Page 4961 - Week 15 - Thursday, 15 December 2005

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season, but I want to raise a matter of importance to the people who elected me to represent them. On 10 November I attended a meeting of the Garran Residents Association at which a large number of residents expressed a variety of concerns about matters related to the hospital and future developments in the suburb. I will briefly outline the issues raised for the benefit of members of the Assembly.

The first issued related to the disruptiveness of helicopters approaching Canberra Hospital. Everybody accepts that these helicopters provide a vital service, and indeed their operators deserve great credit for life-saving efforts. However, there are concerns amongst residents over the apparent lack of regulation of flight paths. Whilst the SouthCare helicopter operators have shown sensitivity to the presence of residential areas and directed flight paths to minimise disruption, other operators appear not to have shown the same level of concern regarding the amenity of the suburb, and I think the real issue here is that there is a raft of other operators that are coming in over a variety of different flight paths.

Considering the efforts of the SouthCare operators, there appears to be no reason why a more regulated system could not be implemented. Without hindering the vital role of the helicopters, the living conditions of the people of Garran should be considered in enforcing regulations on things like flight paths, height over residential areas and cool down and warm-up periods.

Concerns were also raised at this meeting about parking in the hospital complex and the danger of overflow into the residential streets surrounding the hospital. There is already a lack of convenient parking for staff, residents, patients, visitors and volunteers to the Canberra Hospital. This will be potentially exacerbated by the proposed Mental Health Unit and also the loss of 600 parking spots.

It is also feared by residents that the introduction of pay parking at the hospital will lead to more overflow into the streets as those without parking permits seek to escape paying for parking. This is obviously detrimental to the amenity of the suburb and presents difficulties to residents trying to access their homes and park their cars.

I understand that Mr Hargreaves has undertaken to investigate the feasibility of residential parking permits in inner city suburbs like Reid, Turner and Braddon. I urge the ACT government to give regard to trialling this program in the areas of Garran close to the hospital to reduce the pressure that is being experienced by residents in the area.

The last issue that came up at the meeting—I also attended a consultative process there with departmental representatives—was the question of whether in fact there is a true master plan for the long-term development of the hospital. The ageing population in Canberra would suggest that the demand for health care is hardly going to decline. There are concerns amongst residents of Garran that they do not really understand whether such a plan exists and they are certainly seeking a greater level of consultation in that process.

I encourage the ACT to take time to explain the basis of decisions made in line with the apparent master plan to local residents. Whilst there is some consultation on immediate plans for the hospital’s development, clearly a longer-term picture needs to be assessed that takes into account the impact on the neighbourhood, the impact on planning, the

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