health.
That was a total waste of time! I left both phone messages and emails for the minister, the phone messages have gone unheeded and there have been no replies to the emails.
When, after a reasonable period of time, she had not been contacted by anyone in the relevant department or the local government, I discussed the issue with the Chief Minister on the morning ABC talkback program.
He listened politely, of course, it was out of his area of expertise but he gave me the usual (meaningless) reassurances and subsequently nothing came of this discussion.
I think this was also about the time that Mr Steel, in a “blaze of publicity’’, announced that money had been set aside for repairs to the damaged, dilapidated and neglected infrastructure around the city.
It was also at the time the government announced it had raised $43 million in just one year from the speed traps in Civic!
In August and September I was overseas. I can honestly say that in America and also many of the older cities in Portugal, I never came across footpaths as badly damaged and poorly maintained as in Australia’s nation’s capital. This should be a source of shame to us all who love the city.
This problem has not occurred overnight, it appears to be the result of long-standing neglect and it appears to me the government has one priority, and one priority only, and that is pouring money into light rail.
Of course, light rail does not (and probably never will) service the majority of Canberra residents, whereas most people in this town do use the footpaths on a regular basis and many have sustained injuries as a result of falls.
Where could money be better spent?
Peter French, Red Hill
Is this the best we have to offer our youth?
ARE our youth so bored at school that they need chemical stimulants? Isn’t it possible to stimulate their interest with science, or inspire them with the amazing history of economic progress and achievements, and stand in awe of the exponential growth of our technology.
Or how about some outdoor adventures, challenge their physical capacities, let them experience the exhilaration of reaching the top of the mountain. Maybe some would like to develop their skills at sport and learn to appreciate the benefits of focused work over long periods.
The same could be achieved with playing a musical instrument or expressing ideas through an art form. All this is possible.
Are the schools in the ACT capable of providing these challenges for our youth? Will parents support their children’s growth and development? Or do we choose to sit back like Bill Bush (CN October12) suggests and watch our children become demoralised, weakened and unmotivated. Surely we can show them better alternatives than the short-term gratification of drugs. How about giving them reason to be proud of our nation and wanting to contribute to its future? Now, wouldn’t that make a nice change?
Malcolm Sherren, Stirling
Government response is ‘absurd and false’
IN last week’s “CityNews” I reflected on the fact that it is now over seven years since the ACT government undertook, through a tender process, to return Boomanulla Oval, a place of special significance to the Aboriginal community of Canberra and the region, to Aboriginal management and custodianship.
As I said, Winnunga Nimmityjah responded in good faith, and at significant expense, to that invitation only for the ACT government to abort that process without notice or explanation.
In response to a query from “CityNews” about the reasons for cancelling the proposal to return Boomanulla to Aboriginal custodianship and management the government said: “Unfortunately, at the time the request for tender did not enable a way forward to address the financial and legal risks identified through the process”.
With respect, that claim is not only absurd, it is false. The fact of the matter is that Winnunga engaged one of Australia’s most highly regarded economic planners, namely SGS Economics and Planning Pty Ltd, to undertake a detailed financial and feasibility analysis of the strategic plan developed by Judd Studios for the reinvigoration of Boomanulla Oval.
In its report SGS concluded not only that the benefits exceeded the costs but that the anticipated investment was justified and required no ongoing government funding.
SGS further concluded that the preferred option identified had a net present value of $606,000 and a benefit cost ratio BCR of 1.28 and NPV of $36 million with a social discount rate of 3.5 per cent, which is appropriate for projects such as this, ie twice as high as Stage 1 of light rail and possibly three times as high as Stage 2B.
Julia Tongs, CEO, Winnunga Nimmityjah
Proud to be a Canberran
AFTER the referendum result was called (“All states vote ‘no’ to the Voice, except ACT”, citynews.com.au, October 14), the chief minister said he had “a sense of pride in this community” and that the “yes” majority ACT vote was linked to “…the fact that Canberrans took the time to engage with the issues”.
Using social media, most of our federal Labor representatives only very briefly acknowledged this powerful vote by so many Canberrans who inquired and agreed to the need for constitutional change.
Via a local ABC interview transcript on his website, Fenner MP Andrew Leigh recognised that “…there is a lot of goodwill, particularly here in Canberra where more than 60 per cent of Canberrans voted yes.” Senator Pocock’s thoughtful and balanced October 15 statement went further, including recognition and valuing of the ACT vote in a constructive way: “We must take the resounding yes the ACT delivered overnight with the utmost seriousness and do something with it… We have to find a path forward. It can’t wait another generation. The work must continue.”
Those who were proud to be Canberrans on the evening of October 14 will be watching both main parties closely for meaningful and impactful responses between now and the next federal election.
Sue Dyer, Downer
Indigenous population set to ‘boom’
IT is very likely that by 2081 many of the opponents and supporters of the Voice, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal, will have descendants who will identify as “indigenous”.
Partly by descent but mainly by “race shifting”, Australia’s indigenous population has increased from 84,000 in 1961 to 812,728 in 2021, an increase of 9.7 times in 60 years.
Based on this record, Australia’s indigenous population will be at least 7,883,462 people, by 2081. (See “To be or not to be Indigenous? Understanding the rise of Australia’s indigenous
population since 1971” Elizabeth Watt & Emma Kowal, 2018).
In addition, during the past 20 years there has been a growth of an almost religious feeling of wishing to identify with one’s Aboriginal Australian ancestry for many people.
There are political problems in an Australian government defining who is “Aboriginal”, similar to the government defining who is “Christian”.
The Census relies on self-identification. The indigenous population of Australia may therefore be much higher than 7,883,462 in 2081.
Dr Paul Kauffman, O’Connor
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