Page 2941 - Week 09 - Thursday, 13 August 2015

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The government says that the budget contains money for more TAMS services in Ginninderra and across Canberra. These increases in services are welcome. But, Mr Assistant Speaker, I hope you will pardon my cynicism when I suggest that this budget increase seems to coincide with an election year when the Labor-Greens coalition government would wish the city to be looking at least a little better than it has in the last few years. Is it perhaps that the government is feeling guilty that, yet again, it has put rates up well above CPI, or even WPI, and so it feels that at least some of that money should go towards the aspirations of suburban maintenance and looking after the needs of the people who pay the rates?

Rates revenue will increase across Canberra by $356 million between 2010-11 and 2018-19. That is a 2.8-fold increase in rates revenue in under a decade. Could I just say something about tripling your rates—at least, tripling your rates revenue in under 10 years? In Aranda and Weetangera, rates have gone up by an average of 62 per cent in four years. Even in Charnwood, which gets a mention in the Dropping off the edge report that we spoke about yesterday, rates have gone up, on average, by over 37 per cent. Services in our suburbs have not increased, and will not increase, at nearly the same rate.

Is it any wonder that the people of Ginninderra are mourning the neglected state of their suburban footpaths, playgrounds, shopping centres and open spaces? Is it any wonder that the people of Ginninderra are very suspicious that their rates increases are serving little more than to fund the Labor-Greens coalition government’s pet project, the big kids’ train set which is called light rail? Is it any wonder that the people of Ginninderra are wondering why they have to pay for light rail when they will never see it? Is it any wonder that the people of Ginninderra wonder why they pay a motza in rates when any prospect of light rail extending to west Belconnen is not even on the horizon? It is not even on the never-never.

For the residents of Ginninderra, any real commitment from this government to suburban maintenance seems just as far away. Why is it that some residents are telling me that the bus stops are being removed from Burkitt Street in Page? Mr Assistant Speaker, you know that there are more than 300 aged people who live in three separate retirement villages along Burkitt Street in Page and rely on access to public transport. Why are we removing their bus stops? Why is it that residents are telling me that when they put requests on the government’s fix my street service, often several times, nothing happens, not even an acknowledgement? Ms Lawder and I have both spoken at length about this over the last little while.

I will recount that my senior adviser put in an online request, perhaps as long ago as two years, for on-road school zone speed limit signs to be repainted on Langdon Avenue past Wanniassa Hills Primary School. He did this because the signs were almost illegible. Today they remain unpainted, are totally illegible and create a significant risk for local school children.

Why is it that a footpath can be fixed, a pothole filled or overgrown grass mowed only when a minister is approached personally? Why is it that every letter I get back from the minister wants to encourage me to go to fix my street—in other words, “Don’t bother me. I’m the minister. I’m too important for such things.” You get a circular argument here and it becomes a fob-off strategy from the government.

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